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Creating a Comprehensive Business Plan Rubric

A well-structured business plan is a foundational document for any entrepreneurial venture, serving as a roadmap to guide your business to success. It provides clarity on your business goals, strategies, and financial projections, making it an essential tool for attracting investors and stakeholders. However, evaluating the quality and completeness of a business plan can be challenging, especially when dealing with multiple plans. This is where a business plan rubric comes into play. It’s a systematic and objective way to assess business plans consistently.

How to Create a Comprehensive Business Plan Rubric

1. define your objectives.

Start by identifying the objectives of your business plan rubric. What do you want to assess and measure in the business plans? Your objectives may include evaluating market research, financial projections, marketing strategies, or overall clarity and coherence. Make sure your objectives align with the key components of a well-rounded business plan.

2. Establish Criteria

For each objective, establish specific criteria or factors that you will evaluate. For instance, if you’re assessing market research, your criteria might include the depth of market analysis, competitor research, and target audience insights. Clearly define the criteria for each objective.

3. Assign Weightings

Not all criteria are equally important. Assign weightings to each criterion based on its significance. Weightings reflect the relative importance of different elements in the business plan. For example, financial projections may carry more weight than a company’s historical background.

4. Develop a Scoring System

Create a scoring system for each criterion. You can use a numerical scale (e.g., 1-5, 1-10) or a descriptive scale (e.g., poor, fair, good, excellent). This system allows you to provide a quantitative assessment for each criterion.

5. Provide Clear Descriptions

For each criterion and level on the scoring system, provide clear descriptions of what each level represents. This ensures consistent and objective evaluation. Avoid vague descriptions to prevent subjectivity.

6. Consider the Overall Structure

Include an assessment of the business plan’s overall structure and presentation. Elements to consider might include readability, use of headings, and formatting. A well-organized and visually appealing plan often indicates a more professional and thoughtful approach.

7. Test Your Rubric

Before applying your rubric to assess real business plans, test it with a few sample plans to ensure that it’s clear, fair, and effective. Make any necessary adjustments based on your testing.

8. Evaluate Business Plans

Once your rubric is ready, you can begin evaluating business plans. Review each plan against the criteria, assign scores, and calculate the final scores based on the weightings.

9. Provide Feedback

After assessing the plans, offer constructive feedback to the entrepreneurs or teams behind them. Highlight strengths and weaknesses, and offer recommendations for improvement. This feedback can be invaluable for the plan’s creators.

10. Maintain Consistency

Consistency is key in using a business plan rubric. Ensure that different assessors apply the rubric consistently, and if possible, discuss and calibrate your rubric assessments with other evaluators to maintain fairness and objectivity.

11. Use the Results

The results from your business plan rubric can help you make informed decisions about which plans align best with your investment or support criteria. Plans with higher scores are likely more well-prepared and have thoroughly considered various aspects of their business.

Business Rubric Example

Here are a few examples of criteria that could be included in a business plan rubric along with a corresponding scoring system:

  • Identification of target market (5 points)
  • Thoroughness of competitor analysis (5 points)
  • Assessment of market trends and growth potential (5 points)
  • Realistic revenue forecasts (5 points)
  • Comprehensive cost analysis (5 points)
  • Clear understanding of profit margins (5 points)
  • Coherent and effective marketing plan (5 points)
  • Utilization of digital marketing tools (5 points)
  • Identification of key marketing channels (5 points)
  • Description of unique value proposition (5 points)
  • Clarity in product development roadmap (5 points)
  • Assessment of potential market demand (5 points)
  • Demonstrated expertise and experience (5 points)
  • Coherence and complementary skills of the team (5 points)
  • Clarity in roles and responsibilities (5 points)
  • Identification of potential risks (5 points)
  • Comprehensive risk mitigation strategies (5 points)
  • Contingency plans for identified risks (5 points)
  • Clarity and coherence of the business plan structure (5 points)
  • Use of appropriate visuals and graphics (5 points)
  • Professionalism and readability of the document (5 points)

For each of the criteria listed above, a scoring system can be implemented using a scale such as:

  • 1-5 scale (1 being Poor, 5 being Excellent)
  • 1-10 scale (1 being Low, 10 being High)
  • Descriptive scale (Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent)

In summary, a well-structured business plan rubric is a valuable tool for evaluating and comparing multiple business plans. It provides objectivity, consistency, and fairness in assessing the quality and completeness of these plans, helping you make informed decisions when considering investments or partnerships. This business plan rubric can help assessors evaluate various business plans consistently and objectively, providing a comprehensive overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each plan and aiding in making informed decisions regarding potential investments or collaborations.

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How to Evaluate a Business Plan

by Evangeline Marzec

Published on 16 Oct 2019

Whether you're an investor, an entrepreneur or a business skills teacher, you'll be exposed to a wide variety of business plans and should have a solid, somewhat standard approach to conducting a business plan assessment. Analyze each section individually, and then look at the plan as a whole to determine the viability of the business and the likelihood of its success in the manner proposed. Also consider the writing skills and attention to detail that went into formulating the plan.

Read and Understand the Executive Summary

The first step in a business plan assessment is reading the business' executive summary. This should be a concise "elevator pitch", not a summary of the business plan. In one or two pages, it should convey the market opportunity and the uniquely compelling features of the business that will help it meet that opportunity. The executive summary should excite you and make you want to turn to the next page. If it doesn't, the entrepreneur might lack marketing or writing skills, or it may indicate that the idea itself is not going to fly.

Analyze Opportunity in the Market

Evaluate the market opportunity. Ideally, the market should be growing at least 10% per year and have a substantial potential relative to the size of the business and investment. For example, a small company seeking an investment of $50,000 should see a potential market of $5 million.

The larger the potential market and the faster it is growing, the greater the opportunity in the market. Look to the exhibits and appendices to ensure that the business actually has done the necessary market research and can back up any claims.

Evaluate the Company's Business Strategy

Examine the company strategy for capturing its market. The plan must clearly describe the problem the company is solving or need it is meeting for customers, and then propose a solution. This is the crux of a business plan assessment.

Closely examine the alignment between problem and solution. Will the company actually address that need? This evaluation must take into account the product or service being offered, the operational capacity and efficiency with which the business actually can produce its product, and the quality of the proposed marketing efforts.

Examine the Business Environment

The business plan should describe the competitive landscape in which the company operates, preferably by referencing Porter's 5 Forces or another well-established tool. Look for detailed breakdowns and analyses of each of it competitors, and of how the company is different and better than the competition in a particular niche. This section should include the regulatory environment and mention any costs or necessary delays associated with regulations.

Porter's 5 Forces is an evaluation model that looks closely at the five competitive forces at play in the business landscape. These forces are present in every industry and by evaluating how they manifest in an individual industry, one can gauge that industry's strengths and weaknesses. Porter's 5 Forces are:

  • Competition in the industry
  • Potential of new entrants in the industry
  • Power of suppliers
  • Power of customers
  • Threat of substitutes

Evaluate the Leadership Team

Look for experience, integrity and passion in the executive team. Read bios and brief highlights of each executive's strengths and expertise should accompany standard business information such as headquarters and corporate structure. The company should have experienced advisers, either formally or informally.

It is paramount that the principals involved in the business convey their passion and drive toward success with this project. If the founders haven't invested their own capital into the business, or plan on keeping their “day jobs” while running the business, they might lack faith in the project.

Crunch the Numbers and Understand the Finances

Ensure that the financial projections are both promising and realistic. Most entrepreneurs vastly overstate their company's potential, starting with the market size and market share. Financial figures should be based on historical data if available, or very conservative projections if the company is not yet profitable. Entrepreneurs that project capturing 20% market share in the first two years probably have unrealistic expectations.

Investigate the returns provided by the investment. Good business plans include exit strategies for pulling the initial investment back out of the company, and have a realistic valuation of their shares.

View the Business Plan as a Living Document

Evaluate the business plan as a whole document, and as a reflection of a real-world company. Determine whether the market need is adequate, the company's offerings are compelling, the management team experienced and committed, and the financial statements realistic. Does this company as a whole have a chance of success?

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

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

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  • What do you do with Form 5498?
  • How can I buy a money order?
  • When do I have to pay an auto insurance deductible?
  • Experience and expertise
  • 2024 tax brackets and income tax rates
  • Best insurance company overall: Travelers
  • How to place a fraud alert
  • Best return-of-premium life insurance policies: Pros and cons
  • What is a repurchase of common stock?
  • Which credit card should I get?
  • 3. Evaluate your credit
  • Average daily balance
  • What makes an energy-efficient home different?
  • Median income by city: 2021
  • How do you know if you’re subject to backup withholding?
  • Common reasons for excess 401(k) contributions
  • 3. The IRS has the paperwork you’ll need
  • Good balance transfer cards
  • The pros and cons of investing in tech stocks
  • Who might prefer the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Vrbo: Best Airbnb alternative with a loyalty program
  • How does a trust fund work?
  • Why use an IUL for retirement?
  • List of Black-owned banks, credit unions and fintechs by state
  • 4. Building inspections
  • Investing in stocks
  • How to get rid of a tax levy
  • Child tax credit expansion: What the new tax deal could mean for you
  • How quickly could the IRS implement the child tax credit expansion?
  • 4 more ways to estimate how much life insurance you need
  • How far in advance should I get preapproved for a mortgage?
  • 4. Decide whether to file a claim
  • How does the IRS Free File program work?
  • Earning Singapore KrisFlyer miles with credit cards
  • 3. Pay off debts
  • When you can change your Delta flights
  • Credit cards = happiness?
  • How a passport book and passport card differ
  • What’s included in renters insurance rates?
  • Retirement savings by age
  • How the federal funds rate impacts prices
  • Aim for the most valuable uses of your Venture miles
  • How to qualify for the 2024 EV tax credit
  • Taxis or rideshares
  • How to open a spousal IRA
  • Find nonprofit student loan assistance
  • The travel insurance benefits, explained
  • RMD penalties
  • FDIC insurance: What’s covered
  • 2. Decide how much to invest
  • How to buy AI ETFs
  • I’m worried about keeping my crypto with an exchange. What should I do?
  • 3. Renters insurance can pay for housing after a disaster
  • Share or spend rewards
  • How to invest in AI stocks
  • How to get flight delay compensation in Europe
  • When to pick the JetBlue Plus Card

3. State your business goals

  • One-time automatic account adjustment for PSLF borrowers
  • Inflation calculator
  • 2. Ask for higher credit limits
  • How do I calculate alternative minimum tax (AMT)?
  • Child tax credit 2024
  • 3. … As well as your penchant for buying jeans
  • Priority Pass lounge locations
  • How to choose an S&P 500 index fund
  • Other home insurance companies to consider
  • Top 9 Bitcoin strategy ETFs by fee
  • How to invest in mutual funds
  • What should you do with your Student Aid Report?
  • 5. Keep your receipt
  • Current Citi Dividend bonus categories
  • What to expect the stock market to return
  • Other payroll tax items you may hear about
  • How to find and interview real estate agents
  • Taxes and fees
  • What is a trust account?
  • Employer identification number (EIN)
  • Are I bonds a good investment?
  • What isn’t covered by Chase trip cancellation insurance?
  • 3. Make a counteroffer
  • Higher Education Act justifies Plan B
  • The cheapest midsize car insurance company: American National
  • What you'll need to apply for Social Security
  • How is discretionary income calculated?
  • Where can I get a money order? How much does a money order cost?
  • Survey sites that pay cash
  • What is short-term capital gains tax?
  • Does YouTube TV allow password sharing?
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • Small-business lending statistics
  • Can I contribute to a Roth IRA if my income is too high?
  • You won't be able to use the card
  • 2. Gather personal documents and information
  • Do I have to pay state tax on lottery winnings?
  • How to qualify for a personal loan with low income
  • 4. A bad online reputation
  • How to find your child’s Social Security number
  • How to transfer points between Chase cards
  • Earned income tax credit 2024
  • Pros and cons of crypto loans
  • What to expect from future hotel stays
  • Rental car insurance vs. your own auto insurance
  • Do you need a family cell phone plan?
  • How to invest in the S&P 500 in two steps:
  • Can you bring open food through TSA?
  • What happens if you use loan money for nonessentials?
  • How much are Chase Ultimate Rewards® points worth?
  • Cheap car insurance in Texas by age
  • Should you get more than the bare minimum car insurance in Florida?
  • What are the risks of buying crypto?
  • The benefits of having more than one travel credit card
  • 1. High-yield savings accounts
  • 3. The rewards rate is high
  • Avoiding the upsell
  • Requirements: Who qualifies for the child tax credit?
  • ESG benefits
  • Qualified widow or widower
  • Can I lift a fraud alert?
  • Local sales
  • How are dividends taxed?
  • How to rebook your Delta flight at a cheaper fare
  • How much are American Express Membership Rewards points worth?
  • Can you add a KTN after checking in?
  • Start planning for repayment now
  • Why do I have to pay FICA tax?
  • How to apply for children’s Social Security survivor benefits
  • Why is food so expensive?
  • Types of trusts
  • Goodbudget, for hands-on envelope budgeting
  • What about the new IDR plan?
  • How to choose the best high-yield savings accounts
  • Other ways to reach Star Alliance Gold
  • 5. Search and rescue
  • Historical U.S. inflation rates
  • When to estimate closing costs
  • Compensation that fits your case
  • If your student loans were in default before the pandemic
  • How flexible are Singapore KrisFlyer miles?
  • 4. Ask creditors to update information
  • How to buy common stock
  • Do I have to file taxes?
  • What special features does the Robinhood IRA have?
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • How to find an energy-efficient home
  • How deferred-interest 'deals' trip you up
  • Paychex plans and features
  • Oportun Visa Credit Card
  • Chase points calculator
  • Eligible child and dependent care expenses
  • How much do index funds cost?
  • Which card should you get?
  • Other great card features to keep in mind
  • It’s not only about taxes
  • Perks: Goodies for carrying the card
  • Other notable required minimum distribution (RMD) rules
  • FDIC insurance: What’s not covered
  • 4. It can protect your finances
  • Bear market vs. recession: What’s the difference?
  • What about vacation rentals?
  • Why Black-owned banks matter
  • Remove yourself or your spouse from any credit card
  • A quick guide to popular 2023 tax credits
  • How to increase your savings account balance
  • What tax breaks do you lose under the AMT?
  • How insurance pays out after an accident
  • Does YouTube TV offer offline viewing?
  • Reliability
  • 3. Fill out the application
  • Understanding your W-2 form
  • 3. The interest rate runs high
  • Seller concessions
  • Alternatives to using loans for living expenses
  • Cheap car insurance in Texas for 20-year-olds
  • What to ask before buying a used iPhone
  • How to find AI ETFs

4. Describe your products and services

  • Who qualifies for the PSLF account adjustment?
  • Money order fees at big U.S. banks
  • 4. Interest rates are lower than the industry average
  • Can I bring a carry-on diaper bag?
  • Tips for booking rental cars with an app
  • Capital gains tax rates 2023
  • 4. Point values are poor, and redemption is inflexible
  • 2024 IRS Free File: Participating software providers
  • Suites, spa treatments and more
  • What is a credit freeze?
  • It’s more expensive to rent than ever before
  • 4. Gather information for your application
  • How to invest in the S&P 500
  • Why you might want a joint credit card account
  • The Bitcoin ETF price war
  • 5. Asking for money or gift cards
  • How to qualify for the earned income credit
  • Categories from previous years
  • The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is for average credit
  • Trolley tours
  • How much can you make with I bonds?
  • Can you bring fast food through TSA?
  • Peace of mind
  • How to open a brokerage account
  • Who is covered by Chase trip cancellation insurance?
  • How much Social Security will you get at 62?
  • 3. Open an investment account
  • 4. Getting to 'yes'
  • How are American Airlines boarding groups assigned?
  • Additional child tax credit
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • 5. Wait until the record drops out of the database
  • Calculate your reduced Roth contribution
  • Longer-term consequences are possible
  • When do you have to pay taxes on stocks?
  • KTN lookup tips
  • What determines your renters insurance cost?
  • What can I do with my money if I max out my 401(k)?
  • Is a backdoor Roth IRA worth it?
  • Step 2: Determine your target audience
  • Credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • How do you get a crypto loan?
  • Diversifying with index funds
  • State farm grants
  • Consider your legal options
  • ‘Why IUL is a bad investment’
  • Is my money safe in a high-yield savings account?
  • How to file IRS Form 1096
  • 6. Security surveillance
  • Forgiveness would occur in 2025
  • An alternative to traditional real estate: REITs
  • 3. Become an authorized user
  • How to get Delta Medallion status
  • How much of your fee goes to Upwork?
  • Other partners worth considering
  • Communication and compatibility
  • How income tax brackets work
  • Does YouTube TV fit in my budget?
  • How did we determine the Singapore KrisFlyer miles value?
  • Clothes, vintage and crafts
  • More competitors to cash
  • Should I take a lump sum payment or annuity payments?
  • Activities that earn Loyalty Points
  • Inflight entertainment
  • 4. You can write off Bitcoin losses
  • Calculating RMDs when you have multiple accounts
  • How to check that all money in your accounts is insured
  • What do closing costs include?
  • What happens if you don't stop a tax offset?
  • Best insurance company for affordability: NJM
  • Don’t have to file a tax return? There’s a big reason you might want to do it anyway
  • Interest rate
  • Tips to find cheap flights any day of the week
  • Will my loans get cancelled?
  • ‘Long and variable lags,’ and other factors
  • Other costs for home sellers
  • What plans are best for seniors?
  • Adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN)
  • Can you bring baby food on a plane?
  • You must recertify your income and family size every year
  • How to activate Chase 5% categories
  • Consider using Hilton’s Points + Money option if you don't have enough points
  • How does crypto fit into your portfolio?
  • 5. Inking the deal
  • 5. It covers belongings away from home
  • Junk fee bans: Good or bad?
  • Is it bad to have more than one credit card?
  • For airline delay compensation in other destinations: Consider travel insurance
  • When should I use a money order?
  • What is a good deductible for car insurance?
  • Do I have to pay alternative minimum tax?
  • How to add a lap child on Spirit Airlines
  • How to qualify for Hyatt Globalist
  • Married, filing jointly
  • How do I get a copy of my actual tax return?
  • How did rent get so expensive?
  • What’s the difference between S&P 500 index funds and S&P 500 ETFs?
  • Some alternatives to joint credit card accounts
  • Compare the best savings and money market accounts
  • What to do if you’ve been scammed
  • How to stop backup withholding and get credit for it
  • Gemini Credit Card
  • 3. Collect documents and correspondence
  • Should I do a balance transfer?
  • Who is a qualifying relative?
  • How to invest in tech stocks
  • Best for stays abroad
  • Do the math on high-yield savings
  • 7. Agricultural surveys
  • Is it safe to buy a used phone?
  • Pros and cons of jumbo loans
  • Cheapest car insurance after a speeding ticket: State Farm

5. Do your market research

  • 5. Balance transfers are possible — but not advisable — with the Aven credit card 
  • Fraud alert vs. credit freeze — which should I choose?
  • If you’re looking to rebook and save with Delta
  • Pros and cons of a cash-out refinance
  • 5. Compare lenders and rates
  • How much can you make owning an Airbnb?
  • 4. Better cash-back offers exist
  • Who counts as a qualified care provider?
  • Lodging or activity providers
  • Which trips are eligible for Chase trip cancellation insurance?
  • What happens when a bank fails
  • Other stock market changes: Dips, corrections and crashes
  • Disadvantages of irrevocable trusts
  • How to get preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
  • 2. Certificates of deposit
  • Why inflation matters
  • What are IRS Free File Fillable Forms?
  • What is net investment income tax?
  • 4. Fund your new account
  • Do spot Bitcoin ETFs have custodianship risk?
  • Things to consider beyond income requirements
  • Ready to get started?
  • Emirates bathrooms
  • Step 3: Write your business plan
  • Quick start guide: How to invest in index funds
  • What else you need to know about TSA PreCheck
  • How are food prices tracked?
  • Is it time for you to switch to a better plan?
  • Income-driven repayment disadvantages
  • 6. The cost may be less than you expect
  • 8. Underwater inspections
  • What we still don’t know
  • Could we be in an AI bubble?

6. Outline your marketing and sales plan

  • Reconsideration for PSLF applications
  • No-closing-cost mortgages
  • If this is giving you a headache ...
  • Advantages of itemized deductions
  • 2023 capital gains tax calculator
  • How to claim the child tax credit in 2024
  • How to choose the best ESG funds for you
  • 5. Cardholders receive some money-saving perks
  • Capital One Venture X Business
  • Small-business diversity statistics
  • Other Roth IRA rules
  • Credit card spending still has many positives
  • Are there other ways to get tax records?
  • How do I deal with lottery taxes?
  • Compare the best CD accounts
  • Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
  • Avoid the student loan scammers
  • How much does it cost to invest in the S&P 500?
  • Brokerage accounts are taxable accounts
  • 4. Pick an investment strategy
  • The bottom line
  • Not a DIY project
  • Will my spouse’s refund be garnished, too?
  • Will a credit freeze or fraud alert hurt my credit score?
  • What to do if your W-2 is wrong
  • Where is a Known Traveler Number on a Global Entry card?
  • Where can I cash a money order?
  • What if you already have a deferred-interest card?
  • 5. Failure to report Bitcoin can be costly
  • 4. Follow up with a letter if it makes sense
  • How much Social Security will you get at 67?
  • 4. Pay bills on time
  • Alternatives to keeping a card inactive
  • Claiming tax-deductible donations on your tax return
  • Who counts as a qualifying child for the earned income credit?
  • 5. There’s a path to a credit limit increase
  • Step 4: Register and license your business
  • Avoid these less valuable redemptions
  • How to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to Avios
  • Preparer tax identification number (PTIN)
  • EveryDollar, for simple zero-based budgeting
  • Can you bring alcohol through TSA?
  • IDR waiver will count past payments toward forgiveness
  • How to file a trip cancellation insurance claim with Chase
  • Redeem Hilton points for Amazon purchases (maybe)
  • How much does it cost to refinance a mortgage?
  • Travel and shopping protections
  • How to get priority boarding on American Airlines
  • How to do well on Upwork
  • How general liability insurance works
  • Other Star Alliance frequent flyer programs worth considering
  • Contributing too much to a Roth
  • How to pay lower taxes when selling stocks
  • See more banking guides
  • A Known Traveler Number unlocks TSA PreCheck
  • Days in the cycle
  • Compare the best checking accounts
  • More on WebBank
  • What are the risks of crypto loans?
  • Additional child and dependent care credit requirements 
  • Hipcamp: Best for glamping on a budget (or just plain camping)
  • How to set up a trust
  • Cheapest car insurance after an accident: State Farm

7. Perform a business financial analysis

  • Disadvantages of itemized deductions
  • Donating hotel points
  • Your W-2 information is not a secret
  • What do the approvals mean for Bitcoin?
  • Disadvantages of franchising for the franchisee
  • Best uses for a high-yield savings account
  • Form 1096 instructions
  • Will lodging get cheaper?
  • 9. Marine photography
  • Tips for calculating how much life insurance you need
  • Is Upwork the right freelance marketplace for you?
  • What is a marginal tax rate?
  • When to expect your child tax credit refund
  • United℠ Explorer Card
  • Can I have a fraud alert and a credit freeze?
  • Electronics
  • When to get both
  • How to apply for a loan
  • Class matters
  • First-time home buyer programs near Georgia
  • If you want to score discounted Delta flights
  • How the electric vehicle tax credit is calculated
  • Walk or bike
  • Find the best homeowners insurance in your state
  • Lodge a student loan complaint
  • I bonds and taxes
  • Foods you can't pack in your carry-on
  • How to apply for income-driven repayment
  • Seller-paid closing costs
  • Spirit baby policies, recapped
  • Capital gains tax rates 2024
  • Car insurance rates can increase after a crash
  • Different Priority Pass membership levels
  • Compare the best banks, credit unions and cash management accounts
  • How much are Airbnb taxes?
  • Can I claim the EITC without a child?
  • Step 5: Get your finances in order
  • Private and community farm grants
  • Donate Hilton points
  • How to protect against inflation
  • Married, filing separately
  • Small-business industry statistics
  • Frequently asked questions about W-2 forms
  • Alternatives to cash-out refinance
  • 5. Wait for a response
  • Using your credit card for rental car coverage
  • How often do savings rates change?
  • Brokerage accounts vs. IRA
  • Chase trip cancellation insurance recapped
  • How to find the best refinance rates
  • 10. Mapping and surveying
  • Jumbo loans and conforming loan limits
  • Should you invest in AI stocks?
  • If you’re considering the Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Are PSLF applicants still eligible for Biden's cancellation?
  • Term vs. whole life insurance tool
  • Chase transfer partners to avoid
  • What businesses need general liability insurance
  • Best insurance company for accident forgiveness: Geico
  • Basic economy
  • 6. Apply to refinance your car loan
  • What's next?
  • How long are money orders good for?
  • Personal loan alternatives for low-income borrowers
  • What is the average and median retirement savings?
  • When transferring points isn’t a good deal
  • Why Gusto is a better choice
  • National first-time home buyer programs
  • Alternatives to borrowing against your crypto
  • How much Social Security will you get at 70?
  • 5. Understand your investment options
  • Final thoughts on Star Alliance Gold status
  • How much does insurance cost in Louisiana?

8. Make financial projections

  • If you want to use an app to rent a car
  • Consequences of a child tax credit error
  • Rent vs. inflation 
  • Charitable deductions 2023
  • Compare the best bank accounts for students and kids
  • Citi Custom Cash® Card
  • Cheapest for 30-year-old drivers
  • How to claim the earned income tax credit
  • Other benefits of flying premium economy on Emirates
  • The cost of veterinary care
  • NerdWallet home insurance calculator methodology
  • Hilton point redemptions to skip
  • Find local conforming loan limits
  • Who's gotten PSLF so far?
  • 5. Dispute credit report errors
  • Capital gains tax rules and considerations
  • What is an effective tax rate?
  • Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
  • If you're choosing between the passport card and passport book
  • Who doesn't count as a tax dependent?
  • Take advantage of travel benefits
  • Marriott Homes and Villas: Good for Marriott members seeking more space
  • Taxes and trusts
  • What’s coming to Honolulu public transit next?
  • How to open a high-yield savings account
  • 11. Create an online drone course
  • Cheapest car insurance after a DUI: Progressive
  • Money order tracking
  • Best ways to earn Chase points
  • Advantages of the standard deduction
  • Credit cards with Priority Pass Select
  • Summary of the best banks and credit unions of 2024
  • How to claim the child and dependent tax credit
  • How to claim the federal EV tax credit
  • Protections: Peace-of-mind benefits
  • Can’t afford income-driven repayment?
  • FDIC insurance limits and ownership categories
  • Ways to get the best jumbo mortgage rates
  • How to reduce taxes owed
  • What lenders look for in a business plan
  • Buying rental car insurance on your own
  • Empower Personal Dashboard, for tracking wealth and spending
  • Refinancing a mortgage, step by step
  • Average cost of homeowners insurance in Louisiana by city
  • State child tax credits
  • Companies that offer return-of-premium riders
  • How will Robinhood make money from its IRAs?
  • What do the approvals mean for other crypto investments?
  • Activities that DON'T earn Loyalty Points
  • Can you transfer Chase points to another person?
  • Tax breaks and credits for claiming a tax dependent
  • Transferring Avios between programs
  • Should I invest in an S&P 500 index fund or S&P 500 ETF?
  • Walmart2Walmart
  • Cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points
  • Western Union
  • Consequences of an EIC-related error
  • How to tell if transferring points is a good deal
  • Finding a real estate agent: Tips for buyers
  • Step 6: Find the right location
  • Supplement rewards with a second credit card
  • Shopping protections
  • Are I bonds low risk?
  • 12. Drone repairs

9. Summarize how your company operates

  • How to get Public Service Loan Forgiveness
  • United℠ Business Card
  • Small-business outlook statistics
  • Is a cash-out refinance a good idea?
  • What is the $500 credit for other dependents (ODC)?
  • How does return-of-premium life insurance work?
  • How pet insurance can reduce surprise bills
  • Step 7: Create a rental contract
  • Bottom line: Is it worth claiming the child and dependent care tax credit?
  • What happens if I can’t open a savings account?
  • The cheapest home insurance in Louisiana
  • More about the card
  • General liability insurance costs
  • Business loan agreement: Terms to know
  • Emirates premium economy routes
  • If you're considering a transfer of Chase points to British Airways
  • If you’re waiting for your TSA PreCheck interview
  • 13. Custom activations for events
  • Don’t count on the Plan B yet
  • Cheapest auto insurance for poor credit: Geico

10. Add any additional information to an appendix

  • Are paid surveys worth it?
  • Best insurance company for having few customer complaints: American Family
  • Child tax credit vs. child and dependent care credit
  • What's the easiest way to invest responsibly?
  • Loyalty programs
  • Who is most likely to rent?
  • Finding a real estate agent: Tips for sellers
  • What information do you need to claim the EV tax credit?
  • Are there drawbacks to investing in the S&P 500?
  • Should you buy I bonds?
  • 6. Deal with collections accounts
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Why transferring Chase points between accounts can be a smart money move
  • Can I still get a past year's earned income tax credit?
  • Why you might want Paychex instead
  • Step 8: Build your operations team
  • Local vacation rental management companies: best for supporting small businesses
  • Examples of FDIC insurance limits and coverage
  • Transfer Hilton points to airlines
  • Standard deduction vs. itemized deductions
  • General liability insurance policy limits
  • Donating credit card points
  • History of the child tax credit
  • World of Hyatt Credit Card
  • Approaches to a successful small-business evaluation
  • Why is home insurance so expensive in Louisiana?
  • 14. Drone banner advertising
  • Redeeming through the Ultimate Rewards® portal
  • How to avoid, reduce or minimize capital gains taxes
  • What’s the catch with return-of-premium life insurance?
  • How much does Emirates premium economy cost?
  • Travel protections
  • Medallion status benefits
  • How to choose a real estate agent
  • Step 9: Create an online presence

Business plan tips and resources

  • If you’re looking to donate your points …
  • Methodology
  • FHA vs. conventional loans: Summary
  • Mutual fund types
  • How to lower your pet insurance cost
  • The bottom line: Do you need rental car insurance?
  • Advantages of franchising for the franchisor
  • PocketGuard, for a simplified budgeting snapshot
  • 15. Emergency situations
  • Other business liability insurance coverage you might need
  • Rent vs. income
  • The bottom line on the new Robinhood IRA
  • How to lower your renters insurance cost
  • Final thoughts on when to transfer Chase points
  • Chase hotel transfer partners
  • What to know if you take online surveys
  • World of Hyatt Business Credit Card
  • How to choose among the best ways to send money internationally
  • Step 10: Provide exceptional service
  • How to choose the best Airbnb alternative
  • How to buy I bonds
  • 7. Use a secured credit card
  • If you want to transfer Chase points
  • 4. What to expect at a United Club lounge
  • What to know about Louisiana homeowners insurance
  • 16. Drone leasing business
  • The best Star Alliance airlines to earn miles, recapped
  • ROP life insurance pros and cons
  • EV rebates and incentives
  • American Airlines boarding groups, recapped
  • Best insurance company for financial strength: Auto-Owners
  • How do I file a claim?
  • Drone tips for commercial use
  • Cheapest car insurance for young drivers
  • What are tax deductions?
  • U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card
  • Veteran farm grants
  • 1096 tax form: Tips for small-business owners
  • Business plan for loan examples
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
  • Small-business banking statistics post-SVB failure
  • Is return-of-premium life insurance worth it?
  • 5. United Club locations
  • Leasing and the EV tax credit
  • 8. Get credit for rent and utility payments
  • Find the cheapest renters insurance in select states
  • Airline credit cards
  • What if the card benefits are insufficient?
  • 6. United Club vs. United Polaris lounges
  • Honeydue, for budgeting with a partner
  • Resources for writing a business plan
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • More about top-rated life insurance companies
  • Cheapest for 40-year-old drivers
  • How to find out if your bank is FDIC insured
  • A history of Emirates premium economy
  • Cheapest car insurance for senior drivers
  • What to know about the best ways to send money
  • What are tax write-offs?
  • Best insurance company for discounts: Amica
  • How do mutual fund profits work?
  • Alternatives to farm grants
  • Final thoughts on redeeming Hilton points
  • Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
  • Emirates premium economy: is it worth it?
  • Disadvantages of franchising for the franchisor
  • 9. Add to your credit mix
  • Transfer Hilton points to spouse, friends and family
  • How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points
  • Final thoughts on American Airlines Loyalty Points
  • How did we determine the value of Chase points?
  • Don't qualify for PSLF? You have other options
  • Louisiana Department of Insurance
  • How to make money from home
  • Budgeting resources from NerdWallet
  • Cheapest car insurance by state
  • How do you claim tax deductions?
  • Learn about small-business loans
  • Looking for more insurance in Louisiana?
  • Citi Premier® Card
  • 7. Does Priority Pass work for United Clubs?
  • How much is Delta Medallion status worth?
  • More small-business data from NerdWallet
  • Mutual funds vs. ETFs vs. stocks
  • Travel credit card availability
  • Status matching, challenges and Reclaim My Status
  • Other notable options
  • Methodology to identify the best budget apps
  • Best insurance company for customer satisfaction: State Farm
  • How to activate your Priority Pass Select membership
  • How to get cheap car insurance
  • Final thoughts on United Lounge access
  • Which Chase Sapphire transfer partners are the best?
  • Final thoughts on Hilton transfer partners
  • Major issuers and their policies on instant credit access
  • The final word
  • Get the Priority Pass app
  • Other ways to earn American Express Membership Rewards points
  • Hotel credit cards
  • Other ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Risks of getting cheap car insurance
  • How to get the most out of your Priority Pass Membership
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A business plan outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them over the next three to five years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan that will offer a strong, detailed road map for your business.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

business plan assessment criteria

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

On a similar note...

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Six Criteria for Assessing New Business Opportunities

  • Small Business
  • Business Planning & Strategy
  • Planning a New Business
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Concept of SWOT

Measurability characteristics of a market segment, three important financial ratios for competitors.

  • What Do Cash Flow Statements Have to Do With Liquidity?
  • How to Fill Out a SWOT

Entrepreneurs often begin with innovative ideas, but succeeding in a new business also requires objective assessment procedures. If your gut tells you a product, service or existing business is a risk you want to take, use objective measurements to better determine its likelihood of success. The bottom line is profitability. By using a number of business assessment tools, you can reduce your risk of buying or starting an enterprise that fails.

Assess the company's financial performance or potential financial performance. Evaluate historical sales revenues, profit margins of products and services, recent sales trends and cash flow. Examining cash flow lets you determine when you will get your money in and how much credit you might need to obtain. For example, your business might have excellent sales, but if the customers don’t pay for 60 days, you might have to delay your salary, operate using your savings while you wait for your bills to be paid, or take out a loan to buy materials. If you are launching a new business, look for trade association data that shows financial trends for similar companies and expected trends for the coming year.

A thorough sales assessment will give you insight into how sales have taken place and where you might improve them. Spot trends by analyzing where products are selling and to what types of customers. For example, if a business is selling exclusively through independent retailers, you might have a chance to grow market share by entering mass retailers. Items with high profit margins might be producing most of the company’s profits, but causing it to lose sales. Adding low-margin items might help it expand. Certain geographic territories with low sales may not be underperforming, but are simply underserved, offering opportunities to grow the business.

Market Data

Researching the marketplace will help determine if it is being underserved or possibly saturated. Detailed demographic data can show that even if the marketplace contains significant competition, you have an opportunity to successfully introduce a new business or improve the performance of an existing one. Demographics such as gender, age, race and marital status will help you better understand who your potential customers are. Analyzing the price points of your competitors will also give you insight into why people might be buying a particular product or service. Look at market trends, such as sales during the last three years, and look for advances in technology that might affect the marketplace. For example, a shift from PCs to mobile devices causes a decrease in demand for traditional hardware and software and more demand for smartphone apps.

Assets and Liabilities

Look at the assets of an existing business to determine how it depends on them. The business might depend on a recipe, trademark, copyright or patent for its unique selling proposition. A company’s location, specific manufacturing process, grandfathered agreements or no-compete agreements with a supplier might be giving the business an edge, without which it would struggle to compete. A franchise might be thriving because of a restricted territory it owns or specific benefit it has been receiving from the owner’s status as a minority. Check the assets of any business you plan to purchase to determine what would happen if you lose them. Look for liabilities, such as debts, lawsuits and expiring contracts and assets.


Key factors in a small business’s success often include personnel, endorsements and relationships. Key personnel, such as a well-known chef, IT whiz or top sales performer can make or break a business. Having a professional sports league or a celebrity endorse a business might be key to driving its sales. Having official sponsor, supplier or partner status of a trade association or other organization can also boost sales. Assess the impact of losing a key relationship on sales and revenue, and look at contracts before you buy a business that relies on any.

Opportunity Costs

Look at what entering a new business will cost you, in terms of lost revenue, personal time or sales connected to other business or opportunities you have. For example, using your cash to buy a business reduces your ability to pay down debt, lower interest payments, improve or upgrade current facilities, increase advertising and make other investments with that cash. You will need to devote your personal time to the new business. Accurately assess the number of hours you will need to spend on a new business venture and calculate the revenue your time would generate spent on another opportunity.

  • Entrepreneur: Idea Evaluation Checklist
  • U.S. Department of Small Business Administration: Do Your Market Research

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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Judging Criteria and Business Plan Requirements - New York StartUP! 2023 Business Plan Competition

Image NY StartUp 2023 Business Plan Competition Site

The New York StartUP! 2023 Business Plan Competition is closed.

Round 1 - technical review.

In this round, your plan is reviewed and scored for format rather than content. 

The following business plan template is adapted from Rhonda Abrams,   Successful Business Plan   and should be used as the format for your Business Plan:

One-page Overview (Word)

One-page Overview (PDF)

Business Plan Template (PDF)

Business Plan Template (Word)

  • Your Business Plan, including the financials, must be uploaded as ONE (1) file in PDF format
  • It should be no longer than 20 (one-sided) pages, excluding financial statements, the cover page, and the table of contents
  • Use Arial font no less than 10pt with 1-inch margins

Your Business Plan must contain the following:

  • A one-page overview to accompany the business plan in the required format
  • A cover page with the name of the applicant, street address, telephone number, and email address of the individual entrant(s) and team leader
  • Team entries must include the names of all team members, and the street address, telephone number, and email address of one designated entrant
  • A Table of Contents
  • One-page Executive Summary
  • Page Numbers throughout the business plan
  • Elements of a Business Plan template provided on this website
  • Financial Projections should include a 3-year summary balance sheet, an income statement, and statements of cash flow. Additionally, the statements should include monthly income statements for years 1 and 2 and a quarterly income statement for year 3. The financials should also include a description of sources & uses of funds, break-even analysis and notes to financials inclusive of financial assumptions

Please note:

  • Points will be deducted from your score if your plan exceeds 20 pages  
  • NYPL will not reimburse entrants for any expenses related to the compilation or assembly of your Business Plan
  • Working models or prototypes will not be accepted
  • The Business Plans will be destroyed shortly after the competition has ended

Round 2 - Judges Review

The judges will evaluate each Business Plan based on the following:

1)  Content of the plan, including the thoroughness and quality of the analysis

2)  Effective use and impact of the prize money

3)  Effective use of business information and research

4)  Clear communication

5)  The probability of a successful launch

6)  Community Impact and job creation potential

7)  Quality and effectiveness of the final presentation (in the event the applicant becomes a finalist and is invited to present)

The Business Center will publicize the names and associations of all judges who participate in the New York StartUP! 2023 Business Plan Competition. Judges will be asked to remove themselves from judging a plan if they have a conflict of interest, such as a pre-existing family or business relationship with an entrant.

Round 3 - Finalist Presentations

In August finalists will be notified and required to present their plans to the panel of judges and respond to their questions. The exact date, time, and location of these meetings will be provided to the finalists

Review Process

  • In addition to completing the online orientation, entrants are required to have at least one consultation with a business librarian, meet at least once with a business advisor and attend the FOUR (4) virtual training workshops. Failure to do so will result in disqualification of your application
  • May 31, 2023 - Business Plans must be uploaded to the  competition site no  later than 11:59 PM  
  • June - Round 1 - Technical Review
  • July - Round 2 - Judges Review The panel of judges will review submitted business plans.
  • August - Finalists will be notified and required to present their plans to the panel of judges and respond to their questions. The exact date, time, and location of these meetings will be provided to the finalists
  • September  - Winners will be announced at the StartUp! Awards Ceremony

Funding provided by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

  • Search Search Please fill out this field.

Your IdeaIs

Differentiation, market analysis, market share, cost analysis, the bottom line.

  • Small Business
  • How to Start a Business

5 Essential Steps To Evaluating Your Business Idea

Erika Rasure is globally-recognized as a leading consumer economics subject matter expert, researcher, and educator. She is a financial therapist and transformational coach, with a special interest in helping women learn how to invest.

business plan assessment criteria

There's no doubt that America and other industrialized countries are small-business-friendly right now. In a year where elections around the world will play a key role in how economies continue to recover, there is at least one subject that most people agree on and that's small businesses. Politicians believe that small business is the key to economic growth and countries like the United States are passing legislation to make it easier for small businesses to thrive.

Robert Litan, economist from the Kauffman Foundation, the largest foundation in the world dedicated to the growth of small businesses, estimates that in order to add one percentage point to the United States' gross domestic product, or GDP, it would take 30 to 60 "home run" $1 billion companies.

Your business idea a home run idea? Being a successful small business owner doesn't require your company to be a $1 billion company, but entrepreneurs like to think big. National Federation of Independent Business Education Foundation (NFIB) estimates that only 40% of all small businesses are profitable and another 30% merely break even. These statistics prove that even with all of the incentives, it's difficult to turn your business in to one of those home run companies. Experts agree that you can improve your odds of success with careful preparation.

Identify the Need

What is the mission of your business? What is the need in the marketplace that you're filling and is it something that will appeal to a large portion of the population? Have you ever received a survey from a company asking you what you think of a product and if you would be likely to purchase the product and for how much?

This is the first step in market analysis . Don't just conduct an Internet survey. Go to a mall or other place where there are a lot of people and ask them to evaluate your idea.

How is your business different than others in the marketplace ? If you have competitors, what will make somebody come to your business instead of your competitor? Successful businesses have a USP or unique selling point that is used as the cornerstone of the business. The more you blend in the more you directly compete with others.

Avoiding the head to head competition, especially for a brand new business, is well advised.

Specifically, how big is your market? Does it include both males and females and people of all races and religions? How fast is the market growing or contracting?

If you design a product or service that only appeals to a small niche market, it will be difficult to gain enough market share to sustain a profitable business. It will also take a significant amount of advertising funds to find the people that comprise the niche market.

Based on your market analysis, how much of a market share do your competitors currently hold? What is left over for you or what is your strategy for taking share from them? Your business may have broad market appeal, but if the market is already saturated, the battle to gain customers may be too expensive.

Startups trying to manufacture new automobiles have found it exceedingly difficult to take market share from existing car companies. Evaluate whether that's a battle worth fighting and if you have the funds to fight it.

How much will it take to open your business? If you have family obligations, you'll probably have to pay yourself, adding additional costs to your budget. How will you get the money? Recently, Washington passed the JOBS Act, a law that made crowdfunding legal . This may provide a way for small businesses to gain funding without the use of banks or venture capital, but even with all of the recent legislation, businesses are finding it difficult to secure funding.

As an entrepreneur, your dream is likely centered around being one of those $1 billion or more businesses, but remember that many businesses fail and that's largely due to poor planning. Before investing a large amount of money in your business idea, create a plan and make sure that your idea is something that customers would be excited about purchasing. There are plenty of great opportunities waiting for a small business owner who follows a business startup system.

Top 6 Reasons New Businesses Fail

business plan assessment criteria

  • Terms of Service
  • Editorial Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your Privacy Choices
  • 11.4 The Business Plan
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Entrepreneurship Today
  • 1.2 Entrepreneurial Vision and Goals
  • 1.3 The Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Review Questions
  • Discussion Questions
  • Case Questions
  • Suggested Resources
  • 2.1 Overview of the Entrepreneurial Journey
  • 2.2 The Process of Becoming an Entrepreneur
  • 2.3 Entrepreneurial Pathways
  • 2.4 Frameworks to Inform Your Entrepreneurial Path
  • 3.1 Ethical and Legal Issues in Entrepreneurship
  • 3.2 Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
  • 3.3 Developing a Workplace Culture of Ethical Excellence and Accountability
  • 4.1 Tools for Creativity and Innovation
  • 4.2 Creativity, Innovation, and Invention: How They Differ
  • 4.3 Developing Ideas, Innovations, and Inventions
  • 5.1 Entrepreneurial Opportunity
  • 5.2 Researching Potential Business Opportunities
  • 5.3 Competitive Analysis
  • 6.1 Problem Solving to Find Entrepreneurial Solutions
  • 6.2 Creative Problem-Solving Process
  • 6.3 Design Thinking
  • 6.4 Lean Processes
  • 7.1 Clarifying Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
  • 7.2 Sharing Your Entrepreneurial Story
  • 7.3 Developing Pitches for Various Audiences and Goals
  • 7.4 Protecting Your Idea and Polishing the Pitch through Feedback
  • 7.5 Reality Check: Contests and Competitions
  • 8.1 Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Marketing Mix
  • 8.2 Market Research, Market Opportunity Recognition, and Target Market
  • 8.3 Marketing Techniques and Tools for Entrepreneurs
  • 8.4 Entrepreneurial Branding
  • 8.5 Marketing Strategy and the Marketing Plan
  • 8.6 Sales and Customer Service
  • 9.1 Overview of Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting Strategies
  • 9.2 Special Funding Strategies
  • 9.3 Accounting Basics for Entrepreneurs
  • 9.4 Developing Startup Financial Statements and Projections
  • 10.1 Launching the Imperfect Business: Lean Startup
  • 10.2 Why Early Failure Can Lead to Success Later
  • 10.3 The Challenging Truth about Business Ownership
  • 10.4 Managing, Following, and Adjusting the Initial Plan
  • 10.5 Growth: Signs, Pains, and Cautions
  • 11.1 Avoiding the “Field of Dreams” Approach
  • 11.2 Designing the Business Model
  • 11.3 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
  • 12.1 Building and Connecting to Networks
  • 12.2 Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team
  • 12.3 Designing a Startup Operational Plan
  • 13.1 Business Structures: Overview of Legal and Tax Considerations
  • 13.2 Corporations
  • 13.3 Partnerships and Joint Ventures
  • 13.4 Limited Liability Companies
  • 13.5 Sole Proprietorships
  • 13.6 Additional Considerations: Capital Acquisition, Business Domicile, and Technology
  • 13.7 Mitigating and Managing Risks
  • 14.1 Types of Resources
  • 14.2 Using the PEST Framework to Assess Resource Needs
  • 14.3 Managing Resources over the Venture Life Cycle
  • 15.1 Launching Your Venture
  • 15.2 Making Difficult Business Decisions in Response to Challenges
  • 15.3 Seeking Help or Support
  • 15.4 Now What? Serving as a Mentor, Consultant, or Champion
  • 15.5 Reflections: Documenting the Journey
  • A | Suggested Resources

Learning Objectives

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Overview

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

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

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

Purposes of a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Link to Learning

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

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

Types of Business Plans

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

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

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

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

Full Business Plan

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

Executive Summary

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

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

Business Description

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

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

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

Competitive Analysis

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

Operations and Management Plan

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

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

Marketing Plan

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

Financial Plan

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

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

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

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

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

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

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

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

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

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

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

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

  • 48 Chris Guillebeau. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2012.
  • 49 Jonathan Chan. “What These 4 Startup Case Studies Can Teach You about Failure.” . July 12, 2015.
  • 50 Amy Feldman. “Inventor of the Cut Buddy Paid YouTubers to Spark Sales. He Wasn’t Ready for a Video to Go Viral.” Forbes. February 15, 2017.
  • 51 Jennifer Post. “National Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs.” Business News Daily . August 30, 2018.
  • 52 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition . March 2020.
  • 53 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition. March 2020.; Based on 2019 RBPC Competition Rules and Format April 4–6, 2019.
  • 54 Foodstart.
  • 55 “Hugh Jackman Journey to Starting a Social Enterprise Coffee Company.” Giving Compass. April 8, 2018.

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Jane Consulting

Sales Enablement For Small Business

A Complete Guide To Performing A Comprehensive Business Assessment

How to assess your marketing, sales and customer experience in 5 easy steps.

To be able to develop a powerful business strategy, you need to understand what you are working with. Every client engagement at Jane Consulting starts with a business assessment of your revenue team, current processes, metrics and more. We have developed an easy to use guide for you to assess your own business in-house, or you can always contact our team to perform an assessment for you.

A comprehensive business assessment analyzes the following aspects of your business, all of which are described in more detail below:

  • Define Your Current Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience Landscape
  • Understand Your Current Metrics
  • Describe Your Market Positioning And Value Drivers
  • Review Your Current Strategies For Attracting and Engaging Potential Buyers & Creating a Memorable Buyer’s Experience
  • Define Your Buyer’s Journey From The Perspective Of The Buyer

1. Define Your Current Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience Landscape

The first step in the business assessment phase is to review and analyze your current landscape. There are three main areas you need to look for this information:

  • Current Team Members
  • Documented Processes and Rules
  • Current Technology Stack

Business Assessment of Your Revenue Team

When analyzing your team, you want to define the roles and primary responsibilities represented. Below is a sample chart we use to document this:

Documenting job roles will allow you to visualize how your team is being leveraged and which roles overlap or which areas you don’t have coverage for. For example, in the sample above, no one is responsible for social media. If your strategy relies on a heavy social media presence, you will either need to add a new team member, divide the work across multiple roles, or re-prioritize someone’s responsibilities to effectively incorporate the new focus.

Once you understand who you have on your team and what their responsibilities look like, then you can do the same for all of the processes and rules you have documented for your teams. Following a similar table, you will document each process name and a description of it. Below are a few examples of processes and rules that you may have:

  • Content Updates: a process that defines all live site pages should be updated, at a minimum, every 6 months to ensure content is fresh and relevant and contains links to and from new relevant content.
  • Marketing and Sales SLA : an agreement that states marketing will provide a minimum of 10 marketing-qualified leads per week and sales will respond to each lead within 2 business hours of assignment. A marketing-qualified lead is defined as a lead who is associated with a target account, has viewed at least 10 site pages and submitted a demo request form.
  • Lead Follow-up: a process that defines all marketing-qualified leads should receive a minimum of 5 sales touch-points over the course of 15 days from first assignment. Ideally, these touch-points should consist of 2 phone calls and 3 emails when a phone number is provided.
  • Customer Survey: a process that defines all customers should receive a minimum of 3 emails following the receipt of their product requesting a completion of a survey detailing their experience. Additionally, customers who rate all 5’s on their survey should receive another set of emails (minimum of 3) requesting a video testimonial of their experience.

Documenting your processes keeps them top of mind and more likely to be executed. If you or someone on your team has developed a practice that works and can be replicated, then make it an official process. This will allow you to track the processes’ effectiveness, review and improve it on a consistent basis. It will also allow you to coach new and existing team members on how to be successful.

Lastly, document the technology you are using and why you are using it. Again a table works great for this and a sample is provided below:

2. Understand Your Current Metrics

Hopefully, you are currently tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your business and you can gather them here. If you are not, then now is the time to start. KPIs will vary business to business and what you determine as important metrics to track will depend heavily on your buyer’s journey. Some common metrics to track include:

  • Total Revenue Goals
  • Existing Business Revenue Goals
  • New Business Revenue Goals
  • Number of New Customers
  • Number of New Contacts or Leads
  • Number of Web Sessions
  • Average Number of Sales and Marketing Touch-Points Per Closed Won Deal
  • Average Days to Close

How To Choose Revenue Goals

When choosing any goal you should use the SMART criteria, but this is especially true when it comes to revenue and individual sales targets. Failure to offer realistic sales goals can lead to a perpetual sense of failure for not only your reps but your entire organization if it is consistently brought up that you are not hitting targets. If you can’t come close to your target then chances are it wasn’t realistic.

To determine your realistic goals calculate your total revenue earned per month for the previous three years. This should show you what you have been able to do historically and what your percent increases are annually. If your data shows that you have only increased sales 3% year over year for the past three years, then a 25% increase in the year to come may be highly unlikely. If you need to push your team to do more than a realistic increase, we suggest a SMART base goal and then a loftier stretch goal that is still attainable but a much heavier push to get there.

How To Choose Your Marketing Goals

The purpose of marketing is to facilitate sales so you need to start with your revenue goals. To develop your goals for website sessions, new contacts and customers it is best to work backward from your new business revenue goals using your average sale size and conversion rates to determine your goal for each of these metrics. For example, if your average sale is $500 and your new business goal for the month is $5,000, then you would need approximately 10 customers to achieve this. Similarly if your contact to customer conversion rate is 10%, then you would need 100 new contacts for the month. Finally, if your website sessions convert to new contacts at 10%, then you would need 1,000 monthly sessions.

Now the above scenario is ideal for new business, but marketing’s function is to facilitate sales as a whole so it must play a role in existing business as well. KPIs for supporting existing business will often be around driving website sessions from specific decision-makers in key accounts.

How to Choose Customer Experience Goals

All the marketing and sales power in the world will mean nothing if the solution you offer does not stand up to customer expectations. As such, you need to strive for a minimum satisfaction score from your customers. The aim for a customer experience goal should always be high, as this means you are putting your product or service into the hands of the right buyer who is primed to glean the most value from it. Now while you aim for 5/5 all day, it doesn’t mean you dismiss tracking the actual scores on a monthly or weekly basis. If scores start dropping unexpectedly, it can signal that action needs to be taken and you will be ahead of the game in making necessary changes.

Additionally, customer experience KPIs related to the number of surveys completed and written or video testimonials received and shared with marketing and sales should also be tracked to ensure you are sharing timely and relevant reviews with your target buyers.

3. Describe Your Market Positioning And Value Drivers

This is a qualitative statement of what you solve and the value you present to your ideal buyers. If you can’t describe your marketing positioning and value proposition in a few concise sentences then you should work on that.

At Jane Consulting, our value proposition is to help small B2B business owners align their marketing, sales and customer experience efforts to the single goal of growing their revenue. We work best with small business leaders who need low-cost, tactical solutions to stay on track of their business goals and deliver delightful experiences for their customers. Solutions provided offer a mix of short and long-term tactics that can be spearheaded in-house, through the Jane Team or through additional consultants so that all of your business’ resources are maximized for effectiveness.

This statement, by describing what we are, also describes what we are not. We are not ideal for:

  • Large businesses and large budgets because they have internal teams that can provide what we are offering and who are closer to the heart of the business.
  • Chief Marketing Officers or Sales Leaders because we need someone who oversees the steps of the entire buyer’s journey and can execute on our recommendations. If we only have buy-in from marketing then we are fighting to gain the trust and buy-in from sales and the customer experience team or they never buy-in and the initiatives do not produce value.
  • Leaders who want a quick fix to traffic or lead conversions because our solutions are designed for long-term sustainable revenue growth and that takes work.

To develop your statement, start with building a list of what you do really well and what or who you do no provide value for. Then, begin narrowing it down into a statement that describes exactly who you are and what you do.

4. Review Your Current Strategies For Attracting and Engaging Potential Buyers & Creating a Memorable Buyer’s Experience

For this section, review and understand what is currently being done and take note of it. This will give you an idea of what is currently happening and where the gaps are.

Below is an example of taking notes on this section:

  • Regularly posting on a blog and posts are a great length and well-formatted.
  • Content varies from news-type stories and company events or initiatives but does not seem to consistently address buyer concerns or facilitate movement through a lifecycle
  • Does not seem to have a formal linking structure across posts and to specific target pages
  • Posting is sporadic on LinkedIn, twitter and Facebook
  • Same exact post is shared across all platforms at the same time
  • Database wide monthly email newsletter is sent
  • No segmented emails are sent in addition
  • No use of automated lead nurturing campaigns
  • Google Adwords are used but messaging is geared primarily to purchasing immediately. Segmentation is based on purchase keywords. No ads are running for the buyer’s awareness and consideration stages.
  • Not leveraging subscribers notifications , bing ads or social media ads.
  • Attending 1-2 large conferences per year that are more for brand awareness than targeting ideal buyers
  • Sporadically attending local networking and industry events that are geared to ideal buyer
  • Not hosting or speaking at any events

You simply want an awareness of what has been done. If you move through these steps in the order provided you may start having strategic ideas of what can be done better and certainly take note of them so you can easily reference them when it comes time to build your plan for empowering your revenue team!

5. Define Your Buyer’s Journey From The Perspective Of The Buyer

Do you like to role play? I hope so because that will help lead you to a deeper understanding of what your buyer needs and more importantly why they need it. If you don’t have an ideal buyer profile, this guide can help you create one.

You already determined who would be best served by your solution, so start channeling that person and the challenges he/she faces on a daily basis. Below is an example using Jane Consulting’s ideal buyer.

As a small business owner, I am constantly battling how my time and my team’s time should be spent. Every day I am on LinkedIn and exposed to new tactics that worked for fellow leaders and I feel like I need to be doing them too and I am tempted to shift focus and I constantly second guess if what I am doing is actually moving the needle. I know there is importance in marketing but I also need sales now and my sales team is not finding value in the leads or the collateral that marketing provides. I push new tactics on marketing and push for more sales but nothing seems to be working.

These are the challenges our buyers are faced with. These are the challenges that will prompt a leader to recognize they need help. This is the beginning of the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. The buyer in the example above is understanding there is a problem that needs solving but he or she is not fully aware of what that precise problem is.

Next, document what you provide to help your buyer through this stage. In this example, it could be:

  • Content around why your teams don’t get along, why you don’t need to incorporate every marketing and sales trend, reassurance that providing the best for your customers will provide you the revenue you need and making decisions with your customers top of mind will provide success.
  • Providing online tools for free to determine if we are operating from a sales enablement perspective.

After the buyer is aware of a problem, the next stage is to consider solutions. In this scenario, the small business owner can realistically set a path forward completely in-house or enlist the help of a consultant or agency.

Similarly to the awareness stage, document what you are providing a buyer during this stage. For us, we:

  • Outline how to asses your current marketing, sales and customer experience in this guide you are reading and how to turn that into a strategic plan to empower growth!
  • Provide a free assessment for first time clients

At this point, hopefully your buyer has decided on using your solution but that doesn’t mean you just stop adding more value to their experience. Someone who has decided on your solution still needs you to guide them on utilizing it properly so they gain the most and you gain a loyal fan. At this stage in the example, we offer:

  • Semi-annual check-ins and discussion on how everything is working and suggestions for even further improvement.
  • Video breakdowns of new tactics and when and how you should apply them to your business.

By this point, you should have a good idea of how you provide value to your buyer throughout the buying journey and you probably have some more ideas of how you can create a better experience for your customer.

What Happens After Your Business Assessment?

Now that you have a thorough look at how your business is currently performing and delivering value to your ideal buyer. It is time to analyze these results in light of your buyer’s journey and revenue goals and then develop a strategic plan to grow your business.

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5 Key Criteria for Successful Business Planning

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5 Key Criteria for Successful Business Planning

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Business is changing, and this isn’t news to anyone. From managing larger data loads to enabling faster supply chains, companies across industries are developing new ways of doing things ― ways that are faster, smarter, and more agile. To support these changes, organizations need to update their business planning and financial consolidation processes, yet many organizations continue to use the same static processes that have powered those business functions for decades.

While it can be difficult to alter processes that underlie how an organization operates, it is critical to adapt these processes to modern needs precisely because they form the foundation of the enterprise. If you don’t, you risk slowing your business and falling behind competitors. To keep up in the digital age, your business planning and financial consolidation processes must be able to function in five key ways.

1. Respond rapidly to changing business conditions

The business landscape is always evolving, but the rate of change today has reached a fever pitch. Businesses must be able to move quickly, both in terms of everyday accounting activities and in terms of strategic budging, forecasting, and planning capabilities. Financial closes need to happen rapidly, and business forecasting tools must be able to process new information in real time to produce strategic insights that will take the organization ahead of the competition.

2. Harness increasing data volumes

Organizations are dealing with more data than ever before, and a key marker of success in today’s economy is how well a company harnesses that data. When it comes to business planning, that means leveraging your enterprise’s data to create more accurate budgets, real-time forecasts, and consolidated sources of truth. It also means that the software you use for financial transactions needs to be robust enough to manage growing amounts of financial data.

3. Ensure compliance with regulatory and audit requirements

A growing number of regulations and more stringent audit requirements can mean increased compliance risks. To minimize this risk, finance departments need to be both faster and more accurate in financial closing and reporting. This means upgrading the financial consolidation process to enable efficient reporting that leaves a complete, clear audit trail.

4. Enable self-service and mobile applications

End-user expectations have changed significantly. Today’s end users expect a consumer-grade experience from their business applications, including sophisticated interfaces and the ability to complete tasks on their own rather than wait for IT to do it. By leveraging self-service applications and applications that support HTML5 and mobile interfaces, organizations can bring greater efficiency, productivity, and end-user input to the business planning process.

5. Stay ahead of the curve with financial intelligence

Traditional budgeting, planning, and forecasting processes simply aren’t robust or agile enough to meet business needs in a digital economy. Instead of historical analysis, businesses need predictive insights. Financial intelligence is critical, and organizations that leverage tools that provide real-time forecast models, what-if scenarios, and faster planning cycles will be well positioned for success ― both today and in the future.

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Judging Criteria QUALIFYING ROUND: - Written business plan (100%)

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business plan assessment criteria

Producing Quality Evidence in a Well Organised Portfolio Doc Ref: 20/04/09-portfolio-quality-evidence.

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Personal Project REPORT.

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Information for Judges. Since its inception in 1995, the Competition has been an important forum for the analysis of international human rights law and.

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business plan assessment criteria

Technovation Lesson: Business Plan Week 6. Check-in: Business model You should have completed the business model page in your workbook. You’ll need this.

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Ada Merritt K-8 Center. What is the 8 th Grade Research Project? The MYP Research Project is a great opportunity to:  learn about a topic that interests.

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The Systems Analysis Toolkit

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business plan assessment criteria

Chapter 13 Communicating the Opportunity. Objectives Target the business to investors. Prepare oral and visual presentation for investors. Investor evaluation.

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VENTURE CAPITAL INVESTMENT COMPETITION VCIC W ELCOME ! ________ R EGIONAL F INALS Organizer: update for your region. Created by Organizer School Logo Here.

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Chapter 9 Writing a Business Plan

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CompeteUT UT Horizon Fund Student Investment Competition (UTHF-SIC) January 22, 2014 Office of Technology Commercialization University of Texas System.

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Physical Education Assessment. The goal of physical education is to develop physically educated individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence.

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Engineering Design Rubric Dimensions 1, 2 and 7.

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Writing an Effective Business Plan: Building a Roadmap to Success

business plan assessment criteria

Scientists (Point of View Guide) For this topic we will discuss the lives of many scientists who have had a major impact on the field of Chemistry – particularly.

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The Proposal. Project Proposals Genesis of Proposals: They can result for formal requests (e.g. Request For Proposal, RFP) They can be unsolicited (e.g.

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business plan assessment criteria

Purpose of the Standards

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2022, Abass business plan guide

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    business plan assessment criteria

  2. Business Plan Evaluation Criteria

    business plan assessment criteria

  3. Scoring Criteria For Business Case Evaluation

    business plan assessment criteria

  4. Understanding assessment criteria and applying feedback

    business plan assessment criteria

  5. Evaluation Criteria

    business plan assessment criteria

  6. How to use an assessment report to create an effective business plan

    business plan assessment criteria



  2. business plan

  3. Components of Business Plan

  4. Entry level Business analysis skills

  5. Business Plan 🤪

  6. Business plan


  1. Business Plan Assessment & Analysis

    Review of cash flow forecast and underlying assumptions; Assessment of working capital and liquidity requirements; Impact assessments and review of key issues affecting your business; Options analysis to navigate market volatility or stress;

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

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  3. Creating a Comprehensive Business Plan Rubric

    1. Define Your Objectives Start by identifying the objectives of your business plan rubric. What do you want to assess and measure in the business plans? Your objectives may include evaluating market research, financial projections, marketing strategies, or overall clarity and coherence.

  4. Write your business plan

    Content Business plans help you run your business A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You'll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It's a way to think through the key elements of your business.


    BUSINESS PLAN RUBRIC TEMPLATE PLAN TITLE DATE REVIEWER NAME RUBRIC SCORE SCORING SCALE TOTAL Expectations exceeded 4 EXEMPLARY 25 - 28 Expectations met 3 ACCEPTABLE 21 - 24 Guidelines met 2 NEEDS IMPROVEMENT 16 - 20 Guidelines somewhat met 1 INADEQUATE 0 - 15 Incomplete; Information not available 0 CRITERIA 4 3 2 1 0

  6. How to Evaluate a Business Plan

    The first step in a business plan assessment is reading the business' executive summary. This should be a concise "elevator pitch", not a summary of the business plan. In one or two pages, it should convey the market opportunity and the uniquely compelling features of the business that will help it meet that opportunity.

  7. How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

    7. Perform a business financial analysis. 8. Make financial projections. 9. Add additional information to an appendix. Business plan tips and resources. MORE LIKE THIS Small Business. A business ...

  8. Six Criteria for Assessing New Business Opportunities

    Six Criteria for Assessing New Business Opportunities Small Business | Business Planning & Strategy | Planning a New Business By Steve Milano Entrepreneurs often begin with innovative...

  9. Judging Criteria and Business Plan Requirements

    1) Content of the plan, including the thoroughness and quality of the analysis 2) Effective use and impact of the prize money 3) Effective use of business information and research 4) Clear communication 5) The probability of a successful launch 6) Community Impact and job creation potential


    SAMPLE MGMT4376 Assessment Rubric UNIVERSITY of CENTRAL ARKANSAS COLLEGE of BUSINESS BUSINESS PLAN JUDGING CRITERIA & SCORE SHEET Part 1: Business Plan Executive Summary (10 Points) Number of points: ____ Clear, exciting, and effective as a stand-alone overview of the plan; includes brief description of each

  11. 5 Essential Steps To Evaluating Your Business Idea

    Have you ever received a survey from a company asking you what you think of a product and if you would be likely to purchase the product and for how much? This is the first step in market analysis ...

  12. 11.4 The Business Plan

    Create a Brief Business Plan. Fill out a canvas of your choosing for a well-known startup: Uber, Netflix, Dropbox, Etsy, Airbnb, Bird/Lime, Warby Parker, or any of the companies featured throughout this chapter or one of your choice. Then create a brief business plan for that business.

  13. Business Plan

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

  14. 2015 WSU Business Plan Written Plan Rubric

    2015 Business Plan Competition Written Plan Judging Criteria. The following criteria are to be used to evaluate written business plans. NOTE: Scoring based on 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), with 3 being of the caliber to advance to the next round. Does the summary adequately describe the idea -does the idea make sense?

  15. PDF 2021 Business Plan Presentation

    Judging Criteria Ratings: 1=very poor; 2=poor; 3=good; 4=very good; 5=excellent 1 to 5 rating 1. Introduction or summary of the business - ability to communicate business in a short, concise introduction and description of business. 2. Description of the problem that the business is trying to solve. 3.

  16. PDF Evaluation criteria for assessment of business plans

    Evaluation criteria for assessment of business plans 1. PURPOSE The purpose of this document is to set out a robust evaluation criteria for the evaluation and assessment of the business plans received from promoters of start-ups that are Africa focused.

  17. 5 Steps To Performing A Thorough Business Assessment

    1. Define Your Current Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience Landscape. The first step in the business assessment phase is to review and analyze your current landscape. There are three main areas you need to look for this information: Current Team Members. Documented Processes and Rules. Current Technology Stack.

  18. What criteria should a good business plan meet?

    Graph 1. Criteria that a good business plan should meet. All those criteria are listed to allow start-ups to develop better business plans, to pay attention to some aspects of their business they ...

  19. How To Evaluate a Business Idea for Success in 6 Steps

    1. Determine a target market A target market is a group of people who are likely to purchase a company's products or services. They're the consumers you believe can benefit most from your business idea. It's important to learn what you can about this group so you can better form your idea and later market to them successfully.

  20. PDF Business Plan Evaluation Criteria

    Business Plan Evaluation Criteria The Business Plan is evaluated by two independent evaluators. Each evaluator grades on the basis of three criteria with a maximum score of five (5) for each criterion. The final score is calculated as the sum of the scores given to the four individual criteria.

  21. 5 Key Criteria for Successful Business Planning

    To keep up in the digital age, your business planning and financial consolidation processes must be able to function in five key ways. 1. Respond rapidly to changing business conditions. The business landscape is always evolving, but the rate of change today has reached a fever pitch.

  22. Evaluation Criterial Of Business Plan Review

    The following slide showcases evaluation and assessment criteria for reviewing business plan. Key factors covered are product and services, team, market and business model. Introducing our premium set of slides with Evaluation Criterial Of Business Plan Review. Elucidate the four stages and present information using this PPT slide.

  23. Judging Criteria QUALIFYING ROUND:

    Part I: Written Business Plan (60%) 1. Executive Summary 5% 2. Product or Service 15% 3. Organizational Plan 10% 4. Market Analysis & Marketing Plan 15% 5. Operational Plan 15% 6. Management Team 10% 7. Financial Plan 15% Investment Potential 15% Part II: Presentation (40%) 1. Formal Presentation 45% 2.


    BUSINESS PLAN ASSESSMENT GUIDE. Barack Abass. 2022, Abass business plan guide. 38223493. See Full PDF Download PDF. See Full PDF Download PDF. Related Papers. MBA NEW Syllabus. ... GUIDE BUSINESS PLAN COMPONENT ASSESSMENT CRITERIA SCOPE Originality Accuracy Viability Layout Clarity Realistic Use of data Relevance Systematic Oral Maximum Actu ...