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Business Plan 101: How to Prepare the Perfect Business Plan

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We’re told that every successful business starts with a great idea. That’s a half-truth. Our nine-year track record of transforming exceptional entrepreneurs into successful CEOs shows us that great companies start with great ideas — and a great business plan.

Our business plan consultants have developed more than 4,000 perfect and simple business plan templates for a diverse array of companies who have gone on to raise more than $2.5 billion. Our clients, early stage and middle market companies, just like yours, are engaged in every type of business, from building boutique hotels to wifi-hotspots.

The following five concepts, based on a recent Business Week Online interview with Growthink partner Dave Lavinsky, are critical to building a successful business plan — and most importantly — a successful business:

1. Why You Need a Business Plan

A business plan is the marketing document telling the story of your company: its purpose, achievements and objectives. A business plan helps you obtain investment capital. Ideally, your business plan should be 15-25 pages long and it should include an executive summary of between 2-4 pages, depending on the complexity of the business and the purpose of the plan, which answers the two questions asked by every experienced investor::

  • What are the key value propositions of your business to your targeted marketplace(s)?
  • Why and how will an investor receive a return on their invested dollars?

Your business plan should also include an operating plan . In addition to other components, the operating plan contains milestones — the list of business objectives your company will achieve by a certain date.

2. Research, Research, Research

Entrepreneurs of the world: do your homework . Investors reading your business plan want to see that you’ve thought long and hard about the potential promise — and pitfalls — of starting or expanding your company. Your dutiful due diligence must supply answers to these questions potential investors are asking themselves — and willask you:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What companies have succeeded or failed in your sector?
  • Why fund your company now, rather than a year from now? Or a year ago?

Here’s the blunt bottom line: If your business plan doesn’t include research that helps you present a clear, compelling case to potential investors, why should anyone trust you with their money?

3. Investor Insight: Experience Over Speed

Ah, the days of 1999, when we believed that First Mover Advantage, like Venture Incubators, was the key to success. Well, we’ve been burned and we’ve learned that, for a range of ventures, from e-tailing ( Boo.com anyone?) to streaming networks (Quokka.com, RIP), that being first doesn’t mean finishing first among your competitors.

Many investors now want to see a track record — for example,a history of revenue and customers. Have you been running your business for awhile or is it still just a great idea, looking for capital? This change in investor strategy makes for longer funding cycles: that period between presenting your business plan to potential investors and receiving an initial round of funding. Longer funding cycles are frustrating for emerging stage business owners who need investment capital sooner, rather than later.

4. Seek Specialist Funding

Does your company generate annual revenues over $1 million dollars? Are you an early stage company or a pre-revenue concern that owns its intellectual property? Well, there are investors seeking to fund companies justlike yours. Growthink’s capital partners represent a wide range of investment mandates. Thousands of companies have come to Growthink for the capital and counsel critical to their success.

5. Get Great Advisors — And Listen To Them

Your business plan should include the creation of an advisory board . The advisory board is a group of external experts who are not involved with the day to day business operations. A good advisory board helps keep your team on track towards achieving the milestones contained in your operating plan and alerts you to the changes and opportunities occurring in your target market.

6. Have Questions? We Have The Answers

Founded in 1999, Growthink is a leading business plan consulting firm and middle market investment bank .  Our professional business plan writers and investment bankers have assisted more than 1,500 clients in launching and growing their businesses, and raising more than $1 billion in growth financing.

Need assistance with your business plan? 

Consult our professional business plan consultants .

Raising a private placement round?

Speak with our private placement memorandum experts.

  • Or, if you’re creating your own PPM, save time and money with Growthink’s sample private placement memorandum .

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Business Plans 101

Whether you're in startup mode or your need financing to expand your business, writing a business plan is essential. Here's how.

business plan

Whether you’re thinking about starting a business or looking for financing to expand one you’re already running , you’ll find writing a business plan beneficial, if not essential.

Many lenders won’t give you money unless they know you have a well-thought out strategy for where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Even if you’re approaching friends and family for money, people who won’t require you to have a plan, it will be helpful to write one. Simply by going through all the necessary steps to put one together, you’ll wind up with a clearer idea of what you’re trying to accomplish and many of the challenges you might face along the way. Certainly, if you’re going to try to get money from a bank, a government-backed lender, a venture capitalist, or a community development financial institution (CDFI), you will need a formal business plan.

This article is part of a series that will teach you how to write the perfect business plan – discussing why you should have one, the different types of business plans you can develop, and what goes into each section. Before we get into the how-to, let’s take a deeper look into what writing a plan will do for you.

The first clue comes right in the description of what a business plan is: a roadmap for your business that outlines your goals and spells out how you aim to achieve them. In other words, it’s a guide for how to set up your business and run it on a daily basis to help you reach your long term goals. And as we said, it’s a worthwhile investment of time and effort even if you don’t need to present it to potential investors.

Nine Benefits of Writing a Business Plan

Writing a business plan will help you gather all of your ideas in one place, hone your message and crystallize your vision. This will keep you from getting scattered, sidetracked, or pulled away from what’s likely to make you the most successful.

2) Research

The knowledge you’ll gain as you explore the industry you’re working in will be invaluable. You’ll get a much better understanding of the niche you hope to fill and where you fit into the market.

3) Commitment

Taking a look at expense projections, sales and revenue forecasts, and all the other dollars and cents aspects of your business will help keep you on track as you move forward, and serve as a built-in warning system if you’re not where you’re supposed to be.

4) Exploration

It’s easy to get so focused on the nuts and bolts of your business that you lose sight of the bigger picture. A business plan will help ground you, but also figure out where you fit within the greater whole, things you may not have taken the time to consider.

5) Objectivity

Talking to friends and family about your great idea can make it seem like a can’t-miss proposition. The supportive environment can make it difficult to anticipate real-world bumps and business realities. Doing the actual math while putting your plan together will help you see whether your idea is truly sustainable or needs some work. It’s vitally important to catch things early before you invest too much time or money.

6) Teamwork

Even solo businesses have team members, whether it’s a supportive spouse or a professional accountant or attorney. Larger companies may have someone to manage sales, another person for marketing, and one for operations. No matter how many people are on your team, it’s important to share the same goals and values as you work toward the future. A business plan will serve to get everyone on the same page as you move forward.

7) Accountability

Business plans have a fairly standardized set of components. Doing the work to put the plan together will make sure you think about all of the important facets you need to cover, and give you standards to hold yourself to as you start to put the plan into effect.

8) Measurement

Laying out your goals and ideas in advance gives you something to check in with along the way to see how you’re doing. Where are you exceeding your expectations? In which areas might you be falling short? While it’s important to see your business plan as flexible, it’s great to have something in writing that helps keep you honest with yourself about your performance.

9) Recruitment

When you’re looking to attract top talent, your business plan will help give potential employees an overview of what you’re all about, and their reaction to the plan will help you know if they’re a good fit. Do they grasp the key issues involved with your business? Fill a slot you need to move forward? Great employees will appreciate how you’ve taken the time to assess your place in the market — as will lenders and investors when you need to raise money.

What Are the Different Types of Business Plans?

Okay, you’re sold. You understand the benefits of having a business plan and you’re committed to writing one. What comes next? Decide on what type to create.

Just as your goals and business will not look exactly the same as someone else’s, your business plan will be unique to you. Some elements belong in each one, and we’ll explain each of those below, but your presentation might be completely different. Most importantly, think about who the audience is and what the goals are for the plan. Most business plans will take one of the following shapes:

As its name suggests, a miniplan isn’t a lengthy document. It can be as short as two to 10 pages, as long as it covers your concept for the business, how you’ll finance and market it, and financial information such as operating expenses, cash flow, income projections and a balance sheet. It’s a great way to lay out your concept or have basic information to show to potential partners or investors. Know your audience, though. A miniplan isn’t a substitute for a longer, full-length document. If it’s for your own personal use, this might suffice. An investor or lender may be looking for something more.

Internal Working Plan

If the primary purpose of your plan is to use it to run your business, it doesn’t have to be nearly as formal as a traditional, full-scale business plan. You’ll want it chock full of details about your finances and objectives, but you can leave out the parts that would mostly be necessary for outsiders, like resumes of key executives and photos of products or prototypes.

Your final presentation can also be a bit less fancy. No need to print it out on nice stock and put it in a beautiful binder. You don’t even have to print it at all, if it’s on your computer. What’s in the plan is far more important than what it looks like. Like the old, oft-folded road maps we kept in the glove compartment before the days of smartphone GPS apps, this is a document you’ll live with, something that will help guide you and keep you on the right path.

A Formal Presentation Plan

This is likely the kind document that originally came to mind when we started talking about business plans. This is the real deal, the one that’ll take the longest, probably be the longest, and will be suitable for showing to lenders, investors and anyone else you need to impress outside the company. When we detail the components below, plan to include all of them in your final document. And pay attention to presentation, spelling and grammar. As opposed to your own in-house plan, a formal presentation plan requires recognized business language and should avoid slang, jargon and shorthand only you will understand. It must be well-written and consistent, especially where numbers and finances are concerned.

Your presentation plan should be printed on high-quality paper, with color, especially if you’ve included product photographs. It should include charts, graphs, tables and illustrations, and be professionally bound.

While having a printed document is still recommended, and may even be required by a potential lender or investor, many business documents are transmitted electronically today, so it’s smart to have a version of your plan that looks great as an electronic document. This could be a simple PDF of what you’ve had printed or something more elaborate, with clickable spreadsheets to manipulate projections. As with each of the above plans, let your needs dictate what kind of document you create.

Elements of a Business Plan

A formal plan will include all of the following items, and less formal plans, like mini or working plans, will include many of them. We’ll touch on them briefly here, and expand on each throughout the series in its own separate article.

Click on each header to open the full article.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

An overview of what you want to accomplish. This is usually the first page of your plan after the title page. However, you might want to save writing it until last, as it sums up all you’ve presented.

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION

A description of your company and its industry, along with the current outlook and possibilities for the future.

ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT

Explain how your company will be structured. What does the management team look like? How many employees will you need? Will you have other individuals in charge of certain functions, or run everything yourself? Which tasks will be assigned to each division? What are the expenses related to operating the business?

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

What, exactly, are you selling or providing? This is where you fully explain your concept. Include a description, the suppliers you’ll use (if any), what your costs are, how you determined them, and how your product or service is different from what’s already available.

MARKET ANALYSIS AND STRATEGIES

A look at who your competitors are, how you are different, your strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition, what kind of market share you’re hoping for, and how you will position yourself to get there.

SALES AND MARKETING

Given what you know about the existing business conditions, how will you market your product or company? How will you sell? Will you have a sales force or use outside representatives? How will you build the company, handle expansion, and recruit and compensate your employees?

FUNDING REQUEST

If the main purpose of the plan is to help you raise money, whether from investors or through a loan, this is where you’ll spell out what you need. How much are you looking for right now? How might that change over the next five years? What do you plan to do with the money?

FINANCIAL PLAN

This section will be imperative if you’re looking for money, but it’s important no matter what. Spelling out your sales projections for the future will help you closely examine costs, decide how you’ll allocate your resources, and whether you actually have a viable idea.

This is optional, but would be the place to include information like the resumes of your key management team, reference letters, product photos, copies of major contracts and other pertinent legal documents.

How to Best Use Your Business Plan

Most importantly, actually USE it, even if it’s not being submitted to a financial institution. You’ve done all the research, the thinking, the projecting, and the writing. Don’t just toss it all in a drawer and forget about it. Take it out on a regular basis, read it, and see how you’re doing.

Remember, it’s called a plan, and things don’t always go as planned, so if you see you’re veering off course, whether intentionally or inadvertently, now is the time to make whatever adjustments are necessary. A business plan is only a snapshot of where you were at the time you wrote it, and it needs regular attention and revising to stay relevant and valuable.

With all the work you did to put it together, you’re already a giant step ahead of most of your competitors. Keep it current to reflect what’s going on now, along with the knowledge about your market you’ve picked up along the way. If a sales strategy isn’t working, eliminate it and find another. When a particular marketing tool produces gangbuster results, allocate more resources that way. As the plan grows and changes with you, it will be an even better guide to your future strategy and success.

Now that you have the gist of a business plan, start working on it and revisit us over the next few weeks for a better understanding of the elements that go into it. There is more to come so stay-tuned!

Next Article: Business Plan Section 1 – Executive Summary

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A well-written business plan is your path to a successful business. Learn to write, use, and improve your business plan with exclusive guides, templates, and examples.

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Simple Business Plan Outline

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What should i include in my business plan.

You must have an executive summary, product/service description, market and competitive analysis, marketing and sales plan, operations overview, milestones, company overview, financial plan, and appendix.

Why should I write a business plan?

Businesses that write a business plan typically grow 30% faster because it helps them minimize risk, establish important milestones, track progress, and make more confident decisions.

What are the qualities of a good business plan?

A good business plan uses clear language, shows realistic goals, fits the needs of your business, and highlights any assumptions you’re making.

How long should my business plan be?

There is no target length for a business plan. It should be as long as you need it to be. A good rule of thumb is to go as short as possible, without missing any crucial information. You can always expand your business plan later.

How do I write a simple business plan?

Use a one-page business plan format to create a simple business plan. It includes all of the critical sections of a traditional business plan but can be completed in as little as 30 minutes.

What should I do before writing a business plan?

If you do anything before writing—figure out why you’re writing a business plan. You’ll save time and create a far more useful plan.

What is the first step in writing a business plan?

The first thing you’ll do when writing a business plan is describe the problem you’re solving and what your solution is.

What is the biggest mistake I can make when writing a business plan?

The worst thing you can do is not plan at all. You’ll miss potential issues and opportunities and struggle to make strategic decisions.

Business planning guides

Clipboard with paper, calculator, compass, and other similar tools laid out on a table. Represents the basics of what is a business plan.

Learn what a business plan is, why you need one, when to write it, and the fundamental elements that make it a unique tool for business success.

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Types of business plans

Explore different business plan formats and determine which type best suits your needs.

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How to write a business plan

A step-by-step guide to quickly create a working business plan.

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Tips to write your business plan

A curated selection of business plan writing tips and best practices from our experienced in-house planning experts.

Image of a large factory represents focusing on your specific industry when planning.

Explore industry-specific guides to learn what to focus on when writing your business plan.

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Create your plan the paint by numbers way.

Business planning FAQ

What is business planning?

Business planning is the act of sitting down to establish goals, strategies, and actions you intend to take to successfully start, manage, and grow a business.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to write a business plan include:

  • Craft a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a market analysis
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow
  • Add additional documents to your appendix

What should a business plan include?

A traditional business plan should include:

  • An executive summary
  • Description of your products and services
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Marketing and sales plan
  • Overview of business operations
  • Milestones and metrics
  • Description of your organization and management team
  • Financial plan and forecasts

Do you really need a business plan?

You are more likely to start and grow into a successful business if you write a business plan.

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

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Business Plan 101

All the answers to your questions about how to write a business plan from the professionals who write them every day.

Almost everyone is familiar with the term “ business plan. ” However, for some reason, this crucial foundational business document is shrouded in mystery. No longer.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions from our clients, which we hope will provide insights into your business planning journey. And if we missed something, please send us an email with your business plan question and we will get back to you (and perhaps even add your question to our list).

How much does it cost to start a business?

The cost of launching a business varies greatly depending on the type of business, location, and a variety of other factors. Some businesses can be started with very little money, whereas others require a substantial investment. Here are the most common types of startup costs for new businesses:

  • Business registration: These may include the cost of registering your business name, obtaining any required licenses and permits, and establishing any legal structures such as a corporation or LLC (see "What business structure should I use?").
  • Business insurance: Business insurance safeguards your company in the event of a lawsuit or other unforeseen event. Businesses may require various types of insurance, including general liability insurance, errors and omissions insurance, property insurance, and vehicle insurance.
  • Physical space: If you intend to open a physical location for your company, you will have to pay for rent, utilities, and any necessary renovations or remodeling (usually referred to as "buildout"). Even if you do not require a separate location for your business, any changes you make to your home are covered here.
  • Equipment: Depending on the type of business you plan to launch, it may be necessary to purchase equipment. Equipment includes computers and all other fixed assets, such as machinery and vehicles.
  • Fixtures & Furniture: In addition to equipment, fixtures and furniture are often required as additional fixed assets (these three items are frequently grouped together as "FF&E"). In most cases, a fixture is something that is permanently attached to the space, whereas furniture can be easily moved. A built-in shelving unit, for example, is a fixture, whereas a free-standing desk is furniture.
  • Inventory: If you sell any type of product, you will need to purchase (and maintain) inventory, which includes finished goods that you buy at wholesale prices as well as raw materials that you use to make finished goods. The amount of inventory you require will depend on the type of business you have and is considered a current asset.
  • Marketing and advertising: Most businesses need some sort of online presence, most often in the form of a website. Additionally, the majority of businesses will create a formal brand that represents their values or products. The costs of marketing and advertising can vary greatly. Some businesses sell their products on well-known platforms such as Etsy, which requires little to no upfront payment, whereas others may require a full-fledged ecommerce website, which can cost thousands of dollars. Other industries may require extensive television advertising campaigns.
  • Professional fees: These include any legal, accounting, or consulting you need to launch your business.

Curious about what it typically costs to start different kinds of companies? Masterplans analyzed SBA data to figure out the average startup cost of the top 10 most common new businesses (you can also download our startup costs infographic ).

Is a business plan necessary to get funding?

We’ve all heard apocryphal stories about Amazon getting funded based on a diagram scribbled on the back of a napkin over lunch with a potential investor. And the term “elevator pitch” implies that you can just pitch an idea to an investor in an elevator and get money on the spot. But the chances of this happening are so slim as to be laughable, and you certainly wouldn’t want to stake your business’ potential success on a napkin diagram. If you’re serious about your idea, you need to treat it seriously, and that means taking the requisite steps to show that you’re worthy of investment.

What are the different ways to fund a business?

While there are numerous ways for an entrepreneur to fund a business, the following is a summary of the most common methods. Remember that your company does not have to choose just one method; many of the most successful startups combine multiple funding types depending on the amount, timing, and initiative, and so on.

Bootstrapping

Many entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses with their own savings and investments. Self-funded businesses frequently rely on credit cards and small loans from family and friends to supplement their own funds. Bootstrapping allows entrepreneurs to grow their businesses organically, but it can be difficult due to a lack of cash flow.

Pros of bootstrapping:

  • Full control
  • Flexibility
  • Faster startup

Cons of bootstrapping:

  • Limited funding
  • Slower growth (due to lower capititalization)
  • Personal risk
  • No access to mentorship and advice

Business loans

Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions provide a range of business loans, including term loans, lines of credit, and SBA loans. The most common loan type is a term loan, in which a business receives a lump sum of money and repays it with interest and principal payments over a set period of time. SBA loans are a specific type of term loan designed to provide small businesses with greater access to capital. SBA loans are partially guaranteed by the government, making them ideal for entrepreneurs who may be unable to obtain a conventional term loan. A second type of loan is a line of credit (LOC), which functions similarly to a credit card. The company is given a credit limit that it can use as needed while only paying interest on the amount borrowed. The final type of loan, known as invoice financing or merchant advance loans, is a hard money loan that provides cash up front against unpaid business. The interest rates on these loans are extremely high.

Pros of bank loans:

  • Maintain ownership
  • Provide capital to start or expand
  • Consistent repayment schedule
  • Establishes credit history

Cons of bank loans:

  • Strict qualifications (credit score, etc.)
  • High interest (especially on hard money loans)
  • Long-term commitment
  • Requires down payment

Crowdfunding

The introduction of platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo has increased the popularity of crowdfunding, especially for consumer goods. Typically, the entrepreneur establishes a campaign goal and offers incentives in exchange for contributions, which are frequently in the form of early access to or perks for the company's product. Equity crowdfunding is less common, in which individual investors contribute to the business in the form of equity and eventually receive dividends from the company's profits.

Pros of crowdfunding:

  • No equity dilution
  • Validates products or service
  • Connect with potential customers

Cons of crowdfunding:

  • No funding guarantee
  • Platform fees
  • Expensive rewards
  • Legal and regulation requirements

Angel Investors

An angel investor is a high-net-worth individual (HNWI) who provides capital to early-stage or startup companies in exchange for ownership equity or convertible debt. Individual angel investors, as opposed to institutional investors, typically invest their own money. Angel investors typically provide seed capital to entrepreneurs and startups at an early stage when traditional lending sources are unavailable. Angel investors seek high returns on their investment (i.e., outperforming the stock market), and therefore are willing to take on more risk than, say, a bank would. Angels can also offer mentoring, expertise, and access to professional networks to assist entrepreneurs in growing their startups.

Pros of angel investors:

  • Typically passive investors
  • Less focused on exit
  • Mentorship and networking

Cons of angel investors:

  • Seek high returns
  • Can be difficult to find
  • Dilutes ownership equity
  • Legal requirements

Venture Capital

Venture capital firms (VCs), like angel investors, invest money in exchange for equity in the company. However, venture capitalists are typically institutional investors who pool funds from pension funds, endowments, and other business groups. VCs are looking for startups and early-stage businesses with high growth potential, and usually prefer companies that have already established themselves and are ready to scale. Because VC firms are compensated based on the success of their investments, they play an active role in the strategic direction of the companies in which they invest.

Pros of venture capital:

  • Large investments (typically in the millions)
  • Mentorship & expertise
  • Typical path for companies that eventually go public

Cons of venture capital:

  • High expectations
  • Loss of control
  • Strict milestones and performance targets

Incubators and accelerators

An incubator is a program that helps startups and early-stage companies grow and develop by giving them resources like office space, mentorship, and access to a network of people in the industry. They usually focus on a specific industry or type of business, such as technology or biotechnology. Similarly, an accelerator is a program that provides mentorship, usually over a specific amount of time, usually culminating in a demo day where the different members of the cohort present their companies to potential investors. Like incubators, accelerators can be focused on a specific industry, or they can be more generalized.

Pros of incubators and accelerators:

  • Product validation and refinement

Cons of incubators and accelerators:

  • Competitive application process
  • Can require fees in the form of equity, services, and memberships

Grants are a type of funding provided by government agencies, non-profit organizations, private foundations, and industry-specific groups that allow businesses to start or expand operations without incurring debt. They are most often awarded to established companies (as in, not startups) that meet certain eligibility criteria, such as being minority- or veteran-owned businesses. As a result, grants are frequently tied to a specific purpose, such as research and development, hiring and training employees, expanding into new markets, and environmental sustainability initiatives. Working with a professional grant writer is a good way to improve your chances of success.

Pros of grant funding:

  • No repayment (free money!)
  • Targeted funding
  • Validation of business

Cons of grant funding:

  • Competitive
  • Strict eligibility requirements
  • Complex applications
  • Limited use of funding
  • Usually not for startups

What other purposes can a business plan serve aside from funding?

Most professional business plans are written with the goal of obtaining funding, typically from lenders or investors (see “What are the different ways to fund a business?”). However, there are several cases in which an entrepreneur might need a business plan.

Strategic Vision: A strategic business plan isn't all that different from a funding business plan. It should still contain nearly all of the same sections, with the exception of the request for and use of funds. It should be noted, though, that many strategic business plans are for expanding an existing business with a new initiative or department. If internal funding is required, it would make sense to have a detailed list of sources and uses of funding. Typically, company leaders and stakeholders use a strategic business plan to align their visions, inform decision-making, and track the company's progress toward meeting the objectives.

Immigration: There are a number of ways for prospective immigrants to the United States to obtain work visas and even permanent residency through starting their own businesses. These "investor visas" include the E-2, L1-A, EB-5, and EB-2, to name a few. For these immigration cases, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires (or strongly recommends) a business plan. Each visa type has different requirements, but in general, an immigration business plan should make a clear and compelling case to immigration authorities that the business venture will provide economic benefit to the United States, such as by creating job opportunities.

Licencing: Some industries require a business plan as part of the licensing or permit application process. The cannabis industry is a well-known example: almost every state that has legalized adult-use or medical marijuana has a limited number of licenses available that require a business plan as part of the (ultra) competitive application process. Similar requirements may apply to beer and liquor stores, pharmacies, group homes, and other types of residential facilities. Check with your state and municipality to determine what specific regulations and laws govern licensing to operate for any business that you believe may be regulated, and make sure to address those in the business plan.

Recruiting: A well-thought-out business plan makes it much easier to attract business partners and top talent. If you have a great idea for a SaaS application and have industry knowledge, you might need to hire a CTO who has previously worked in a software development role to supplement your skillset. A detailed explanation of the opportunity in a business plan is an excellent way to reach out to these potential stakeholders and get them excited about the company's potential.

Communication: There are several specific situations in which a company may need to communicate its vision and strategy to outside stakeholders. Commercial landlords are increasingly requiring tenants to provide a business plan as part of the leasing process. Property owners have a vested interest in the success of their tenants. Obviously, a tenant going out of business would result in lost rent and the need to find a new tenant. However, reputation is far more significant. If a tenant goes out of business, it may indicate to future tenants that there is a problem with the location. 

How long should a business plan be?

It should be as long as it needs to be and as short as possible. Your business plan should cover all relevant details about your business that anyone outside the company would want to know before giving you money or letting you use their physical space. But keep your reader in mind and ask yourself: when was the last time I enjoyed reading an encyclopedia? We strive to make our plans vastly more interesting than an encyclopedia, but part of that is making sure that they’re a heck of a lot shorter. Let’s face it, people have a limited attention span, which seems to be exacerbated when reading non-fiction. So the best thing you can do is keep your business plan short while covering all of the main topics in detail. There is no maximum or minimum page count, owing to the fact that there is a wide gulf between the information needed for a used book store versus a major multinational chemical manufacturing company with multiple divisions. As a very basic guideline, most traditional business plans are between 25-50 pages long. We have compiled a collection of example business plans that you can access and use as a reference for the format and length

How do I structure a business plan?

If you’re going to DIY this project, we recommend starting out by making an outline that includes the following sections:

  • Company Ownership
  • Company Location
  • Use of Funds

Company Overview

  • Market Segmentation
  • Industry Analysis
  • Market Need
  • Competitors
  • Competitive Edge

Strategy & Implementation Summary

  • Marketing Strategy

Management Summary

  • Biographies of key personnel

Financial Projections

  • Financial Assumptions

Appendix: First Year Financials

It’s a lot to cover, but don’t get discouraged! You can do this. At Masterplans we like to use Bishop Desmond Tutu’s quote about how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time ! So don’t get too discouraged by that daunting list. 

The next thing you’re going to do is start gathering information and just put it down on paper as each piece falls into place. 

Now it’s time to begin drafting. The first thing you need to know is that the Executive Summary comes last, so don’t even worry about it right now! See, things are moving along faster than you expected already. 

You can focus on whichever section you feel most interested in. If the market conditions are what’s inspiring you, start there. Just research it and write about it. Make sure to use footnotes for each hard fact that you cite, and remember that there needs to be hard facts in this section! And don’t forget to use reputable sources . 

Work on each section one-by one until you’re done. A business plan won’t get done in a day if you’re a novice, so be gracious to yourself. We know this is a lot of work – we do this all day long. So if you hit a wall and realize you need help, give us a call . But know that you can do this with enough time and effort. It doesn’t take a genius; it takes someone passionate and dedicated. Luckily, that’s you.

How do I write a business plan for an existing business?

It’s essentially the same steps as writing a business plan for a start-up, only you probably need to spend less time on steps like deciding what your business structure should be. You still need to gather information from the various places that it’s kept. For example, if you’ve outsourced bookkeeping, you’ll need to reach out to your bookkeeper for the numbers you’ll need to run your financial model. The steps are the same; all that is really different is that you have past performance that needs to be included in your plan. The primary difference between a business plan for an existing business is that it contains charts to show past performance, which a start-up obviously doesn’t have.

How do I write a business plan for a small business?

When you’re starting a very small business, such as a side-hustle , it can be very tempting to ask yourself “do I really need a business plan?” You might end up just skipping this step. We strongly caution against that. Every business needs a business plan, no matter how small. Use the steps outlined above under the FAQ “How do I write a business plan for a startup?” 

How do I write a business plan for a non-profit organization?

Non-profit organizations are still businesses, even though their funding typically comes from different sources. You still need a business plan, and it should still follow the same steps outlined in “How do I write a business plan for a startup?” What’s different here is that your business will be registered as a 501(c)3 corporation, and instead of owners, you’ll have a board of directors. Additionally, though you can use your business plan for funding, you will likely be applying for grants as well, and they tend to have their own detailed requirements for what needs to be included, that vary based on the organization giving the grants. Having your business plan already written can help when it comes to applying for those grants. You can simply copy and paste the sections that apply to the grant submission requirements, saving yourself time over the long term.

When working on your organization’s financials, it’s important to note a terminology change from for-profit businesses. Instead of “profit,” you will have “surplus” and your “revenue” is called “funding.” Thus, instead of a “Profit & Loss” statement, a non-profit will have a “Surplus & Deficit” statement.

How do I write a business plan for a franchise?

Franchises often claim to provide you with your own business plan, but what they really provide is a document called an FDD (Franchise Disclosure Document). You will still need to follow all the steps outlined above under the FAQ “How do I write a business plan for a startup?” What’s different for you is that you will benefit from a range of support services, like location selection, marketing support, and maybe even market analysis help, depending on the franchise in question. In the end, a franchise is just like any other type of business, and you need to be able to speak in-depth about each of the core topics of a business plan.

How long does the SBA loan process take?

If you’re applying for an SBA-backed loan, don’t expect to get your money tomorrow. You have to go through a process that includes the application review, underwriting, loan agreement, and closing. It should take a minimum of 30 days, but it can take as long as 90 days and even longer, provided you have found a lender who wants to fund your business plan.

Where do business plan financials come from?

A business plan has extensive financial charts and tables to help your lender or investor understand your business model. The numbers you use when calculating your profit and loss statement and balance sheet should be real-world numbers based on research that you’ve done. The financials include start-up costs , cash flow statement , balance sheet, profit and loss, personnel costs, and a month-by-month forecast for your first year of operations.

For example, don’t just guess what your lease will be! Look at a website like Loopnet to see what properties are currently available in your desired neighborhood by size and property type. You don’t have to lease a space to write a business plan (you often need a business plan to lease a space!), but it can be a good plan to average the rent cost from the three places you like best. 

For personnel costs, look at salary.com in your area to see what the average hourly rate is for the positions you need to hire. Don’t set your prices out of thin air either. Research your closest competitors and find out what they charge for similar products and services. It’s up to you to decide where you want to sit in terms of pricing; whether you’re offering an economy option or premium pricing, but knowing what your competitors charge can help you decide what’s a fair price for what you offer. 

There are two primary methods for creating a revenue forecast: top-down and bottom-up . A top-down revenue projection model begins with the market and works its way down, whereas a bottom-up model begins with the business and works its way up. Choosing which method to use varies by industry, but Masterplans' financial modelers usually find a way to incorporate both techniques .

There will be times when you just don’t know a number that is needed to create your financials. It’s ok (and even can be ideal) to use industry standard data. Here at Masterplans, we have access to market research tools with detailed financial benchmarks for a broad range of industries, which helps us find good data when our clients just don’t know the answer. Whenever we get the question, “where did these numbers come from?,” the answer is usually IBISWorld , which we highly recommend. You can buy individual industry reports and look at the Key Statistics to find out about things like profit margins, financial ratios, wages, and revenue per employee.

What business structure should I use? ?

This is a great question for an accountant and/or lawyer, and you should definitely consult with one before making this decision. Your options are sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company, S-Corporation, and C-Corporation. 

  • Sole proprietorship: We generally discourage use of the sole proprietorship for our customers, because the taxation is the same as your personal taxes, offering your business no benefits, and because this structure maximizes your liability if anything goes wrong. 
  • Partnerships: There are several different types of partnership that you can choose, but we rarely see these come across our desks, because they do not offer the same tax benefits as an LLC. 
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC): LLC is the king of business structures for a start-up, because it is superbly flexible, offers tax benefits, and has liability protection. You can even start an LLC as the sole owner and employee of your company! 
  • Corporation: Sometimes when we ask clients what their company structure is, they just say it’s a corporation without specifying what type. But there are two types, and which one you have matters. While both types allow you to issue shares, one of the primary differences is that with S-corps, you are limited to 100 shareholders and with C-corps, you aren’t limited in that way. How does this matter? Well, if you eventually decide to go public, you probably want more than 100 shareholders!

If you want to learn more about the different types of business structures, talk to a professional and read what the SBA has to say about it .

Deliver your best with Masterplans.com

Free 30-minute consultation .

Schedule a 30-minute meeting with one of our business planning experts so that we can better understand your objectives, advise you on appropriate steps or provide a business plan development proposal.

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How To Write a Business Plan

How to write a business plan.

Learn the essential elements of writing a business plan, including advice and resources for how to write and conduct each section of your business plan.

5 Things to Know and Do Before Writing Your Business Plan

If you need a business plan, there are certain things you need to know and do before you sit down to create it. In this article, you'll learn five things to complete before writing your plan to ensure you get the best results.

How to Start a Consulting Business: Your One Page Business Plan

Learn the three critical components of your business plan and download a template to get started

How to Write a Business Plan 101

This guide to writing a business plan will outline the most important parts and what should be included in an effective plan.

5 Reasons to Double Down and Draft a Business Plan, Plus Tips for How to Do It

There are plenty of good and necessary reasons for savvy entrepreneurs to invest time and energy to write a memorable business plan. Here are my top five.

How to Create Your First Successful Business Plan

Entrepreneurial expert Chris Haroun uses his patented process to help make your new business plan a reality.

This Top-Rated Software Simplifies Writing Business Plans

And it's on sale for less than $30.

Need a Business Plan Template? Here Is Apple's 1981 Plan for the Mac.

If you want to write a business plan, Apple's plans for the Macintosh can help.

How 2 Entrepreneurs Wrote Their Business Plan on a Napkin at a Bar (and Why the Plan Worked)

The ZinePak co-founders had a simple strategy, and they stuck to it.

How to Write a One-Page Business Plan

It's not as hard as you think.

7 Flaws in Your Business Plan You Need to Fix

Individually, these seven flaws won't destroy your business, but cumulatively . . . watch out.

4 Reasons Why a Traditional 40-Page Business Plan Is an Insane Waste of Time

No one will even read your epic novel of a plan in this age of short bursts of information. Create a 10-page pitch deck instead.

5 Reasons Your Business Plan Sucks and How You Can Change It

Most plans fail to achieve their objective and end up misrepresenting the business.

5 Ways to Hack a Business Plan

Bullet points are your best friends, and other tips for not getting caught in the weeds of business-plan details.

The Essential Guide to Writing a Business Plan

Here's the no-nonsense guide on how to write a business plan that will help you map success for your startup.

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Business Planning 101: How to Make a Business Plan in

What is business planning.

Business plans aren't just for corporate giants. They're the secret weapon for startup ventures, small businesses, and solopreneurs too. A well-crafted plan is your vision or roadmap, showing you where to go and how to get there.

A robust business plan influences major decisions and helps propel your growth. This blueprint defines your business identity, sharpens your objectives, and sets the course for hitting revenue targets. 

So, don't make any ordinary plan. Make your personal game plan.

More on business planning

Ever notice solopreneurs who have a million brilliant business ideas yet they’re stuck in a cycle of zero progress? Without a game plan, enthusiasm and ideas can only take you so far.

The articles below provide more insights into creating your game plan.

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Looking for more articles about business planning? I have a full list at the bottom of this page.

What to include in your business plan

At a minimum, your solopreneur business plan should include:

  • Executive summary: A high-level snapshot of your business
  • Business description: What your business is about and what makes it unique
  • Market analysis: Who your customers are and what they need
  • Organization and management: Who's on your team and how you structure your business
  • Service or product line: The product you're selling or the service you're offering
  • Marketing and sales: How you'll attract clients and encourage repeat business
  • Financial projections: How your business will make money and grow

Beginner’s guide to creating a business plan

1. understand your purpose.

Starting your business plan begins with an important question: Why are you launching your business? Is it for time and work flexibility? For extra money to save up for a house? To help others fast-track their success and avoid the blunders you've made in your journey? Clarifying your purpose is extremely important. This 'why' will be the compass guiding every detail you put into your plan.

2. Write your executive summary

An executive summary is a solopreneur's best pitch. Think of it like a billboard that tells the world what your business is (but in about 1-2 pages). Talk about your target market, mission plan, what makes your brand stand out, the main product or service you're offering and how you plan to win against competitors. I recommend crafting a rough draft and revisiting it once you have a full overview of your plan.

3. Detail your company description

Your company description is where your business comes to life on paper. It's a close-up look at your product or service and the positive impact it brings to your customers. Explain what you do and how you're solving your customer's problems. This isn't the place for modesty. Flaunt your unique strengths, and make your readers believe in your business as much as you do.

4. Conduct market research

To provide a solid offering, you need to understand the people you’re marketing to. Who's out there, and what, exactly, do they want? Who's already trying to give it to them, and what are your competitors' weaknesses? Keep an eye out for trends, hungry customers, and the competition. Here, you're hunting for proof that people need what you're selling and that you have a firm grip on the pulse of your market.

5. Outline the organization and management

Every business owner runs a tight ship, and having a clear business structure is part of that. Are you a sole proprietor? A limited liability company (LLC)? Are you doing everything on your own, or will you have employees to help? Will you hire or outsource? Who are your helpers? Are there any third-party lifelines you rely on? If so, what are they?

6. Describe your products and/or services

When describing your products or services, focus on the value you're bringing to your customer. For example, if you're a writer, don't just list the different kinds of writing services you offer, but show what problems you are solving and how you can make their lives better or their businesses more successful. You're not selling a product or service — you're selling an outcome, a better tomorrow. A more positive future.

7. Plan your marketing and sales strategy

This is where you illustrate how you'll attract, convert, and retain your customers. You should be able to explain your plan simply. How will people learn about you? How will you turn an interested social media follower into a loyal customer? Finally, outline your customer retention plan. How will you keep them happy, returning, and promoting your business to other potential customers?

8. Develop financial projections

Financial planning is essential to your business's future. A financial forecast is a model that shows your business idea can (and will) be profitable. Outline your income projections, expenses, balance sheets, sales forecast, and cash flow statements for the next 2 years. These numbers will guide your business decisions and help measure your progress.

My simple 5-step business plan

1. Publish free, high-quality insights on social media : People want value. And where better to offer it than on social media, where your future tribe is already hanging out. Consistently share your expertise to build credibility and generate interest in your brand. Become the go-to authority in your niche. As your community grows, so does your pool of potential customers.

2. Link to a hub piece of long-form content : People want to scroll through bite-sized content. So, I keep my insights punchy and scannable. But I also know some people crave more. That's where my long-form content comes in. At the end of my social posts, I invite readers to dive deeper with a link to an extensive blog post or guide where I share more of my knowledge and expand on my ideas.

3. Link to my courses : Every long-form content piece should have clear next steps for the reader. You've reeled them in and served up solid insights…now what? In my case, I lead them to my courses to take their learning to the next level. By doing this, I'm not just offering a product. I'm offering an opportunity to evolve and grow. Be direct and show people the path forward.

4. Encourage people to buy : When a reader has clicked on a link to my course, my job is to make the buying decision and process as effortless as possible. To do that, I place a purchase button right on the landing page so folks can find it. I share testimonials from hundreds of other customers just like them. I make the checkout process swift and seamless so customers don’t experience bottlenecks that might make them second-guess their decision.

5. Deliver more value : Once a customer has spent their hard-earned dollars on my courses, it's my turn to 'wow' them with exceptional value. Here, I offer greater depth, going into the nitty-gritty of what I share on social media and my blog. My goal is to provide such a transformative experience that it compels my students to share it with others. That's value that echoes — and sells itself.

Best business planning books and resources

  • Hurdle by Tim Berry
  • Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki
  • Successful Business Plan by Rhonda Abrams
  • The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan by Hal Shelton

All articles related to

Business planning, best articles on related topics.

We’re so glad you’re here at DreamSpring. Let’s make your small business dreams a reality  today !

Business Planning 101: The DreamSpring Guide

February 8, 2024

As an entrepreneur, having a business plan creates your roadmap to future success. Business plans help you think through budgets, financials, hiring, marketing, and more, while also ensuring your business is ready for changes, disasters, and your exit strategy.

DreamSpring_Business_Planning_101_Guide_feature-image

Traditional Business Plans  

No two businesses are alike, and no two business plans look exactly the same. You’ll want to include most sections below, emphasizing the elements that are the most relevant to your business, but don’t be afraid to add information that is helpful to you or external stakeholders. 

Executive Summary

The executive summary is a concise overview of the entire business plan. Despite appearing first, it is often written last to ensure that it accurately reflects the contents of the plan. The executive summary highlights key aspects such as the business concept, mission statement, products or services offered, target market, competitive advantage, and financial summary. It should captivate the reader's attention and provide a quick snapshot of the business. Think of the executive summary as the quick pitch for your business — how would you articulate who you are and what you do in 500 words or less?  

Business Description

This section delves deeper into the nature of the business. It outlines the business' history, its mission and vision statements, and its legal structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.). The business description may include details about the founder’s background, the inspiration behind the business, and any significant achievements or milestones. This section can dig into the “why” behind your business and share more about your vision.  

Market Analysis

A thorough market analysis is crucial for understanding your industry, target market, and competition. This section examines market trends, size, and growth potential. It identifies target customer demographics, behaviors, and needs. Competitive analysis provides insights into existing and potential competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and the business' unique value proposition in the marketplace. This section is one of the drier elements, but the importance of a market analysis shouldn’t be understated. You wouldn’t build a coffee shop next door to a Starbucks, but why? Make sure that you have research and statistics to back up your overview. Many local governments have details about their county’s demographics and market if you need specific information, and public libraries have experts who can help you with business research.  

Organization and Management

Here, the business plan introduces its organizational structure and key team members with their roles. Details about the founders, management team, and any advisors or mentors are included. This section may also highlight the team's expertise, qualifications, and relevant experience that positions them for success in the industry. Are you working alone right now? This section can be used to outline your future hiring plan and share more about your plan for how the small business will grow.  

Products or Services

Clearly define the products or services offered by the business. This section provides in-depth information about the features and benefits of the offerings. It may also discuss the development process, intellectual property considerations, and any unique selling points that differentiate the products or services from competitors.  

Marketing and Sales Strategy

The marketing and sales strategy outlines how the business plans to attract and retain customers. It includes the marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion), sales channels, and promotional activities. Additionally, this section may detail the sales process, customer acquisition strategies, and methods for building brand awareness.

Funding Request (if applicable)

For businesses seeking external funding , this section outlines the financial requirements and the purpose for which the funds will be used. It includes details about the amount of funding needed, the desired terms, and the potential return on investment for investors. This section is often included in business plans for start-up businesses or when businesses are seeking loans or equity financing.

Financial Projections

Financial projections provide a glimpse into the expected financial performance of the business over a specified period, typically three to five years. This section includes income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets. It should also consider key financial metrics such as break-even analysis, return on investment (ROI), and growth projections. Realistic and data-driven financial projections are essential for demonstrating the business' viability to investors or lenders.

The appendix includes supplementary information that supports and adds depth to the main body of the business plan. This may include résumés of key team members, detailed market research data, additional financial information, legal documents, and any other relevant materials. While not every detail belongs in the main sections of the business plan, the appendix allows for a comprehensive presentation of supporting documents.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that assesses the business' internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. This analysis helps businesses leverage their strengths, address weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate potential threats. Including a SWOT analysis demonstrates a thoughtful understanding of the business environment.

Risk Analysis

Identifying and analyzing potential risks is an integral part of business planning. This section discusses the risks and challenges that the business may face and outlines strategies for mitigating these risks. It demonstrates a proactive approach to managing uncertainties and prepares the business for potential obstacles.

Implementation Plan

The implementation plan outlines the specific steps and timelines for executing the business strategy. It breaks down the business plan into actionable tasks, assigns responsibilities, and sets milestones. An effective implementation plan ensures that the business can turn its strategic vision into tangible and measurable results.

Exit Strategy (if applicable)

While not always included, an exit strategy outlines the planned exit of the business owners or investors. It may include scenarios such as selling the business, merging, going public, or passing the business on to family members. An exit strategy provides clarity on the long-term goals and intentions of the business.  

Lean Model Canvas Business Planning  

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the size and scope of a traditional business plan, the lean model canvas may be the right fit for you. This is a much more succinct way to plan out a business, and it offers a more visual framework. This is often utilized by new businesses and start-ups.

DreamSpring Lean Model Canvas Template (2)

To complete the lean model canvas as your business plan, you’ll want to work your way through the components outlined below, starting with the challenge/problem your customers face that your business seeks to solve. You’ll then progress through your solution and identify your customers, key resources, marketing channels to reach your customers, revenues and costs, and relationships. The idea behind the lean model is that it presents your business in a highly visual format over one to two pages. 

FREE TEMPLATE Lean Model Canvas  Create a visual framework for a more succinct business plan with our DreamSpring template.  

The Lean Canvas Components  

  • Key Problems : Identify the key problems or needs that your target customers are facing. This component helps you define the pain points your product or service aims to address.  
  • Key Solutions : Articulate your unique solution to the identified problem. This section outlines how your product or service effectively solves the challenges your customers are experiencing.  
  • Key Metrics : Define the quantitative measures that indicate the success of your business. Key metrics can include customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, conversion rates, and other performance indicators.  
  • Unique Value Proposition (UVP): Clearly communicate the unique value that your business provides to customers. Your UVP should highlight what sets your offering apart from competitors and why customers should choose your product or service.  
  • Channels : Specify the channels through which you will reach and engage with your target customers. This could include online platforms, social media, partnerships, or traditional marketing channels .  
  • Customer Segments : Identify the specific groups or segments of customers that your business is targeting. Understanding your target audience allows for more effective marketing and tailored solutions.
  • Cost Structure : Outline the key costs associated with running your business. This includes both fixed and variable costs, such as production, marketing, personnel, and overhead expenses.
  • Revenue Streams : Clearly define how your business will generate revenue. This could involve product sales, subscription fees, licensing, or other monetization strategies.
  • Advantages : Highlight any unique advantages or barriers to entry that your business possesses. This could be proprietary technology, exclusive partnerships, or a particularly skilled team.
  • Customer Relationships : Describe how your business will interact and build relationships with customers. This includes customer support, feedback mechanisms, and any other strategies for fostering long-term connections.  

It is important to note that business exit and disaster preparedness are not typical features of the lean model canvas, so if you do opt to use this route for your small business, you should add these sections to ensure your business is ready to face adversity.   

Disaster Planning and Preparedness  

DreamSpring_Business_Planning_101_photo1

Types of Disasters  

Emergencies can take many forms, but common situations that impact small businesses include:  

  • Technology failures, data breaches, cyberattacks, and unexpected software glitches.  
  • Weather-related and natural disasters (floods, hurricanes, fires, etc.).  
  • Unanticipated business interruptions (pandemics, power outages, supply chain failure, etc.).  

By thinking through preparedness in your business plan, you can bypass some of the challenges related to obtaining replacement documents and get your business up and running quickly.

Risk Assessment  

The first step in effective disaster planning is a thorough risk assessment. Small businesses need to identify potential hazards relevant to their location, industry, and operations. Consider both natural and manmade disasters, with thought given to inventory and service delivery components, impacts to staff, technology needs, data storage and backup, and equipment or supplies.  

By weaving your strengths and weaknesses from a risk assessment into your small business plan, you can limit threats to your operations and prepare for an unexpected event.  

Succession Planning and Exit Strategies  

Exit strategies  .

  • Sell Your Business - One common exit strategy involves selling the business to an external buyer. This could be an individual entrepreneur, a competitor, or a larger corporation looking to expand. Small business owners considering this option should conduct a thorough valuation of their business to determine its market value and attract potential buyers.  
  • Transition Management to Family Members - Succession planning often involves passing the business down to family members. This approach requires careful consideration of family dynamics, the capabilities and interests of potential successors, and strategies to ensure a smooth transition. Open communication and a clear plan are crucial to address potential challenges.
  • Employee Purchase - Selling the business to key employees through a buyout arrangement is another option. This strategy can be rewarding for loyal employees who have a deep understanding of the business and may be motivated to continue its success. Financing options and terms of the buyout need to be carefully structured.  
  • Merger - Small business owners may explore merging with or forming partnerships with other businesses. This strategy can provide synergies, expanded market reach, and shared resources. Mergers and partnerships can take various forms, and before going down this path, you should consider their long-term goals and compatibility with potential partners.
  • Liquidation - In some cases, liquidating the business assets and closing operations may be the chosen exit strategy. While this may be the least favorable option in terms of preserving the business as a going concern, it can be a viable choice if other strategies are not feasible or if you need a quick exit.  

Succession and Exit Planning  

If you’re looking to exit your business, the first step is to identify potential successors. If you have a candidate in mind that lacks a particular skill or desired trait, mentorship and training programs can help prepare them for future responsibilities once you’ve left the business. To best prepare your successor, you’ll want to document processes and help with the transfer of knowledge. Beyond operational procedures, you know your business best. Take time to download your experience and know-how as much as possible to best position your company for success. In order to make sure that the day-to-day operations have a seamless transition, think through what makes your business special, and provide any additional context in customer files. Your exit will also require financial planning as you work through your business’ financial health and tax implications. You’ll want to be clear and transparent about the current strengths and weaknesses, so your successor isn’t surprised.  Many business owners require the guidance of processional experts — attorneys, financial advisors, etc., to make a successful exit. Be sure to pull in any external support needed to best position your business. They can also help with valuation, due diligence of a sale, and help with a business continuity plan.  

Get ready to turn your ideas into action

Business planning is often the first step in thinking through what you want your business to be, and what it will become down the road. You can access free templates from a variety of sources online, including SCORE . You can also seek business planning support from your local small business development center . Happy planning!

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Blueprint for Success: Business Planning 101

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Feb 13, 2024

Blueprint for Success: Business Planning 101

A well-crafted business plan serves as the cornerstone for any successful venture, providing a roadmap that outlines goals, strategies, and a clear path forward. Whether an individual is a seasoned entrepreneur or a budding business owner, understanding how to create a successful business plan is crucial for navigating the complexities of the business world.

Here is a basic guideline business owners can follow to create a successful business plan:

Executive Summary

A business plan should start with a concise executive summary that encapsulates the essence of a business, including a mission, vision, and key objectives. A business owner should use diction that communicates the message their brand conveys.

Consider a portion from Dior’s mission statement in their campaign “Flowers of Regeneration”.

 “At Parfums Christian Dior, we believe flowers are a powerful force for regeneration driven by a combination of nature-based solutions, science and technology.” The statement is worded elegantly and conveys the brand’s essence, aesthetically communicating their mission (Dior, 2002).

This section should essentially provide a snapshot of your business, capturing the reader’s interest and encouraging them to delve deeper into the plan.

Business Description and Market Analysis

After the reader receives a scope of the brand’s essence and goals, the brand’s target market and selling propositions should be discussed to convince the reader that the brand is profitable. 

How does a business stand apart from other competitors in the industry?

This can be accomplished through a market analysis, thoroughly outlining a business’s industry, market trends, and competitors. How is the market’s climate favorable for a business? If it isn’t favorable, how will your business overcome challenges and reach target goals? Identifying the target audience can demonstrate a deep understanding of a business’s need and preferences. 

This section should also highlight opportunities and potential challenges a business may face in the market.

Organization and Management

This aspect of a business plan incorporates the “who”. The organizational hierarchy and key personnel should be listed, including the profiles of the management team. Profiles should highlight their relevant skills and experiences. A transparent organizational structure instills confidence in stakeholders and demonstrates your team’s ability to drive success.

Products and Services

The products and/or services a business offers should be listed and described in detail. If there are unique aspects about the production process, ensure that these are included. Highlight their unique features and benefits and explain how they fulfill the needs of your target market. Discuss any proprietary technologies, intellectual property, or strategic partnerships that give your offerings a competitive edge.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

The next component involves detailing a business’s marketing and sales approach. The market analysis answers the how while the sales and strategy answers the what, where, and when. This section outlines how business owners plan to promote products and services to drive sales and cultivate brand awareness.

The sales and marketing strategy encompasses a spectrum of channels and platforms, including online and offline avenues, social media, and traditional advertising. By strategically defining pricing structures, distribution channels, and promotional activities, businesses can establish a roadmap for achieving their sales objectives.

Funding and Financial Projections

In this section, a business precisely communicates its financial requirements to investors or potential shareholders examining the business plan. It is imperative for a business owner to transparently specify the utilization of funds, providing a meticulous breakdown of costs and anticipated return on investment. This segment holds paramount importance as it not only signifies financial transparency but also fosters confidence among potential investors in the financial viability of the business.

Implementation

The last section outlines how a business intends to  execute its strategies and achieve the goals outlined in the plan. A business owner should breakdown tasks, responsibilities, and acquisition of resources in a detailed timeline.

The timeline should highlight KPI’s, or key performance indicators, to monitor the progress of implementation. Contingency plans that address potential obstacles should be formulated. A well-structured implementation plan transforms your business plan from a theoretical document into a practical guide for turning your vision into reality.

Successful business plans and endeavors require meticulous approaches that encompass every aspect of one’s business, from organization and management to implementation. Above is a basic guideline for creating a business plan. If you are seeking further guidance, consider j oining AFE for personal and business support for endeavors involving bookkeeping, online marketing, business coaching, and more! Check out Membership Benefits .     

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Business Planning 101: The Essentials

By: Jeremy Bowler

Business man in office and Chess business leader success idea. Working on making business plan, business investment advisor consulting on the financial report, plan a marketing plan at business office. Business accounting plan concept.

If you have recently launched your first venture or you are in the process of getting ready to launch, the chances are that you are well in the throes of business planning.

Many people choose to print a generic business plan template off the Internet only to fill it in and file it away in a drawer, never to be seen again. However, your business plan should be a working document that helps you through the first few months of your business formation. It should be well-thumbed, scruffy, and adaptable to ensure that you hone your business vision and develop the business culture that will help your venture to thrive.

Take a look at these essentials when focusing on your business plan.

business planning 101

In your business plan, you should dedicate a large chunk to funding. If you are looking to raise some cash, you need to seek investment from external sources . Think about heading to your bank and applying for a professional loan. Your business plan will help the person in charge of loan decisions decide whether or not to lend you the cash. You may need to present your plan and your profit forecasts, so ensure that these are listed in your business plan. You need to work out your projected profits for the first three years of trading, at the very least. 

If pitching to a business angel for investment, expect to be probed on your gross and net figures. Your business plan needs to emulate your idea and show off your credentials.

Digital Marketing

In the twenty-first century, being online is more crucial than ever. Social media channels are the number one way of communicating and catching up on the news for millennials. This is why your small business needs a strong online presence , so get yourself signed up to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at the very least.

There, you can converse with your potential customer base in a more nuanced and informal way. You can chat like pals and communicate in an instant. These comments and posts are often public, so ensure that your tone is chatty, kind, and considerate. Marketing yourself online means putting a bit of your personality out there. Detail in your plan exactly how you plan to hit your target market through the power of social media and your website content.

If you require a small staff team to help your business launch successfully, you need to hone a cohesive workforce. Detail in your plan how you want to facilitate a decent working environment and how you will invest in your staff. They need to feel valued and appreciated to ensure morale remains high and to maintain productivity. This is a key facet of where you will spend some of your profits. When you have a staff team, you need to ensure that they stay at your company. A business plan should detail how you will mitigate the risk of high staff turnover.

Follow these steps and you can hone an effective business plan that will enable your venture to thrive.

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Business planning 101.

Developing a business plan is hard work and at times a daunting task for business owners. However, business planning can help move any company or small business forward. "Why write a business plan?" you may ask. There are many reasons why writing a business plan is essential to any owner. “All businesses should have a business plan because this allows entrepreneurs to brainstorm ideas that they would like to implement and how to accomplish them,” says Scott Pietreface, owner of the Fumatore di Sigaro Premier Lounge and Cigar Shoppe in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. 

Think of a business plan as a blueprint for a home. What can help keep the house up and steady? What makes a blueprint for a house successful? As for businesses, what can help a business stay steady and up and running? Also, how can a business increase profit? What can help make a business a successful one? The answer is preparation and the development of a business plan. Business plans are excellent tools for communicating the company’s vision, mission and goals to investors, customers and even employees. Also, writing a business plan will improve a business's chance of success by guaranteeing that owners pay attention to financial details, such as budgeting. Rieva Lesonsky, author of "A Business Plan Doubles Your Chances for Success," points to the findings of a recent survey: “The study indicated that the type of entrepreneur who completes a business plan is more likely to run a successful business.”

Pietreface spent 2½ years developing a thorough business plan. “I always had a vision of what I wanted the business to look like, but didn’t know how to get there,” he said. The business plan laid everything out for Pietreface, as it has done for many other business entrepreneurs.

With every company comes a competitor, and establishing a business plan provides business owners with strategies to differentiate their products. This allows them to better market their business to customers more effectively than the competitor. Also, business planning is a critical time process because it allows entrepreneurs to test “what-if” situations and create backup plans just in case the first plan turns out a little differently than expected. The plan shows a business’s strengths and weaknesses, forcing entrepreneurs to create a timeline of events that must happen. Also, plans can help provide organizational tactics for business owners and help entrepreneurs survive over time.

“Fail to plan, then you plan to fail,” Pietreface concludes.

Your area Missouri SBDC can help answer questions, offers training and one-on-one appointments; reach out to a location near you .

The Missouri SBDC is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

Elaine Quitos contributed to this article.

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40 facts about elektrostal.

Lanette Mayes

Written by Lanette Mayes

Modified & Updated: 02 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

40-facts-about-elektrostal

Elektrostal is a vibrant city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia. With a rich history, stunning architecture, and a thriving community, Elektrostal is a city that has much to offer. Whether you are a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about different cultures, Elektrostal is sure to captivate you.

This article will provide you with 40 fascinating facts about Elektrostal, giving you a better understanding of why this city is worth exploring. From its origins as an industrial hub to its modern-day charm, we will delve into the various aspects that make Elektrostal a unique and must-visit destination.

So, join us as we uncover the hidden treasures of Elektrostal and discover what makes this city a true gem in the heart of Russia.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elektrostal, known as the “Motor City of Russia,” is a vibrant and growing city with a rich industrial history, offering diverse cultural experiences and a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
  • With its convenient location near Moscow, Elektrostal provides a picturesque landscape, vibrant nightlife, and a range of recreational activities, making it an ideal destination for residents and visitors alike.

Known as the “Motor City of Russia.”

Elektrostal, a city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia, earned the nickname “Motor City” due to its significant involvement in the automotive industry.

Home to the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Elektrostal is renowned for its metallurgical plant, which has been producing high-quality steel and alloys since its establishment in 1916.

Boasts a rich industrial heritage.

Elektrostal has a long history of industrial development, contributing to the growth and progress of the region.

Founded in 1916.

The city of Elektrostal was founded in 1916 as a result of the construction of the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Located approximately 50 kilometers east of Moscow.

Elektrostal is situated in close proximity to the Russian capital, making it easily accessible for both residents and visitors.

Known for its vibrant cultural scene.

Elektrostal is home to several cultural institutions, including museums, theaters, and art galleries that showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage.

A popular destination for nature lovers.

Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and forests, Elektrostal offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and birdwatching.

Hosts the annual Elektrostal City Day celebrations.

Every year, Elektrostal organizes festive events and activities to celebrate its founding, bringing together residents and visitors in a spirit of unity and joy.

Has a population of approximately 160,000 people.

Elektrostal is home to a diverse and vibrant community of around 160,000 residents, contributing to its dynamic atmosphere.

Boasts excellent education facilities.

The city is known for its well-established educational institutions, providing quality education to students of all ages.

A center for scientific research and innovation.

Elektrostal serves as an important hub for scientific research, particularly in the fields of metallurgy, materials science, and engineering.

Surrounded by picturesque lakes.

The city is blessed with numerous beautiful lakes, offering scenic views and recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

Well-connected transportation system.

Elektrostal benefits from an efficient transportation network, including highways, railways, and public transportation options, ensuring convenient travel within and beyond the city.

Famous for its traditional Russian cuisine.

Food enthusiasts can indulge in authentic Russian dishes at numerous restaurants and cafes scattered throughout Elektrostal.

Home to notable architectural landmarks.

Elektrostal boasts impressive architecture, including the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and the Elektrostal Palace of Culture.

Offers a wide range of recreational facilities.

Residents and visitors can enjoy various recreational activities, such as sports complexes, swimming pools, and fitness centers, enhancing the overall quality of life.

Provides a high standard of healthcare.

Elektrostal is equipped with modern medical facilities, ensuring residents have access to quality healthcare services.

Home to the Elektrostal History Museum.

The Elektrostal History Museum showcases the city’s fascinating past through exhibitions and displays.

A hub for sports enthusiasts.

Elektrostal is passionate about sports, with numerous stadiums, arenas, and sports clubs offering opportunities for athletes and spectators.

Celebrates diverse cultural festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal hosts a variety of cultural festivals, celebrating different ethnicities, traditions, and art forms.

Electric power played a significant role in its early development.

Elektrostal owes its name and initial growth to the establishment of electric power stations and the utilization of electricity in the industrial sector.

Boasts a thriving economy.

The city’s strong industrial base, coupled with its strategic location near Moscow, has contributed to Elektrostal’s prosperous economic status.

Houses the Elektrostal Drama Theater.

The Elektrostal Drama Theater is a cultural centerpiece, attracting theater enthusiasts from far and wide.

Popular destination for winter sports.

Elektrostal’s proximity to ski resorts and winter sport facilities makes it a favorite destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.

Promotes environmental sustainability.

Elektrostal prioritizes environmental protection and sustainability, implementing initiatives to reduce pollution and preserve natural resources.

Home to renowned educational institutions.

Elektrostal is known for its prestigious schools and universities, offering a wide range of academic programs to students.

Committed to cultural preservation.

The city values its cultural heritage and takes active steps to preserve and promote traditional customs, crafts, and arts.

Hosts an annual International Film Festival.

The Elektrostal International Film Festival attracts filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts from around the world, showcasing a diverse range of films.

Encourages entrepreneurship and innovation.

Elektrostal supports aspiring entrepreneurs and fosters a culture of innovation, providing opportunities for startups and business development.

Offers a range of housing options.

Elektrostal provides diverse housing options, including apartments, houses, and residential complexes, catering to different lifestyles and budgets.

Home to notable sports teams.

Elektrostal is proud of its sports legacy, with several successful sports teams competing at regional and national levels.

Boasts a vibrant nightlife scene.

Residents and visitors can enjoy a lively nightlife in Elektrostal, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.

Promotes cultural exchange and international relations.

Elektrostal actively engages in international partnerships, cultural exchanges, and diplomatic collaborations to foster global connections.

Surrounded by beautiful nature reserves.

Nearby nature reserves, such as the Barybino Forest and Luchinskoye Lake, offer opportunities for nature enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the region’s biodiversity.

Commemorates historical events.

The city pays tribute to significant historical events through memorials, monuments, and exhibitions, ensuring the preservation of collective memory.

Promotes sports and youth development.

Elektrostal invests in sports infrastructure and programs to encourage youth participation, health, and physical fitness.

Hosts annual cultural and artistic festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal celebrates its cultural diversity through festivals dedicated to music, dance, art, and theater.

Provides a picturesque landscape for photography enthusiasts.

The city’s scenic beauty, architectural landmarks, and natural surroundings make it a paradise for photographers.

Connects to Moscow via a direct train line.

The convenient train connection between Elektrostal and Moscow makes commuting between the two cities effortless.

A city with a bright future.

Elektrostal continues to grow and develop, aiming to become a model city in terms of infrastructure, sustainability, and quality of life for its residents.

In conclusion, Elektrostal is a fascinating city with a rich history and a vibrant present. From its origins as a center of steel production to its modern-day status as a hub for education and industry, Elektrostal has plenty to offer both residents and visitors. With its beautiful parks, cultural attractions, and proximity to Moscow, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this dynamic city. Whether you’re interested in exploring its historical landmarks, enjoying outdoor activities, or immersing yourself in the local culture, Elektrostal has something for everyone. So, next time you find yourself in the Moscow region, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the hidden gems of Elektrostal.

Q: What is the population of Elektrostal?

A: As of the latest data, the population of Elektrostal is approximately XXXX.

Q: How far is Elektrostal from Moscow?

A: Elektrostal is located approximately XX kilometers away from Moscow.

Q: Are there any famous landmarks in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to several notable landmarks, including XXXX and XXXX.

Q: What industries are prominent in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal is known for its steel production industry and is also a center for engineering and manufacturing.

Q: Are there any universities or educational institutions in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to XXXX University and several other educational institutions.

Q: What are some popular outdoor activities in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal offers several outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and picnicking in its beautiful parks.

Q: Is Elektrostal well-connected in terms of transportation?

A: Yes, Elektrostal has good transportation links, including trains and buses, making it easily accessible from nearby cities.

Q: Are there any annual events or festivals in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including XXXX and XXXX.

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