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40 Startup Business Ideas to Try in 2024

Kelsey Sheehy

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 .

Aspiring entrepreneurs are often one brilliant startup business idea away from becoming their own boss. Of course, brilliance is easier said than done when starting a business .

The best startup ideas have business plans that solve a problem, meet an unmet demand or improve upon something already on the market — if not all of the above. Here are 40 ideas to help get your wheels turning as you look to bring a company to life.

business plan ideas for entrepreneurs

40 best startup business ideas

Even startup ideas that seemingly come out of left field can yield incredible success. Read through this list for instant inspiration.

1. Create educational content or activities

Parents are always looking for tools and activities to keep their kids entertained and engaged. Printable activity guides for different age groups, home-school lesson plans or even virtual nature walks or story time could all be viable startup ideas.

2. Offer virtual team-building

Companies need new ways to boost morale and build camaraderie among remote and hybrid teams. Enter the virtual team-builder. Cheesemongers, mixologists, chefs, magicians, artists, historians, master gardeners — almost anyone can create and offer bonding experiences for virtual companies.

3. Start a meal-prep business

The U.S. market for meal kits is expected to grow 14.2% annually between 2023 and 2030, according to market analysis by Grand View Research [0] Grand View Research . Meal Kit Delivery Services Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Offering (Heat & Eat, Cook & Eat), By Service (Single, Multiple), By Platform (Online, Offline), Meal Type (Vegan, Vegetarian), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2023 - 2030 . Accessed Feb 21, 2024. View all sources . Tap into that market and start a meal-prep service to make people’s lives easier and cater to specialized diets (keto, vegan, Whole30).

4. Create a food waste solution

Creating a startup focused on reducing food waste could not only earn you some serious funding, but also positively change the food system and help save grocery stores and restaurants money.

5. Capitalize on plant-based foods

The U.S. plant-based market was worth $8 billion in 2022, with sales of plant-based foods projected to climb 44% over three years, according to the most recent annual report from the Good Food Institute [0] Good Food Institute . U.S. retail market insights for the plant-based industry . Accessed Feb 21, 2024. View all sources . Creating a vegan supermarket or making meat-free versions of traditional foods could be the ticket to success for aspiring entrepreneurs.

6. Start a dropshipping business

The e-commerce business model of dropshipping is especially attractive because it doesn’t require you to purchase inventory upfront. Selling higher-end products with low shipping costs could become profitable quickly if you do thorough competition research.

» MORE: 25 low-cost business ideas

7. Curate subscription boxes

Subscription boxes were a $32.9 billion business globally in 2023 (up from $22.7 billion in 2021), and the industry is still set to grow, according to a market research report by the International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group [0] International Market Analysis Research and Consulting Group . Subscription Box Market Report by Type (Replenishment Subscription, Curation Subscription, Access Subscription), Gender (Male, Female), Application (Clothing and Fashion, Beauty, Food and Beverages, Pet Food, Baby Products, Health and Fitness, and Others), and Region 2024-2032 . Accessed Feb 21, 2024. View all sources . Pick a niche, and then curate a collection of specialized goods to deliver unique experiences to consumers. Some subscription boxes focus on a mix of products, like makeup or dog toys; others focus on a single item or theme, like shaving or sustainability. Find the right starting point for you and run with it.

Ready to get started? Here's what to do next

Open a business bank account.

Start keeping the books.

Build your website.

Protect yourself from liability.

8. Create an airport-centric app

Creating an all-in-one app that allows travelers tonavigate unfamiliar airports with real-time information is a relatively untapped startup idea. Though various travel applications exist, an app that shows amenities, TSA line wait times, ground transportation options and airport maps could be useful to passengers.

9. Become a destination wedding planner

Planning a wedding is stressful; planning a wedding from afar could fray any couple’s nerves. That creates a niche for a destination wedding planner who can advise on venue and vendor selections, as well as manage wedding and travel logistics for the bridal party and guests. If you love exploring, have expertise in a popular wedding locale and are great under pressure, this could be the startup idea for you.

10. Make local guides

Even if you don’t consider yourself a local expert, creating local guides can get you familiar with your surroundings and help tourists enjoy off-the-beaten-path experiences in your area. Make themed guides, highlight attractions and partner with local businesses for advertising opportunities.

» MORE: 25 side business ideas

11. Create a local grocery delivery service

A grocery delivery startup can come with minimal setup costs — you only need a vehicle and a cell phone to get started. Help older people or others who are too busy to shop by offering this community-friendly service. You can even approach grocery stores in your area to see if they're willing to partner with you to get the service off the ground.

12. Start a virtual event planning company

Virtual event planning is a new booming business as in-person gatherings go online or take a hybrid approach. A skilled planner who can ensure all attendees are engaged, regardless of location, will be in high demand for years to come.

» MORE: Best business credit cards for LLCs

13. Sell zero-waste products

Starting a zero-waste company is more than just a trendy thing to do; it can be an ethical, environmentally conscious decision. Selling sustainable products such as reusable bags, bamboo toothbrushes or products with zero-waste packaging could appeal to a growing number of sustainability-focused consumers.

14. Make products for pets

Create innovative pet products to take advantage of the fact that 66% of U.S. households (about 86.9 million households) have at least one animal companion, according to the annual pet ownership survey by the American Pet Products Association [0] American Pet Products Association . Industry Trends and Stats . View all sources . Developing toys, accessories or clothing for furry friends can help you tap into that expansive market. You can also go the service route and offer pet sitting, walking or virtual dog training. Or develop an app or tech solution that makes pet parents’ lives easier.

15. Create custom clothing

Selling custom clothing or offering a tailoring service could be your winning startup idea. The custom clothing industry is gaining popularity and offers room for long-term growth.

» MORE: How to open an Etsy shop

16. Sell vintage clothing online

Demand for sustainable fashion has helped propel second-hand clothing into a $39 billion industry in the U.S. with projections to hit $70 billion by 2027, according to an annual resale report by online consignment company ThredUp [0] ThredUp . ThredUp Resale Report 2023 . View all sources . Consider selling thrifted, vintage or upcycled clothing on social media, an ecommerce platform or an app such as ThredUp or Poshmark.

17. Begin niche blogging

Find a niche (think e-sports or urban farming) and create engaging content around it. You can earn money through advertising, affiliate links and even product sales once you build an audience.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

18. Become an e-book writer

If you’ve got a way with words, consider becoming a self-published author and selling e-books on virtual platforms.

» MORE: 14 profitable e-commerce business ideas

19. Start ghostwriting

Create content for busy professionals who don’t have the time or the skill to write themselves. If you don’t mind not attaching your name to your writing, ghostwriting is a great way to earn money with little to no startup costs attached.

20. Become a resume writer

Everyone needs a resume, but few people are skilled at or enjoy writing their own. If you’ve got writing experience and are looking to launch a startup with no setup costs, creating a resume-writing service could be the path for you.

21. Open a coworking space

Capitalize on the rising popularity of remote work by creating a modern coworking space that addresses pain points of entrepreneurs. Pick a convenient location and build it out with highly sought-after amenities.

» MORE: 35 businesses that every community needs

22. Become an online coach

If you enjoy helping others achieve their goals and are a people person, this startup idea could be fulfilling for yourself and for your clientele. You can provide wellness, business or life coaching.

23. Flip failing websites

Buy an existing website, make improvements on it and sell it for a profit. You’ll need to understand the market well and have some web development skills, but this can be a profitable pursuit.

24. Become a web developer

The need for custom websites isn’t ever going away, and if you know your way around WordPress or know a programming language or two, you can start a profitable website development startup.

25. Start a podcast

If you’re deeply knowledgeable or passionate about a subject, consider getting into podcast production or hosting. Building an audience takes time, but once established, podcasters can earn money through affiliate marketing, donations and sponsorships.

26. Be a social media influencer

Once you find a niche and build a personal brand, amassing a large following on Instagram or YouTube can lead to a solid source of income through influencer marketing.

» MORE: 30 Instagram business ideas

27. Create online courses

Obscure hobbies can lead to lucrative business ideas if you make them easy for others to learn. If you’d like to teach others but aren’t interested in the coaching route, creating an online course could lead to reliable passive income.

28. Become a marketing consultant

If you’ve got digital marketing chops, help small businesses reach their target audiences by providing SEO, social media or copywriting services.

Video preview image

29. Develop an app

If you’ve got a unique idea and the necessary technical skills, creating an app could be your gold mine. It’s also possible to build an app without extensive coding skills, and once it launches, it can bring in passive earnings.

» MORE: 25 tech business ideas

30. Make a smart appliance

Smart accessories and home appliances are all the rage and becoming an important part of daily life for the average consumer. For inspiration, take note of daily tasks at home or at work that would be easier with a smart appliance.

31. Tap into virtual reality experiences

VR is the future, and the future is now. Create virtual reality experiences or accessories to tap into a global industry that’s projected to grow to a $165.91 billion market by 2030, according to a report by Fortune Business Insights [0] Fortune Business Insights . The global virtual reality market size was valued at $19.44 billion in 2022 & is projected to grow from $25.11 billion in 2023 to $165.91 billion by 2030... Read More at:- https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/virtual-reality-market-101378 . View all sources , a market research firm.

32. Make a niche dating site

The stigma around online dating has decreased over the past decade, so take the opportunity to help others find love. With various dating sites targeted to everyone from sea captains to farmers, there is market demand for specialty dating options.

33. Develop a chatbot

Create a chatbot — which uses artificial intelligence to communicate with people — to help businesses improve their communication. Chatbots have become more popular in recent years, and you can create one without knowing how to code.

34. Offer matchmaking skills

This is like creating a dating site but with a personal touch. If you have a knack for knowing what types of people and which personalities get along well, you might be the perfect person to start matchmaking. You can do this online or meet clients in person as well.

35. Be a virtual assistant

Being an online assistant for someone, or starting a company of virtual assistants, can be a huge success. Everyone could use a little extra help, and creating a startup focused around getting people that help for the administrative tasks in their lives, professional or personal, can be a huge moneymaker.

» MORE: Home-business ideas: 40 remote jobs to explore

36. Reinvent exercising

If there's one thing people get bored with, it's doing the same type of exercise day in and day out to stay healthy. Plenty of people have turned the exercise industry on its head, with businesses like CrossFit and Peloton popping up. You can do the same if you have an idea for a new regimen or activity for exercise enthusiasts.

37. Create eco-friendly, health-friendly makeup and beauty products

As people become more aware of the impact their personal choices have on their health and on the environment, they're looking for more health and beauty products that are also eco-friendly. Creating safe and eco-friendly products could be a great startup idea.

38. Open a food truck or restaurant pop-up

Opening a food truck or restaurant pop-up is a great startup idea for entrepreneurs with a knack for cooking. Both options are easier to launch than a full-scale restaurant and allow you to get started with a smaller staff and menu. You can open a food truck that only sells french fries with crazy toppings, for example, or launch a breakfast sandwich pop-up in your neighborhood coffee shop.

39. Start an organization business

Shows like "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo" and "The Home Edit" put professional organizing on the map, exposing millions to the magic of a tidy home. If you have a knack for making order out of chaotic spaces, you could start a business offering those services to those who need them. Organizing kitchen pantries, closets, bookshelves and more are all options you could offer customers at your new business.

40. Do interior design for young professionals

Have an eye for decorating? Start an interior design business, offering your services at an hourly rate virtually to young professionals looking for inspiration. It can be as simple as them uploading some images of their new space to your site and you sending back a few links with furniture in their budget and example images of what the room might look like when it's finished.

ZenBusiness

Start Your Dream Business

How to choose a startup idea

Do your homework before diving headfirst into a startup idea. First, make sure there's demand for the business you want to start, where you want to start it. More than 35% of businesses fail because there isn't a market need for their services or product, according to research from CB Insights [0] CB Insights . The Top 12 Reasons Startups Fail . View all sources .

You also need to write a business plan , which should include your company’s objective, sales plan, market analysis and financial projections. A good business plan can help to keep your business on track. Lenders will also want to see your business plan when considering you for a startup business loan . You should also consider the skills you already have and see how those align with any of the startup business ideas you might go with.

This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

On a similar note...

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How to make a business plan

Strategic planning in Miro

Table of Contents

How to make a good business plan: step-by-step guide.

A business plan is a strategic roadmap used to navigate the challenging journey of entrepreneurship. It's the foundation upon which you build a successful business.

A well-crafted business plan can help you define your vision, clarify your goals, and identify potential problems before they arise.

But where do you start? How do you create a business plan that sets you up for success?

This article will explore the step-by-step process of creating a comprehensive business plan.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that outlines a business's objectives, strategies, and operational procedures. It typically includes the following information about a company:

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

A business plan serves as a roadmap for a company's success and provides a blueprint for its growth and development. It helps entrepreneurs and business owners organize their ideas, evaluate the feasibility, and identify potential challenges and opportunities.

As well as serving as a guide for business owners, a business plan can attract investors and secure funding. It demonstrates the company's understanding of the market, its ability to generate revenue and profits, and its strategy for managing risks and achieving success.

Business plan vs. business model canvas

A business plan may seem similar to a business model canvas, but each document serves a different purpose.

A business model canvas is a high-level overview that helps entrepreneurs and business owners quickly test and iterate their ideas. It is often a one-page document that briefly outlines the following:

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

On the other hand, a Business Plan Template provides a more in-depth analysis of a company's strategy and operations. It is typically a lengthy document and requires significant time and effort to develop.

A business model shouldn’t replace a business plan, and vice versa. Business owners should lay the foundations and visually capture the most important information with a Business Model Canvas Template . Because this is a fast and efficient way to communicate a business idea, a business model canvas is a good starting point before developing a more comprehensive business plan.

A business plan can aim to secure funding from investors or lenders, while a business model canvas communicates a business idea to potential customers or partners.

Why is a business plan important?

A business plan is crucial for any entrepreneur or business owner wanting to increase their chances of success.

Here are some of the many benefits of having a thorough business plan.

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

A business plan encourages you to think critically about your goals and objectives. Doing so lets you clearly understand what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.

A well-defined set of goals, objectives, and key results also provides a sense of direction and purpose, which helps keep business owners focused and motivated.

Guides decision-making

A business plan requires you to consider different scenarios and potential problems that may arise in your business. This awareness allows you to devise strategies to deal with these issues and avoid pitfalls.

With a clear plan, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions aligning with their overall business goals and objectives. This helps reduce the risk of making costly mistakes and ensures they make decisions with long-term success in mind.

Attracts investors and secures funding

Investors and lenders often require a business plan before considering investing in your business. A document that outlines the company's goals, objectives, and financial forecasts can help instill confidence in potential investors and lenders.

A well-written business plan demonstrates that you have thoroughly thought through your business idea and have a solid plan for success.

Identifies potential challenges and risks

A business plan requires entrepreneurs to consider potential challenges and risks that could impact their business. For example:

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

By identifying these potential challenges, entrepreneurs can develop strategies to mitigate risks and overcome challenges. This can reduce the likelihood of costly mistakes and ensure the business is well-positioned to take on any challenges.

Provides a basis for measuring success

A business plan serves as a framework for measuring success by providing clear goals and financial projections . Entrepreneurs can regularly refer to the original business plan as a benchmark to measure progress. By comparing the current business position to initial forecasts, business owners can answer questions such as:

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

If not, why not, and what do we need to do?

After assessing whether the business is meeting its objectives or falling short, business owners can adjust their strategies as needed.

How to make a business plan step by step

The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include.

1. Create an executive summary

Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

Keep your executive summary concise and clear with the Executive Summary Template . The simple design helps readers understand the crux of your business plan without reading the entire document.

2. Write your company description

Provide a detailed explanation of your company. Include information on what your company does, the mission statement, and your vision for the future.

Provide additional background information on the history of your company, the founders, and any notable achievements or milestones.

3. Conduct a market analysis

Conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry, competitors, and target market. This is best done with a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Next, identify your target market's needs, demographics, and behaviors.

Use the Competitive Analysis Template to brainstorm answers to simple questions like:

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

These questions should give you valuable insights into the current market and where your business stands.

4. Describe your products and services

Provide detailed information about your products and services. This includes pricing information, product features, and any unique selling points.

Use the Product/Market Fit Template to explain how your products meet the needs of your target market. Describe what sets them apart from the competition.

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

Outline how you plan to promote and sell your products. Your marketing strategy and sales strategy should include information about your:

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

The Go to Market Strategy Template is a great way to visually map how you plan to launch your product or service in a new or existing market.

6. Determine budget and financial projections

Document detailed information on your business’ finances. Describe the current financial position of the company and how you expect the finances to play out.

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

Define how your company is structured and who will be responsible for each aspect of the business. Use the Business Organizational Chart Template to visually map the company’s teams, roles, and hierarchy.

As well as the organization and management structure, discuss the legal structure of your business. Clarify whether your business is a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or LLC.

8. Make an action plan

At this point in your business plan, you’ve described what you’re aiming for. But how are you going to get there? The Action Plan Template describes the following steps to move your business plan forward. Outline the next steps you plan to take to bring your business plan to fruition.

Types of business plans

Several types of business plans cater to different purposes and stages of a company's lifecycle. Here are some of the most common types of business plans.

Startup business plan

A startup business plan is typically an entrepreneur's first business plan. This document helps entrepreneurs articulate their business idea when starting a new business.

Not sure how to make a business plan for a startup? It’s pretty similar to a regular business plan, except the primary purpose of a startup business plan is to convince investors to provide funding for the business. A startup business plan also outlines the potential target market, product/service offering, marketing plan, and financial projections.

Strategic business plan

A strategic business plan is a long-term plan that outlines a company's overall strategy, objectives, and tactics. This type of strategic plan focuses on the big picture and helps business owners set goals and priorities and measure progress.

The primary purpose of a strategic business plan is to provide direction and guidance to the company's management team and stakeholders. The plan typically covers a period of three to five years.

Operational business plan

An operational business plan is a detailed document that outlines the day-to-day operations of a business. It focuses on the specific activities and processes required to run the business, such as:

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

The primary purpose of an operational business plan is to ensure that the business runs efficiently and effectively. It helps business owners manage their resources, track their performance, and identify areas for improvement.

Growth-business plan

A growth-business plan is a strategic plan that outlines how a company plans to expand its business. It helps business owners identify new market opportunities and increase revenue and profitability. The primary purpose of a growth-business plan is to provide a roadmap for the company's expansion and growth.

The 3 Horizons of Growth Template is a great tool to identify new areas of growth. This framework categorizes growth opportunities into three categories: Horizon 1 (core business), Horizon 2 (emerging business), and Horizon 3 (potential business).

One-page business plan

A one-page business plan is a condensed version of a full business plan that focuses on the most critical aspects of a business. It’s a great tool for entrepreneurs who want to quickly communicate their business idea to potential investors, partners, or employees.

A one-page business plan typically includes sections such as business concept, value proposition, revenue streams, and cost structure.

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

A template can help you organize your thoughts and effectively communicate your business ideas and strategies. Starting with a template can also save you time and effort when formatting your plan.

Miro’s extensive library of customizable templates includes all the necessary sections for a comprehensive business plan. With our templates, you can confidently present your business plans to stakeholders and investors.

Be practical

Avoid overestimating revenue projections or underestimating expenses. Your business plan should be grounded in practical realities like your budget, resources, and capabilities.

Be specific

Provide as much detail as possible in your business plan. A specific plan is easier to execute because it provides clear guidance on what needs to be done and how. Without specific details, your plan may be too broad or vague, making it difficult to know where to start or how to measure success.

Be thorough with your research

Conduct thorough research to fully understand the market, your competitors, and your target audience . By conducting thorough research, you can identify potential risks and challenges your business may face and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Get input from others

It can be easy to become overly focused on your vision and ideas, leading to tunnel vision and a lack of objectivity. By seeking input from others, you can identify potential opportunities you may have overlooked.

Review and revise regularly

A business plan is a living document. You should update it regularly to reflect market, industry, and business changes. Set aside time for regular reviews and revisions to ensure your plan remains relevant and effective.

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

Starting or growing a business can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, a well-written business plan can make or break your business’ success.

The purpose of a business plan is more than just to secure funding and attract investors. It also serves as a roadmap for achieving your business goals and realizing your vision. With the right mindset, tools, and strategies, you can develop a visually appealing, persuasive business plan.

Ready to make an effective business plan that works for you? Check out our library of ready-made strategy and planning templates and chart your path to success.

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How to Craft an Opportunity Business Plan

business plan ideas for entrepreneurs

Before a presentation on The Great Gatsby  to his college rhetoric class, Nico Aguilar suffered an anxiety attack so severe that he had to leave the room. Determined not to let that happen again, Aguilar read books on the subject and got coaching to become more comfortable with public speaking. 

Determined to help others overcome similar difficulties, he came up with Speeko , an AI-powered tool that helps users improve their public speaking skills. He and his co-founders, all engineers, built an algorithm that measures one’s speaking voice and then offers tips for improvement. The team had the algorithm down pat, but the business approach? “We were completely lost there,” Aguilar said. 

They turned to their mentors at tech incubator Techstars and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Chicago for help in writing that critical document: a business plan.

3 Business Plan Examples

  • An operating plan. This sketches out a business’ trajectory for the next 12 to 24 months. The plan includes staffing, revenue, projections, inventory and other factors necessary to running a business. Operating plans should be updated constantly as the business and market evolve.
  • A financial plan, which examines the business from a cash-flow perspective. Take this plan, which takes a conservative view of your business’ finances, to the bank if you’re planning to get a loan.
  • An opportunity or a vision plan. That’s the kind entrepreneurs present to potential equity investors. This plan should be aggressive, optimistic, and show how you will use your investors’ money to grow your business. It represents what’s possible if lack of capital is not holding you back.

The plan, written with the help of a tool called Business Model Canvas (more on that soon), included Speeko’s value proposition, its market, customers and predicted use. The plan went through multiple iterations and took several months to write. “It’s a big process to put together facts and figures,” Aguilar said. Their efforts paid off when Speeko won Polsky Center’s 2020 Alumni New Venture Challenge, a prize that comes with a $175,000 investment.  Brimming with enthusiasm, entrepreneurs tend to stuff business plans with everything from detailed finances to long-term projections. Avoid overstuffing by deciding what kind of business plan to write before putting pen to paper, said Waverly Deutsch, adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business . Deutsch teaches the Global New Venture Challenge course, a venture launch competition for the executive MBA program. 

Business plan executive summary

If it’s a new business, then write an opportunity or vision plan to take to potential equity investors. This plan should be “highly optimistic” and not at all conservative, Deutsch said. “It’s what you can do if you raise the money you want to raise,” she said.

Gather Material

The opportunity or vision plan must show investors that your business presents a real opportunity, demonstrate that you can build the company you propose to build, and show investors how their money will help you build your company. 

To prove the opportunity, outline your competitive differentiation in the marketplace. Show what problem your product solves for which market, the size of that market, and that customers are willing to pay for your product. If your product is what Deutsch calls “fundamentally different,” along the lines of Airbnb or Uber, “there’s a reason for customers to choose you,” she said, but those types of startups are rare. 

“Most businesses are evolutionary, not revolutionary,” Deutsch said. New businesses not offering a radically different solution can differentiate on quality, service, business model, go-to-market approach, positioning in the market or other factors. 

Your plan also must prove that you can build the company you propose to build. Details about arrangements with potential suppliers, any intellectual property involved in your business, and the status of the product, be it a demo or a prototype, are critical parts of an opportunity plan.

Another critical part: Your and your partners’ experience and knowledge as they pertain to launching a business. Avoid simply pasting your traditional job-seeking resume into the business plan. Instead, examine it carefully and draw solid lines between your past experience and the skills your new business will require. “It’s your job to sell your and your team’s experience to the investor,” Deutsch said, adding that entrepreneurs shouldn’t underestimate this portion of the plan. Lacking a tangible product and real-time market experience, “it all comes down to the people,” she said. 

The third element: Your plan for creating inroads and a beachhead in your market. “De-risk the business for investors,” Deutsch said. Offer a detailed operating plan, complete with compelling milestones, for the next 12 to 24 months. Show them that their money will help create a repeatable, scalable sales process and a robust product truly valuable in the marketplace, she said. Show them that their money will help your startup get to the next round of funding. “Investors are always looking at that next round,” she said. 

Further Reading What Investors Look for in an AI Startup

Prepare to Pivot

It is entirely possible that you’ll start writing and soon figure out that your big idea isn’t so big after all. “That’s good to learn early,” said Bob Bridge, executive director and founder of SWAN Impact Network , an angel investing organization with branches in Austin and Dallas, Texas. “Companies often pivot, especially when they start testing their ideas with customers.” 

He suggested avoiding the “trap” of using feedback from 100 potential customers to decide whether a business is a go. When presented with an idea, “people, wanting to be helpful, will say that the idea sounds interesting, that it could work for them,” Bridge said. “The CEO hears this and it’s confirmation bias saying, ‘I think I have my first customer.’”

Instead, approach potential customers to see if they have the problem your business wants to solve, then ask for more information on that problem. “Ask questions and start peeling the onion and become the world expert on that problem,” he said. If you have the solution for exactly that problem, then discuss the budget with these potential customers, and confirm that your solution is a must-have, not a nice-to-have for them. 

“Then you understand that there’s a problem to solve and people are willing to pay for the solution,” Bridge said. “That’s what we like to hear, that entrepreneurs have validated the business with real customers,” he said. “And when we do due diligence, before we would invest, we’d ask to speak to those customers and ask them if this is a nice-to-have or a must-have.”

Further Reading There Are 5 Basic Types of Entrepreneurs. Which 1 Are You?

Choose a Medium

“Nobody writes a 20-page Word document and I promise you no investor ever reads one,” said Bridge. He offers Business Model Canvas , a tool readily available online, as one option to the traditional prose document. 

Business Model Canvas breaks down a business into nine parts: Key partners, activities and resources; value propositions; customer relationships and segments; channels; cost structure and revenue streams. The tool shows how all the parts connect, and via whiteboard, can be reconfigured and workshopped. Business Model Canvas “helped us try out 10 ideas before committing to one in the business plan,” said Aguilar of Speeko. The format “forces your business to be simple, which is a really good thing when you’re starting out,” he said.

Business Model Canvas template

A PowerPoint deck also works and is a must when presenting to investors. Bridge recalls driving to VC appointments on Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road. After every meeting, he’d pull over to revise his pitch deck. “On any given day, that PowerPoint may have been tweaked three or four times to make it more investable,” he said. “You’re always learning and improving your pitch, and it’s easy to do that with a PowerPoint slide.” 

Deutsch, a proponent of telling a story in a business pitch, recommends a combination of media to present the story most effectively. “You need to have multiple communication tools available to you,” she said. She advised thinking along the lines of 10 pages of text, 10 pages of charts and data and more detail, and a one-page executive plan. Two decks, one light on text, for the presentation, and another more detailed leave-behind complete the business-plan package. 

Deutsch said that every founder needs to be involved in the business plan, with each contributing their own area of expertise. The team member who’s the best writer should be responsible for making sure the plan is written in a unified voice, and that it is free of grammatical and spelling errors. She also suggested having an advisor read the plan to spot unanswered questions. There will be many, she said, and that’s not a cause for concern. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” she said. “You will never answer all the questions about your business until you’re actually executing on your business.”

Bridge agrees. “It takes twice as much time and twice as much money to hit milestones,” he said. “We know that and we’re comfortable with it.”

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50 Business Ideas for New Entrepreneurs in 2024

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Technology has made starting your own small business easy, affordable, and possible. All you need to start a company online is an internet connection, web hosting , and a  domain name . The biggest challenge, however, is coming up with a viable and unique small business idea.

Ready to snag web hosting and a domain? Our featured hosting partners provide a free domain name for the first year when you sign up for a hosting plan to help keep costs as low as possible.

Ideally, the perfect small business idea for you fulfills three important criteria:

  • An activity you like doing
  • Something you are good at
  • Something in demand (i.e., people would pay for)

To help get you get started, we’ve come up with a list of online and offline business ideas that are easy to start. We have categorized each idea as follows:

  • Business type–is it an online or offline opportunity?
  • Investment–how much does it cost to start?
  • Earning potential–how much can you realistically earn?

We also indicate which ideas are well-suited to stay-at-home parents, undergraduate students, and those under 18.

Business to Business (B2B) Service Ideas

1. online bookkeeping.

Like many other professions, bookkeeping has gone online. This is great news for many bookkeepers and accountants who feel trapped in the office environment and long for more personal freedom and the ability to work during their own hours.

With easy-to-use  accounting software  and appointment-setting tools available, it’s never been easier to set up and manage client accounts.

  • Business type: Online
  • Investment: Low investment ⬇︎
  • Potential: Low value ⬇︎
  • Good for: Stay at home parents ✔

2. Business broker

A business broker assists the transaction between buyers and sellers. They must have adequate training and comprehensive knowledge of business law and standard practices in their respective industry. Business brokers are rewarded with commissions for the sales they make.

  • Potential: High value ⬆︎
  • Good for: Undergraduate students ✔

3. Office space rental

Office sharing is a booming industry largely driven by the needs of young entrepreneurs creating the next Google or Amazon.

If you already own a suitable property, you will only have to bear relatively low startup costs. However, this is a substantial investment if you don’t already have suitable property.

  • Business type: Offline
  • Investment: High investment ⬆︎

4. Language translation

Despite the impressive advancements of machine translation, the  demand  for skilled translators is still high value and will probably remain so for quite some time.

You can start looking for work on platforms such as  Fiverr  or  Upwork  and slowly build your clientele. It’s also a good idea to directly contact popular bloggers or a freelance writing business and ask if they would consider having their blog work translated into another language.

  • Good for: Stay at home parents ✔ undergraduate students ✔

5. Importing electronic original equipment manufacturer gadgets

If you look at top-selling items on  Amazon or eBay , you will probably notice many are imported. The formula is fairly simple: purchase your initial inventory, create a brand, and then  market and advertise your products online .

You can even use  dropshipping  or Amazon fulfillment services to do the whole thing and increase your average order value without a physical warehouse.

  • Business type: Online/offline
  • Good for: Stay at home parents ✔ undergraduate students ✔ kids and teens ✔

6. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketers promote products made by other people and then earn commissions on their sales. Amazon is easy to get accepted into and currently the most popular platform for affiliate marketing, but there are many alternatives as well. Affiliate marketing is often combined with blogging to create a seamless mix of content and promotion.

7. Data analyst consulting

With  the rise of big data , an increasing number of companies need to make sense of heaps of information to adjust overall business strategies. A data analyst has the technical expertise to do this and often has a background in economics, mathematics, or finance.

Data analysts  who work for large international corporations can earn more than enough money to support extravagant lifestyles.

8. Niche interest website owner

New trends start every day, and some become pop culture sensations. Your job as a niche website owner is to capture the market before it gets too saturated.

Creating a niche-interest website ( using WordPress ) will allow you to secure your place on the top of search engines, resulting in thousands of daily visitors. Using a tool like  StudioPress  can make this even easier. Blogging will grow your audience.

Ready to begin? Step one is choosing the right host.  Bluehost our top recommendation for most because of it’s affordable price point, beginner-friendly onboarding process, and any time customer support.

  • Potential: High value ⬆

9. Search engine optimization consultant

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an absolute necessity for anyone who wants to be relevant on the web.

A capable  SEO consultant  can turn a dying business into a prosperous operation in a matter of months. The best SEO professionals can earn as much as seasoned software developers.

10. Business incubator

The role of a  business incubator  is to help new companies and startups plan and begin small businesses successfully. A typical business incubator will provide clients with management training, office space, high-speed internet connectivity, and other necessities.

You don’t have to think too big – being a small,  local incubator  can be the perfect place to start.

Arts and Media Business Ideas

11. self-publishing.

Some self-published authors earn as much as  $100,000 yearly . You can achieve the same kind of success — and all you need is a few freely available tools and the ability to write a compelling book that will sell.

You don’t have to earn six figures to succeed with self-publishing. Just a few hundred extra dollars every month can go a long way. Many self-publishers begin with freelance writing or a simple website, relying on web hosts like Bluehost  to get started.

12. Social media consultant

This business is ideal for someone who knows how to use social media to obtain business objectives. You can specialize (e.g., in running  ads on Facebook and other social media platforms) , or be a generalist social media manager who can navigate LinkedIn, Snapchat stories, Twitter, and more accounts.  Social media tools  make this management easier.

While some social media consultants can earn big bucks, most can only manage to earn an  average wage .

13. Content writer

Businesses of all sizes embrace  content marketing  as their primary way of attracting customers and establishing their position as market leaders.

A content writer should be able to digest complex topics and turn them into engaging posts quickly and well-optimized for search engines. As such, it’s great for people who know a little bit about everything.

14. Podcasting

Podcasting is a fantastic way to make a few bucks on the side for anyone who deals with interesting or niche topics suitable for this format. There are already dozens of entrepreneur and business-focused podcasts out there.

Do you like video games or ethnic music? Interested in startups and entrepreneurship? Plenty of people would look forward to hearing your show on their way to work or school. Check out our full guide on how to start a business podcast to learn more about the process.

15. Blogging

Blogging is still alive and thriving. While it’s technically free to get started, you’ll have to be patient: it will take a while to get exposure and grow your audience. These days, the competition is fierce. Good knowledge of SEO is essential, as is the ability to create excellent content.

For anyone serious about starting, growing, and monetizing a blog, we recommend Bluehost + WordPress as the best place to get started. It’s easy to use, affordable, and flexible to match your needs & skills as you grow.

16. On-demand/streaming video content

PewDiePie is one of the biggest YouTube stars with over 111 million subscribers. His journey to stardom started in his room with a humble webcam and one simple  Let’s Play  video, which he does to this day.

Beyond live game streaming, there are still vast, unexplored seas filled with  opportunities  for anyone on YouTube who dares to go after them.

17. Handmade goods

If you are a crafty person, look at  Etsy , the largest online market for homemade and vintage goods.

You will find an amazing mix of leather wallets, lamps made from river wood, unique hand-printed t-shirts, jewelry, organic soup, and countless other things.  Top sellers  often expand beyond the platform, creating their own brands and opening stores across the globe.

Keep in mind you can sell your products on more than one site, including your own with an ecommerce platform like Shopify & BigCommerce .

18. Antique refurbishment

If you like working with wood and beautiful, valuable objects in general but don’t have the drive to create your own,  antique refurbishing  could be your ticket to success.

Depending on what you do exactly, you don’t need to invest a lot of money to get started, but you will need to  travel  across the country to get the best pieces on which to work.

19. WordPress themes

Are you a web developer or designer who earns passive income from a side business? If so, creating  WordPress themes  might be the right path for you. You can sell your themes on websites like  Envato Market .

Once your theme is finished, you will still need to provide customers with  ongoing support  and updates, but can do so when you please.

20. Drone videographer

If you like piloting drones, perhaps consider working as a  drone videographer . You get to go to interesting places, meet cool people, and eventually develop a portfolio that could land you a job in Hollywood or a high-paying company in the real estate industry.

Professional drones are expensive, but you can  start small  with a midsize one and a GoPro camera and go from there.

21. Subscription service

The main advantage of the subscription model is its predictable nature. As the number of your subscribers rises, you will know exactly how much you can expect to earn every month. Platforms like Patreon or Ko-fi are great ways to connect with fans who support you monthly.

The  largest subscription services  in the world are well-oiled machines that generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

Education-Related Business Ideas

22. language teacher.

For a long time, language teaching has been the go-to side business to make money for students and even full-time high school or university teachers. Now, with Skype and ubiquitous internet access, everyone can start  teaching languages  from the comfort of their home.

You don’t even have to know any  foreign languages  yourself – there are many advanced learners who are happy to practice their conversation skills.

23. Online course creator

One of the most popular platforms where people can access massive open online courses ( MOOCs ),  Coursera , has more than  100 million users  hungry for knowledge. Such courses go  far beyond  the traditional high school curriculum.

If you have any skill you think people might be interested in, there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a go. All it takes is a web camera, capture software, and basic editing skills.

Hospitality and Food Services Business Ideas

24. hostel owner.

With services like Airbnb, anyone can turn their house, garage, or single room into a  unique accommodation  for tourists and travelers from all around the world.

The platform takes care of the initial exposure and provides a way for owners and clients to communicate. If you happen to own a house in an attractive destination, you can even expect to  earn good money .

25. Event planner

The internet has enabled people to connect with like-minded individuals from across the globe, creating the best small business opportunity for  event planners .

Event planning requires organizational skills to  manage an event  like a wedding or a trade show. Money can then be made from entrance fees, sponsorships, on-premise sales to attendees, and more.

26. Food truck

Do you like to cook and always like coming up with new, creative ideas? Then opening a  food truck  might be just for you.

27. Catering business

These days, starting a catering business is all about finding the right niche. You can specialize in whatever type of food you like, any type of clients, and any type of venue.

You can cater to young professionals who want to organize networking events or be known as the  go-to caterer  for children’s parties. Picking a specialty can help you find underserved clientele.

28. Craft beer brewing

Producing small amounts of  beer  has recently turned into a popular hobby and fantastic business opportunity.

You will need to  invest  in equipment, acquire the necessary knowledge, and possibly even employ a handful of people to help you with the entire initiative. But seeing the finished product being served to customers in your favorite pub will be a wonderful reward.

29. Gluten-free bakery

This is just like a regular bakery, only  gluten-free . While starting a small home bakery won’t cost you much, a larger commercial operation is expensive.

You can get the necessary  equipment  for a competitive price if you search for used commercial components online. Learn how to use blogging to increase awareness of your business and grow revenue.

30. Guided tours

Are you situated in a popular tourist destination? If so, you may consider yourself lucky.

Starting a guided  tours business  can be a good opportunity. You can use it to make extra money during the summer, or it can be the start of a much larger business that employs other people to work as  guides . Consider setting up a website that enables people to book tours online.

Technology Business Ideas

31. mobile application developer.

Mobile applications are more popular than ever, and people are willing to pay good money for ways to manage their lives from their smartphones.

If you have a great idea and know how to code, you can run with it and  create your app  yourself.

Plenty of software developers  collaborate  with people on app creation if you just have an idea and need graphic design.

32. Virtual reality/augmented reality app developer

The virtual reality (VR) software market is expected to reach  $29.17 billion in revenue during 2022-2026 . A good chunk of that revenue could be in your pocket.

All you have to do is learn how to develop immersive VR and augmented reality  (AR) experiences . The internet is full of resources and communities of like-minded people to help you along the way.

Video:  Get an introduction to virtual reality by creating a VR app for Android in 15 minutes.

33. Virtual reality arcade owner

The first batch of  VR arcades  is just starting to pop up in some of the world’s largest cities.

Virtual reality is the perfect fit for arcades and could really bring new life to this dying business. The technology is still not 100% there, but it probably will be soon.

33. Indoor drone racing venue

Drone racing  is expected to be a multimillion-dollar sport within the next few years.

If you have a suitable indoor venue where you could host races or let people practice their  flying skills , definitely consider this business. Additional income could be made from posting the footage online.

34. Energy auditor

Green energy solutions can lead to dramatic savings, allowing some people to completely drop from  the grid .

As an  energy auditor , you will help businesses and individual home and apartment owners find ways to decrease their energy footprint as well as their monthly bills.

35. 3D printing services

3D printing  is taking the world by storm, and you can be part of this revolution if you invest in a high-quality 3D printer and offer it to other people.

They simply send projects for you to print and pick up, or you can send things in a box.

36. E-bike repair services

E-bikes  are finally becoming affordable for the average consumer. But most traditional bike shops lack the necessary expertise that would allow them to service the often complex electronic components found inside.

If you feel up to the task, this could be a tremendous  opportunity  to become the biggest player in your local area.

37. Web development

As long as there will be a web, there will be a need for web developers.

Modern web development requires more than mastering  HTML  with  CSS  and perhaps learning PHP or JavaScript. Any web developer who wants to be competitive must become familiar with various frameworks, supporting technologies, web designs, and trends.

Taking low-cost courses online is a good place to start.

38. Smart home contractor/consultant

Modern  smart home  solutions can do everything from remotely controlling light bulbs or  air-conditioning  in your house to a health-monitoring application on your smartphone. However, not everyone is in a position to set up or maintain the complex systems that make these conveniences possible.

Personal Services Business Ideas

39. dog walker.

Dog walking usually involves walking the dog from its home and then returning.

A dog walker can either be an individual or part of a business like  Rover . They will be paid for walking or for pet sitting.

  • Good for: Undergraduate students ✔ kids and teens ✔

40. Personal shopper

Shopping for groceries, clothes, or electronic goods can eat up a lot of time. A  personal shopper  can help busy people reclaim this time in exchange for a small fee.

You can go to stores in person , or give online recommendations about which products the client should buy.

  • Business type: Offline/online

41. Mobile pet grooming

As more and more people are postponing or foregoing the decision to have children, their attention turns to  their pets .

Many owners are willing to pay as much as several hundreds of dollars to give their beloved pets a  makeover . If you start a pet grooming business, set up a website that enables visitors to book appointments online.

42. Decluttering services

With the tremendous success of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, there has been a surge in demand for decluttering services. People need to get rid of useless things that become an emotional burden.

This business is far from being just a  cleaning service  in disguise. More often than not, people will be unwilling to give up even what’s clearly just trash, so you must also have a good understanding of human psychology.

43. Green cleaning services

The only thing that differentiates  green cleaning  services from regular cleaning ones is the type of products used. But this simple thing can turn otherwise unattractive businesses into something highly desirable.

People in upscale neighborhoods are willing to pay a lot of extra money just to know they are helping to preserve the  environment .

44. Beard care products

You can start your own  beard care  brand with a few cheap ingredients available online. When you create a good product, all you need to do is take care of its marketing and bulk manufacturing.

45. Pet daycare

If you love animals and pet sitting and have enough room to spare in your house, you can start a  pet daycare  business.

There’s not much to it: pet owners leave their animals whenever they have to go out for a longer time, and your job is to provide  everything  they need and ensure that the pets will be happy.

46. Daycare service

Even though you can start a  childcare service  from your home, it’s best to still prepare for a large investment.

If you live in a large city, definitely consider catering to a niche group of  parents  and charging premium prices for your services. You could focus on children with specific allergies or serve only organic food.

  • Good for: Stay at home parents ✔

47. Sustainable landscaping

Sustainable landscaping  business uses strategies to avoid negative environmental problems like excess stormwater run-off, drinking water pollution, and invasive species propagation.

These landscapes  often feature shade structures and bike racks made from recycled materials, wireless irrigation systems, native grasses, and large, open areas for sports and leisure.

Health Care Business Ideas

48. medical courier service.

This low-cost startup is an attractive option for those who are organized, responsible, and have a reliable vehicle. Medical couriers may deliver equipment, lab specimens, prescription drugs, documents, or even organs.

Couriers make an average of $36 an hour or over $70,000 a year. You can start as a sole driver and then expand by hiring other drivers. Consider forming a limited liability company (LLC).

  • Investment: Low investment⬇︎

49. Respite care

This business provides planned temporary relief to adult caregivers of elderly parents. This non-medical work may entail a few hours a week of assistance or stepping in while the caregiver takes a vacation.

Individual providers of respite care can expect to earn between $20 to $40 per hour or an average of $54,000 per year. You can start the business as a solo provider and then expand it into a highly profitable venture.

50. Growing medical marijuana

If you live in a state or country where medical marijuana is  legal , you can consider starting your own growing operation. The initial setup can be costly, but your days will be spent taking care of a  wonderful plant  and helping people improve their health and well-being in general.

Don’t Forget To Form Your Business

Once you’ve decided to set up a new company, the most important next step is to form your business and create a website . Most small businesses are set up as an LLC . This keeps all your assets separate from the company’s, limiting your personal liability while giving the pass-through tax benefits of being a sole proprietor.

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11.4 The Business Plan

Learning objectives.

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Overview

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

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

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

Purposes of a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Link to Learning

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

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

Types of Business Plans

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

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

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

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

Full Business Plan

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

Executive Summary

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

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

Business Description

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

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

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

Competitive Analysis

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

Operations and Management Plan

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

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

Marketing Plan

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

Financial Plan

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

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

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

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

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

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

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

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

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

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

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

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

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

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How to Come Up with an Innovative Business Idea

Aspiring female entrepreneur researching innovative business ideas on a laptop

  • 21 Jul 2020

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond currently controlled resources. By definition, entrepreneurs seek to fill a need in a new way.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, however, generating strong, novel business ideas can be challenging.

If you’re interested in being an entrepreneur , brainstorming ways you can satisfy needs and solve problems is a good place to start.

Remember the golden rule of brainstorming: There are no bad ideas. As your thoughts flow, jot them down so you can later prune the list to focus on your strongest concepts.

Here are some thought-starters for coming up with innovative business ideas and examples of how entrepreneurs have used them to build successful companies.

Access your free e-book today.

How to Come Up with a Business Idea

Is there an easier way.

One place to start brainstorming potential business ideas is by asking yourself, “What task can I make easier?”

A common denominator for successful businesses is their ability to fulfill customer needs . In this case, the need is to create a product or service that makes people’s lives easier.

Related: How to Identify an Underserved Need in the Market

The most innovative businesses have flourished from simple ideas. For example, HelloFresh has taught people how to cook and provided tools to prepare meals more efficiently. It started with a need to make meal planning and grocery shopping easier. By preparing meal kits that directly fulfill busy people’s needs, this idea has seen major growth.

Check out our video on how to come up with innovative business ideas below below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more explainer content!

This method of creating a product to fill a need can be viewed through the lens of Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen’s jobs to be done theory , which he presents in the online course Disruptive Strategy .

“A ‘job to be done’ is a problem or opportunity that somebody is trying to solve,” Christensen says. “We call it a ‘job’ because it needs to be done, and we hire people or products to get jobs done.”

Look for these kinds of opportunities in your own life. Every “job” presents an opportunity to create an easier way to get it done.

By centering your business plan on a particular need, you can increase your chances of building a profitable business.

Related: Jobs to Be Done: 4 Real-World Examples

Can I Make This More Accessible?

There are many useful products and services that aren’t readily available to the entire market, creating an opportunity to produce a similar, more accessible product offering.

The founding of Airbnb by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia is an example that HBS Professor William Sahlman uses in the online course Entrepreneurship Essentials .

“Chesky and Gebbia observed how hard it was to find housing during big local events,” Sahlman explains. “They decided to list online three air beds in their apartment for people coming to San Francisco for a design conference.”

From there, they added a third member to their founding team, Nathan Blecharczyk, who built the platform for connecting people with spare rooms to travelers needing a place to stay. They called it AirBed and Breakfast, which later became Airbnb .

Chesky and Gebbia noticed hotel rooms weren’t easy to book during large events, recognized a business opportunity, and devised a solution to fulfill a need for accessible, short-term lodging.

There are countless industries and companies whose offerings are inaccessible to certain market segments or during specific periods. Consider how you might fill those needs.

Related: 10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

What Can I Improve About This?

For every successful product offering, there's a multitude of ways to make it better. Think of companies you admire and imagine how you could improve their products. As you do so, consider the following four factors.

Graphic showing four factors to consider to improve a product: delivery process, location, cost, and customer experience

1. Delivery Process

Your business idea doesn’t have to be entirely new—it just has to fill a need. If you can identify a more convenient way of delivering an existing service, it could be an opportunity for your business.

Uber is used as an example in Entrepreneurship Essentials . Taxis have existed for decades, but Uber delivered its services in a new, innovative way by linking drivers in their own cars to customers via an app.

This example also shows there are no limits to what type of business you can create. Your business’ ability to fulfill a need will matter more than whether it’s a brick-and-mortar or online business.

Related: 3 Effective Methods for Assessing Customer Needs

2. Location

One of the simplest improvements to a product or service is bringing it to a new location.

Returning to the Uber example in Entrepreneurship Essentials , ride-sharing company Didi was founded in China—a location Uber hadn’t yet reached. Didi used a similar platform and model as Uber but filled a location gap Uber had left open.

What products, services, or concepts have you experienced in other places that you’d like to bring to your community?

Entrepreneurship Essentials | Succeed in the startup world | Learn More

One improvement that can make a significant impact is cost. Determining how to make a high-quality equivalent to a leading product and offer it for a fraction of the price has great potential.

Home security brand Wyze was founded using this logic. After four ex-Amazon employees discovered they could produce high-quality security cameras and sell them for one-tenth the cost of leading competitors, they sold one million security cameras in their first year as a company.

It takes testing to ensure product quality isn’t sacrificed for a lower price, but finding a way to reduce the cost of an in-demand item could jumpstart your entrepreneurial journey.

4. Customer Experience

Taking an existing offering and improving the customer experience for all or a segment of the market can be a valuable way to fill a need.

One example of an organization that’s done this well is Wanderful , a platform that, similar to Airbnb, connects travelers to locals who can offer lodging and travel advice—with the provision that all users are women.

Beth Santos, founder and CEO of Wanderful, noticed that female solo travelers made up 11 percent of the travel industry , which failed to take into consideration the safety, gender norm, and cultural concerns of women traveling alone.

She improved this experience by creating a network of women that can be tapped into for lodging, travel advice, or just a friendly face in a new location. Wanderful has since expanded its mission to give female and non-binary travelers voices in the travel industry through conferences, communities, and recognition programs.

If there’s an opportunity to improve the experience of a specific group of people, act on it and see where the opportunity leads.

Related: 6 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business

Is It Time to Pivot?

When starting a business, you may need to pivot from your original idea as new needs arise in the market.

For instance, Jebbit , a tech startup that originally offered a platform to pay students for the advertisements they watched, saw a rising need for privacy and consent in the consumer data space. It pivoted to create a platform for secure, declared customer data.

Another instance in which it makes sense to pivot is during technological evolution.

In Disruptive Strategy , Christensen explains that technological advancements can be either sustaining or disruptive innovations , depending on how they impact your company.

Take Netflix : The service was created to allow people to watch movies without going to the video store and accomplished this by mailing DVDs to customers’ homes with prepaid return envelopes.

When streaming came on the scene in 2007, Netflix implemented the new technology into its business model and has continued to adapt as it’s evolved. Because Netflix was able to adopt new technology to continue serving its customers, streaming was a sustaining innovation.

In the case of video store Blockbuster , streaming was a disruptive innovation that it tried but couldn’t affordably adopt. It ultimately led the business to shut down.

When technological advancements arise, think of how your current business model could shift to use innovation as a sustaining force.

More Examples of Innovative Business Ideas

As you think of ideas for businesses, take inspiration from the world around you. Analyze the foundational needs other businesses have fulfilled for society and how they’ve adapted to what customers want.

Remember: As a future business owner, it’s critical to understand your company’s core mission. Focusing on that can help align your startup ideas and provide a greater chance for success.

To gain even more insight and inspiration, consider the following examples, which show how diverse your business model and mission can be.

Notarize , the first online platform for legally signing and notarizing documents is just one example of an online startup that discovered an overlooked need. For many, it’s a hassle to find a notary public to sign a document in person. This prompted Pat Kinsel, founder and CEO of Notarize, to make this difficult, but necessary, task more convenient.

"It really struck me that notarized documents are often some of the most important things people sign, and yet, we have this system that’s 100 years old," Kinsel said in an interview with Inc .

Kinsel designed the Notarize app to connect people to licensed notary publics via video chat so they can see their documents signed in real time.

This need for notarized documents seemed to be a common, but overlooked, need for many professionals. By thinking outside the box, Notarize seized a business opportunity and brought it to its fullest potential.

The development of Starbucks under former chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is another example that highlights how to efficiently choose locations for your brick-and-mortar.

“Schultz admired the sidewalk coffee shops he’d visited in Italy and decided he would introduce the same basic idea in the United States,” Sahlman says in Entrepreneurship Essentials. “That venture became Starbucks.”

Now, it’s rare to walk a few blocks without seeing a Starbucks on a corner. Strategic locations within high traffic routes created a customer base that’s made Starbucks an essential part of their lives.

Perhaps one of the most well-known companies in the world, Amazon is a prime example of fulfilling people’s need for convenience.

This e-commerce business made it the norm to buy items online—including books, music, movies, housewares, and electronics—and have them quickly and conveniently delivered.

Which HBS Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Think Like an Entrepreneur

Coming up with an innovative business idea isn’t difficult if you’re observant. By asking yourself key brainstorming questions, you can generate a list of business ideas that fill market needs, improve existing products, and make daily life easier and more enjoyable.

Do you want to turn an idea into a viable venture? Explore our four-week Entrepreneurship Essentials course, six-week Disruptive Strategy course, and other online entrepreneurship and innovation courses to discover how you can harness the power of innovation. Download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

This post was updated on September 19, 2022. It was originally published on July 21, 2020.

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About the Author

Corporate Entrepreneurship: Seven Steps To Build It in Your Company

Bailey Maybray

Published: August 13, 2023

For decades, the business world split into two buckets: scrappy startups and big businesses. But with the growing pressure to stay agile and innovate, that line has started to blur thanks to corporate entrepreneurship.

Corporate entrepreneurship: a man sits in front of his business.

Corporate entrepreneurship imbues companies of all sizes with a startup mentality to drive innovation, increase creativity, and improve resiliency.

Table of contents:

What is corporate entrepreneurship?

Benefits of corporate entrepreneurship, how to foster corporate entrepreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship examples.

Corporate entrepreneurship is a work culture that supports entrepreneurialism, innovation, and creative thinking.

Corporate entrepreneurship is a work culture that supports entrepreneurialism, innovation , and creative thinking. It enables an organization to adopt a startup mindset, one that helps businesses identify and pursue new product and service opportunities.

Companies foster corporate entrepreneurship in a number of ways, such as:

  • Encouraging employees to take the lead on projects
  • Offering incentives, such as bonuses, to risk-takers
  • Investing in new opportunities, such as side ventures

Corporate entrepreneurship puts innovation, a key aspect of company success, at the forefront of a company’s culture.

While 84% of CEOs cite innovation as critical to business success, only 6% report feeling satisfied with their innovation performance. Corporate entrepreneurship helps bridge this gap, and can increase revenue, improve resiliency, and more.

1. It diversifies and increases revenue

By pursuing new opportunities, your business diversifies its revenue streams and can bring in more money.

One study conducted by the International Money Fund (IMF) found that, on average, 20% of business sales come from products new to markets or new to the business.

Corporate entrepreneurship encourages the entire organization to think of ideas for the business to pursue, which includes new features, products, and services.

2. It reduces costs

Corporate entrepreneurship also means looking at different ways to cut costs. An employee, for example, might look at business operations and identify redundancies. In a work culture that embraces corporate entrepreneurship, all employees look for ways to challenge the status quo — including current costs.

In the same study conducted by the IMF, researchers found that 40% of product innovations resulted in product-related expense savings. 

3. It makes your business more resilient

Almost every business executive (97%) regards resiliency as imperative to business success. Yet just under half view their organization as resilient. Corporate entrepreneurship brings greater resiliency to your business, as it:

  • Makes your business more agile
  • Reduces impact from market changes
  • Increases internal innovation

Economic downturns often cause businesses to shutter permanently, especially if they lack backup plans to deal with unexpected hurdles. Over 7 in 10 small business owners worry about the impact of a recession on their business.

By having a more innovative and creative workforce, you can set yourself up with greater resilience during tough times.

4. It helps your work culture stand out

Job seekers rank company culture as an important factor when applying for roles. This means companies with standout cultures receive stronger, more competitive applicants. Corporate entrepreneurship can make your workplace culture appealing to applicants, as it:

  • Encourages employees to take responsibility for projects, increasing their autonomy
  • Gives workers more flexibility
  • Gives workers more opportunity to upskill and move up
  • Encourages risk-taking

All of these reasons improve employee satisfaction and, in turn, help your work culture stand out from the crowd.

1. Determine your company’s risk factor

Though corporate entrepreneurship brings in clear benefits, it also has some drawbacks. Enabling all employees to tackle side projects, for example, could raise costs and remove the focus from day-to-day work. Not to mention innovation and experimentation can end in failure.

So, ask yourself the following questions to determine if corporate entrepreneurship makes sense for your organization:

  • How much risk can the business afford?
  • Does the industry as a whole engage in corporate entrepreneurship?
  • In what departments does corporate entrepreneurship make the most sense?

2. Craft a compelling mission statement

To get employees onboard with corporate entrepreneurship, you should consider writing a thoughtful mission statement. This should encompass why your business feels passionate about innovation. Consider the following examples:

  • “We believe in adapting to the evolving needs of our customers.”
  • “We aspire to revolutionize the biotech industry.”
  • “We want to constantly evolve and build upon our products.”

The statement should explain what corporate entrepreneurship means for your business, your employees, and your overall business goals.

3. Hire entrepreneurially minded people

When hiring , consider incorporating questions to gauge a candidate’s entrepreneurialism. You could start by asking:

  • Tell me about a passion project you recently worked on.
  • How do you deal with uncertainty?
  • Have you ever challenged yourself or a previous employer?

Any questions that tap into a candidate’s creativity, innovativeness, and proactivity will help you hire more professionals with entrepreneurial spirit .

4. Encourage leaders to embrace failures and mistakes

You, as a business owner, might embrace failures caused by risk-taking. But you need to encourage leaders, including managers, to better manage and respond to mistakes and failures.

So, instead of managers responding negatively to failure, instruct them to view it as a learning opportunity. They should collaborate with the employee on which steps they took, where the error occurred, and lessons learned along the way. That way, the employee feels comfortable bringing up mistakes to their manager who, in turn, extracts takeaways.

5. Create innovation-based incentives

It takes more than asking employees to innovate and tackle projects. You should look at how your organization rewards employees. Do you often give out year-end bonuses? What kind of perks do you reward employees? What does one’s career look like at the organization?

Then, think of ways to integrate innovation-based incentives. You could, for example, recognize risk-taking employees in messaging. Alternatively, you could reward bonuses to employees who create revenue-driving or impactful projects.

Whatever the incentive, it should demonstrate how your company views corporate entrepreneurship.

6. Invest in new opportunities

Strive to invest in viable opportunities discovered by employees, evaluating each proposed project based on its viability and profitability.

Consider this — can your organization realistically create and market this product? And to that end, does this product show a road to profitability?

If an employee presents an exciting opportunity, such as a new feature or product, you should think of ways your company can invest and build it. You could:

  • Give the employee resources to conduct additional market research
  • Involve other departments within the company, such as marketing, to gather more information
  • Create a prototype of the product or feature

7. Gather feedback from employees

You cannot build corporate entrepreneurship into your organization without help. So, as you work to build up this startup-driven culture, survey employees on their thoughts. Ask them what works, what the organization could improve, and what ideas they have.

Procter & Gamble (P&G)

P&G describes itself as having “the heart of a startup and the resources of a global corporation.” Most recently, P&G launched an internal development team called Growth Works.

The in-house team researches and develops innovative products for P&G’s portfolio — such as the Oral-B iO electric toothbrush. Growth Works has spurred new ways of thinking across the organization, bringing together teams to collaborate more frequently.

Other brands can take a page out of P&G’s book and consider building an in-house innovation team. This could involve current employees spending some of their time experimenting with and researching product and feature ideas. Or, if your organization can afford it, a team hired specifically to build out innovative opportunities.

IBM prides itself on its innovation, explaining that it “has repeatedly reinvented itself to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of innovation and value for our clients.” This mission statement explains their various innovation initiatives, from promoting IBM ideas to organizationwide brainstorming.

IBM’s blog Innovation Expectations spotlights notable IBM workers and their insights on emerging technologies and trends. The blog demonstrates the value IBM places on individual knowledge.

Moreover, IBM previously executed an organizationwide brainstorming campaign to generate new ideas and build working prototypes. Thousands of IBM workers came together, identified new opportunities, and learned the ins and outs of cognitive computing. The most successful ideas moved forward, with several teams presenting their prototypes to senior executives.

Both of these initiatives show IBM’s commitment to fostering corporate entrepreneurship. Other organizations can similarly host companywide collaborative efforts, which can result in many new product ideas.

Intel promotes seven company values, including “fearless innovation,” which espouses taking risks, learning from mistakes, and disrupting markets. The computer company achieves this a number of ways, including its own venture capital (VC) firm and an industrywide technology conference.

The organization’s VC firm, Intel Capital, contains a portfolio of cloud, silicon, devices, and frontier companies. Since its inception in 2015, Intel has invested $830m+ in diverse startup teams and has assigned 90+ Intel Embedded Experts into these organizations.

Intel also hosts its own technology conference called Intel Innovation, which strives to bring together innovative and entrepreneurial leaders in the hardware and software technology space.

These separate but connected investments alone show the large investment Intel has placed in corporate entrepreneurship.

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20+ Gifts for the Entrepreneur in Your Life

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Briana Morgaine

10 min. read

Updated February 26, 2024

The holidays are almost upon us—do you have all of your gifts ready?

I’ll admit, I only just finished ordering presents for everyone on my list (and I’m crossing my fingers that they all get here on time!).

But maybe you’re still feeling at a loss for what to get the entrepreneur on your list. After all, they’re  starting a business  (or maybe running one); they need something that will make their life easier.

Or, maybe  you’re  the entrepreneur—feel free to share a link to this post with your friends and family (hint hint). We won’t judge.

  • For entrepreneurs who need to keep track of great ideas

1. Moleskine notebooks

A classic, and a favorite around our office,  these sleek, handy little notepads  were suggested multiple times!

They come in multiple sizes and colors, both lined and unlined, to suite a variety of note-taking styles.

2. A Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook

Taking the beloved Moleskine one step further is  their partnership with Evernote,  which allows you to digitize your notes.

Essentially, Moleskine has created a line of notebooks with specially lined pages that, when photographed with the Evernote app, become searchable, digital versions of your handwritten notes. A must for entrepreneurs who like to keep things old school, but would also like to integrate Evernote’s great technology into pen-and-paper notes.

3. A whiteboard with markers

For entrepreneurs who love a good brainstorming session, why not a  nice big whiteboard?

With to-do lists a mile long, a whiteboard is something any budding entrepreneur would appreciate.

4. Some great pens

These  Sharpie Fine Point Pens  are a favorite around the office, and they would make a great gift for any entrepreneur—maybe with a few Moleskines? Just don’t use them on that whiteboard!

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  • For entrepreneurs who want to learn more

5. A great book (or several) on entrepreneurship

Where do we even start? We’re huge fans of  Lean Planning  here at Palo Alto Software, so “ The Lean Startup”  is definitely a good place to start, as is “ The Art of the Start .” A few other great reads: “ Atomic Habits ” by James Clear, and Rand Fishkin’s “ Lost and Founder .”

6. A Kindle

With so many great books on entrepreneurship, a  Kindle  or other e-reader might be the perfect gift for an entrepreneur. With a seemingly endless amount of ebooks, they’ll be able to enjoy your gift over and over again.

  • For entrepreneurs who are ready to start and run their businesses

7. An annual LivePlan subscription

We’d be remiss in not recommending our own business planning software here; a subscription to  LivePlan  would make a great gift for the entrepreneur who needs to write a plan to seek a loan or investment.

But, one of LivePlan’s superpowers is actually in better business management. Connecting LivePlan to  QuickBooks  or  Xero  puts mere mortals in the driver’s seat with an easy to use  business dashboard  at their fingertips. It’s the gift of no more spreadsheets.  

8. A Square card reader

If you know that your favorite entrepreneur is planning on accepting card payments and needs a small, convenient mobile payment processor, why not look into giving them a  Square card reader?

The process of accepting payments can be a hassle, so anything that solves this problem is bound to make a fantastic holiday gift.

If you’re not sure Square will fit their needs, you can read more about our favorite payment processors here:  The Best Mobile Payment Processor.

9. A subscription to Evernote Premium

Evernote’s free service is great, but a budding entrepreneur (or even a more seasoned one) would likely appreciate the increased functionality of  Evernote’s premium edition,  which lets users turn their notes into presentations, sync across their devices, access notes even when offline, and more.

  • For entrepreneurs who need a boost to take on the day

10. A great coffee-making set up

Late nights and early mornings are inevitable for entrepreneurs. How about making that process easier with some great coffee? An  Aeropress coffee maker,  the ever-fancy  Chemex,  or my personal favorite  pour over method  all make great cups of coffee. Pick up some beans from your favorite local roaster, and you’re in business.

11. A Hydroflask

To keep their coffee or tea toasty, a Hydroflask is a great gift. These vacuum-sealed wonders keep hot things hot and cold things cold, and won’t spill in a bag or backpack, which is great for entrepreneurs on the go.

  • For entrepreneurs who need to stay connected

12. A portable wallet charger

I am notorious for being suddenly unreachable due to a dead phone, and this can be a real issue for someone starting or running a new business. This thin, portable charger fits easily into a wallet, making it possible to stay connected at all times.

13. A backup phone battery charger

On that note, any type of backup phone battery is a solid bet. If you’re running a business or in the process of starting one, it could mean more than a small hassle if your phone is constantly dying. Check out  Digital Trends’ list of the best portable phone chargers.

  • For entrepreneurs who like to take chances

14. An executive decision maker paperweight

In the same vein as the magic eight balls we all remember from childhood,  this amusing paperweight  will make any tough decision for you. (We at Palo Alto Software take no responsibility for any negative fallout that may result from leaving important business decisions up to a paperweight, however.)

  • For entrepreneurs that need to relax

15. HeadSpace or Calm App subscription

A meditation app can be just enough of a reminder to take time out and breathe in the new year. Too much stress can lead to burnout and can make the challenges of growing a business seem insurmountable. Just a few moments of calm each day can really help.

16. A miniature zen garden

A fun addition to any entrepreneur’s desk, this  mini zen garden  is a cute way to take a break from a busy day. Give this to your favorite stressed-out entrepreneur—they may roll their eyes at you, but they’ll secretly get a kick out of it.

17. A yoga class pass

Another fantastic way to help your favorite entrepreneur relax is the gift of yoga. Simply head over to your local yoga studio (preferably one close to their place of work or home) and pick up a pass or a gift card!

For entrepreneurs who have it all (or who don’t like clutter)

18. something intangible.

Celeste Peterson, our director of people development, says maybe a  thing  isn’t the right choice. “Some business owners don’t want more stuff to clutter their busy lives,” she says.

“Get that person a gift card, subscription or membership for something they need, and save them some money and time. An  Audible  membership so they can listen to books on the way to the office, or a gift certificate to their favorite lunch cafe might be perfect.”

  • For entrepreneurs ready to establish a social presence

19. A decent camera

While potentially one of the more costly presents, a camera will greatly help any entrepreneur who is looking to  improve their social presence , allowing them to take great shots for their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds, or upload Youtube videos. To get started, check out  this list of the top cameras for bloggers and small businesses .

20. An octopus tripod

Another great addition to any entrepreneur’s social media arsenal is  this flexible, light tripod,  which works both on flat surfaces and oddly shaped ones. It works with both a traditional camera and includes a cell phone mount, making it easy to take anything from product pictures, to marketing videos on the go and from any angle.

  • For entrepreneurs who need to tune out

21. A pair of noise-canceling headphones

Whether it’s a busy office or a noisy coffee shop, to get work done sometimes you need to block out the noise around you. Some noise canceling headphones are a huge asset when it comes to working distraction-free.

Bose  is considered by many to be the gold standard, but there are  plenty of options.  There are even those that aren’t necessarily billed as noise canceling but still do a pretty nice job, like my personal favorite  Sony MDRXB950AP/H Extra Bass Smartphone Headset  (I’m wearing them as I write, and I’m a frequent busy coffee shop-worker).

  • For accident-prone entrepreneurs

22. A washable keyboard

Accidents happen, but for an entrepreneur in the throes of planning or running their business, they can be hugely inconvenient. Spilled a cup of coffee? Little one knocks over their juice? This  washable keyboard  will be a lifesaver.

  • For entrepreneurs whose offices could use a little help

23. A Bluetooth speaker

To help liven up a new home office, a Bluetooth speaker like  this one from Bose  is a great bet. Larger versions would also make a great gift for an entrepreneur who is opening up a small shop and needs help setting the mood.

24. A dose of (non-cheesy) motivation

Whenever I need great prints, I turn to Etsy. Some of my favorites, which are sure to brighten up any new office and inspire greatness? This  sweet floral-themed print,   this bold, awesome statement,  and  one of my personal favorite quotes on a mug,  courtesy of Ron Swanson.

25. Something fun and playful (and, yes, a little nerdy)

Check out sites like  ThinkGeek  and  UncommonGoods  for cute, unique gifts that would brighten up any workspace. My favorites? This  BB-8 desk lamp , or this set of  mini Harry Potter characters , which would look awfully cute on a desk.

  • For entrepreneurs who have an exercise habit (or would like to build one)

26. A GPS watch or other activity tracker

If your favorite entrepreneur is a budding fitness enthusiast, they might appreciate an activity tracker like those made by  Fitbit,  or a GPS running watch if they’re a runner. I personally use a Garmin GPS watch and a Fitbit Flex 2 and love them both.

  • For entrepreneurs on the go

27. A nice laptop bag

Making travel to and from work and meetings easy, a sturdy, professional looking laptop bag is a must-have.  Timbuk2 messenger bags  are always classic and sporty, and I’m a big fan of this  canvas and leather messenger  or this  felt one.

  • For entrepreneurs who need to look sharp

28. Design-it-yourself button-down shirts

I’ve never seen anything quite like  OriginalStitch,  which allows you to customize shirts to create seemingly endless combinations. Does your favorite entrepreneur have lots of meetings, presentations, and networking opportunities coming up? This could be a great, unique gift.

For entrepreneurs who never stop planning—even in the shower

29. aqua notes waterproof notepad.

I’m not sure what it is about a good shower, but sometimes the best ideas come at the strangest times. This cute  waterproof notepad  means ideas won’t ever go forgotten because they couldn’t be written down.

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

Content Author: Briana Morgaine

Bri Morgaine is a seasoned content marketing leader with a decade of experience in copy editing, social media operations, and content strategy— having honed her skills at industry giants like Palo Alto Software and Andreessen Horowitz.

business plan ideas for entrepreneurs

Table of Contents

  • For entrepreneurs who have it all (or who don’t like clutter)
  • For entrepreneurs who never stop planning—even in the shower

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Black Women Entrepreneurs Give Their 8 Tips for Starting a Business

Black women founders are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S. From wine to technology, Black women entrepreneurs changing industries and society for the better.

While these women make it look effortless, there are so many hardships and glass ceilings behind the scenes. Only 3 percent of Black women-owned companies mature and survive longer than five years. Before starting a business, it is essential to be as prepared as possible.

With April being Financial Literacy Month, 21Ninety spoke with Black women entrepreneurs to get their tips on starting a business.

Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan 

Netta Jenkins, the founder of Aerodei, encourages entrepreneurs to develop a comprehensive business plan and understand how they will increase revenue. “Without a clear business strategy and goals, you will struggle to make informed decisions or measure your progress,” she told 21Ninety.

Build a Supportive Network 

Entrepreneurship and the journey to building your business can be lonely. However, Ariel Belgrave Harris, founder and chief wellness officer of Gym Hooky, encourages founders to be proactive and surround themselves with mentors, advisors and other entrepreneurs. This supportive network can offer diverse perspectives, feedback and encouragement. She suggests joining entrepreneurship networks, attending industry events and participating in online communities. 

“Create genuine relationships with people who share your values and are invested in your success,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed and reciprocate by offering support to others in return.”

Do Your Market Research

Crystle Johnson, founder and retreat host of Design Your Soft Life, explains that new entrepreneurs often seek to solve a problem they’ve encountered. They want to be the solution they never had. Johnson says it’s essential to do market research. That will help entrepreneurs “understand the breadth of your target market’s problem.” It will also help them curate the solution that they would want to have.

Keep Your Day Job

It takes time to build and scale a business to the point where you can support yourself financially. In the early days, founders will need to sustain themselves. 

“It is a balancing act, but it is definitely doable to invest time into your business, as well as your regular job,” said Joy A. Cooper, a co-founder and CEO of Culture Care.

Cooper suggests working as a freelancer, instead of taking on a more traditional staffing position. In her early days, it allowed her to balance her time more efficiently.

“The mantra I have had to take as a Black founder is to channel the saying, ‘Make a dollar out of fifteen cents,’” she said. “Yes, we are underfunded, but that shouldn’t keep us from getting to the bag.”

Prioritize Your Own Wellness

When starting a business, it’s important to prioritize your wellness, so that your business can grow. “As a business owner, it’s tempting to always be on the clock, but be sure to set aside time for yourself, so you can rejuvenate and prevent burnout,” said  Lindsay Banks, founder of Healthy Motives 365 . 

Self-care also helps with spurring creativity and sparking new ideas to implement in your business. 

Prioritize and Delegate Tasks

As an entrepreneur, trying to do everything yourself can lead to burnout and inefficiency. Harris advises practicing strategic prioritization to focus on high-impact activities that align with your business goals. Invest in help and delegate tasks that fall outside your strengths or that can be handled more efficiently by other people. 

“Kick that ‘I can do it faster’ mindset to the curb because those small tasks can add up to hours of your time,” she said.

In agreement with Harris, Banks acknowledges you may need to start off doing everything. However, she believes it is important to invest in experts.

“Starting off you may have to do everything but when you can, invest money in experts who can help you get where you want to be faster,” she said.

Don’t Give Away Equity Too Easily

Jenkins advises founders to thoroughly understand their market, clarify their organization’s purpose and analyze competitors before seeking capital. This knowledge will help you navigate the fundraising process more effectively and avoid giving away too much of your company too soon.

Embrace Learned Lessons 

Belgrave Harris encourages entrepreneurs not to view lessons learned as failures, but as opportunities to learn, adapt and grow stronger as a leader. 

“Entrepreneurship is often glamorized on social media, but the truth is it will have its ups and downs,” Jenkins said. “When those downs happen, remind yourself of your ‘why’ for starting your business, stay encouraged and keep moving forward.” 

The post Black Women Entrepreneurs Give Their 8 Tips for Starting a Business appeared first on 21Ninety .

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Spotify Is Reportedly Raising Prices in Several Countries Including the U.S. — Here's When and What New Plans to Expect A new report suggests the music streaming giant is raising prices again.

By Emily Rella • Apr 3, 2024

As a slew of streaming and subscription-based services continue to raise prices , Spotify is reportedly implementing new pricing plans for its loyal users.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that the music streaming giant will raise prices this month (between $1 to $2 per month) in five of its international markets including the U.K., Australia, and Pakistan, citing sources familiar with the matter.

In the U.S., meanwhile, customers won't see an increase this month, but users based in the states can expect a price hike by the end of this year.

Related: JetBlue Is Increasing Bag Fees Based on 'Peak' Flight Days

The outlet reported that the higher prices of monthly subscriptions are set to offset the cost of Spotify's audiobook feature, as Spotify has to pay publishers to host the books on its platform.

The sources also allege that Spotify will offer a new, cheaper monthly pricing tier, which will give users access to music and podcasts but not audiobooks for $11 a month — the current cost of a premium plan.

Spotify has historically offered two plans for users — a paid premium, which offers ad-free listening, and a free option, which subjects listeners to advertisements during their programming.

Spotify did not comment publicly on the report.

The streaming giant had a strong Q4 2023 , with monthly active users increasing by 28 million quarterly and premium users increasing by 31 million quarterly to a total of 236 million globally.

Spotify bumped prices in the U.S. last July by $1 for premium users.

Related: Report: Sporting Event Ticket Prices Up Over 25%

"So that we can keep innovating, we are changing our Premium prices across a number of markets around the world," the company wrote in a post at the time. "These updates will help us continue to deliver value to fans and artists on our platform."

Spotify was up over 8.15% in a 24-hour period upon the news Wednesday afternoon.

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

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    Get free business advice during our next Ask Marc, live Q&A, on 4/11/24 at 2 PM ET. You don't want to miss it—send in your questions now. By Entrepreneur Staff

  8. How To Make A Business Plan: Step By Step Guide

    Several types of business plans cater to different purposes and stages of a company's lifecycle. Here are some of the most common types of business plans. Startup business plan. A startup business plan is typically an entrepreneur's first business plan. This document helps entrepreneurs articulate their business idea when starting a new business.

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    The best way to accomplish any business or personal goal is to write out every possible step it takes to achieve the goal. Then, order those steps by what needs to happen first. Some steps may ...

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    Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. The summary should tell the reader what you want. This is very important. All too often, what the ...

  11. How to Craft an Opportunity Business Plan

    An operating plan. This sketches out a business' trajectory for the next 12 to 24 months. The plan includes staffing, revenue, projections, inventory and other factors necessary to running a business. Operating plans should be updated constantly as the business and market evolve. A financial plan, which examines the business from a cash-flow ...

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    7 business plan examples: section by section. The business plan examples in this article follow this example template: Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business. Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists. Market analysis.

  13. 50 Business Ideas for New Entrepreneurs in 2024

    Good for: Undergraduate students . 3. Office space rental. Office sharing is a booming industry largely driven by the needs of young entrepreneurs creating the next Google or Amazon. If you already own a suitable property, you will only have to bear relatively low startup costs.

  14. 11.4 The Business Plan

    The IndUS Entrepreneurs, one of the largest global networks of entrepreneurs, also holds business plan competitions for students through its Tie Young Entrepreneurs program. In contrast, business plans submitted for that competition can usually be up to twenty-five pages. These are just two examples.

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    2. Develop a business plan. There are many steps to growing your business, from coming up with an idea to hiring collaborators to evaluating startup costs. A good business plan can help you clarify potential roadblocks and secure any resources you might need. Good entrepreneurs can adapt to change, but it's still important to have a plan ...

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  19. Corporate Entrepreneurship: Seven Steps To Build It in Your Company

    Corporate entrepreneurship encourages the entire organization to think of ideas for the business to pursue, which includes new features, products, and services. 2. It reduces costs. Corporate entrepreneurship also means looking at different ways to cut costs. An employee, for example, might look at business operations and identify redundancies.

  20. 20+ Gifts for the Entrepreneur in Your Life

    For entrepreneurs whose offices could use a little help. 23. A Bluetooth speaker. To help liven up a new home office, a Bluetooth speaker like this one from Bose is a great bet. Larger versions would also make a great gift for an entrepreneur who is opening up a small shop and needs help setting the mood.

  21. Black Women Entrepreneurs Give Their 8 Tips for Starting a Business

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