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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

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

What is a business plan?

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

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

Bizee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

general business plan format

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

general business plan format

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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Use This Business Plan Format to Expertly Write Your Plan

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Growthink.com Business Plan Format

In this guide, you’ll learn how to format your business plan professionally. Business plan structure and format helps readers look beyond distracting style to the real meat of your idea.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

How to Format Your Business Plan: The Cover Sheet

Every business plan should begin with a simple business plan cover page including the business name, your name and contact information. An easy to read table of contents should follow.

Example Business Plan Table of Contents

I: Executive Summary      a. Business Overview      b. Success Factors      c. Financial Highlights

II: Company Overview      a. Who is [Company Name]?      b. [Company Name]’s History      c. [Company Name]’s Products & Services

III: Industry Analysis      a. Industry Trends

IV: Customer Analysis      a. Customer Segmentation

V: Competitive Analysis      a. Direct & Indirect Competitors      b. Competitive Advantage

VI: Marketing Plan      a. The [Company Name] Brand      b. Promotions Strategy      c. Pricing Strategy

VII: Operations Plan      a. Functional Roles      b. Goals and Milestones

VIII: Management Team      a. Management Team Members      b. Hiring Plan

IX: Financial Plan      a. Revenue Model      b. Revenue and Cost Drivers      c. Key Assumptions & Forecasts

X: Appendix

The cover sheet should leave no question for readers to be able to identify the business plan when it is in a stack with dozens of others on their desk. The table of contents allows them to easily refer to sections within the plan. For example, after reading the executive summary, some investors with an eye for numbers may turn directly to the financial plan and statements. Proper business plan format allows readers to quickly get the information they want.

Example Business Plan Format

There are 10 business plan components or sections that every entrepreneur and business owner must include in their plan. These include:

  • Executive summary
  • Company overview
  • Industry analysis
  • Customer analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Marketing plan
  • Operations plan
  • Management team
  • Financial plan

You should recognize these if you’ve ever worked with a business plan template .

Formatting your business plan with charts and graphs is welcomed to break up long blocks of text. However, charts and graphs shouldn’t be used for their own sake. They must make the information easier to pass on than text would.

The business plan format that investors and lenders expect includes the following 10 sections. You can download our business plan format pdf here, to help you get started. We’ve included important notes in each section specific to business plan formatting to help you as you write your plan.

1. Start with Your Executive Summary

An executive summary gives readers a crisp overview of your business at the start of your plan. This section should not be more than two pages long and should include the following:

  • What is the business about?
  • Where and why did the idea of the business originate?
  • Who are the owners?
  • Which industry is it operating in?
  • What is its core function?
  • Where is it located?
  • How is it going to make money?
  • How much money (if any) is it already making?
  • What are its financial projections?

The best format for your executive summary is paragraphs. Utilizing bullets and headings is also useful formatting within an executive summary, as it aids the reader in scanning the content on the page.

2. Company Overview Section

The company overview is the perfect place to highlight the strengths of your business. This section gives the reader additional information about your products and/or services and describes your company’s past accomplishments.

Including the below in this section will provide further clarity about your business:

  • What type of business you are (e.g., C-Corporation, sole proprietor)
  • When your business started
  • Business’ accomplishments to date

The best formatting to use in this section is paragraphs to describe your company’s strengths and products/services. You should also include a chart that outlines your company’s achievements to date.

3. Industry or Market Analysis

The industry or market analysis gives the reader a clear understanding of your industry and the audience it serves. It includes a detailed explanation of your market size and trends.

Typically, the format of this section should be paragraphs. Feel free to include charts and graphs to best convey the information to the reader.

4. The Customer Analysis States Who Your Customers Are and What They Need

In this section of your plan, explain who your target customers are and identify their specific needs. Doing this will help you better target and attract customers.

5. Competitive Analysis

The Competitive Analysis section identifies your direct and indirect competitors. It discusses who they are and their strengths and weaknesses. It then details your areas of competitive advantages.

Whether your competitors are small or large businesses, describe them. Telling investors there are no competitors (big or small) often gives the impression that a market does not exist for your company.

With regards to formatting, use paragraphs to describe each competitor. As appropriate, adding a competitor matrix to show similarities and differences between your company and the competition can be very powerful.

6. Your Marketing Plan is a Key Section

The marketing & sales section of your business plan should outline how you plan to attract new customers and retain old ones. This section should outline the ways customers can be introduced to and engage with your offerings and describe how you will convert these prospects into paying customers.

Set marketing objectives that include the following (if applicable):

  • Introducing new products
  • Extending the market reach
  • Exploring new markets
  • Boosting sales
  • Cross-selling
  • Creating a long-term partnership with clients
  • Increasing prices without affecting sales
  • Creating a content marketing strategy

Organize your Marketing Plan into the 4 P’s – Price, Product, Promotions and Place. If you have multiple products or services, include a menu with each key item and its price.

7. The Operations Plan Format

Your Operations Plan identifies your key operational processes and milestones you expect to accomplish. Using a Gantt chart is a great way to show your expected future milestones. You can also format this section with tables that document the dates of future milestones.

8. You Need to Prove Your Management Team Can Execute

“A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” – Mary Kay Ash, American Entrepreneur and Businesswoman

The Management Team section of your business plan focuses on the people who run the business.

Who are the decision-makers, who is the product expert, who is the operations head, and who is running the entire show? A glimpse into the expertise and capabilities of your team members and how their experiences will help grow your business will boost stakeholder confidence.

To improve the formatting and best convey your management team to readers, consider adding an organizational chart that shows your team members and reporting structure.

9. Format Your Financial Plan

The goal of this section is to convince the reader that your business is stable and will be financially successful. Arm this section with past and/or forecasted cash flow statements, balance sheets, profit & loss statements, expense budgeting and sales forecasts.

If you run an operational business, include 3 years of historical data to help investors gain an understanding of how feasible your funding request is and if your business is capable of generating good returns.

Also include your funding request, if applicable, in this section. You should mention how much investment is required to take your business to the next significant milestone and how the money will be spent. You should also define if you are seeking debt or equity funding. If you are seeking debt financing like an SBA loan, ensure your financial projections include the debt and show steady repayments of both the principal and return under reasonable loan terms.

If you are seeking equity financing, you don’t need to include your valuation expectations in the business plan, but you should be aligned within your ownership team on the amount of equity you are willing to exchange before you pitch investors.

Example Financial Plan

Projected sales, gross profit & net income.

Business Plan Format financial projections

5 Year Annual Income Statement

5 year annual balance sheet, 5 year annual cash flow statement, 10. appendix.

This section includes supporting documentation of your business case. This could include renderings of a planned store location, market research reports referenced in the plan, key supplier or buyer contracts that substantiate your financial projections or historical marketing and sales data.

Formatting Your Business Plan

Overall, business plans should use simple and standard formatting. Twelve point font size in a standard font like Arial or Times New Roman is best, as well as the standard margin size of one inch on each side. Pages should be numbered, and the name of the company should appear on each page in the header or footer.

Use charts whenever possible as it makes it much easier for readers to consume the information in your plan.

How to Finish Your Business Plan in 1 Day!

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Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template & Guide for Small Businesses

24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

Clifford Chi

Published: February 06, 2024

Free Business Plan Template

general business plan format

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I believe that reading sample business plans is essential when writing your own.

sample business plans and examples

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As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, it’s easier for you to learn how to write a good one.

But what does a good business plan look like? And how do you write one that’s both viable and convincing. I’ll walk you through the ideal business plan format along with some examples to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Business Plan Format

Business plan types, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. To me, the same logic applies to business.

If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, I’m sure you’re wondering where to begin.

general business plan format

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

First, you’ll want to nail down your formatting. Most business plans include the following sections.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. 

Why? Essentially, it's the overview or introduction, written in a way to grab readers' attention and guide them through the rest of the business plan. This is important, because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary:

Company Description

This is the perfect space to highlight your company’s mission statement and goals, a brief overview of your history and leadership, and your top accomplishments as a business.

Tell potential investors who you are and why what you do matters. Naturally, they’re going to want to know who they’re getting into business with up front, and this is a great opportunity to showcase your impact.

Need some extra help firming up those business goals? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set goals that matter — I’d highly recommend it

Products and Services

To piggyback off of the company description, be sure to incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive — just another chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business.

In addition to the items above, I recommend including some information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here too.:

Keep in mind you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. So, keep the executive summary clear and brief, and only include the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template:

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

This executive summary is so good to me because it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Start with a strong introduction of your company, showcase your mission and impact, and outline the products and services you provide.
  • Clearly define a problem, and explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists.

Check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary for more guidance.

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market.

The main question I’d ask myself here is this: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

More specifically, here’s what I’d include in this section:

  • The size of the market
  • Current or potential market share
  • Trends in the industry and consumer behavior
  • Where the gap is
  • What caused the gap
  • How you intend to fill it

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis and perform market research on your industry.

You may also benefit from creating a SWOT analysis to get some of the insights for this section.

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

I like this example because it uses critical data to underline the size of the potential market and what part of that market this service hopes to capture.

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

  • Focus on demand and potential for growth.
  • Use market research, surveys, and industry trend data to support your market forecast and projections.
  • Add a review of regulation shifts, tech advances, and consumer behavior changes.
  • Refer to reliable sources.
  • Showcase how your business can make the most of this opportunity.

3. Competitive Landscape

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you'll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are.

After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you'll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

My favorite part of performing a competitive analysis is that it can help you uncover:

  • Industry trends that other brands may not be utilizing
  • Strengths in your competition that may be obstacles to handle
  • Weaknesses in your competition that may help you develop selling points
  • The unique proposition you bring to the market that may resonate with customers

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location, which shows useful experience in this specific industry. 

This can help build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

  • Complete in-depth research, then emphasize your most important findings.
  • Compare your unique selling proposition (USP) to your direct and indirect competitors.
  • Show a clear and realistic plan for product and brand differentiation.
  • Look for specific advantages and barriers in the competitive landscape. Then, highlight how that information could impact your business.
  • Outline growth opportunities from a competitive perspective.
  • Add customer feedback and insights to support your competitive analysis.

4. Target Audience

Use this section to describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience?

If your immediate answer is "everyone," you'll need to dig deeper. Here are some questions I’d ask myself here:

  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

I’d also recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear on why you're targeting them.

Target Audience Business Plan Example

I like the example below because it uses in-depth research to draw conclusions about audience priorities. It also analyzes how to create the right content for this audience.

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

  • Include details on the size and growth potential of your target audience.
  • Figure out and refine the pain points for your target audience , then show why your product is a useful solution.
  • Describe your targeted customer acquisition strategy in detail.
  • Share anticipated challenges your business may face in acquiring customers and how you plan to address them.
  • Add case studies, testimonials, and other data to support your target audience ideas.
  • Remember to consider niche audiences and segments of your target audience in your business plan.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I’d suggest including information:

  • Your brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use

I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler.

In my opinion, it really works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

  • Include a section about how you believe your brand vision will appeal to customers.
  • Add the budget and resources you'll need to put your plan in place.
  • Outline strategies for specific marketing segments.
  • Connect strategies to earlier sections like target audience and competitive analysis.
  • Review how your marketing strategy will scale with the growth of your business.
  • Cover a range of channels and tactics to highlight your ability to adapt your plan in the face of change.

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll need to review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services.

Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use. It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

In my opinion, the example below does a great job outlining products and services for this business, along with why these qualities will attract the audience.

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

  • Emphasize why and how your product or service offers value to customers.
  • Use metrics and testimonials to support the ideas in this section.
  • Talk about how your products and services have the potential to scale.
  • Think about including a product roadmap.
  • Focus on customer needs, and how the features and benefits you are sharing meet those needs.
  • Offer proof of concept for your ideas, like case studies or pilot program feedback.
  • Proofread this section carefully, and remove any jargon or complex language.

7. Pricing and Revenue

This is where you'll discuss your cost structure and various revenue streams. Your pricing strategy must be solid enough to turn a profit while staying competitive in the industry. 

For this reason, here’s what I’d might outline in this section:

  • The specific pricing breakdowns per product or service
  • Why your pricing is higher or lower than your competition's
  • (If higher) Why customers would be willing to pay more
  • (If lower) How you're able to offer your products or services at a lower cost
  • When you expect to break even, what margins do you expect, etc?

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

I like how this business plan example begins with an overview of the business revenue model, then shows proposed pricing for key products.

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

  • Get specific about your pricing strategy. Specifically, how you connect that strategy to customer needs and product value.
  • If you are asking a premium price, share unique features or innovations that justify that price point.
  • Show how you plan to communicate pricing to customers.
  • Create an overview of every revenue stream for your business and how each stream adds to your business model as a whole.
  • Share plans to develop new revenue streams in the future.
  • Show how and whether pricing will vary by customer segment and how pricing aligns with marketing strategies.
  • Restate your value proposition and explain how it aligns with your revenue model.

8. Financials

To me, this section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to figure out funding strategies, investment opportunities, and more.

 According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

  • Profit/Loss Statement - This answers the question of whether your business is currently profitable.
  • Cash Flow Statement - This details exactly how much cash is incoming and outgoing to give insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details I’d include in this section.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet is a great example of level of detail you’ll need to include in the financials section of your business plan.

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

  • Growth potential is important in this section too. Using your data, create a forecast of financial performance in the next three to five years.
  • Include any data that supports your projections to assure investors of the credibility of your proposal.
  • Add a break-even analysis to show that your business plan is financially practical. This information can also help you pivot quickly as your business grows.
  • Consider adding a section that reviews potential risks and how sensitive your plan is to changes in the market.
  • Triple-check all financial information in your plan for accuracy.
  • Show how any proposed funding needs align with your plans for growth.

As you create your business plan, keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others could be charts or graphs.

The formats above apply to most types of business plans. That said, the format and structure of your plan will vary by your goals for that plan. 

So, I’ve added a quick review of different business plan types. For a more detailed overview, check out this post .

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

Feasibility business plans focus on that business's product or service. Feasibility plans are sometimes added to startup business plans. They can also be a new business plan for an already thriving organization.

3. Internal Use

You can use internal business plans to share goals, strategies, or performance updates with stakeholders. In my opinion, internal business plans are useful for alignment and building support for ambitious goals.

4. Strategic Initiatives

Another business plan that's often for sharing internally is a strategic business plan. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

When a business is moving forward with an acquisition or repositioning, it may need extra structure and support. These types of business plans expand on a company's acquisition or repositioning strategy.

Growth sometimes just happens as a business continues operations. But more often, a business needs to create a structure with specific targets to meet set goals for expansion. This business plan type can help a business focus on short-term growth goals and align resources with those goals.

Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some of my favorite templates.

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Download a free, editable one-page business plan template..

The business plan linked above was created here at HubSpot and is perfect for businesses of any size — no matter how many strategies we still have to develop.

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline give this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow.

Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why I Like It

This one-page business plan is a fantastic choice for the new business owner who doesn’t have the time or resources to draft a full-blown business plan. It includes all the essential sections in an accessible, bullet-point-friendly format. That way, you can get the broad strokes down before honing in on the details.

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

The template is designed as a guide and checklist for starting your own business. You’ll learn what to include in each section of your business plan and how to do it.

There’s also a list for you to check off when you finish each section of your business plan.

Strong game plans help coaches win games and help businesses rocket to the top of their industries. So if you dedicate the time and effort required to write a workable and convincing business plan, you’ll boost your chances of success and even dominance in your market.

This business plan kit is essential for the budding entrepreneur who needs a more extensive document to share with investors and other stakeholders.

It not only includes sections for your executive summary, product line, market analysis, marketing plan, and sales plan, but it also offers hands-on guidance for filling out those sections.

3. LiveFlow’s Financial Planning Template with built-in automation

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

This free template from LiveFlow aims to make it easy for businesses to create a financial plan and track their progress on a monthly basis.

The P&L Budget versus Actual format allows users to track their revenue, cost of sales, operating expenses, operating profit margin, net profit, and more.

The summary dashboard aggregates all of the data put into the financial plan sheet and will automatically update when changes are made.

Instead of wasting hours manually importing your data to your spreadsheet, LiveFlow can also help you to automatically connect your accounting and banking data directly to your spreadsheet, so your numbers are always up-to-date.

With the dashboard, you can view your runway, cash balance, burn rate, gross margins, and other metrics. Having a simple way to track everything in one place will make it easier to complete the financials section of your business plan.

This is a fantastic template to track performance and alignment internally and to create a dependable process for documenting financial information across the business. It’s highly versatile and beginner-friendly.

It’s especially useful if you don’t have an accountant on the team. (I always recommend you do, but for new businesses, having one might not be possible.)

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

One of the more financially oriented sample business plans in this list, BPlan’s free business plan template dedicates many of its pages to your business’s financial plan and financial statements.

After filling this business plan out, your company will truly understand its financial health and the steps you need to take to maintain or improve it.

I absolutely love this business plan template because of its ease-of-use and hands-on instructions (in addition to its finance-centric components). If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing an entire business plan, consider using this template to help you with the process.

6. Harvard Business Review’s "How to Write a Winning Business Plan"

Most sample business plans teach you what to include in your business plan, but this Harvard Business Review article will take your business plan to the next level — it teaches you the why and how behind writing a business plan.

With the guidance of Stanley Rich and Richard Gumpert, co-authors of " Business Plans That Win: Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum ", you'll learn how to write a convincing business plan that emphasizes the market demand for your product or service.

You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

This business plan guide focuses less on the individual parts of a business plan, and more on the overarching goal of writing one. For that reason, it’s one of my favorites to supplement any template you choose to use. Harvard Business Review’s guide is instrumental for both new and seasoned business owners.

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know writing a business plan is one of the most challenging first steps to starting a business.

Fortunately, with HubSpot's comprehensive guide to starting a business, you'll learn how to map out all the details by understanding what to include in your business plan and why it’s important to include them. The guide also fleshes out an entire sample business plan for you.

If you need further guidance on starting a business, HubSpot's guide can teach you how to make your business legal, choose and register your business name, and fund your business. It will also give small business tax information and includes marketing, sales, and service tips.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a business, in addition to writing your business plan, with a high level of exactitude and detail. So if you’re in the midst of starting your business, this is an excellent guide for you.

It also offers other resources you might need, such as market analysis templates.

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

Once you fill it out, you’ll fully understand your business’ nitty-gritty details and how all of its moving parts should work together to contribute to its success.

This template has two things I love: comprehensiveness and in-depth instructions. Plus, it’s synced with PandaDoc’s e-signature software so that you and other stakeholders can sign it with ease. For that reason, I especially love it for those starting a business with a partner or with a board of directors.

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several free business plan templates that can be used to inspire your own plan.

Before you get started, you can decide what type of business plan you need — a traditional or lean start-up plan.

Then, you can review the format for both of those plans and view examples of what they might look like.

We love both of the SBA’s templates because of their versatility. You can choose between two options and use the existing content in the templates to flesh out your own plan. Plus, if needed, you can get a free business counselor to help you along the way.

I’ve compiled some completed business plan samples to help you get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business.

I chose different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

Let’s take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue.

I included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

Fintech startup, LiveFlow, allows users to sync real-time data from its accounting services, payment platforms, and banks into custom reports. This eliminates the task of pulling reports together manually, saving teams time and helping automate workflows.

"Using this framework over a traditional marketing plan will help you set a profitable marketing strategy taking things like CAC, LTV, Payback period, and P&L into consideration," explains LiveFlow co-founder, Lasse Kalkar .

When it came to including marketing strategy in its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives.

This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact. Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

Sometimes all you need is a solid mission statement and core values to guide you on how to go about everything. You do this by creating a business plan revolving around how to fulfill your statement best.

For example, Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so their plan discusses how to make the best environmentally friendly products without causing harm.

A good mission statement  should not only resonate with consumers but should also serve as a core value compass for employees as well.

Patagonia has one of the most compelling mission statements I’ve seen:

"Together, let’s prioritise purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home."

It reels you in from the start, and the environmentally friendly theme continues throughout the rest of the statement.

This mission goes on to explain that they are out to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to protect nature."

Their mission statement is compelling and detailed, with each section outlining how they will accomplish their goal.

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

This executive summary for a smart home device startup is part of a business plan created by students at Mount Royal University .

While it lacks some of the sleek visuals of the templates above, its executive summary does a great job of demonstrating how invested they are in the business.

Right away, they mention they’ve invested $200,000 into the company already, which shows investors they have skin in the game and aren’t just looking for someone else to foot the bill.

This is the kind of business plan you need when applying for business funds. It clearly illustrates the expected future of the company and how the business has been coming along over the years.

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more.

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. 

This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

It’s essential to keep this information up-to-date as your market and target buyer changes. For that reason, you should carry out market research as often as possible to ensure that you’re targeting the correct audience and sharing accurate information with your investors.

Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. 

Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission.

The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

It’s essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your "Why?" and this example does just that. In other words, why do you do what you do, and why should stakeholders care? This is an important section to include if you feel that your mission will drive interest in the business and its offerings.

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Culina's sample business plan is an excellent example of how to lay out your business plan so that it flows naturally, engages readers, and provides the critical information investors and stakeholders need. 

You can use this template as a guide while you're gathering important information for your own business plan. You'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do since Culina’s plan outlines these details so flawlessly for inspiration.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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Business plan template FAQ

What is a business plan template?

A business plan template is a document designed to help streamline your ability to write a business plan. It handles the structure and organization so that you can focus on filling in the blanks and defining the key aspects of your business.

Why choose this business plan template?

There are a few key features that make this business template more functional and effective than your average template.

  • Written by planning experts:  This business plan template wasn't just thrown together. It was crafted by seasoned planning experts with a combined 40 years of experience writing and reviewing business plans. Throughout this template, you find their expert tips and tricks, along with detailed instructions.
  • Free course access: When you download your business plan template, you'll get access to a week-long email course covering critical business planning mistakes to avoid.
  • Works with other Bplans resources: Need additional guidance to write your business plan? Our free business planning guide  is built to support this template—giving you even more detailed walkthroughs for each section.
  • Designed for funding:  Even if you're not going right to the bank, using this template will prepare you to pursue funding and impress potential investors whenever you're ready. This template ensures your plan is in SBA format.

What is included in this business plan template?

This template includes definitions, guidance, and examples for every business plan component needed to start, fund, and grow your business. After downloading the full template, you'll receive instructions for how to fill out each of the following sections.

Executive summary:  The brief summary of your business plan that introduces everyone to your business, the problem you solve, and what you're asking from your readers. It's the first chapter of your business plan and the last thing you write once you have the details from your full plan.

Problem & solution: More than a simple description of your products and services - here you define the problem you're solving and the value you provide. It's also your chance to showcase any initial traction that shows you're on the right track.

Market analysis and target market: A detailed assessment of the market you intend to enter, including the size and value of the market, potential customer segments, and their buying patterns.

Competition: Show that you know who your competitors are, what advantages you have, and how you're positioning your business to be competitive.

Marketing & sales: Describe how you'll reach and sell to potential customers with a detailed sales plan and chosen marketing channels.

Operations: What makes your business run? Outline the day-to-day workflows, and what still needs to be set up for your business to deliver a product or service.

Milestones & metrics: Set goals for your business that include the dates and people responsible to accomplish them. This is what you'll use to manage responsibilities, track growth, and execute your larger strategy.

Company overview and team: Provide a brief rundown of the legal and structural components of your company including your history, current team, and gaps you need to fill.

Financial plan: Create well-structured and accurate financial statements to help you pitch to investors, land funding, and achieve long-term success. All without the help of a financial advisor or a degree in accounting.

Appendix: While not required, this last section of your business plan is a great place to drop in additional documents that support and strengthen the rest of your plan.

What file formats are available for this business plan template?

You can download and use this business plan template as a Google Doc, .docx (Microsoft Word), or PDF.

Can you print out this template?

This is a printable business plan template that can be downloaded and printed no matter which format you choose.

Why should you start with a business plan template?

Starting with a good business plan template (like this one) includes everything you need to get started. It helps you organize your thoughts, and provides guidance, instructions, and examples to create an investor-ready and SBA-approved business plan format. It really speeds up the planning process. Oh, and it's 100% free!

Why do you need a business plan?

Writing a business plan will help you develop a strategy for success, reduce the risk of starting a business, explore new business ideas, attract investors, and get funding. Learn more about how you can get value out of your business plan .

Is writing a business plan easy?

Using a business plan template can make writing a business plan easier. Additionally, if you focus on just getting your information down quickly, with the expectation that you'll revisit and revise your plan, you can speed up and simplify the process .

What are the 5 elements of a business plan?

While there are more than five sections of a business plan, you can group the key elements of a plan into the executive summary, business opportunity, execution, company overview, and financial plan. Thinking of the plan in this way can help you break up the writing process and make tackling each strategic component a separate and focused task.

Can someone write your business plan for you?

If you're still struggling to write your business plan even when using a template, you can look into hiring a professional business plan writer. We even have a free resource to help you ask just the right questions  to make sure you find the right plan writer.

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Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Writing > Writing and Formatting a Successful Business Plan

Writing and Formatting a Successful Business Plan

Whether you’re an experienced business person or a first-time entrepreneur, a business plan presents an important opportunity to showcase your unique business ideas and make a plan for how it will it function and operate.

Because of its importance, it can sometimes appear to be an overwhelming task. However, with some guidance on business plan formatting and a breakdown of the plan’s most essential components, you can make the task more manageable and more easily get started on your own plan—bringing the possibility of your grand opening ever closer.

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What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan usually serves either or both of two purposes: Sometimes it’s used to court potential investors in a business. Other times, it sets out guidelines and a strategy for initial members of a business’s team to follow as they get things up and running. In either case, this formal document maps out the purpose, goals, finances, and future plans of a new or existing business.

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Formatting Your Business Plan

Before you get started on writing your business plan, it’s useful to understand the formatting of a typical business plan. Not only will this help you make sure you ultimately deliver the information that potential investors or teammates are expecting, but it will also help you see where you might need to do more research or spend more time.

Typically, all business plans contain each of the following parts:

Executive Summary

Company description, business goals, market and opportunity analysis, competitive analysis, execution plan, marketing plan, financial analysis and projections.

Below, we sum up what these sections entail to help you craft each of them according to your own business’s needs.

Business plans usually open with what’s called an executive summary. Typically taking up no more than about half of a page, this summary should include the most essential information about your business and highlights from the plan that follows, including:

  • Your organization’s mission statement
  • A description of the products and services your business offers
  • The purpose of your business plan
  • Any major achievements your business has made so far
  • An overview of your business’s financial health

A company description should include both basic information about your organization—its registered name, physical location, and a short history of the company—as well as more detailed info about how your business intends to succeed. In other words, once you’ve touched on the very basics, this is your chance to hook readers of your business plan. To do so, it can be helpful to set the stage for your readers: consider the answers to questions like, “Why did you start this business?”, “What unique problems does your business solve?”, and “What makes your company different from others like it?”

Sometimes referred to as an “objective statement,” this section of your business plan should clearly outline your company’s goals—over both the short and long term. If you’re making an appeal to investors, this is also your chance to include some persuasive writing and describe to them how their investments are critical to helping you meet these goals.

This section requires keen research skills: Bring in all of your knowledge of the market your business is working in to show investors and potential partners where the opportunity lies. Show that you have an understanding of the market’s past, present, and future—and understand the unique risks that businesses in this space face. Additionally, you will want to show what typical types of customers in this market are like with information on key demographics and customer behaviors that your business will market itself to.

Moving past the broad view of the overall market, your business plan should include an analysis of the business models or examples of your closest competitors in the space. Showing how these other organizations operate, how they’ve fared over their histories, and how they market themselves to customers can help you make the case for how your business will do these things both differently and successfully.

The execution plan section should provide a window into how your business will operate behind the scenes: How will you and your employees be organized? Who will handle what tasks? Why are they the right people to do so? Answer these questions by providing thorough details on who will be doing the work and how they will be structured while getting it done.

Every business needs to have a plan on how they position and promote their offerings, as well as attract and retain customers. With this section of your business plan, explain to potential stakeholders and financiers what your initial marketing strategy is and how it will change and scale over time.

Especially for business owners seeking additional financing and investment, the financial portion of your business plan is critical in showing how your business has generated and managed income, plus deliver insight into how it will continue doing so.

This section should include a breakdown of your organization’s sales, expenses, and profits. If you’re applying for a loan or seeking investment, include an overview of what your company’s financials would look like over the next period of years if you were to receive that financial backing. In addition, you should outline a clear plan for how and when you will pay back these creditors.

Crafting a Business Plan That Succeeds

While the particulars of every business plan will be different, there are some aspects that should be common to all business plans:

  • Be Concise: The writing in a business plan needs to be persuasive for its intended audience, but it needs to do so efficiently. Use clear and concise writing that communicates your ideas and plans effectively.
  • Use Data for Support: Even if your writing is persuasive, it won’t be as effective as it can be without relevant data and hard numbers that back up your insights.
  • Get Rid of Errors: In most cases, your audience is only going to read your business plan once. Make sure you present a tidy image of your business through your business plan writing by catching and fixing all of your typos and grammatical errors. Use a digital writing assistant like Microsoft Editor to help spot these mistakes, along with any slips in the formal tone that a business plan requires.
  • Keep It Real: Avoid exaggeration, whether it’s in your sales projections, market opportunity, or elsewhere.

Creating a successful business plan requires pulling together a lot of disparate information, which takes a diverse set of skills to pull off. Whether you’re new to new businesses or this is just your latest and greatest project, this can always be a tall order.

Make it easier on yourself by using all of the tools you have at your disposal to help. In addition to the guidelines above, explore a wide range of business plan templates available from Microsoft 365, including everything from complete business plans to individual components like revenue forecasts .

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Free Microsoft Word Business Plan Templates

By Joe Weller | September 22, 2020

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We’ve compiled a variety of expert-approved business plan templates and samples for Microsoft Word. There are options for organizations of any size and type — from coffee shops and hair salons to professional services, and everything in between.

Included on this page, you’ll find Word business plan templates for small businesses , startup businesses , product and service businesses , and more.

Simple Business Plan Word Templates

These customizable business plan templates come professionally designed and ready to use, and are available to download in Microsoft Word format.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Use this template as a basis for creating an organized and thorough business plan. Customize the built-in table of contents to suit your needs, and use the space included to detail the nature of your business, the solution to the problem you’re solving, a market analysis, key performance indicators (KPIs), financial forecasts, and more.

Download Simple Business Plan Template — Word

Simple 30-60-90 Business Plan Template

Simple 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

This template is ideal for developing a 90-day action plan to create and implement your business plan in manageable, 30-day chunks. Use the document to outline your main goals and deliverables, and then assign key business activities and deadlines to ensure your plan stays on track. 

Download Simple 30-60-90-Day Business Plan Template

Word  | Smartsheet

For more 30-60-90 business plan templates, visit our "Free 30-60-90-Day Business Plan Templates and Samples" article.

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

This template provides a standard outline for a traditional business plan, which you can use to guide your research and develop your plan. Easily modify the provided information to include information that is relevant to your business. 

Download Simple Business Plan Outline Template — Word

For additional downloadable resources in a variety of formats, visit, “ Simple Business Plan Templates .”

One-Page Business Plan Word Templates

These single page business plan templates in this section provide a useful way to organize ideas. Companies can use these templates to develop a pitch document for potential partners and investors.

One-Page Business Plan Template

general business plan format

Use this template to capture the main details of your business concept, including your product or service offering, who it benefits, how it helps your target buyer, the pricing structure, income streams, and key milestones. There’s also room at the bottom to include a SWOT analysis .

Download One-Page Business Plan Template

Word | Smartsheet

One-Page Lean Business Plan

One Page Lean Business Plan Template

This template utilizes a Lean approach to help you showcase the core concepts of your business idea in a scannable format. Provide a brief overview of your company and industry, the unique benefits your product or service possesses, distribution strategy, key objectives and success metrics, and a financial plan. Use the visual timeline at the bottom to display dates and milestones.

Download One-Page Lean Business Plan Template - Word  

One-Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

One Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

A 30-60-90-day template is useful for developing an actionable plan. Simply add your main goals and the activities required to achieve them in 30-day increments. Update the status of each goal regularly to ensure your plan stays on track.

Download One-Page 30-60-90 Day Business Plan Template

For additional single page plans, along with an example of a business plan , visit " One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Small Business Plan Word Templates

These customizable business plan templates are especially useful for small businesses to develop a roadmap for structuring, operating, and growing their organization.

Small Business Plan Template

Small Business Plan Template

This comprehensive business plan template is ideal for small businesses that want to thoroughly document key goals and the associated activities. Add essential information to each section to keep your plan clear and concise — and pay special attention to the financial section and provide details that will validate your plan.

Download Small Business Plan Template — Word

Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template

Fill-in-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template

This fill-in-the-blank template is useful for small business owners that need some guidance adding details to the various elements of their business plan. Each section of this standard business plan comes with pre-filled content that you can expand on and customize to reflect the specific needs and details of your business. 

Download Fill-In-the-Blank Small Business Plan Template — Word

Additional Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan templates can be found here . 

One-Page Small Business Plan Template

One Page Business Plan For Small Business Template

Small businesses can use this template to articulate business ideas in a succinct, easily digestible manner. There is space to include a business overview, key team members, a market analysis, marketing and sales plans, objectives and success metrics, and a financial plan.

Download One-Page Business Plan for Small Business — Word

Startup Business Plan Word Templates

These business plan templates are ideal for entrepreneurs to assess the viability of their idea and gain buy-in from prospective investors and stakeholders.

Startup Business Plan Template

general business plan format

Use this startup business plan template to create a strong and detailed roadmap of your concept and related goals. The template includes space for an executive summary, business description, summary of product or service offerings, pricing structure, marketing strategy, competitive analysis, startup expenses, funding sources, and more to ensure you have a thorough plan in place.

Download Startup Business Plan Template

Sample 30-60-90-Day Business Plan for Startup

Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup

This 30-60-90-day business plan template is versatile, and can be used to develop an actionable plan for virtually any business activity. This sample contains pre-filled information to help you explain the organization’s main goals and deliverables, as well as to assign key tasks, ownership, and deadlines. 

‌Download Sample 30-60-90 Day Business Plan for Startup Template

For additional resources to create your plan, visit “ Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples .”

Product and Service Business Plan Word Templates

These business plan templates are designed for a product or service-focused business to use to develop a workplan that articulates its vision and objectives.

Business Plan Template for Professional Services

Professional Services Business Plan Template

Entrepreneurs offering professional services can use this document to outline the main goals and objectives associated with their business, as well as how they plan to achieve them. This template comes with a built-in table of contents and includes all the components of a traditional business plan, including the company background, market and industry analysis, competitive analysis, service offering details, promotional plan, sales forecasts, financial statements, and more.

Download Business Plan Template for Professional Services — Word

One-Page Business Plan for Service Business

One Page Business Plan For A Service Business Template

This business plan template is ideal for a service-type business owner who needs a basic plan to jot down core business concepts. This single-page template has room to include the business mission and vision, service provided, target market, competitive advantage, marketing and sales plan, and key objectives. There is also a visual timeline of milestones included at the bottom of the template for tracking progress.

Download One-Page Business Plan Template for Service Business — Word

One-Page Business Plan for a Product Business

One Page Business Plan For A Product Business Template

Use this one-page business plan to outline the key details related to your product-focused idea. Articulate the purpose and vision of your business, the problem your product solves, potential customers, how you will get your product to buyers, pricing strategy, main objectives, and success metrics. The timeline of milestones at the bottom of the template automatically creates a visual display of noteworthy activities. 

Download One-Page Business Plan for Product Business — Word

Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Word Templates

Use these pre-filled business plan templates as a basis to build a thorough plan that keeps your strategy aligned with sales, promotional, and financial objectives.

Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

This fill-in-the-blank template features a traditional business plan layout, and includes pre-filled content in each section. Outline the key components of a well-rounded business plan, and add a company overview, market analysis, marketing and sales plan, operations plan, financial statements, supporting documentation, and more.

Download Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template — Word

Lean Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan

Fill-in-the-Blank Lean  Business Plan Template

This Lean business plan has all the necessary parts to articulate your business vision and strategy. Add information about the problem you aim to solve, your product or service offering, unique value proposition, target customers, cost structure, revenue streams, and a timeline of milestones.

Download Fill-In-the-Blank Lean Business Plan Template — Word

For additional resources, visit " Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates ."

For more free, downloadable templates for all aspects of your business, take a look at “ Free Business Templates for Organizations of All Sizes .”

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When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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1.1: Chapter 1 – Developing a Business Plan

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  • Page ID 21274

  • Lee A. Swanson
  • University of Saskatchewan

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

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

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

Purposes for Developing Business Plans

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

Internal Purposes

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

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

External Purposes

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

Business Plan Development Principles

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

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

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

General Guidelines for Developing Business Plans

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

As You Write Your Business Plan

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

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

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

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

1. First main heading

1.1 First subheading under the first main heading

1.1.1. First sub-subheading under the first subheading

2. Second main heading

2.1 First subheading under the second main heading

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

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

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

General Business Plan Template

Ignite Your Business Success with our Comprehensive General Business Plan Template. This versatile template is crafted to support entrepreneurs and professionals across various industries, enabling them to lay a strong foundation for their ventures. Whether you're launching a new business or seeking to grow an established one, our all-inclusive template offers a strategic framework to develop a robust business plan that will steer you towards success in today's dynamic market.

general business plan format

Download the template today!

Our comprehensive General Business Plan Template is a valuable asset that empowers you to outline your business's vision, mission, and objectives. This versatile template provides a structured framework to organize crucial information such as market analysis, financial projections, operational strategies, and marketing plans. By utilizing this template, you can create a comprehensive and professional business plan that highlights the viability and potential of your venture.

Key Features of Our General Business Plan Template:

  • Market Analysis: Gain profound insights into your industry's landscape, encompassing market trends, competition, and target customer demographics. Identify lucrative opportunities while evaluating potential risks, allowing you to develop a strategic edge.
  • Financial Projections: Streamline your financial forecasting process, projecting revenue streams, operational costs, and overall profitability. These essential tools facilitate data-driven decisions regarding investments, pricing strategies, and sustainable growth plans.
  • Operations and Resource Management: Develop a robust blueprint for streamlined operations, encompassing meticulous equipment selection, maintenance schedules, and efficient workforce management. Maximize resource utilization and enhance productivity across all facets of your business.
  • Marketing Strategy: Define your target market and devise a compelling marketing strategy to captivate customers and establish a strong brand presence. Our template guides you through creating impactful marketing campaigns and leveraging digital platforms to effectively engage your audience.

Benefits of Using Our Template

  • Comprehensive Structure: Our template provides a meticulously organized and structured framework, streamlining the process of crafting a robust business plan. With its clear sections and guidance, you can cover all essential aspects, from market analysis to financial projections, saving valuable time and effort.
  • Industry-Relevant Guidance : Tailored to meet the diverse needs of any industry, our template includes specialized sections and prompts curated specifically for your business. This ensures that you address the unique aspects of your sector, aligning your business plan with industry best practices.
  • Streamlined Financial Projections: Simplify the critical task of financial projections using our intuitive template. With pre-built financial projection templates, accurately estimate revenue, expenses, and profitability, empowering you to make informed decisions and attract potential investors.

General Business Plan Frequently Asked Questions

Q: why is a business plan essential for my venture.

A: A business plan plays a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction of your venture. It provides a roadmap for success, outlining your goals, objectives, and strategies. It enables you to identify market opportunities, analyze competition, and make informed decisions to maximize profitability. Moreover, a well-crafted business plan is often required by investors, lenders, and stakeholders who seek to assess the feasibility and potential of your business.

Q: How can a business plan help attract investors?

A: A meticulously developed and comprehensive business plan, featuring Accurate Financial Projections, serves as a powerful tool to attract investors. It offers detailed information about your venture's financial projections, market analysis, competitive advantages, and growth strategies. This information allows potential investors to evaluate the viability and profitability of your business, instilling confidence in your venture's potential. By presenting a solid business plan, you showcase your commitment to success and provide a clear vision for investors to align with.

Q: What are the key components that should be included in a business plan?

A: A business plan should encompass essential components such as an executive summary, project overview, market analysis, financial projections, operations and management plan, marketing strategy, and risk assessment. These components provide a comprehensive understanding of your business, including its goals, target market, revenue projections, operational strategies, and potential risks. Each section should be meticulously crafted to showcase the viability and profitability of your venture, attracting investors, securing funding, and providing a guiding framework for your business operations.

We Know a Good Business Plan When we See One

Collectively, our team has reviewed thousands of business plans and has nearly 20 years of experience making SBA loans. We've also helped more than 50,000 businesses create financial projections across many industries and geographies.

general business plan format

Adam served as Executive Director for a SBA microlender in Indiana for over 10 years helping businesses and reviewing thousands of business plans.

general business plan format

Grace has built hundreds of custom financial models for businesses as well as our projection templates which are used by thousands of businesses every year.

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Kyle served as an SBA loan officer for 7 years working directly with startups and business owners to review their business plans, projections, and prepare their loan package.

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Home » Employer Resources » Startup Center » The Ultimate Guide to Creating Investor-Friendly Business Plans [Format Guide]

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Investor-Friendly Business Plans [Format Guide]

Business Plan Format

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur wondering what a business plan should look like and how to create one? A well-structured business plan is an essential part of any successful venture. But it may seem challenging to give shape to your business idea and not miss out on any important details.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the key elements of a business plan and provide you with a useful business plan format with sample statements to help you on your way.

Table of Contents

Business Plan: An Overview

A business plan is a detailed document that outlines the objectives, strategies, and tactics of a business. It is typically used to secure investments, financing, and other forms of support from stakeholders. The document should include information such as descriptions of the company, its products and services, its customers, its marketing and financial plans, and its operational plans. Having a business plan is crucial for any business. It can ensure that everything is taken into account and that the business is well-prepared to succeed.

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Business Plan Format with Sample Templates

Writing a business proposal can be tricky. Whether it is a small or large business, there are a few key elements you should consider when discussing a business strategy to enhance your business plan. This section provides sample templates that can help you streamline your unique business proposal.

1. Give an Executive Summary

An executive summary in a business plan is a brief overview that outlines the major points of the plan. It should be concise and engaging so that it captures the attention of potential investors or lenders. The summary should be in paragraphs with comprehensible headings and points. To write an executive summary, you should briefly answer the following questions (not necessarily all):

  • What is the mission of your business or your company/organization?
  • How did the idea of business come up?
  • Who has the highest leadership?
  • Which industry does the business belong to?
  • What is going to be the employee base?
  • What are the business’s products and services?
  • What are the competitive advantages of the business in the already existing market/industry?
  • What marketing strategy will be used?
  • How many different operational teams are going to form?
  • What is going to be the location?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • How will you fund the business?
  • How much money is required to set up the business?
  • What are its future financial targets?

Here is an example of an executive summary of an organic food product start-up.

“[Company Name] is a start-up business venture that specializes in the production and distribution of organic health food products. It was founded by two entrepreneurs who have 10 years of combined experience in the health food industry. The company is located in a major metropolitan area.

Our goal is to become the top provider of organic health food products in our market. We plan to do this by providing high-quality products and services and excellent customer service. We have identified some key competitive advantages that will help us succeed, including our experienced management team, our strong network of suppliers, and our commitment to innovation.”

2. Talk About the Business’s Key Products and Services

In this section, talk about the key products and services that your business plans to offer, along with their value proposition. Here, the term value proposition means why a person will care to buy your product or service. It also uncovers unexplored and potentially marketable opportunities.

Here’s a business proposal example that includes details of key products and services for an organic healthy food product start-up:

“Our business offers organic foods that are healthier and more sustainable. Our value proposition is that our customers can enjoy healthy, farm-fresh foods while feeling good about contributing to the environment. We strive to offer a wide range of products, from organic produce to organic sauces, fruit bars, and snacks.

As dietary habits have evolved, there are a significant number of people who prefer or require gluten-free products due to their health issues. We strive to produce gluten-tolerance-tested, authentic, and trustworthy gluten-free products with delivery and online ordering to make purchasing easier for our customers.”

3. Insight on Competitive Market Analysis

Business planners need to possess comprehensive knowledge of their target industry and market. Having great business analysis skills can help a business planner get a clear understanding of how to compete effectively and gain a foothold in the market. This section should cover the following information:

  • Market Size: Describe the size of the industry, the expected growth rate, and the potential earnings it offers.
  • Target Audience: Who are the perfect customers for your business? Include details like their age, where they live, and their preferences.
  • Competitors: Write about your key competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and how you plan to counter them.
  • USP (Unique Selling Point): Cite what distinguishes your product or service from the competition. What’s your marketing plan to set yourself apart from the competition?
  • Price and Profit: Share what pricing scheme your business will follow and the estimated profit margin.
  • Rules and Regulations: Specify any special rules or laws you must follow in your industry.

An example to describe the market analysis in the business proposal template for an organic healthy food product’s start-up will be like this:

“The health food industry in India is rapidly expanding, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20% and an expected CAGR of 16% by 2026, equivalent to $30 billion. This growth is attributed to the increasing number of health-conscious individuals, who are expected to grow from 100 million to 176 million by 2026. Healthy snacking categories like cookies, fruit snacks, snack bars, and trail mixes are expected to experience significant growth.

Our products and services stand out due to our commitment to quality and reasonable prices. Our experienced management team, strong supplier network, and innovation are key competitive advantages. We aim to market our products to health-conscious consumers seeking organic alternatives to conventional foods, aiming to become the leading organic food supplier.”

4. Target Audience Selection

A business’s success is incomplete without fostering and developing its customer base. “You must know your customers and the customers must know you” – this should be the motto for your business.

After in-depth research on target customers, you can form the right marketing and sales strategies. The best way to identify customers is to understand their problems and needs. Simply put, your business’s products and services must solve their problems and fulfill their wants. Here’s an example to share about the target audience selection for an organic, healthy food product start-up:

“Our target audience is adults aged 18-40 who are health-conscious and interested in organic options. We will focus our marketing and sales efforts on this demographic, as they are likely to be more open to trying new products and more likely to embrace organic alternatives. Our goal is to become the leading organic food supplier for this demographic.”

5. Structure of the Company’s Management and Team

This section of the business plan template will discuss the teams and departments that will make the business run. Briefly outline the roles and responsibilities of a position and create a job posting to hire the right employee.

Here is one way to briefly mention your company’s management team structure:

We will have a CEO, COO, CFO, and other executive positions to manage the company’s operations. Several teams will be involved in running the business, including a customer service team, administration, human resources, sales and marketing team, finance team, operations team, and product development team. Each team would have its own set of roles and responsibilities.”

6. Marketing and Promotional Strategies

This is one of the most crucial parts of your business plan. The right marketing and promotional plans help spread the word about your product or service, increase overall brand awareness, capture market share, and thereby, increase the customer base, sales, and profits. Here is a brief overview of marketing and promotional strategies in your business proposal:

“Our marketing strategy is centered around a multi-faceted approach to engaging with our customers. We will create interesting and relevant content for social media platforms, optimize our website for search engines, collaborate with influencers, run targeted online ads, and send out email campaigns.

Our promotional efforts will include limited-time discounts, loyalty programs, and exclusive events to connect with our customers on a personal level. We plan to expand our outreach through partnerships with complementary businesses and attending industry events. To measure the effectiveness of our strategies, we will leverage analytics tools and gather customer feedback to make necessary adjustments. Our ultimate aim is to build trust and credibility in our brand.”

7. Details of Developing Sales Funnel

The growth strategy of a business depends heavily on its sales funnel strategy. This is because successful sales will lead to revenue growth and business expansion. An example to mention about the sales funnel in the business plan model is:

“Our sales funnel is designed to help our business generate more leads and close more sales. We will start by optimizing our online presence to increase visibility and attract potential customers. From there, we will create content and campaigns to nurture leads and build valuable customer relationships. We will then use analytics and other data-driven tactics to identify qualified prospects and target them with effective messaging and emails. Finally, we plan to use automated tools to manage the sales process from start to finish.”

8. Lay Out Your Financial Plan and Budget

This point of your business proposal will include details of the budget, balance sheet, revenue generation, cost reduction strategies, and other expenses. It should talk about the costs required to cover all business operations, management, and estimated future revenue projections. Here is a template of a business budget.

Business Budget Template

9. Add Appendix to Provide Additional Details

The appendix to a business proposal template includes extra documents that give more information about the proposal. You can put in any part that needs evidence, facts, or reports. Normally, the appendix can have these documents:

  • Market research with charts and data from other sources.
  • Licenses, contracts, certificates, or patent papers.
  • Maps and plans for expanding the business facility.
  • Contact details for team members, board members, and current investors.
  • Reports and statements from quality-check experts.
  • Financial documents like the balance sheet and the company’s account statements.

Every business needs a one-of-a-kind business plan format. It should contain all the necessary information and documents to give the reader, investors, and stakeholders a comprehensive overview of the proposed business. By taking the time to structure and create a detailed business plan, entrepreneurs, business planners, and analysts can create a clear and concise guide to help them achieve their goals. Executing a successful business plan, therefore, requires skilled professionals. If you are interested in the field of business management and helping businesses make valuable decisions, then look for work from home accounts jobs to contribute.

Have you ever drafted a business plan? Tell us in the comments below!

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general business plan format

Sandipta Banerjee has completed her Master's in English Literature and Language. She has been working in the field of editing and writing for the past five years. She started her writing journey at a very young age with her poems which have now evolved into a poetry blog. She was working as Editorial Head in a US-based publishing house before joining Internshala.

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How to Write a Business Plan [Complete Guide]

Last Updated on – Aug 8, 2023 @ 3:22 pm

Preparing to write your business plan? You’re already one step ahead of other entrepreneurs who don’t see its value.

A well-thought-out and well-written plan for starting and running your business helps you focus on what you need to do to make your business idea work. It can also boost your chance of getting investments and loans to finance your business .

Did you know that half of small businesses fail in their first four years? Planning is such a crucial step to reducing the risks of managing an enterprise. Turn your business idea from something abstract and uncertain into a successful venture. It starts with drafting a good business plan.

Here’s your definitive guide to writing a business plan that speaks for itself.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a written document that details what a business is, what direction it will take, and how you’ll get it there.

Practically speaking, the business plan evaluates your business’ viability. As the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) puts it , the document allows entrepreneurs to find out whether or not their business idea will bring in more money than how much it costs to start and run it.

More than just a document, the business plan helps business owners to figure out the key aspects of an enterprise, including the following:

  • Business goals and strategies to meet them
  • Competitive edge and how to leverage it
  • Potential problems and how to solve them
  • Funding required to start the business
  • Equipment, facilities, and manpower needed for operations

Who Needs a Business Plan and What Is It Used For?

Every aspiring entrepreneur who will spend a great amount of money, time, and energy to earn a profit needs a business plan.

Business planning is a crucial part of starting an entrepreneurial journey, no matter how small or big a business is. Never skip this step—as they say, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Here are some examples of business types that benefit much from business planning:

Founders of startup businesses seek funds to begin their new venture. Business plans help them persuade investors and lenders to provide the funding they need.

For startups, a business plan explains the nature of the new venture, how it will achieve its goals, and why the founders are the best people to lead the company. The startup business plan should also specify the capital needed to jumpstart the new business.

Related: Fast-Growing Startups in the Philippines

Existing Businesses

Not only do startups gain advantage from a business plan—existing enterprises need it, too.

But business plans for growing businesses serve a different purpose. Usually, a business plan helps a middle-stage business raise funds for additional facilities, equipment, manpower, and others needed for expansion. This document also defines strategies for growth and allocates resources based on strategic priorities.

Growing businesses also use business plans to communicate their vision to various stakeholders such as customers, business partners, potential investors and lenders, employees, and suppliers.

For such needs, a business plan for existing businesses lays out the goals, strategies, metrics to evaluate success, responsibilities, and resource allocation.

Social Enterprises

Social enterprises may not be as profit-driven as other business types, but that doesn’t mean they need business planning any less.

A social enterprise needs to prepare a business plan to achieve its social objectives and keep empowering the communities it’s supporting. This document is what government agencies and donor agencies require and evaluate when approving grants for funding a social project .

A social enterprise business plan determines the social issue that a business idea will solve, its beneficiaries, products or services, target market, and sales projections, among many others.

Non-Profit Organizations/NGOs

Like social enterprises, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can also use business plans to source funds for their campaigns and projects.

A nonprofit business plan discusses the problems an NGO is trying to solve through a certain project, as well as how it will do that and how much resources are needed.

It also helps the organization and its board members to prepare for risks by making projections on how likely the activities will push through and how the current sources of funds will continue to yield a certain level of revenue. Most importantly, the business plan defines the Plan B if the original plan ends up failing.

Business Plan Format and Its Components

How does a business plan exactly look like? There’s no recommended universal format for business plans. Ideally, yours is customized according to the nature of your business and what you’re going to use the plan for.

However, all business plans have sections in common. Here’s a quick walkthrough of the six components that make up a business plan.

1. Executive Summary

Like an abstract of a college thesis or a foreword of a book, the executive summary is meant to provide a brief overview of the document. It presents the highlights of a business plan in a page or two.

The executive summary the first thing that readers see, so keep it short yet engaging and compelling enough to make them want to view more details in your plan.

2. Company Profile

The company profile is your chance to introduce yourself and your business to people outside your company. It’s also called the company summary, company information, business description, and business profile.

This section quickly answers the five Ws and one H of your business: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Think of it as your business calling card. Being the shortest section of the business plan, the company profile provides a quick overview of the business—who the owner and founder is, management team, business goals, business address, product or service, and what makes it unique.

3. Operations Plan

The operations plan explains how you’ll run your business, focusing on the different aspects of manufacturing your product. This section includes the following information, among many others:

  • Type of business (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation , or non-profit)
  • How the product is made or the service completed
  • Necessary materials, equipment, and facilities to manufacture the product or complete the service
  • Any subcontractors needed
  • Quality control system

4. Organizational Plan

Your people should play a major role in your business plan, just as how they’re important to your business success . The organizational plan includes a chart that shows how your company is structured according to key departments or functions such as administration, production/manufacturing, marketing, and finance. This organizational chart not only presents the levels of authority in a company but also clarifies who is responsible for which people and function.

Aside from the organizational chart, the organizational plan also includes these details:

  • Number of employees to hire
  • Responsibilities of each job role
  • Qualifications of workers who will perform each role
  • Salaries and benefits per job assignment

5. Marketing Plan

The marketing plan and the succeeding chapters are the heart and soul of your business plan, explaining the things that will make your business work. This section details how you plan to promote your product or service in the market.

Specifically, the marketing plan covers the following:

  • How the product or service will work and how it will benefit customers
  • Target market and its profile
  • Strategies for packaging, advertising, public relations, and distribution
  • Competitive advantage

6. Financial Plan

A critical section in your business plan, the financial plan helps you assess how much money you’ll need to start or grow your enterprise and identify your funding sources to get your business off the ground and sustain its operations. This is where you’ll provide financial estimates that cover at least one year of running your business.

Investors and lenders specifically look for these financial details in business plans:

  • How much you’re going to borrow, what you’ll use the loan for, and how you’ll pay it back
  • How much profit you’re expecting to make (through an income statement and balance sheet)
  • How you can finance your business operations (through a cash flow statement)
  • Whether to keep the business going or close it down to cut losses (through a break-even analysis)

Related: How to Write a Business Proposal

Should You Use a Business Plan Template?

Business plan templates identify what information to put into each section and how it should be structured.

They provide instructions to guide entrepreneurs through the process. This way, nothing is missed out while writing the plan.

Thus, using a business plan template is a great idea, especially if this is your first time to prepare a plan for starting or growing your enterprise.

Helpful as it as may be, a business plan template doesn’t make business planning 100% effortless. While it provides the outline that makes writing the plan easy and quick, you still need to do your homework.

For example, a template won’t compute the financial projections for you—it’s a task you have to complete either on your own or with the help of a professional.

So before you use a business plan template, manage your expectations first and be prepared to do a lot of math!

8 Free Business Plan Templates

Yes, you read it right—you can download free online business plan templates. Some of these templates are designed for a specific niche, while others offer sample business plans for a wide range of business categories and industries.

Start off by choosing any of these free templates that suit your business planning needs.

1. Business Plan Format by the DTI

DTI has a wealth of useful information for micro, small, and medium businesses in the Philippines. Of course, it’s free to access since it comes from the government.

On the DTI website, simply look for the Business Planning section and download the business plan format in a PDF file. This document not only lists down all the information to be included in every section of a business plan, but it also provides guide questions per section—making business planning easier for first-timers.

If you want a more detailed discussion of what should go into each component of your business plan plus sample scenarios, check the DTI’s Negosyo Center e-book that fleshes out things for small business owners.

2. Simple Business Plan Template by The Balance Small Business 

The Balance is an online resource for small business owners. It has a free business plan template that’s simple and easy to understand for beginners, with instructions on how to use it. Broken down into sections, the simple business plan template tells you what to include in each component of the plan.

Simply copy the free template and paste it into a word document or spreadsheet. From there, you can start drafting your business plan with the template as a guide.

3. Free Sample Business Plans by Bplans

This website features a collection of over 500 free business plan samples for various industries, including restaurants, e-commerce, real estate, services, nonprofit, and manufacturing.

Under each category are links to many sample business plans for specific types of business. Each sample comes with a plan outline, too. For example, under the Services category, you’ll find sample plans for businesses like auto repair shops, advertising agencies, catering companies, health spas, photography studios, and more.

4. Business Plan Samples by LivePlan

More than 500 free sample business plans are available at the LivePlan website, so you’re likely to find one that suits your business best. The samples allow users to know how other businesses structured and worded each component of their business plans. You can copy and paste the sections into your own plan.

To download a full business plan sample, you’ll have to sign up by submitting your name and email address through the website.

5. Business Plan Templates by PandaDoc

PandaDoc offers free business plan templates for NGOs, startups, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, hotels, and salons. These documents can be downloaded in PDF format.

But if you want a customizable template, you can download the PandaDoc template for a 14-day free trial. This template allows you to edit the document, choose a theme that matches your branding, and add pictures and videos.

The website also has free templates for executive summaries and business letters.

6. The One-Page Business Plan by The $100 Startup

If your business has a simple concept, then a one-page business plan template is ideal to use. This downloadable PDF file is a very simple outline made up of a few sections with questions that you have to answer in just a short sentence or two.

7. Business Plans by Microsoft

Microsoft provides a broad selection of templates for its users, including business plan templates in Word, business plan presentations in PowerPoint, and business plan checklists in Excel.

  • Sample business plan template (Word) – Provides the steps in writing a complete business plan
  • Business plan presentation template (PowerPoint) – Consists of slides for different sections of a business plan that highlight the key points for viewers
  • Business plan checklist template (Excel) – Enumerates the important things to do when writing a business plan, using the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) analysis framework

The advantage of using a template from Microsoft is having a professional-looking document, slideshow presentation, or spreadsheet. No need to do the formatting by yourself because the template is already formatted. All you have to do is enter the necessary information into the template to complete your business plan.

8. Social Business Plan Guidelines by the Ateneo de Manila

This free business plan format for social entrepreneurs comes from the Ateneo de Manila University’s John Gokongwei School of Management. In a glimpse, it provides the basic information you need to plan a social enterprise.

It also has more detailed business plan guidelines you can refer to. Simply click the link to the word document at the bottommost part of the page.

Related: 11 Best MBA Programs & Schools in the Philippines

How to Write a Business Plan

An outstanding business plan covers everything your stakeholders need to know about your business. So don’t just wing it—put a lot of thought into this critical document.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of drafting a business plan, whether you’ll use a template or not.

1. Brainstorm about your business idea

You may have a very promising business idea, but it won’t fly unless you develop it into a clear-cut concept.

Brainstorm with your team about everything you can think of about starting and running the business. Then list them all down.

Be as creative as possible. No need to be too critical at this point.

While brainstorming, aim to answer these key questions:

  • Why do you want to start the business? What has inspired you to go for it?
  • What product or service do you plan to sell?
  • Who will be your target customers? What are their problems that you’re hoping to solve through your product or service? How will you promote your offerings to them?
  • What will be your business branding ? How will you position your brand in the industry?
  • What is your competitive advantage? What makes your business unique?
  • Where do you see your business within a year?

2. Validate your business idea

Research on the specifics of your business idea—paying special attention to your product or service, target market, and competitors.

According to entrepreneurship experts, it’s best to spend twice as much time on this step as spending the time to the actual drafting of the business plan.

Here are some ways to validate your business idea:

  • Read studies and research to find information and trends about your industry .
  • Conduct market research to gather insights from industry leaders, potential customers, and suppliers . You can do this through surveys, focus group discussions, and one-on-one interviews with your stakeholders.
  • Collect data about your competitors , especially the product or service they offer and how they reach their customers. Consider buying from them or visiting their store to get a feel of their products and customer experience.

Gather all relevant information and analyze your findings to assess whether the business idea is feasible or not. You may need to tweak your business idea based on your evaluation of its feasibility.

3. Define the purpose of your business plan

It’s extremely difficult to carry out anything if you aren’t sure about why you’re doing it in the first place. Without a clear purpose, you’re like driving a car without knowing where you’re headed to.

When it comes to writing your business plan, you should have its purpose in mind from the get-go. It can be one or more of the following:

  • Create a roadmap to provide the directions the business must take to achieve your goals and overcome challenges. This is ideal for bootstrapping or self-funding startups.
  • Seek investments and loans to finance a business. If this is your purpose for making a business plan, it should be compelling enough to attract investors and lenders.
  • Set your targets, budget, timelines, and milestones. When you put them all in writing, it’s so much easier to evaluate and measure your business’ actual performance versus your goals.
  • Communicate your vision and strategic priorities with the management team. With this purpose, your business plan must establish specific goals for your managers so that they have something to commit to, you can track progress, and get them to follow through on their commitments. Also, having a business plan for this purpose ensures that everybody involved in running your business is on the same page.
  • Minimize risks. Running a business in itself involves a lot of risks, and it gets riskier with a poorly researched business idea. A business plan can help entrepreneurs mitigate them by organizing activities and preparing for contingencies.

4. Create an outline for the executive summary

The first section of any business plan is the executive summary. You don’t have to draft it yet at this point, but it helps to write an outline for it before you proceed with the rest of the sections.

In a sentence or two, describe these key aspects of your business:

  • Product or service
  • Target market
  • Competitors
  • Unique value proposition (how you set your business apart from the competition)
  • Management team
  • Short-term and long-term business goals
  • Possible sources of revenue

5. Describe your business

The next step is to write your company profile. Get your readers to become familiar with your business and realize why they should be interested in it.

If you have no idea what specifically goes into this crucial business plan section, you can check the company profiles of businesses in your industry. Usually, you can find them on their websites at the About Us or About the Company page. Take note of the information included and how they’re written.

Here are the must-haves of a great company profile:

  • Brief history of the company
  • Mission and vision
  • Product or service lineup
  • Target market and audience
  • How the business will address the customers’ pain points
  • What makes the business unique

6. Provide details about your operations and organizational structure

Anyone who will read your business plan needs to know what they should expect when they deal with you. They need to see a solid plan for your operations and the people who make up your team. So give your operations plan and organizational plan a careful thought.

For your operations plan, choose carefully the right legal structure for your business. Will you be a sole proprietor? Or will you partner with someone or form a corporation? Your choice will have an impact not only on your business operations but also on the taxes you’ll pay and your personal liability .  

As for the organizational plan, it’s where you put your organizational chart that shows a glimpse of the hierarchy within your organization. You can easily create this chart in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Also introduce the people who comprise your management team—their relevant experience, qualifications, and expertise . The organizational plan must also include information of the support personnel, as well as who reports to whom and who manages whom.

If you’ll be outsourcing some of your business functions, add them to your organizational plan, too. These may include consultants , accountants , lawyers , logistics specialists, and IT specialists. This way, you’re showing that you’re planning to fill in any expertise and skill gaps in your in-house team.

Also Read: Business Process Outsourcing to the Philippines [Complete Guide]

7. Compose your marketing plan

Make this section of your business plan as comprehensive and detailed as possible. You’d want to prove that you’ll take a strategic and aggressive approach to reach your target customers and promote your brand and product or service to them.

Divide your marketing plan into five subsections: objectives, product/service description, target market profile, competition profile, and promotional activities.

A. Objectives

Zero in on the what and the why of your marketing activities. Under the marketing objectives section, list down all your goals and the strategies you’ll implement to meet them.

Your marketing goals can be any of the following:

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Introduce a new product or service
  • Regain or get more customers for an existing product or service
  • Secure long-term contracts with your ideal clients
  • Increase sales in a certain market, product, or price point
  • Improve product manufacturing or product/service delivery
  • Increase prices without affecting sales

B. Product/Service Description

Describe each product or service you’ll offer, including its features and benefits. You can use storytelling , images, charts, tables, or any visual element that best illustrates how each item will work to the benefit of your target customers.

C. Target Market Profile

Present as much relevant data as you can about your potential customers. Make sure to include the following:

  • Demographic profile: age range, gender, income level, education, interests, etc.
  • Buying behaviors
  • Factors that influence their buying decisions: purchasing power, personal preferences, economic conditions, marketing campaigns, social factors (such as peer pressure and social media influencers ), cultural factors, etc.

D. Competition Profile

Your marketing plan must focus not only on your own business but also those of your competitors. List down the similar products or services that they offer to your target customers.

Also, provide an assessment of your competitors’ performance. Which areas are they doing well? How can you improve on their strengths and weaknesses? How can your business stand out? Is it your more competitive pricing? Better customer service? Superior product quality?

To come up with a good competition profile, take the time to research about your competitors. When interviewing your target customers, ask them about the brands they use or businesses they deal with.

You can also do an online search of your competitors. For example, if you’ll run a pet supplies store in Pasig, search for “pet stores Pasig” on Google. The search engine results page may show you the different stores that sell the same products as the ones you plan to offer. Read customer reviews online to get deeper insights on how these businesses serve their clients.

Consider doing a “secret shopping” in your competitor’s store. This way, you can experience firsthand how they treat their customers and how they market and sell their products or services. You might even be able to get information about their product lineup and pricing.

E. Promotional Activities

The last subsection of your marketing plan must discuss how you’ll promote your brand and products or services and connect with customers. Also, be ready to allocate budget for each marketing activity you identify in your plan.

Create a list of marketing activities you plan to implement. Will you reach your audience through SEO (organic online search), paid advertising, and/or social media? Or will you go the traditional route through print and TV advertising or joining expos, exhibits, and trade shows? The right choice depends on the nature of your business and the type of audience you’re trying to reach.

8. Develop your financial plan

The financial plan is the section where you’ll crunch the numbers. Unless you’re really good at math, it’s best to hire an accountant or business consultant who will work with you to develop a foolproof financial plan.

Put simply, a financial plan explains how a business will spend money and make more money. It also estimates the amount of time it will take for the business to earn a profit.

Here are the specifics of a good financial plan:

  • Total capital requirement
  • Business financing plan and any loan requirement
  • Collateral to put up for a business loan
  • Schedule for loan repayment
  • Financial statements : cash flow statement, income statement/profit and loss statement, and balance sheet
  • Break-even analysis
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Financial analysis

Ultimately, these financial projections answer the question, “Is your business financially feasible?”

9. Back up your business plan with supporting documents

Books and theses have an appendix section at the end that provides additional resources. Your business plan should have one, too. This final section consists of documents, surveys, studies, charts, tables, images, and other elements that provide supporting data.

Depending on the information you’ve presented in the other sections of the plan, your appendix may include these things:

  • Market research data and findings
  • Resumes of the management team
  • Relevant financial documents
  • Lease agreements
  • Bank statements
  • Licenses and permits

10. Review and refine your business plan

Your business plan is almost done at this point. Now all you have to do is go over the document once more to ensure you’ve covered everything and nothing crucial is left out.

Check your final draft and be sure it has the following:

  • Sound business idea – If you’ve done Step 2 properly (validating business idea), you can be confident that you have a sound business idea.
  • Comprehensive and in-depth look into your business in a professional format
  • Thorough understanding of your target customers , their behaviors, interests, and needs
  • Competent management team – The people who make up your team must possess the skills and expertise that complement yours.
  • Business focus or specialization

Aside from yourself, ask a business partner, proofreader, and accountant or financial expert to review your business plan and spot any errors and inconsistencies. You’d want to make sure that it looks professional and is accurate.

11. Write the executive summary

Lastly, get back to the outline you created in Step 4 and write it based on your final draft. Make sure to craft an engaging executive summary that hooks people into reading the rest of the plan.

6 Actionable Tips on Writing a Business Plan

Anyone can write a business plan—but it takes more than great writing skills to create an exceptional one.

Here are some tips to help you prepare an effective business plan that goes beyond the ordinary.

1. Write with your audience in mind

When drafting your business plan, you’re writing not for yourself but for people who will play key roles in starting and running your enterprise. This is why it’s important that you know whom you’re writing for and keep them in mind while preparing your business plan.

If you think you can’t create a plan that caters to all your audience groups, consider having different versions of the document. For example, you can come up with a business plan for investors, another for lenders, one for employees, and so on. But keep the data consistent across all versions.

To write a business plan that suits a particular audience, you have to use the right language, highlight the parts that interest them, and adjust the format accordingly.

A. Use the Right Language

One of the most important rules in business writing: use the language that your target audience easily understands. If you’re writing for engineers, finance people, or lawyers, your language can be technical—meaning you can use jargons and terminologies familiar to them.

However, if you’re writing for investors who barely have technical knowledge, tweak your language in simple terms that are easy to grasp and appreciate.

Likewise, if you’re writing a business plan to communicate internally with managers and employees your company’s direction and strategies, it’s best to use more casual language than you would when writing for high-level, external stakeholders.

B. Appeal to Your Audience’s Interests

It also helps to understand what interests your audience because they will influence how you’ll write your business plan.

Your management team, for instance, will be interested in knowing your business goals and strategies so that they can help you steer the company in the right direction.

Investors and lenders look at the business plan differently—they’ll be more interested in your financial statements to determine your financial health, like if your business is worth investing in or has the ability to pay back a loan.

C. Adopt a Suitable Business Plan Format

There’s no one-size-fits-all format for business plans because it depends mainly on your audience, aside from the nature of your business.

Let’s say you’ll set up a restaurant, and you’re drafting a business plan to apply for a business loan. To convince lenders that your business is viable, details such as your restaurant’s location and possible renovations are crucial.

Meanwhile, if you’re writing the plan for potential big-time investors, you’ll take a different approach. A good restaurant business plan focuses on the business aspects that will lead to growth and profitability (Remember that investors are interested in how they’ll make money from partnering with you).

2. Keep it concise

How long should a business plan be? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , it depends on various factors such as the specific audience it’s written for and the nature of a business. The SBA cites surveys that found the ideal length to be at least 25 to 100 pages.

Sounds a lot? If you have a simple business idea and you’re writing a business plan for busy people who don’t have time to pore over hundreds of pages, then one page up to 20 pages should be fine.

However, you may need to provide more explanation (which will take up more pages in your business plan) if you’re planning to build a new kind of business, and a risky one at that.

The size of your business also affects the length of your business plan. Business plans for small businesses need not exceed 30 pages. Corporate business plans are expected to be longer.

What matters more than length is how concise your business plan is. Meaning, it provides all the necessary information—including solid research and analysis—using the fewest words possible. No place for wordiness here!

3. Document everything related to your business

Support your claims in the business plan with solid facts and proof. Investors, for instance, need an assurance that they won’t lose their investment when they trust you with their money. This is where documenting your business thoroughly plays a crucial role.

What kinds of documentation can you include in your business plan?

  • Industry forecast or projections
  • Licensing agreements
  • Location strategy
  • Prototype of your product or service
  • Survey and FGD results
  • Resumes of your management team

4. Show your passion and dedication to your business

Although business plans have straightforward, matter-of-fact content, you can still establish an emotional connection with your readers through your plan. After all, your readers are humans with feelings and motivations.

No need to be dramatic about it—you can show your passion and dedication while still sounding professional in your business plan. Write about the mistakes you’ve had (like a failed business in the past), what you’ve learned from the experience, the values you hold, and the problems of your customers you want to solve through your product or service.

5. Know your competition and how you’ll stand out

Your business won’t be the single player in your industry. Other businesses in the same niche have started way ahead of you, and some new ones will also compete for business in the future.

Write your business plan in such a way that you know your competitors so well. Identify all of them and what makes your business unique compared with the rest without belittling them.

6. Be realistic and conservative in all your estimates

In any aspect of your business, it’s better to underpromise and overdeliver than the other way around. This also holds true when writing a business plan. You wouldn’t want to set unrealistic expectations that will lead to disappointments and worse, losses, when you fail to deliver on your promise.

There’s no place for too much optimism in your business plan. Your budget allocation, timelines, capital requirements, sales and revenue targets, and financial projections must be reasonable, realistic, and conservative. These will lend credibility to your business plan and yourself as an entrepreneur. Because there are a lot of factors beyond your control, always assume that things will get completed longer and cost more ( consider inflation over time! ).

This is where your research prior to writing the draft comes extremely helpful. You have something solid and factual to benchmark against. For example, if your analysis based on the facts you’ve gathered indicates that you’ll be able to get 40% share off the market in your first year of operations, consider making your estimates a bit more conservative and attainable.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Business Valuation in the Philippines

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Business Plan

Now, let’s explore the mistakes entrepreneurs often commit when writing a business plan. Listing them all down here to let you know what to avoid.

1. Prioritizing Form Over Substance

Spend most of your time and energy on building solid research and facts rather than obsessing about which font type or background color will look best for your document.

2. Overthinking

Many entrepreneurs take too long to complete their business plans because they worry too much about it. Don’t get intimidated by business planning—you don’t have to be an expert or a degree holder in business management or business administration to be able to write an outstanding business plan. Overthinking will just lead to analysis paralysis and get nothing done.

As long as you know your business well and are passionate about it, then writing a business plan won’t be as difficult as you think, especially if you’re using a template.

3. Submitting the Document Without Proofreading It

If your business plan is filled with typos and grammatical errors, readers will get distracted even if you’re presenting substantial information. It may also give your audience an impression that you’re careless—and who wants to deal with a person who isn’t professional and careful enough?

Even if it costs you money, pay a professional proofreader to check your work and correct any errors so that the message you wanted to convey through your business plan will get across.

4. Making Empty Claims

Any statement that isn’t sufficiently supported by solid research or documentation has to go. For example, if you want to claim to be the top player in your industry but you don’t have any evidence to back it up, rethink about including it in your business plan.

5. Writing an Overly Long and Wordy Plan

Make sure that everything you put into your business plan is relevant and serves your purpose. Otherwise, remove unnecessary statements that just add fluff to the document.

Also, don’t waste your readers’ time by using too many words—including highfalutin ones. Remember, your goal is to make your audience understand your business, not to impress them with beautiful or complex prose.

6. Using Too Many Superlatives

Even if you really feel that your business, business idea, or projection is incredible, amazing, the best, great, fantastic, or one of a kind, avoid using these superlatives because they aren’t appropriate for formal documents like a business plan.

7. Doing the Financial Projections on Your Own

Unless you’re an accountant yourself, it’s best that you get a professional to do the job for you. It will save you time and the headache of dealing with numbers and formatting your financial plan properly.

8. Overestimating Your Projections

The business plan is not a place to make impossible promises—while they look good on paper, you might run into trouble fulfilling them. To avoid this mistake, always do your research. Find out how other businesses do it and what the typical timeframes and financial projections are before you come up with your estimates.

9. Long-Term Business Planning

As much as possible, limit your projections to only a year. A lot of things can happen and make your business different from how you initially planned it. Stick with your short-term or one-year targets and estimates, then just tweak your business plan as time goes by.

10. Including Unfounded Rumors About Your Competitors

Not only do rumors make your business plan look unprofessional, but they also distract your readers from your intended message, which is to highlight what makes your business different from the competition. Avoid including details based only on hearsay. Everything in your plan must be backed up by solid, quantifiable facts.

Key Takeaway

A business plan is more than just a document that you prepare once and will never look at again. Rather, it’s a strategic tool that you should use from time to time to guide your business operations, get the buy-in of your stakeholders, and grow your business over time.

Once you’re done with writing your business plan, make the most of it for your business. Use it and modify it as often as needed!

Ready and confident to start writing your business plan? Share your thoughts and questions below!

Other Useful Business Resources from Grit PH:

  • How to Sell a Business in the Philippines

general business plan format

About Venus Zoleta

Venus Zoleta is an experienced writer and editor, specializing in personal finance and digital marketing.

She has been a regular columnist for some of the biggest business & finance publications in the Philippines, such as MoneyMax.ph and Filipiknow.net.

Hoping to retire early, she started investing and bought a home in her early 20s. This crazy cat mom eats ramen like there's no tomorrow.

Education: University of the Philippines (B.A. Journalism) Focus: Personal Finance, Personal Development, and Entrepreneurship

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Hello Ms. Venus, Rise Against Hunger Philippines, N.G.O. , branching out into a new high ways… and i am newly hired as a social enterprise development officer… whose main tasks to launch a product line; an up-cycled tarpaulin bags.. manufactured by a group of community women (skills training’s, coordinated by life coached; aiming w-holistic transformation and sustainability program.. . with such a big tasks, i need a step by step guides, and if possible a coach for i cannot do it alone… thank you, henry reandino chua

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General Practice Business Plan PDF Example

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  • February 22, 2024
  • Business Plan

the business plan template for a general practice

Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for launching and running a successful general practice. This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your general practice’s identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth.

This article not only breaks down the critical components of a general practice business plan, but also provides an example of a business plan to help you craft your own.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or new to the healthcare industry, this guide, complete with a business plan example, lays the groundwork for turning your general practice concept into reality. Let’s dive in!

Our general practice business plan is designed to encapsulate all fundamental components essential for a robust strategic framework. It details the clinic’s healthcare services, marketing plans, market conditions, competitive analysis, organizational hierarchy, and financial projections.

Here are the primary sections of our General Practice Business Plan:

  • Executive Summary : Offers an overview of your General Practice’s business concept, market analysis, management team, and financial strategy.
  • Practice & Location: Describes the practice’s facility, amenities, medical equipment, and the strategic significance of its location for patient accessibility.
  • Services & Pricing: Lists the healthcare services your practice will provide, such as routine check-ups, preventive care, and chronic disease management, along with a pricing structure or insurance affiliations.
  • Key Stats : Shares relevant statistics about the general healthcare market, such as potential patient demographics, community health profiles, and healthcare spending trends.
  • Key Trends: Highlights significant trends in healthcare that impact General Practices, like technological advancements in patient care, regulatory changes, and patient preference shifts.
  • Key Competitors: Analyzes the main healthcare providers in the vicinity and differentiates your practice from them based on services, patient care quality, and operational efficiency.
  • SWOT: Conducts a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis to understand the internal and external factors influencing the practice.
  • Marketing Plan: Describes strategies for patient acquisition and retention, including digital marketing, community outreach, and patient referral programs.
  • Timeline: Sets key milestones and objectives from the practice’s establishment through the first year of operation, including critical stages like licensing, staff hiring, and service launch.
  • Management: Provides information about the individuals managing the General Practice, detailing the backgrounds, roles, and expertise of the lead physicians and administrative team.
  • Financial Plan: Projects the practice’s 5-year financial outlook, covering revenue streams, cost structure, profitability forecasts, and funding requirements.

the business plan template for a general practice

General Practice Business Plan

Download an expert-built 30+ slides Powerpoint business plan template

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary serves as the gateway to your General Practice’s business plan, providing a succinct outline of your medical practice and the healthcare services it offers. It will highlight your practice’s market positioning, detailing the comprehensive range of general healthcare services provided, its location, size, and a snapshot of daily operations.

This section will also delve into how your General Practice will assimilate into the local healthcare market, including an analysis of direct competitors in the vicinity, identifying who they are, and pinpointing your practice’s distinctive selling points that set it apart from these competitors.

Moreover, it’s important to include insights about the management and founding team, elaborating on their roles and how they contribute to the practice’s success. Additionally, a synopsis of your financial forecasts, encompassing revenue and profit expectations over the next five years, should be included to offer a clear view of your practice’s financial strategy.

Make sure to cover here _ Business Overview _ Market Overview _ Management Team _ Financial Plan

General Practice Business Plan executive summary1

Dive deeper into Executive Summary

Business Overview

For a General Practice, the Business Overview section can be effectively organized into 2 main parts:

Practice & Location

Briefly describe the physical setup of your medical practice, focusing on how the space is designed for comfort and efficiency, ensuring a welcoming and professional atmosphere for patients. Mention the location of your practice, emphasizing how easy it is for patients to get there, such as its closeness to community centers or the availability of parking. Explain why this location is particularly good for reaching your intended patient group.

Services & Pricing

Detail the variety of medical services your practice offers, ranging from routine health check-ups and vaccinations to more specialized care such as chronic disease management, pediatric care, or women’s health services. Discuss your pricing strategy, making sure it aligns with the quality of care you provide and is competitive within the local healthcare market. Highlight any special offerings, such as health plans, preventive care packages, or loyalty discounts, that add extra value for your patients, promoting ongoing engagement and patient loyalty.

Make sure to cover here _ Practice & Location _ Services & Pricing

general business plan format

Market Overview

Industry size & growth.

In the Market Overview of your General Practice business plan, begin by exploring the size of the healthcare industry, particularly focusing on general medical services, and its growth potential. This analysis is crucial for understanding the broad scope of the healthcare market and pinpointing areas for potential expansion.

Key market trends

Next, delve into the current trends within the healthcare sector, such as the growing demand for holistic and preventive healthcare, the integration of technology in patient care (telehealth, electronic health records, etc.), and a heightened focus on patient-centered services. Highlight the increasing preference for practices that offer comprehensive care plans, the use of digital tools for better health management, and the importance of accessibility and convenience in healthcare services.

Key competitors

Then, analyze the competitive landscape, which may include a variety of healthcare providers from large medical centers to smaller, specialized practices, as well as emerging telehealth services. Focus on what sets your General Practice apart, whether it’s through superior patient care, a broad range of services, or a focus on particular areas of healthcare. This section should clarify the demand for General Practice services, the competitive environment, and how your practice is uniquely positioned to succeed in this evolving market.

Make sure to cover here _ Industry size & growth _ Key competitors _ Key market trends

General Practice Business Plan market overview

Dive deeper into Key competitors

First, carry out a SWOT analysis for your General Practice, identifying Strengths (such as experienced medical staff and comprehensive healthcare services), Weaknesses (like limited operating hours or high patient wait times), Opportunities (for instance, growing awareness and demand for preventive healthcare services), and Threats (such as changes in healthcare regulations or increased competition from other medical practices).

Marketing Plan

Then, devise a marketing strategy that details how to draw in and keep patients through focused advertising, health awareness campaigns, an active online presence, and participation in community health events.

Lastly, establish a detailed timeline that marks important steps for the General Practice’s launch, marketing activities, patient base development, and goals for growth, ensuring the practice progresses with a clear and deliberate strategy.

Make sure to cover here _ SWOT _ Marketing Plan _ Timeline

General Practice Business Plan strategy

Dive deeper into SWOT

Dive deeper into Marketing Plan

The Management section focuses on the general practices’s management and their direct roles in daily operations and strategic direction. This part is crucial for understanding who is responsible for making key decisions and driving the general practice toward its financial and operational goals.

For your general practice business plan, list the core team members, their specific responsibilities, and how their expertise supports the business.

General Practice Business Plan management

Financial Plan

The Financial Plan section is a comprehensive analysis of your financial projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability. It lays out your general practice’s approach to securing funding, managing cash flow, and achieving breakeven.

This section typically includes detailed forecasts for the first 5 years of operation, highlighting expected revenue, operating costs and capital expenditures.

For your general practice business plan, provide a snapshot of your financial statement (profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statement), as well as your key assumptions (e.g. number of customers and prices, expenses, etc.).

Make sure to cover here _ Profit and Loss _ Cash Flow Statement _ Balance Sheet _ Use of Funds

General Practice Business Plan financial plan

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  26. General Practice Business Plan PDF Example

    Business Plan. Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for launching and running a successful general practice. This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your general practice's identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth.