• Sources of Business Finance
  • Small Business Loans
  • Small Business Grants
  • Crowdfunding Sites
  • How to Get a Business Loan
  • Small Business Insurance Providers
  • Best Factoring Companies
  • Types of Bank Accounts
  • Best Banks for Small Business
  • Best Business Bank Accounts
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Bank Accounts for Small Businesses
  • Free Business Checking Accounts
  • Best Business Credit Cards
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit
  • Build Business Credit Fast
  • Business Loan Eligibility Criteria
  • Small-Business Bookkeeping Basics
  • How to Set Financial Goals
  • Business Loan Calculators
  • How to Calculate ROI
  • Calculate Net Income
  • Calculate Working Capital
  • Calculate Operating Income
  • Calculate Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Calculate Payroll Tax

12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)

' src=

Starting and running a successful business requires proper planning and execution of effective business tactics and strategies .

You need to prepare many essential business documents when starting a business for maximum success; the business plan is one such document.

When creating a business, you want to achieve business objectives and financial goals like productivity, profitability, and business growth. You need an effective business plan to help you get to your desired business destination.

Even if you are already running a business, the proper understanding and review of the key elements of a business plan help you navigate potential crises and obstacles.

This article will teach you why the business document is at the core of any successful business and its key elements you can not avoid.

Let’s get started.

Why Are Business Plans Important?

Business plans are practical steps or guidelines that usually outline what companies need to do to reach their goals. They are essential documents for any business wanting to grow and thrive in a highly-competitive business environment .

1. Proves Your Business Viability

A business plan gives companies an idea of how viable they are and what actions they need to take to grow and reach their financial targets. With a well-written and clearly defined business plan, your business is better positioned to meet its goals.

2. Guides You Throughout the Business Cycle

A business plan is not just important at the start of a business. As a business owner, you must draw up a business plan to remain relevant throughout the business cycle .

During the starting phase of your business, a business plan helps bring your ideas into reality. A solid business plan can secure funding from lenders and investors.

After successfully setting up your business, the next phase is management. Your business plan still has a role to play in this phase, as it assists in communicating your business vision to employees and external partners.

Essentially, your business plan needs to be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the needs of your business.

3. Helps You Make Better Business Decisions

As a business owner, you are involved in an endless decision-making cycle. Your business plan helps you find answers to your most crucial business decisions.

A robust business plan helps you settle your major business components before you launch your product, such as your marketing and sales strategy and competitive advantage.

4. Eliminates Big Mistakes

Many small businesses fail within their first five years for several reasons: lack of financing, stiff competition, low market need, inadequate teams, and inefficient pricing strategy.

Creating an effective plan helps you eliminate these big mistakes that lead to businesses' decline. Every business plan element is crucial for helping you avoid potential mistakes before they happen.

5. Secures Financing and Attracts Top Talents

Having an effective plan increases your chances of securing business loans. One of the essential requirements many lenders ask for to grant your loan request is your business plan.

A business plan helps investors feel confident that your business can attract a significant return on investments ( ROI ).

You can attract and retain top-quality talents with a clear business plan. It inspires your employees and keeps them aligned to achieve your strategic business goals.

Key Elements of Business Plan

Starting and running a successful business requires well-laid actions and supporting documents that better position a company to achieve its business goals and maximize success.

A business plan is a written document with relevant information detailing business objectives and how it intends to achieve its goals.

With an effective business plan, investors, lenders, and potential partners understand your organizational structure and goals, usually around profitability, productivity, and growth.

Every successful business plan is made up of key components that help solidify the efficacy of the business plan in delivering on what it was created to do.

Here are some of the components of an effective business plan.

1. Executive Summary

One of the key elements of a business plan is the executive summary. Write the executive summary as part of the concluding topics in the business plan. Creating an executive summary with all the facts and information available is easier.

In the overall business plan document, the executive summary should be at the forefront of the business plan. It helps set the tone for readers on what to expect from the business plan.

A well-written executive summary includes all vital information about the organization's operations, making it easy for a reader to understand.

The key points that need to be acted upon are highlighted in the executive summary. They should be well spelled out to make decisions easy for the management team.

A good and compelling executive summary points out a company's mission statement and a brief description of its products and services.

Executive Summary of the Business Plan

An executive summary summarizes a business's expected value proposition to distinct customer segments. It highlights the other key elements to be discussed during the rest of the business plan.

Including your prior experiences as an entrepreneur is a good idea in drawing up an executive summary for your business. A brief but detailed explanation of why you decided to start the business in the first place is essential.

Adding your company's mission statement in your executive summary cannot be overemphasized. It creates a culture that defines how employees and all individuals associated with your company abide when carrying out its related processes and operations.

Your executive summary should be brief and detailed to catch readers' attention and encourage them to learn more about your company.

Components of an Executive Summary

Here are some of the information that makes up an executive summary:

  • The name and location of your company
  • Products and services offered by your company
  • Mission and vision statements
  • Success factors of your business plan

2. Business Description

Your business description needs to be exciting and captivating as it is the formal introduction a reader gets about your company.

What your company aims to provide, its products and services, goals and objectives, target audience , and potential customers it plans to serve need to be highlighted in your business description.

A company description helps point out notable qualities that make your company stand out from other businesses in the industry. It details its unique strengths and the competitive advantages that give it an edge to succeed over its direct and indirect competitors.

Spell out how your business aims to deliver on the particular needs and wants of identified customers in your company description, as well as the particular industry and target market of the particular focus of the company.

Include trends and significant competitors within your particular industry in your company description. Your business description should contain what sets your company apart from other businesses and provides it with the needed competitive advantage.

In essence, if there is any area in your business plan where you need to brag about your business, your company description provides that unique opportunity as readers look to get a high-level overview.

Components of a Business Description

Your business description needs to contain these categories of information.

  • Business location
  • The legal structure of your business
  • Summary of your business’s short and long-term goals

3. Market Analysis

The market analysis section should be solely based on analytical research as it details trends particular to the market you want to penetrate.

Graphs, spreadsheets, and histograms are handy data and statistical tools you need to utilize in your market analysis. They make it easy to understand the relationship between your current ideas and the future goals you have for the business.

All details about the target customers you plan to sell products or services should be in the market analysis section. It helps readers with a helpful overview of the market.

In your market analysis, you provide the needed data and statistics about industry and market share, the identified strengths in your company description, and compare them against other businesses in the same industry.

The market analysis section aims to define your target audience and estimate how your product or service would fare with these identified audiences.

Components of Market Analysis

Market analysis helps visualize a target market by researching and identifying the primary target audience of your company and detailing steps and plans based on your audience location.

Obtaining this information through market research is essential as it helps shape how your business achieves its short-term and long-term goals.

Market Analysis Factors

Here are some of the factors to be included in your market analysis.

  • The geographical location of your target market
  • Needs of your target market and how your products and services can meet those needs
  • Demographics of your target audience

Components of the Market Analysis Section

Here is some of the information to be included in your market analysis.

  • Industry description and statistics
  • Demographics and profile of target customers
  • Marketing data for your products and services
  • Detailed evaluation of your competitors

4. Marketing Plan

A marketing plan defines how your business aims to reach its target customers, generate sales leads, and, ultimately, make sales.

Promotion is at the center of any successful marketing plan. It is a series of steps to pitch a product or service to a larger audience to generate engagement. Note that the marketing strategy for a business should not be stagnant and must evolve depending on its outcome.

Include the budgetary requirement for successfully implementing your marketing plan in this section to make it easy for readers to measure your marketing plan's impact in terms of numbers.

The information to include in your marketing plan includes marketing and promotion strategies, pricing plans and strategies , and sales proposals. You need to include how you intend to get customers to return and make repeat purchases in your business plan.

Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan

5. Sales Strategy

Sales strategy defines how you intend to get your product or service to your target customers and works hand in hand with your business marketing strategy.

Your sales strategy approach should not be complex. Break it down into simple and understandable steps to promote your product or service to target customers.

Apart from the steps to promote your product or service, define the budget you need to implement your sales strategies and the number of sales reps needed to help the business assist in direct sales.

Your sales strategy should be specific on what you need and how you intend to deliver on your sales targets, where numbers are reflected to make it easier for readers to understand and relate better.

Sales Strategy

6. Competitive Analysis

Providing transparent and honest information, even with direct and indirect competitors, defines a good business plan. Provide the reader with a clear picture of your rank against major competitors.

Identifying your competitors' weaknesses and strengths is useful in drawing up a market analysis. It is one information investors look out for when assessing business plans.

Competitive Analysis Framework

The competitive analysis section clearly defines the notable differences between your company and your competitors as measured against their strengths and weaknesses.

This section should define the following:

  • Your competitors' identified advantages in the market
  • How do you plan to set up your company to challenge your competitors’ advantage and gain grounds from them?
  • The standout qualities that distinguish you from other companies
  • Potential bottlenecks you have identified that have plagued competitors in the same industry and how you intend to overcome these bottlenecks

In your business plan, you need to prove your industry knowledge to anyone who reads your business plan. The competitive analysis section is designed for that purpose.

7. Management and Organization

Management and organization are key components of a business plan. They define its structure and how it is positioned to run.

Whether you intend to run a sole proprietorship, general or limited partnership, or corporation, the legal structure of your business needs to be clearly defined in your business plan.

Use an organizational chart that illustrates the hierarchy of operations of your company and spells out separate departments and their roles and functions in this business plan section.

The management and organization section includes profiles of advisors, board of directors, and executive team members and their roles and responsibilities in guaranteeing the company's success.

Apparent factors that influence your company's corporate culture, such as human resources requirements and legal structure, should be well defined in the management and organization section.

Defining the business's chain of command if you are not a sole proprietor is necessary. It leaves room for little or no confusion about who is in charge or responsible during business operations.

This section provides relevant information on how the management team intends to help employees maximize their strengths and address their identified weaknesses to help all quarters improve for the business's success.

8. Products and Services

This business plan section describes what a company has to offer regarding products and services to the maximum benefit and satisfaction of its target market.

Boldly spell out pending patents or copyright products and intellectual property in this section alongside costs, expected sales revenue, research and development, and competitors' advantage as an overview.

At this stage of your business plan, the reader needs to know what your business plans to produce and sell and the benefits these products offer in meeting customers' needs.

The supply network of your business product, production costs, and how you intend to sell the products are crucial components of the products and services section.

Investors are always keen on this information to help them reach a balanced assessment of if investing in your business is risky or offer benefits to them.

You need to create a link in this section on how your products or services are designed to meet the market's needs and how you intend to keep those customers and carve out a market share for your company.

Repeat purchases are the backing that a successful business relies on and measure how much customers are into what your company is offering.

This section is more like an expansion of the executive summary section. You need to analyze each product or service under the business.

9. Operating Plan

An operations plan describes how you plan to carry out your business operations and processes.

The operating plan for your business should include:

  • Information about how your company plans to carry out its operations.
  • The base location from which your company intends to operate.
  • The number of employees to be utilized and other information about your company's operations.
  • Key business processes.

This section should highlight how your organization is set up to run. You can also introduce your company's management team in this section, alongside their skills, roles, and responsibilities in the company.

The best way to introduce the company team is by drawing up an organizational chart that effectively maps out an organization's rank and chain of command.

What should be spelled out to readers when they come across this business plan section is how the business plans to operate day-in and day-out successfully.

10. Financial Projections and Assumptions

Bringing your great business ideas into reality is why business plans are important. They help create a sustainable and viable business.

The financial section of your business plan offers significant value. A business uses a financial plan to solve all its financial concerns, which usually involves startup costs, labor expenses, financial projections, and funding and investor pitches.

All key assumptions about the business finances need to be listed alongside the business financial projection, and changes to be made on the assumptions side until it balances with the projection for the business.

The financial plan should also include how the business plans to generate income and the capital expenditure budgets that tend to eat into the budget to arrive at an accurate cash flow projection for the business.

Base your financial goals and expectations on extensive market research backed with relevant financial statements for the relevant period.

Examples of financial statements you can include in the financial projections and assumptions section of your business plan include:

  • Projected income statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Income statements

Revealing the financial goals and potentials of the business is what the financial projection and assumption section of your business plan is all about. It needs to be purely based on facts that can be measurable and attainable.

11. Request For Funding

The request for funding section focuses on the amount of money needed to set up your business and underlying plans for raising the money required. This section includes plans for utilizing the funds for your business's operational and manufacturing processes.

When seeking funding, a reasonable timeline is required alongside it. If the need arises for additional funding to complete other business-related projects, you are not left scampering and desperate for funds.

If you do not have the funds to start up your business, then you should devote a whole section of your business plan to explaining the amount of money you need and how you plan to utilize every penny of the funds. You need to explain it in detail for a future funding request.

When an investor picks up your business plan to analyze it, with all your plans for the funds well spelled out, they are motivated to invest as they have gotten a backing guarantee from your funding request section.

Include timelines and plans for how you intend to repay the loans received in your funding request section. This addition keeps investors assured that they could recoup their investment in the business.

12. Exhibits and Appendices

Exhibits and appendices comprise the final section of your business plan and contain all supporting documents for other sections of the business plan.

Some of the documents that comprise the exhibits and appendices section includes:

  • Legal documents
  • Licenses and permits
  • Credit histories
  • Customer lists

The choice of what additional document to include in your business plan to support your statements depends mainly on the intended audience of your business plan. Hence, it is better to play it safe and not leave anything out when drawing up the appendix and exhibit section.

Supporting documentation is particularly helpful when you need funding or support for your business. This section provides investors with a clearer understanding of the research that backs the claims made in your business plan.

There are key points to include in the appendix and exhibits section of your business plan.

  • The management team and other stakeholders resume
  • Marketing research
  • Permits and relevant legal documents
  • Financial documents

Was This Article Helpful?

Martin luenendonk.

' src=

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.

Plan Smarter, Grow Faster:

25% Off Annual Plans! Save Now

Tool graphics

0 results have been found for “”

 Return to blog home

What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Planning Essentials Explained

Posted february 21, 2022 by kody wirth.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

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

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

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

What is a business plan?

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

Why do you need a business plan?

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

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

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

What can you do with your plan?

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

Test an idea

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

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

Document your strategy and goals

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

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

Pursue funding

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

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

Better manage your business

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

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

What should your business plan include?

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

Executive summary

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

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

Products & Services

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

Market analysis

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

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

Marketing & sales

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

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

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

Organization & management

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

Financial projections

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

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

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

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

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

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

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

Business model canvas

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

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

One-page business plan

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

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

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

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

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

Try the LivePlan Method for Lean Business Planning

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

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

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

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

Like this post? Share with a friend!

Kody Wirth

Posted in Business Plan Writing

Join over 1 million entrepreneurs who found success with liveplan, like this content sign up to receive more.

Subscribe for tips and guidance to help you grow a better, smarter business.

You're all set!

Exciting business insights and growth strategies will be coming your way each month.

We care about your privacy. See our privacy policy .

What Are the Functions of a Business Plan?

  • Small Business
  • Business Planning & Strategy
  • Elements of Business Plans
  • ')" data-event="social share" data-info="Pinterest" aria-label="Share on Pinterest">
  • ')" data-event="social share" data-info="Reddit" aria-label="Share on Reddit">
  • ')" data-event="social share" data-info="Flipboard" aria-label="Share on Flipboard">

How to Start a Business Like Berkshire Hathaway

What are the two functions of an entrepreneur, the disadvantages of business planning.

  • Challenges of Strategic Planners
  • How to Write a Cover Letter for a Business Plan

It's not one of "those" dirty words, but "business plan" has assumed a distinctive place in the vernacular of many small-business owners. They're told they need one, try to muster the enthusiasm to write one, but inevitably put it off – sometimes until someone in a position of authority (like a banker) demands one.

Of all the planning documents an entrepreneur is advised to draft, a business plan is arguably the most critical of all. The irony is that it's usually the one small-business owners end up consulting most often – not just in the early days but also as the business grows and confronts challenges the owner could never anticipate. You may be resisting the exercise, as business owners understandably do because they want to expend their valuable energy on selling and winning over new clients. It may be time to upend this paradigm and let the merits of a business plan sell you.

Embrace the Role of a Business Plan

For a document that can span (brace yourself) dozens of pages, every section of a business plan should go to the heart of addressing two crucial questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish with my new business?
  • How am I going to accomplish it?

The questions belie the depth of the exercise, for a business plan probes the structure, organization, management and processes of a new venture in great detail – or at least as much detail as the new business owner has at his disposal at the moment.

Two may be a lucky number because the successful entrepreneurs at SCORE , who mentor so many others, reduce the purposes of a business plan to:

  • Providing a cohesive vision for a small-business owner. This road map keeps a business owner focused on the journey ahead by providing clarity and focus, steering away from diversions that tempt many entrepreneurs in the early days.
  • Demonstrating to lenders that the venture is different from others in the workplace, primed for success, and otherwise worth the risk.

The U.S. Small Business Administration invokes the road map analogy, too, saying: "You wouldn't drive 2,000 miles without a map, so don’t start a business without writing a business plan; it's your road map to success!"

Owners Value Role of a Business Plan

Though well-intentioned, the advice sidesteps an important reality: Most entrepreneurs don't rely on a bank loan to fund their startups. According to Small Biz Genius:

  • 32 percent use their own cash.
  • 13 percent dip into their retirement accounts.
  • 12 percent turn to friends and family.

Only 24 percent rely on loans, which suggests that the first function of a business plan is the more important of the two. Put another way, you may not need that road map when things are going well, but running a small business is nothing if not an adventure, filled with unexpected challenges, detours and the occasional accident. It's at these junctures that the road map becomes an indispensable guide to regaining your bearings and getting back on track.

A study of 1,000 entrepreneurs by the Harvard Business Review bears this out. It found that the most successful ones wrote their business plan within six and 12 months of deciding to start their own business. It's precisely when they are starting to sell and win over clients that writing the plan comes into sharper focus. The HBR found that committing a plan to paper increases a startup's chance of viability by 27 percent.

Business Plan Areas Cover the Bases

At some point, you may want to take out a loan to pay for new equipment or to fund an expansion. Then a business plan becomes a necessity. Until then, Nolo says it plays a role in the financial future of your business by:

  • Analyzing the competition so it can outmaneuver it
  • Outlining a winning marketing strategy and tactics
  • Providing revenue and expense estimates
  • Crystallizing how the business will turn a profit
  • Anticipating risks and opportunities
  • Forecasting its financial future

This is a wide load to superimpose on any road map, but it's a completely attainable one when you consider the format of a business plan advocated by the U.S. Small Business Administration . It sets you up for success with a sensible, nine section progression of ideas:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Organization and management
  • Product line or service
  • Sales and marketing
  • Financial projections

Many business experts agree that a business plan should consist of at least 50 pages to cover these topics thoroughly. However, as with many undertakings, it's quality, not quantity, that matters most. This is why the Harvard Business Review says it found that those successful entrepreneurs devoted about three months to writing their business plan – a realistic amount of time to scrub this once dirty word from anybody's vocabulary.

  • SCORE: What Is the Purpose of a Business Plan?
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration: SBA Learning Center
  • Small Biz Genius: 39 Entrepreneur Statistics You Need to Know in 2021
  • Harvard Business Review: When Should Entrepreneurs Write Their Business Plans?
  • Nolo: Why You Need to Write a Business Plan
  • U.S. Small Business Administration: Write Your Business Plan

Mary Wroblewski earned a master's degree with high honors in communications and has worked as a reporter and editor in two Chicago newsrooms. Then she launched her own small business, which specialized in assisting small business owners with “all things marketing” – from drafting a marketing plan and writing website copy to crafting media plans and developing email campaigns. Mary writes extensively about small business issues and especially “all things marketing.”

Related Articles

What is the importance & purpose of a business plan, the four major reasons for new business failure, why is an effective business plan introduction important, the importance of a business plan, how to write a preface for a business plan, factors to be considered in business planning, the success factors of an entrepreneur, what are the elements to become an entrepreneur, definition of a swot analysis, most popular.

  • 1 What Is the Importance & Purpose of a Business Plan?
  • 2 The Four Major Reasons for New Business Failure
  • 3 Why Is an Effective Business Plan Introduction Important?
  • 4 The Importance of a Business Plan
  • Search Search Please fill out this field.

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

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

Key Takeaways

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

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Types of Business Plans

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

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

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

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

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

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

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

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

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

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

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

  • How to Start a Business: A Comprehensive Guide and Essential Steps 1 of 25
  • How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example 2 of 25
  • Marketing Strategy: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Create One 3 of 25
  • Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained 4 of 25
  • What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One 5 of 25
  • Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills 6 of 25
  • Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One 7 of 25
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC): Meaning, Types, Impact 8 of 25
  • How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan 9 of 25
  • Business Startup Costs: It’s in the Details 10 of 25
  • Startup Capital Definition, Types, and Risks 11 of 25
  • Bootstrapping Definition, Strategies, and Pros/Cons 12 of 25
  • Crowdfunding: What It Is, How It Works, and Popular Websites 13 of 25
  • Starting a Business with No Money: How to Begin 14 of 25
  • A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing Business Credit 15 of 25
  • Equity Financing: What It Is, How It Works, Pros and Cons 16 of 25
  • Best Startup Business Loans 17 of 25
  • Sole Proprietorship: What It Is, Pros and Cons, and Differences From an LLC 18 of 25
  • Partnership: Definition, How It Works, Taxation, and Types 19 of 25
  • What Is an LLC? Limited Liability Company Structure and Benefits Defined 20 of 25
  • Corporation: What It Is and How to Form One 21 of 25
  • Starting a Small Business: Your Complete How-to Guide 22 of 25
  • Starting an Online Business: A Step-by-Step Guide 23 of 25
  • How to Start Your Own Bookkeeping Business: Essential Tips 24 of 25
  • How to Start a Successful Dropshipping Business: A Comprehensive Guide 25 of 25

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

  • Terms of Service
  • Editorial Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your Privacy Choices
  • Scroll to top

 alt=

  •   / Sign Up
  • HOW WE HELP CLIENTS
  • schedule your conversation

Business Plan Roadmap: Building Your Path to Business Success

Published: 31 December, 2023

Social Share:

Stefan F.Dieffenbacher

Table of Contents

In today’s fast-paced entrepreneurial landscape, a meticulously crafted business plan functions as the guiding star for your venture’s journey toward success. Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or a budding startup creator, possessing a comprehensive business plan is indispensable, serving as the key to securing funding, making well-informed decisions, and effectively navigating the ever-evolving business environment.

A skillfully developed business plan serves as the cornerstone of a prosperous venture, seamlessly aligning with crucial elements such as the Business Model Canvas and adapting to the ever-changing business environment . At Digital Leadership, we understand the importance of these strategic foundations, which is why we offer comprehensive Digital Strategy Consulting and Business Model Strategy services, to help businesses not only survive but thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Graphic-02.webp

Find out how we can help you

Corporate training, innovation consulting and much more.

Within the confines of this article, we will embark on a comprehensive exploration of the art of crafting an engaging and impactful business plan . We shall dissect critical components, including in-depth market research, meticulous financial projections, savvy marketing strategies, and effective operational blueprints. Additionally, we will unveil a plethora of tips and best practices designed to elevate your business plan above the competition, rendering it a value proposition for those seeking to invest in or collaborate with your enterprise.

What is a Business Plan

A business plan definition is a written document that outlines the goals, strategies, and detailed operational and financial plans of a business. It serves as a roadmap for the business, providing a clear direction for its growth and development. A typical business plan includes information about the company’s mission and vision, its products or services, market analysis, competition, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, organizational structure, financial projections, and funding requirements. Business plans are commonly used to secure funding from investors or lenders, guide the company’s operations, and communicate its vision and strategy to stakeholders.

what is a business plan

A conventional business plan typically divides into two primary segments:

  • The Explanatory Segment: This portion encompasses written content that serves the business purpose of providing a detailed description of the business idea and/or the company. It covers elements such as the executive summary, company overview, market analysis, product or service particulars, marketing and sales strategies, organizational structure, operational blueprints, and funding needs.
  • The Financial Segment: Within this section, you’ll discover financial data and projections, encompassing income statements, balance sheets, cash flow forecasts, and detailed information regarding financing prerequisites and potential sources. This segment offers a quantitative view of the business’s financial situation and future expectations.

Uncover profound insights in our book,  “How to Create Innovation”  – the ultimate guide to  business plan . Within its pages, you’ll find a diverse array of groundbreaking tools and models that will enrich your understanding and empower you to refine your approach, guaranteeing unmatched success in the competitive business landscape.

Graphic-02.webp

The Only Book On Innovation You’ll Ever Need

+FREE access to 50+ complimentary download packages covering the details with plenty of helpful background information

Components of a Business Plan: What is Included in a Business Plan

Crafting a thorough and compelling business plan is a fundamental step for entrepreneurs and business leaders seeking to chart a successful course for their ventures. A well-structured business plan not only serves as a roadmap for your business’s growth but also communicates your vision, strategy, and potential to investors, partners, and stakeholders. The key components of a business plan make up a robust business plan, offering valuable insights and practical tips to help you create a document that inspires confidence and aligns your team with a shared vision. Each key element plays a critical role in constructing a business plan that not only secures financial support but also guides your organization toward sustainable success. Let’s delve deeper into these components, adding depth and clarity to your business plan ‘s narrative.

  • Executive Summary: This should succinctly encapsulate the essence of your business plan . It should briefly touch on the market opportunity, your unique value proposition, revenue projections, funding requirements, and the overarching goals of the business.
  • Company Description: Elaborate on your company’s history, including significant milestones and achievements. Clearly define your mission, vision, and values, providing insight into what drives the company’s culture and decisions.
  • Market Analysis: Delve into the market’s nuances by discussing not only its size but also its growth rate, trends, and dynamics. Highlight specific target market segments, customer personas, and pain points that your business aims to address. Include a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to showcase your understanding of the competitive landscape.
  • Products or Services: Offer a detailed explanation of your offerings, emphasizing their key features and benefits. Describe how these offerings fulfill specific customer needs or solve problems, and explain any proprietary technology or intellectual property.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy: Provide a comprehensive overview of your marketing and sales plans. Discuss your pricing strategy in depth, outlining how it aligns with market dynamics. Explain your distribution channels and marketing tactics, including digital and traditional methods.
  • Organizational Structure: Present bios of key team members, underscoring their relevant experience, expertise, and roles within the organization. Include an organizational chart to illustrate reporting relationships and the structure’s scalability.
  • Operational Plan: Go into detail about your daily operations, covering everything from production processes and supply chain management to facility requirements and technology utilization. Discuss quality control measures and scalability strategies.
  • Financial Projections: Provide a thorough breakdown of financial forecasts, including monthly or quarterly projections for at least three to five years. Explain the assumptions behind these numbers, including factors such as market growth rates and pricing strategies. Highlight critical financial metrics like burn rate, customer acquisition costs, and return on investment.
  • Funding Requirements: Specify the exact amount of capital you’re seeking, the purpose of the funds, and how the investment will be utilized to achieve specific milestones. Outline potential sources of funding, such as equity investment, loans, or grants. Clarify the expected terms and conditions.
  • Appendix: In the appendix, include supplementary materials that reinforce your business plan’s credibility and depth. This can encompass market research reports, letters of intent, prototypes, patents, legal contracts, and any other relevant documentation that adds value to your case.

A masterfully designed business plan serves as the guiding star to steer you toward triumph. Enter our publication, “ How to Create Innovation “, deep within its pages, you’ll unearth a plethora of pioneering instruments and frameworks, including the influential Business Model Canvas , poised to not only amplify your comprehension but also arm you with the tools essential to craft an authoritative and highly potent business plan.

Business Model Canvas Template

Your download is now available!

You can now access the complete Business Model Canvas Package, including a full presentation, related models and instructions for use.

The UNITE Business Model Canvas

Creating a business plan essential steps.

Creating a business plan is a crucial step in launching or growing a business. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create an effective business plan :

1- Draft an Executive Summary:

  • Write a concise overview of your business, including the mission, vision, and goals.
  • Summarize the business concept, target market, and unique value proposition.
  • Keep it brief but compelling to grab the reader’s attention.

2- Compose a Business Description:

  • Provide detailed information about your business, industry, and the problem or need your product/service addresses.
  • Explain your mission, vision, and core values.
  • Describe the legal structure of your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation).

3- Conduct a Market Analysis:

  • Conduct thorough market research to understand your industry, target market, and competitors.
  • Define your target audience and demonstrate a clear understanding of market trends.
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).

4- Outline Organization and Management:

  • Outline the organizational structure of your business.
  • Introduce key team members and their roles, highlighting their relevant experience.
  • Provide an overview of your advisory board or external support.

5- Detail the Product or Service Line:

  • Describe your products or services in detail.
  • Highlight the features, benefits, and unique selling points.
  • Explain how your offerings meet the needs of your target market.

6- Develop a Marketing and Sales Strategy:

  • Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to reach your target audience.
  • Outline your sales process, distribution channels , and pricing strategy.
  • Include a sales forecast and customer acquisition plan.

7- Specify Funding Request (if applicable):

  • Specify the amount of funding you are seeking (if any) and how you plan to use it.
  • Justify the funding request with clear financial projections and a solid business case.

8- Prepare Financial Projections:

  • Prepare detailed financial statements, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
  • Provide assumptions and methodologies used for financial forecasts.
  • Demonstrate your business’s profitability and financial viability.

9- Include an Appendix:

  • Include supplementary materials such as resumes, permits, contracts, market research, or any other relevant documents.
  • Keep this section optional but use it to provide additional context.

10- Review and Revise:

  • Review your business plan thoroughly for clarity, consistency, and completeness.
  • Seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or potential investors.
  • Revise the plan based on feedback and ensure it aligns with your business goals.

Remember, a business plan is a dynamic document that should be revisited and updated regularly to reflect changes in your business environment. It serves as a roadmap for your business and a valuable tool for communicating your vision to others.

Types of Business Plans

Startup business plan:.

A comprehensive document crafted by entrepreneurs to outline the vision, mission, target market, competition analysis, financial projections, and strategies for launching and operating a new business.

Feasibility Business Plan:

A plan designed to assess the viability of a business idea or project by analyzing market demand, potential challenges, financial feasibility, and overall sustainability before committing resources.

One-Page Business Plan:

A condensed version of a traditional business plan, focusing on key elements such as the business concept, target market, value proposition, marketing strategy, and financial projections—all presented on a single page.

What-If Business Plan:

A flexible and dynamic plan that explores various scenarios and outcomes based on changing factors or assumptions. It helps businesses anticipate challenges and adjust strategies accordingly.

Growth Business Plan:

Tailored for businesses aiming to expand, this plan outlines strategies for scaling operations, entering new markets, launching products or services, and includes financial projections to support growth initiatives.

Operations Business Plan:

Geared towards day-to-day activities, this plan details operational procedures, resource allocation, supply chain management, and other aspects essential for the smooth functioning of the business.

Strategic Business Plan:

A long-term plan outlining the organization’s mission, vision, core values, and strategic initiatives. It guides decision-making, sets priorities, and aligns the company toward achieving overarching objectives.

The purpose of a business plan

A business plan is not a static document with a limited shelf life; rather, it evolves alongside the company it represents. It serves as a dynamic tool that adapts to changing market conditions, emerging opportunities, and evolving strategic priorities. Here’s a closer look at its continuous relevance:

  • Guiding the Business ( Business Concept/Business Idea and Strategy ) : A business plan serves as an internal guide that helps entrepreneurs and management teams set clear objectives, develop business strategies, and make informed decisions. It provides a framework for prioritizing tasks, allocating resources, and monitoring progress toward achieving business goals.
  • Securing Financing: One of the primary reasons for creating a business plan is to secure financing from lenders, investors, or banks. A well-prepared plan presents a compelling case for why the business is a viable and profitable investment. It includes financial projections, market research, and a clear explanation of how the funds will be used to achieve growth.
  • Attracting Investors: For startups and early-stage companies, attracting equity investors is often crucial for rapid growth. A comprehensive business plan not only showcases the business opportunity but also outlines how investors can potentially realize significant returns on their investment. It highlights the company’s unique value proposition and competitive advantage.
  • Setting Goals and Objectives: Business plan s articulate both short-term and long-term objectives for the company. Specific, measurable, and time-bound goals are essential for motivating employees, aligning efforts, and tracking progress. Objectives can encompass revenue targets, market share goals, expansion plans, and more.
  • Managing Operations: Business plans include detailed operational plans, covering aspects such as production processes, supply chain management, inventory control, quality assurance, and logistics. These operational details ensure that the business runs smoothly and efficiently.
  • Market Analysis: Comprehensive market research within the business plan helps the company understand its target market, customer demographics, and competitive landscape. This knowledge enables the business to adapt to changing market conditions and identify opportunities for growth, product development, or market expansion.
  • Communicating the Vision: A well-crafted business plan communicates the company’s mission, vision, and values to both internal and external stakeholders. This clarity fosters a shared sense of purpose among employees and resonates with customers and partners.
  • Risk Management: Business plans identify potential risks and challenges that the company may encounter. By acknowledging these risks upfront, the plan can outline strategies for risk mitigation or contingency plans. This proactive approach helps the business better navigate unforeseen challenges.
  • Measuring Progress: A business plan serves as a benchmark for assessing the company’s performance and growth. By comparing actual results to the plan’s projections, the business can identify areas where it is excelling and areas that require adjustment. Regularly measuring progress is crucial for making data-driven decisions.
  • Exit Strategy: In some cases, especially for entrepreneurs and investors, a business plan includes an exit strategy. This strategy outlines how the business owners plan to realize their investment, whether through selling the company, going public, or transitioning leadership to others.
  • Competitive Adaptation: In the face of a constantly changing competitive landscape, a well-maintained business plan allows a company to regularly assess its competitive position. It aids in identifying emerging competitors, market shifts, and areas where the business can gain a competitive edge.
  • Performance Measurement: By providing a baseline for projected financials and key performance indicators (KPIs), a business plan becomes a tool for measuring actual performance against expectations. This ongoing evaluation enables the organization to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
  • Resource Allocation: As a company grows, it often requires additional resources such as capital, personnel, or technology. The business plan assists in rationalizing and justifying resource allocation decisions to support expansion or address operational challenges.
  • Innovation and Adaptation: In today’s rapidly changing business environment, adaptation and innovation are essential. A business plan encourages a culture of adaptability by fostering discussions on new opportunities and strategies for staying ahead of industry trends.
  • External Engagement: Externally, the business plan remains a valuable tool for engaging with investors, partners, lenders, and other stakeholders. It provides a transparent and comprehensive view of the company’s past performance and future potential.

Important External Tasks of a Business Plan

A business plan holds significance beyond its internal utility, as it acts as the company’s calling card in external contexts. Primarily, it serves as a persuasive tool for potential investors, bolstering the chances of securing essential financing, whether during startup or later stages for marketing initiatives or product development. Additionally, a well-crafted business plan proves valuable in negotiation discussions with potential key partners and regulatory bodies, enhancing the stability of current and future business relationships with customers and suppliers alike.

Here are some significant external tasks associated with a business plan:

  • Securing Financial Support: One of the primary external objectives of a business plan is to attract external financing from investors or lenders. A well-prepared plan should clearly communicate the company’s financial requirements and how those funds will be utilized to achieve its objectives.
  • Presenting to Investors: If you are seeking investment from angel investors, venture capitalists, or private equity firms, you must effectively present your business plan . This entails pitching your business to potential investors, highlighting key aspects of your plan, and addressing their inquiries and concerns.
  • Applying for Financing or Grants: If you intend to secure loans or grants to fund your business, your business plan will be a crucial component of your application. It should demonstrate your capacity to repay loans or meet grant criteria, as well as how the funds will drive growth.
  • Negotiating Partnerships and Collaborations: When pursuing partnerships, joint ventures, or alliances with other businesses, a business plan can outline the strategic advantages and potential outcomes of the collaboration. This is vital for persuading potential partners of the value of working together.
  • Ensuring Regulatory Compliance: Depending on your industry and location, you may need to submit your business plan to regulatory agencies for approval or compliance. This is particularly common in sectors like healthcare, finance, and energy.
  • Obtaining Licenses and Permits: If your business requires specific licenses or permits to operate, your business plan may be requested during the application process to demonstrate your readiness and compliance with regulations.
  • Facilitating Mergers and Acquisitions: In mergers or acquisitions, both the acquiring and target companies may need to provide business plans to potential investors or lenders involved in the transaction. This aids in evaluating the financial viability and strategic fit of the merger or acquisition.
  • Attracting Strategic Partners: In addition to traditional investors, you may seek to attract strategic partners who can offer resources, expertise, or distribution channels. You r business plan should compellingly illustrate why potential partners should collaborate with your company.
  • Preparing for an IPO (Initial Public Offering): If your long-term strategy includes taking your company public, a comprehensive business plan is essential to attract public market investors. It must provide a detailed view of your company’s financial health, growth potential, and market position.
  • Undergoing Due Diligence: When external parties consider investing in or partnering with your company, they often conduct due diligence. Your business plan should be precise and comprehensive to withstand scrutiny during this process.

When is a Business Plan Needed

When starting a new business, it makes sense to write a business plan . A strong business concept helps you find investors and convince big business figures, investors, or banks of your business idea.

In addition, a business plan forces a start-up to confront the strengths but also weaknesses of its business idea. However, an already existing company can equally benefit from a business plan. Many companies often lack a clearly recognizable strategy or guidelines against which success can be measured.

A business plan also leads to more transparency in entrepreneurial decisions and is necessary for an already existing company when raising outside capital and investors. An increasing number of investors and capital providers demand the submission of such a plan, thus making a strong business concept so important.

  • Startup Phase : A business plan is essential when starting a new venture as it helps define your business concept, target market, and competitive strategy. It outlines your initial funding requirements, revenue projections, and expected milestones, providing a roadmap for the early stages of your business.
  • Securing Financing : Whether you’re seeking a bank loan, angel investment, venture capital, or crowdfunding, a detailed business plan is a prerequisite. It should include financial forecasts, an analysis of your industry and competitors, and a clear description of how the funds will be used to grow the business.
  • Strategic Planning : Regularly updating your business plan is crucial for strategic planning . It allows you to assess your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) and adjust your strategies accordingly. It provides a long-term vision and helps align the organization’s efforts toward common goals.
  • New Product or Service Launch : Before launching a new offering, a business plan helps you research the market, understand underserved customer needs, and determine the product’s unique selling points. It outlines your marketing and sales strategy, pricing structure, and expected return on investment.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions : In mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions, a business plan is used to evaluate the financial viability and strategic fit of the deal. It provides insights into the target company’s operations, revenue streams, and potential synergies with the acquiring company.
  • Partnerships and Alliances : When exploring collaborations with other businesses, a business plan outlines the mutual benefits and objectives of the partnership. It clarifies roles and responsibilities, risk-sharing arrangements, and how the partnership aligns with each party’s strategic goals.
  • Regulatory Compliance : Certain industries, like healthcare, finance, and energy, require businesses to submit comprehensive business plans to regulatory authorities. These plans demonstrate compliance with industry-specific regulations and provide transparency in operations.
  • Licensing and Permits : When applying for licenses or permits, particularly in regulated industries such as food service, healthcare, or construction, a business plan may be necessary to prove that your operations meet safety, health, and environmental standards.
  • IPO (Initial Public Offering) : Making a company public is a complex process. A thorough business plan is crucial to attract public investors. It should provide historical financial performance, future growth prospects, and a clear value proposition for potential shareholders.
  • Crisis Management : In times of financial distress or operational challenges, businesses may develop a crisis management or turnaround plan. This specialized business plan outlines the steps needed to stabilize the company’s finances, restructure operations, and restore profitability.

Example of Business Plan Structure

Generally, there are no fixed guidelines as to how a business plan should be structured. Business concepts heavily depend on the recipient of the business plan and the orientation and structure of the company. The following bullet points are therefore only to be understood as basic building blocks that must be adapted to the individual situation.

1. Business Concept/Business Idea and Strategy:

  • Illustrate your business concept, including the idea and methods for successful implementation.
  • Include a timeline for implementing the concept.
  • Optionally, provide information about your company and headquarters.

2. Company Description:

  • Provide detailed information about your company, including its name, location, legal structure, and history.
  • Explain your business’s purpose and the problems it aims to solve.
  • Describe your target market and your business’s role within it.

3. Target Market:

  • Market volume and potential.
  • Growth potential.
  • Barriers to entry and market restrictions.
  • Supplier positioning.
  • Relevant laws and regulations.
  • Competitor analysis (strengths, weaknesses, product range).
  • Identifying potential customers.

4- Operational Plan:

  • Describe your business’s day-to-day operations, including location, facilities, equipment, and technology.
  • Explain your supply chain, production processes, and quality control.
  • Address any regulatory or compliance requirements.

5. Products and Services:

  • Describe your products or services, highlighting how they differentiate from competitors.
  • Unique Selling Proposition.
  • Customer Benefits.
  • Competitive Advantages.
  • Innovation or optimization of existing products.
  • Patent or property rights.

6. Marketing and Sales Planning:

  • Outline your marketing strategy and timetable.
  • Specify market entry plans.
  • Set company goals related to market leadership, market share, revenue, and brand awareness.
  • Discuss sales policy, pricing policy, and communication policy & advertising.
  • Address sales methods, future developments, and pricing strategy justification.

7. Management, Employees, and Organization:

  • Highlight management skills, qualifications, and key team members.
  • Emphasize industry knowledge, social skills, previous successes, and professional experience.
  • Mention personnel development strategies.
  • Describe the organizational structure, focusing on procurement, development, production, sales, and administration.

8. Opportunities and Risks:

  • In the ‘Opportunities’ section, showcase the potential of your business idea and the conditions for exploiting that potential.
  • Address risks comprehensively, demonstrating a detailed and critical approach.
  • Include potential risk scenarios and proposed solutions.

9. Financial Planning:

  • Present concrete financial figures derived from previous analyses and plans.
  • Profit Planning: Include a profit and loss statement (P&L).
  • Balance Sheet: Provide an overview of assets, liabilities, and equity.
  • Liquidity Plan: Compare expenditures with available funds.

10. Appendix:

  • Include necessary documents like commercial register excerpts, business registrations, shareholder agreements, and legal forms.
  • Attach CVs and references of key team members.
  • Include relevant financial spreadsheets, patents, permits, licenses, brochures, leaflets, and organizational charts or graphs.

Reasons for Business Plan Failures

  • Lack of Market Research: Failing to thoroughly understand the target market and its needs can lead to products or services that don’t resonate with customers.
  • Inflexibility: A rigid plan that doesn’t adapt to changing market conditions or feedback from customers can become obsolete quickly.
  • Overly Optimistic Projections: Unrealistic financial projections can mislead investors and hinder the business’s ability to meet expectations.
  • Poor Execution: Even the best plan will fail without proper execution. A lack of skilled team members, resources, or a clear execution strategy can doom a business.
  • Ignoring Competition: Ignoring or underestimating competitors can lead to a business being unprepared for market competition.
  • Insufficient Funding: Underestimating the capital required to launch and sustain the business can lead to financial troubles.
  • Inadequate Marketing: Without effective marketing, even great products or services may go unnoticed by potential customers.
  • Ignoring Customer Feedback: Not listening to customer feedback and adjusting the business accordingly can result in products or services that don’t meet market needs.

Connecting The Dots: Importance of Business Model Canvas in Business Plan

Integrating the Business Model Canvas (BMC) into a traditional business plan is a pivotal process in crafting a comprehensive and highly effective business strategy . The Business Model Canvas , with its visual and succinct approach, offers a distinctive viewpoint on your business model. It functions as a complementary tool to the in-depth components of a traditional plan, strengthening your strategic capabilities. You can download it now.

The synergy between these two strategic instruments not only facilitates communication but also empowers you to analyze and adjust your business strategy with precision, ultimately fostering a pathway to success. In the following discussion, we delve into the significance of bridging the gap between these two potent tools within the domain of business planning. Here’s why the Business Model Canvas is essential within the context of a business plan:

  • Visual Representation: The Business Model Canvas provides a visual framework that allows you to quickly grasp and convey the fundamental elements of your business model. This visual clarity is especially valuable when presenting your business concept to potential investors, partners, or team members.
  • Concise Overview: While a traditional business plan can be lengthy and detailed, the BMC offers a concise summary of key components, including customer segments, value propositions, channels, revenue streams, and cost structures . It distills complex business concepts into a simplified format, making it easier to communicate and understand.
  • Iterative Planning: The BMC encourages an iterative approach to business strategic planning . It enables you to experiment with different business model hypotheses and make adjustments as you gather feedback and insights. This agility is vital, especially for startups and businesses in rapidly evolving markets.
  • Focus on Value: The Business Model Canvas places a strong emphasis on understanding customer needs and value creation . It prompts you to identify your unique value propositions and how they address customer pain points, aligning your strategy with customer-centric principles.
  • Holistic View: By using the BMC, you’re prompted to consider all aspects of your business model, from customer acquisition to revenue generation and cost management. This holistic perspective helps identify potential gaps, dependencies, and opportunities that might be overlooked in a traditional plan.
  • Alignment and Coordination: The BMC fosters alignment among team members and stakeholders. It’s a collaborative tool that encourages discussions about the business model, ensuring that everyone shares a common understanding and vision. This alignment is critical for execution.
  • Integration with Traditional Plan: While the BMC is an excellent starting point, it can be seamlessly integrated into a traditional business plan. The insights and clarity gained from the BMC can inform and enrich the sections of the plan related to products/services, target market, marketing strategy, and financial projections.
  • Efficiency: The BMC saves time and resources, particularly in the early stages of planning when you’re exploring different business model scenarios. It allows you to focus on the most critical aspects of your strategy before diving into the details.
  • Adaptability: In a rapidly changing business environment, having a flexible and adaptable business model is essential. The BMC’s modular structure makes it easier to pivot or adapt your strategy in response to market shifts, competitive pressures, or emerging opportunities.

In summary, a business plan is a multifaceted and indispensable tool for businesses at every stage of their journey. It serves as a compass, guiding strategic decisions, securing essential financing, and attracting potential investors. Its ongoing relevance is a testament to its adaptability, enabling businesses to measure performance, allocate resources, and manage risks effectively. Beyond its practical utility, a business plan is a communication tool, conveying a company’s vision and objectives to both internal teams and external stakeholders. It is a dynamic and ever-evolving document that empowers businesses to navigate uncertainties, foster innovation, and drive sustainable growth, making it an indispensable companion in the pursuit of business success.

Frequently Asked Questions

1- how does a business plan relate to usiness strategy.

A business plan is closely intertwined with a company’s business strategy. The plan lays out the specific actions and tactics required to achieve the strategic goals of the business. It provides a roadmap for implementing the chosen strategy, outlining how resources will be allocated, what markets will be targeted, and how the business will position itself in the competitive landscape.

2- Is a business plan necessary if I already have a solid business strategy?

Yes, a business plan is still essential, even if you have a well-defined strategy. It serves as the detailed execution plan for your strategy, providing clarity on how you will achieve your strategic objectives. It also helps you anticipate challenges, manage risks, and secure financing or investments by demonstrating the viability of your strategy.

3- Can I use the Business Model Canvas in place of a business plan for a startup?

While the Business Model Canvas is an excellent tool for conceptualizing and validating your business model, it is often not a substitute for a comprehensive business plan , especially when seeking financing or investments. Startups may begin with Canvas to clarify their model but should eventually develop a full business plan to provide in-depth financial projections, market analysis, and operational details.

4- How often should I update my business plan to align with my evolving strategy?

It’s advisable to review and update your business plan regularly, typically at least once a year. However, major changes in your business environment, such as shifts in market conditions or strategic pivots, may require more frequent updates. Keeping your plan current ensures it remains a relevant and effective tool for guiding your business.

Related Posts

Innovation strategy: developing innovative strategies in business.

Innovation has become an imperative for organizations worldwide, yet the multitude of1

Business Level Strategy Examples & Types for Corporate Strategy Success

In business, the right business strategy can make or break success. Business-level1

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Examples and Definition

The MVP or Minimum Viable Product approach is an idea that was1

What is Design Thinking? Definition, Explanation & Process

With Design Thinking, new and innovative ideas can be generated together and1

Growth Hacking Examples, Definition and Strategies for Business Growth

Growth Hacking is a term invented by Sean Ellis. According to him,1

Scrum Theory Full Guide 2024: Meaning, Benefits and Examples

Scrum is a framework that helps people, organizations, and teams address complex1

Why Startups Fail: Top 10 Reasons in 2024

Over 90% of the startups in the US fail within the first1

Important But Underserved Customer Needs: How to Identify?

Creating products and services that yield more profits largely depends on understanding1

Digital Business Strategy Examples, Definition, and Strategies

In a time marked by rapid technological evolution and unprecedented interconnectedness, businesses1

Kanban vs Scrum: What is The Difference Between Them?

Agile, Lean, Scrum, Kanban: All these terms describe very similar project management1

Creative Destruction in Economics Definition & Examples

Creative destruction is a concept introduced by the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter1

How to Write a Value Proposition Template? – Full Guide With Examples

A value proposition is the essence of what sets a product or1

Innovation Ecosystem Guide for Successful Innovation Strategy

Creating a successful innovation ecosystem in business has become the secret sauce1

Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) – Finding your Business Purpose

It starts with an entrepreneur, hungry for mind-blowing breakthroughs, working to uncover1

Business Capability Map Model for Mapping Business Capabilities

To create successful innovations, it's crucial to leverage the existing strengths of1

Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI) For Putting JTBD Theory into Action

Outcome-driven innovation (ODI) is a strategic approach that operationalizes the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD)1

Open Innovation Examples, Definition, and Challenges

In business and technology, open innovation is a type of innovation that1

Unfair Advantage: What is it, and how do you find yours?

Every business, everywhere, is hoping it can provide something to customers that1

Idea Generation Strategies For Driving Innovation and Growth

Idea Generation springs into existence where business acumen and raw creativity meet1

Jobs To Be Done Examples, Theory, Framework, Templates & Statements

Remaining responsive to customer needs has become a pivotal element in driving1

50 Innovation Examples: Exciting Innovative Ideas in Business

In the Business environment, strategic innovation has taken centre stage as a1

Cost Structure in Business Model Canvas: The Cornerstone for Building a Profitable Business Model

Businesses often struggle with managing their finances. With a great idea and1

Ambidextrous Organization: Examples, Definition, Levels & Benefits

Ambidextrous organizations are a concept that has been gaining traction in the1

Jobs to Be Done Framework: A Roadmap to Customer Satisfaction

How should you structure your business most efficiently? The best way to1

Digitalization Consulting – What You Can Expect From A Qualified Digital Consultant

Digital transformation is complex and broad. A qualified digital consultant accompanies you1

Corporates & Startups: How To Collaborate in an Open Ecosystem

Corporate and startup collaborations, like any other collaboration, require learning from both1

How Do You Innovate Your Business Model?

Business model innovation is essential for the success of every business in1

Digitalization: How to Use Digital Innovation to Grow Your Business

You cannot speak about innovation without discussing digitalization in context. Today, almost1

How Innovation Training Can Transform Your Organization

How to create a culture of innovation? Innovation training is key to1

Four Waves of Economic Development and Industrial Revolution

Everything You Need to Know About the Four Waves of Economic Development1

Innovative Technology & Technological Innovation in Europe – Digital Leadership

Innovation and innovative technology are of fundamental importance for Europe's economic and1

Innovation in China: The Status Quo of Innovation compared to Europe

For a long time, China was only called the workbench of the1

Recent Posts

Innovation Strategy: Developing Innovative Strategies in Business

Innovation has become an imperative for organizations worldwide, yet the multitude of...

Porter’s Generic Strategies Tips for Business Competitive Strategy 

Porter’s Generic Strategies Tips for Business Competitive Strategy 

In business competition, understanding and effectively implementing strategic frameworks are crucial for...

Discover the largest library of innovation & transformation tools on the entire Internet!

LOG IN VIA E-MAIL

Forgot password?

New to Digital Leadership? Create your account

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Get access to the UNITE Models now!

Discover the largest library of innovation & transformation tools on the internet!

First name *

Last name *

Professional E-mail *

Choose Your Password *

Confirm Your Password *

I want to be kept up-to-date and accept the privacy statement *

By signing up, you agree to receive news and accept the privacy statement (mandatory)

Already have an account? Log in

Verify your e-mail address now by entering the 6-digit code we’ve just sent to your inbox

Don't receive Code? Resend code

Country * Please Select Afghanistan Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin (Dahomey) Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Brazil Brunei Brunswick and Lüneburg Bulgaria Burkina Faso (Upper Volta) Burundi Cabo Verde Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cayman Islands Central African Republic Central American Federation Chad Chile China Colombia Comoros Congo Free State Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czechia Democratic Republic of the Congo Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Eswatini Ethiopia Fiji Finland France Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Grand Duchy of Tuscany Greece Grenada Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Holy See Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea Kosovo Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Mauritania Mauritius Mexico Micronesia Moldova Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Morocco Mozambique Namibia Nassau Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria North Macedonia Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Panama Papal States Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Piedmont-Sardinia Poland Portugal Qatar Republic of Congo Republic of Korea (South Korea) Republic of the Congo Romania Russia Rwanda Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Schaumburg-Lippe Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Sweden Switzerland Syria Tajikistan Tanzania Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Vietnam Württemberg Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Industry * Please Select Automotive, mobilty & transport Financial Services Chemical & agriculture Construction & Real Estate Consulting Education Energy Banking, insurance & FS FMCG Food Gov / Public Industry Health & lifestyle Logistics, Aero & Shipping Media & Entertainment Natural resources & mining Pharma & Biotech Retail & trade Tech & E-Commerce Telco Tourism design Information technology & services Management consulting Retail Pharmaceuticals International trade & development Professional training & coaching luxury goods & jewelry Automotive Insurance Mechanical or industrial engineering Company Size * XS - 1-10 S - 10-100 M - 100-1000 L - 1000-5000 XL - > 5000

Seniority * Please Select Junior Consultant Senior Consultant Manager Senior Manager Director VP SVP Partner CXO Board Member

Areas of interest * Innovation Digital Transformation Culture & Organization IT Strategy & Bus. Alignment Customer Experience

Free book “How to Create Innovation” (digital edition)*

The free book is made available to everybody subscribing on an annual plan (sorry, but we cannot give it away for free!).


You will receive the book in PDF and EPUB formats, ideal for your computer, Kindle, Tablet or other eReading device.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Editable UNITE models (PowerPoint) included

Most of our models and canvases are designed to be applied! 


To help you personalize them to your exact business requirements, you can download fully editable versions of the UNITE models available (PowerPoint format)!

They are straightforward to work with, and you can directly incorporate them into your presentations as you need…thus saving countless hours of replication!

PS: did you know that you are also getting hi-res print-ready versions for your workshops?

Monthly live webinars

Each month we host our exclusive, invitation-only webinar series where one of our industry-leading experts updates our members on the latest news, progress and concepts around business strategy, innovation and digital transformation, as well as other related topics. 



Bi-weekly live group Q&A sessions

These sessions are your opportunity to bring any questions or challenges you’re facing and receive expert guidance on the spot. 


Come and be a part of engaging discussions where your unique concerns are heard and addressed.

1x personal coaching session / month

If you are occasionally looking for a sparring partner or you need limited support, then this option will be ideal for you. Coaching sessions are 1-2 hours where we can discuss any challenge or opportunity you are currently facing.

If you need a few more hours outside of this provision, then these could be billed transparently.

Unlimited video call support! – it’s like always making the right decision!

We believe support shouldn’t be limited. Because we typically find that the occasional hour just doesn’t cut it – particularly if you and your team are in the midst of a large and complex project.

Your time with Stefan is therefore unlimited (fair usage applies) – in his function as coach and sparring partner. That does mean that you will still have to do the work – we cannot take that off you, unless you hire us as consultants. But you will get valuable strategic insight and direction to make sure you are always focusing your efforts where they will lead to the best results.

One personal coaching session / month 
+ unlimited support via e-mail & WhatsApp

We believe support shouldn’t be limited. If you generally know what you are doing but want a sparring partner to frequently raise questions to, this is the perfect choice!

In addition to your monthly 1-1 live coaching sessions with Stefan, you will also get unlimited support from him via email and WhatsApp messaging (fair usage applies). This not only allows you to get valuable strategic direction in your calls, but also gives you instant access to expert help as you work through your plans each month.



The fact that support is text-based means that we can speed up our responses to you while keeping the overall cost of support down.

Welcome gift of our book 
 “How to Create Innovation” 
 (digital + physical editions)*

As a welcome gift, you will receive the both the digital and physical version of our book “How to Create Innovation”, which covers numerous relevant resources and provides additional deep dives into our UNITE models and concepts.


The print version will be shipped out to you on sign-up. The digital version will be emailed to you, and comes in PDF and EPUB formats, ideal for your computer, Kindle, Tablet or other eReading device.

1x major workshop or 2x smaller workshops / month

1x major or 2x smaller workshops based on the UNITE models.

  • Topics covered: almost any challenge under the header of #strategy, #innovation or #transformation, leveraging the UNITE models.
  • Hands-On Learning: solve your challenges while learning the practical application of the UNITE models and walk away with concrete plans and tools to take your next steps.
  • Industry thought leadership: facilitated by Stefan, the founder of Digital Leadership and the main author of the UNITE models, ensuring top-tier guidance and knowledge sharing.
  • Collaborative approach: engage in interactive sessions that foster collaboration, idea exchange, and real-time problem-solving among peers and industry leaders.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regular workshops ensure ongoing development in your organization staying ahead of industry trends and customer needs.

Access all of our UNITE models, 
 (incl. editable & print versions)

All of our Professional plans offer full access to the following:

  • 6x UNITE model package downloads are included per month, if you need something in addition to these however, please let us know!
  • Hi-res, print-ready versions you can use in your workshops
  • Fully editable PowerPoint versions where applicable – personalize to your needs.
  • Exclusive access to our vault of never-before-published strategic materials. We have much more to share – a lot of our concepts have never been published!

Exclusive access to our private UNITE community (upcoming)

We are currently in the process of launching our brand new community., we are designing our community to specifically help you:.

  • Get answers to questions (“How do I …”)
  • Share leading practices & knowledge
  • Jointly develop new models
  • Network amongst a highly qualified group of peers

Please, select the reason

Cancelling your plan will deactivate your plan after the current billing period ends. You will not be charged further, but also won’t be able to access [exclusive features/services].

  • Cost-related issues
  • Unsatisfied with the service
  • Features I need are missing
  • Switching to a different service
  • Other (Please specify)

Book Your Initial Blueprint Session Now

Simply fill out the below form and book in a time for our initial session that works for you. This initial session is free, no strings attached, and is where we can discuss your Blueprint needs more in-depth before moving forward.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Stefan F. Dieffenbacher

Founder of digital leadership.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Adam D. Wisniewski

Partner for it strategy & business alignment.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Get in touch with Digital Leadership

Speak to our team today to find the best solution for your business to grow and scale.

We are here to support you across the entire lifecycle in all topics related to #digital, #innovation, #transformation and #marketing!

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Stefan F. Dieffenbacher Founder of Digital Leadership

Contact Us!

Contact form, contact details, book a call.

Title, first name & last name * Email address * Phone number Please let us know how we can best support you! *

By clicking “Send”, I agree to Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Let’s have a conversation!

“Please be invited to reach out! We are happy to help and look forward to a first meeting!”

+41 (0) 44 562 42 24

[email protected]

Schedule Your Call With Our Team

Find a time on our calender that best suits you !

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Founder and CEO of Digital Leadership

SCHEDULE YOUR INITIAL CALL

A Quick Survey!

Help us better understand the UNITE community

What is the main challenge you're currently facing in your business?

One Last Step..

Seniority  * Please Select Junior Consultant Senior Consultant Manager Senior Manager Director VP SVP Partner CXO Board Member

Areas of interest * Innovation Digital Transformation Culture & Organization IT Strategy & Bus. Alignment Customer Experience

You Want To Drive Change?

Let’s find the best solution for your business to grow and scale sustainably!

Let’s kick start it!

We will uncover your current business situation and goals and provide you with a bespoke solution that helps you drastically grow your business working with us.

image

Stefan F. Dieffenbacher, M.B.A.

company logo 1

Feedback about our consulting that we are proud of

Read the reviews and make sure that this is not a waste of time, but a super effective tool.

digital logo

You want to drive change?

Schedule your free business assessment call with our founder.

On this call, we will uncover your current business situation and goals and talk about how to drive change and solve your need.

Choose the meeting type that applies to your needs and schedule a time to meet with someone from our team. We look forward to speaking with you soon!

Thanks, We’ve Received Your Updated Details

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Schedule Your Free Business Assessment

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Schedule Your Free Business Assessment Call With Adam D. Wisniewski

Welcome to our scheduling page.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Let’s Design your Customer Experience Blueprint !

In a uniquely designed 60 or 90 minute session* , we will …

  • > identify where to start with near-certainty
  • > define what approach it takes to create success in your organization

Based on the Blueprinting session, you will receive a tailored blueprint that aligns with your objectives, vision and goals, ensuring that your initiative is a success from start to finish.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

In this session, you will be working together with Patrick Zimmermann, Associate Partner for Customer Experience

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Let’s Design your Culture & Org-Change Blueprint !

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

In this session, you will be working together with Dr. Andreas Rein, Partner at Digital Leadership for Culture & Org Change

Let’s Design your Innovation Blueprint !

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

In this session, you will be working together with Sascha Martini, Partner at Digital Leadership for Innovation and Digital Transformation

Let’s Design your Transformation Blueprint !

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

In this session, you will be working together with Stefan F. Dieffenbacher, Founder of Digital Leadership Stefan is a global thought leader in the innovation space

Let’s Design your IT Strategy & Business Alignment Blueprint !

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

In this session, you will be working together with Adam D. Wisniewski, Partner for IT Strategy & Business Alignment

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Patrick Zimmermann

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Sascha Martini

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Dr. Andreas Rein

Write a personalized review! Log in

Create Review

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

  • Starting a Business
  • Growing a Business
  • Small Business Guide
  • Business News
  • Science & Technology
  • Money & Finance
  • Subscribers For Subscribers
  • ELN Write for Entrepreneur
  • Store Entrepreneur Store
  • Spotlight Spotlight
  • United States
  • Asia Pacific
  • Middle East
  • South Africa

Copyright © 2024 Entrepreneur Media, LLC All rights reserved. Entrepreneur® and its related marks are registered trademarks of Entrepreneur Media LLC

Business Plan Essentials Learn about the elements that every successful business plan must contain.

By Tim Berry • Mar 14, 2005

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When you're about to embark on developing a business plan , remember this: Form follows function, so you want a plan that fits your exact business needs. The emphasis should change depending on whether it's a plan for starting a company, raising investment money, supporting a business loan or managing an existing business.

In most cases, your plan will be a 20- to 30-page document written in simple business language so it's easy to read with the main points highlighted and lots of bullets, and some tables and charts to highlight the most important financial projections. A standard plan includes seven sections:

1. The Executive Summary. Write this summary last, and make sure it contains the highlights of your plan. Assume your most important readers will read only this section.

2. The Company. A plan for a startup describes your strategy for creating the legal entity and how the initial ownership will be divided among the founders. It should also include a table that lists startup costs and initial funding. A plan for an ongoing or already existing company should describe the legal form of the business, the company history and the business's past performance.

3. What You Sell. Describe the products or services you offer. Emphasize why buyers purchase those things, what benefits they get, and what pain points they have before they buy. Show how much it costs to deliver what you're selling.

4. Your Market. Describe your target market, including market demographics, market growth and trends. Include a table that shows a market forecast. Describe the nature of your industry and the competition you have.

5. Strategy and Implementation. Strategy is all about focus. So focus on certain target market segments, certain products or services, and specific distribution avenues. Forecast your sales and the cost of sales. Define your milestones with dates, budgets and specific responsibilities.

6. Management Team. Name and describe the key members on your team. Include a table that shows personnel costs. List the gaps in the management team--if any--and show how they're being addressed.

7. Financial Projections. Describe your financial strategy and how it supports your projected growth. Include a break-even analysis that shows risk as a matter of fixed vs. variable costs. Include projected profit or loss, cash flow and balance sheets.

As you deal with these standard sections, remember that this is your plan and not a classroom assignment, which means you should ignore anything that doesn't fit your needs. For example, if you're developing a business plan for internal use only that won't be read by anybody outside the company, you don't need to describe your company history. You might want to include management team gaps and a personnel plan, but you probably don't need to describe the background of your key management team members.

Making your plan fit your needs means you might add some things, too, beyond the standard outline. For example, a plan for investors should include the investment offering--how much equity for how much money--as well as a discussion of exit strategy, use of funds and return on investment. A plan supporting a bank loan application needs to describe the loan requirements, intended use of funds, collateral and repayment plans.

So what should every plan include no matter what? There are three essentials:

1. Specific milestones, with deadline dates, spending budgets and a list of the people responsible for them. I've seen this called "weaving a MAT," with MAT standing for "milestones, assumptions and tasks." That normally goes into Section 5, Strategy and Implementation. Make the responsibilities specific for specific people, and make sure every task gets assigned to a single person with a name and a face. This section must describe how these different milestones are going to be tracked and measured.

2. Real cash flow. Your plan should show cash flow--either projected or actual or both--month by month for at least 12 months. Show where you're getting money and how much, and show what you're spending the money on. This is cash flow, not just profit and loss, and you have to understand how different cash flow is from profits. Profitable companies go under all the time, but companies with positive cash flow can pay their bills.

3. Focus. A business plan should establish your company's priorities. Don't try to do everything, and don't try to please everybody.

Entrepreneur, Business Planner and Angel Investor

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick Red Arrow

  • 'The IRS is Coming in Hot': Jason Tartick Says All Business Owners Should Do This 1 Thing Before Filing Taxes — Or Risk a Potentially Pricey Audit
  • Lock What Is a 'Dry Promotion' — and Has It Happened to You? Employees in This Specific Group May Be the Most Likely Victims .
  • I Was a 25-Year-Old Nurse When I Started a Side Hustle to Combat Anxiety. It Made $1 Million in 7 Months — Then Sold for a Life-Changing Amount.
  • Lock 2 Phrases I Learned From a Senior CIA Officer That Changed My Leadership Style
  • The U.S. Justice Department Is Suing Apple in a Groundbreaking iPhone Monopoly Lawsuit — Here's Why
  • Lock I Built My Company to 23 Profitable Stores. Here's My Advice to Small Business Owners Who Want to Grow Their Retail Presence.

Most Popular Red Arrow

4 actions start-up founders need to take (but often overlook) to protect their business.

Here are four key actions that early-stage founders need to take to reduce the potential for catastrophic antitrust violations down the road

These U.S. Health Insurers Will Now Cover Wegovy, the Wildly Popular $1,349 Weight-Loss Drug

People on Medicare with heart-related conditions may now be covered.

This 29-Year-Old Left His Marketing Job to Pursue a Side Hustle — Now He Earns Nearly $200,000 a Year: 'So Attracted to the Adrenaline Rush'

Jason Nelson followed his passions for music and entertainment into a lucrative business.

82% of Small Businesses Fail Because of Poor Cash Flow Management. Take These 6 Steps to Ensure Long-Term Financial Stability.

Thinking beyond cash flow is the key to stability for small businesses. Here's how to implement a long-term cash planning strategy.

'Moose Is Loose': A Dog Escaped the Airport When an Airline Forgot to Board Him

After escaping a crate at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, he was found safe and reunited with his owner.

Grow Your Business and Strengthen Your Entrepreneurial Mindset — 3 Key Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs

Three strategies to help women entrepreneurs unlock business growth and success.

Successfully copied link

comscore

Do you REALLY need a business plan?

The top three questions that I get asked most frequently as a professional business plan writer will probably not surprise you:

  • What is the purpose of a business plan – why is it really required?
  • How is it going to benefit my business if I write a business plan?
  • Is a business plan really that important – how can I actually use it?

Keep reading to get my take on what the most essential advantages of preparing a business plan are—and why you may (not) need to prepare one.

Business Plan Purpose and Importance

The importance, purpose and benefit of a business plan is in that it enables you to validate a business idea, secure funding, set strategic goals – and then take organized action on those goals by making decisions, managing resources, risk and change, while effectively communicating with stakeholders.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of the important business planning benefits can catapult your business forward:

1. Validate Your Business Idea

The process of writing your business plan will force you to ask the difficult questions about the major components of your business, including:

  • External: industry, target market of prospective customers, competitive landscape
  • Internal: business model, unique selling proposition, operations, marketing, finance

Business planning connects the dots to draw a big picture of the entire business.

And imagine how much time and money you would save if working through a business plan revealed that your business idea is untenable. You would be surprised how often that happens – an idea that once sounded so very promising may easily fall apart after you actually write down all the facts, details and numbers.

While you may be tempted to jump directly into start-up mode, writing a business plan is an essential first step to check the feasibility of a business before investing too much time and money into it. Business plans help to confirm that the idea you are so passionate and convinced about is solid from business point of view.

Take the time to do the necessary research and work through a proper business plan. The more you know, the higher the likelihood that your business will succeed.

2. Set and Track Goals

Successful businesses are dynamic and continuously evolve. And so are good business plans that allow you to:

  • Priorities: Regularly set goals, targets (e.g., sales revenues reached), milestones (e.g. number of employees hired), performance indicators and metrics for short, mid and long term
  • Accountability: Track your progress toward goals and benchmarks
  • Course-correction: make changes to your business as you learn more about your market and what works and what does not
  • Mission: Refer to a clear set of values to help steer your business through any times of trouble

Essentially, business plan is a blueprint and an important strategic tool that keeps you focused, motivated and accountable to keep your business on track. When used properly and consulted regularly, it can help you measure and manage what you are working so hard to create – your long-term vision.

As humans, we work better when we have clear goals we can work towards. The everyday business hustle makes it challenging to keep an eye on the strategic priorities. The business planning process serves as a useful reminder.

3. Take Action

A business plan is also a plan of action . At its core, your plan identifies where you are now, where you want your business to go, and how you will get there.

Planning out exactly how you are going to turn your vision into a successful business is perhaps the most important step between an idea and reality. Success comes not only from having a vision but working towards that vision in a systematic and organized way.

A good business plan clearly outlines specific steps necessary to turn the business objectives into reality. Think of it as a roadmap to success. The strategy and tactics need to be in alignment to make sure that your day-to-day activities lead to the achievement of your business goals.

4. Manage Resources

A business plan also provides insight on how resources required for achieving your business goals will be structured and allocated according to their strategic priority. For example:

Large Spending Decisions

  • Assets: When and in what amount will the business commit resources to buy/lease new assets, such as computers or vehicles.
  • Human Resources: Objectives for hiring new employees, including not only their pay but how they will help the business grow and flourish.
  • Business Space: Information on costs of renting/buying space for offices, retail, manufacturing or other operations, for example when expanding to a new location.

Cash Flow It is essential that a business carefully plans and manages cash flows to ensure that there are optimal levels of cash in the bank at all times and avoid situations where the business could run out of cash and could not afford to pay its bills.

Revenues v. Expenses In addition, your business plan will compare your revenue forecasts to the budgeted costs to make sure that your financials are healthy and the business is set up for success.

5. Make Decisions

Whether you are starting a small business or expanding an existing one, a business plan is an important tool to help guide your decisions:

Sound decisions Gathering information for the business plan boosts your knowledge across many important areas of the business:

  • Industry, market, customers and competitors
  • Financial projections (e.g., revenue, expenses, assets, cash flow)
  • Operations, technology and logistics
  • Human resources (management and staff)
  • Creating value for your customer through products and services

Decision-making skills The business planning process involves thorough research and critical thinking about many intertwined and complex business issues. As a result, it solidifies the decision-making skills of the business owner and builds a solid foundation for strategic planning , prioritization and sound decision making in your business. The more you understand, the better your decisions will be.

Planning Thorough planning allows you to determine the answer to some of the most critical business decisions ahead of time , prepare for anticipate problems before they arise, and ensure that any tactical solutions are in line with the overall strategy and goals.

If you do not take time to plan, you risk becoming overwhelmed by countless options and conflicting directions because you are not unclear about the mission , vision and strategy for your business.

6. Manage Risk

Some level of uncertainty is inherent in every business, but there is a lot you can do to reduce and manage the risk, starting with a business plan to uncover your weak spots.

You will need to take a realistic and pragmatic look at the hard facts and identify:

  • Major risks , challenges and obstacles that you can expect on the way – so you can prepare to deal with them.
  • Weaknesses in your business idea, business model and strategy – so you can fix them.
  • Critical mistakes before they arise – so you can avoid them.

Essentially, the business plan is your safety net . Naturally, business plan cannot entirely eliminate risk, but it can significantly reduce it and prepare you for any challenges you may encounter.

7. Communicate Internally

Attract talent For a business to succeed, attracting talented workers and partners is of vital importance.

A business plan can be used as a communication tool to attract the right talent at all levels, from skilled staff to executive management, to work for your business by explaining the direction and growth potential of the business in a presentable format.

Align performance Sharing your business plan with all team members helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the long-term vision and strategy.

You need their buy-in from the beginning, because aligning your team with your priorities will increase the efficiency of your business as everyone is working towards a common goal .

If everyone on your team understands that their piece of work matters and how it fits into the big picture, they are more invested in achieving the objectives of the business.

It also makes it easier to track and communicate on your progress.

Share and explain business objectives with your management team, employees and new hires. Make selected portions of your business plan part of your new employee training.

8. Communicate Externally

Alliances If you are interested in partnerships or joint ventures, you may share selected sections of your plan with the potential business partners in order to develop new alliances.

Suppliers A business plan can play a part in attracting reliable suppliers and getting approved for business credit from suppliers. Suppliers who feel confident that your business will succeed (e.g., sales projections) will be much more likely to extend credit.

In addition, suppliers may want to ensure their products are being represented in the right way .

Professional Services Having a business plan in place allows you to easily share relevant sections with those you rely on to support the organization, including attorneys, accountants, and other professional consultants as needed, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Advisors Share the plan with experts and professionals who are in a position to give you valuable advice.

Landlord Some landlords and property managers require businesses to submit a business plan to be considered for a lease to prove that your business will have sufficient cash flows to pay the rent.

Customers The business plan may also function as a prospectus for potential customers, especially when it comes to large corporate accounts and exclusive customer relationships.

9. Secure Funding

If you intend to seek outside financing for your business, you are likely going to need a business plan.

Whether you are seeking debt financing (e.g. loan or credit line) from a lender (e.g., bank or financial institution) or equity capital financing from investors (e.g., venture or angel capital), a business plan can make the difference between whether or not – and how much – someone decides to invest.

Investors and financiers are always looking at the risk of default and the earning potential based on facts and figures. Understandably, anyone who is interested in supporting your business will want to check that you know what you are doing, that their money is in good hands, and that the venture is viable in the long run.

Business plans tend to be the most effective ways of proving that. A presentation may pique their interest , but they will most probably request a well-written document they can study in detail before they will be prepared to make any financial commitment.

That is why a business plan can often be the single most important document you can present to potential investors/financiers that will provide the structure and confidence that they need to make decisions about funding and supporting your company.

Be prepared to have your business plan scrutinized . Investors and financiers will conduct extensive checks and analyses to be certain that what is written in your business plan faithful representation of the truth.

10. Grow and Change

It is a very common misconception that a business plan is a static document that a new business prepares once in the start-up phase and then happily forgets about.

But businesses are not static. And neither are business plans. The business plan for any business will change over time as the company evolves and expands .

In the growth phase, an updated business plan is particularly useful for:

Raising additional capital for expansion

  • Seeking financing for new assets , such as equipment or property
  • Securing financing to support steady cash flows (e.g., seasonality, market downturns, timing of sale/purchase invoices)
  • Forecasting to allocate resources according to strategic priority and operational needs
  • Valuation (e.g., mergers & acquisitions, tax issues, transactions related to divorce, inheritance, estate planning)

Keeping the business plan updated gives established businesses better chance of getting the money they need to grow or even keep operating.

Business plan is also an excellent tool for planning an exit as it would include the strategy and timelines for a transfer to new ownership or dissolution of the company.

Also, if you ever make the decision to sell your business or position yourself for a merger or an acquisition , a strong business plan in hand is going to help you to maximize the business valuation.

Valuation is the process of establishing the worth of a business by a valuation expert who will draw on professional experience as well as a business plan that will outline what you have, what it’s worth now and how much will it likely produce in the future.

Your business is likely to be worth more to a buyer if they clearly understand your business model, your market, your assets and your overall potential to grow and scale .

Related Questions

Business plan purpose: what is the purpose of a business plan.

The purpose of a business plan is to articulate a strategy for starting a new business or growing an existing one by identifying where the business is going and how it will get there to test the viability of a business idea and maximize the chances of securing funding and achieving business goals and success.

Business Plan Benefits: What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan benefits businesses by serving as a strategic tool outlining the steps and resources required to achieve goals and make business ideas succeed, as well as a communication tool allowing businesses to articulate their strategy to stakeholders that support the business.

Business Plan Importance: Why is business plan important?

The importance of a business plan lies in it being a roadmap that guides the decisions of a business on the road to success, providing clarity on all aspects of its operations. This blueprint outlines the goals of the business and what exactly is needed to achieve them through effective management.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Get more articles just like this straight into your mailbox.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Sign up for our newsletter for product updates, new blog posts, and the chance to be featured in our Small Business Spotlight!

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

The importance of a business plan

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

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

What is a business plan?

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

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

Why is a business plan important?

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

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

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

10 reasons why you need a business plan

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

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

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

1. To help you with critical decisions

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

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

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

*While subscribed to Wave’s Pro Plan, get 2.9% + $0 (Visa, Mastercard, Discover) and 3.4% + $0 (Amex) per transaction for unlimited transactions during the offer period. After the offer ends: over 10 transactions per month at 2.9% + $0.60 (Visa, Mastercard, Discover) and 3.4% + $0.60 (Amex) per transaction. Discover processing is only available to US customers. See full terms and conditions.

See Terms of Service for more information.

Send invoices, get paid, track expenses, pay your team, and balance your books with our financial management software.

2. To iron out the kinks

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

3. To avoid the big mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

4. To prove the viability of the business

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

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

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

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

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

5. To set better objectives and benchmarks

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

6. To communicate objectives and benchmarks

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

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

7. To provide a guide for service providers

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

8. To secure financing

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

Learn what you need to get a small business loan.

9. To better understand the broader landscape

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

10. To reduce risk

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

Understanding the importance of a business plan

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

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

Related Posts

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

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

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

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Bank of Information

Functions of a Business Plan

A business plan is an instrument that brings things in order for the desired accomplishment. It does many functions. In order of importance, the functions of a business plan are as follows:

Functions of a business plan

1. A Sales tool : The number one use of a business plan is as a sales tool. It serves as a prospectus, an invitation to invest or to provide a loan, and, at the same time, the first official presentation to the outside world of the kind of product or service they prepare will be offering. Prospective bankers or investors will initially judge the entrepreneur’s abilities and his or her chances for success on the quality of the business plan. Experience has taught them, that it’s the jockey that wins the race, not the horse.

2. An exercise in strategic planning and business logistics : Assembling the business planning and business logistics. It is an exercise in strategic planning and business logistics. It is an exercise that too many of us action-oriented entrepreneurs tend to overlook, both during the start-up stage of our business, and later on, when we’re in the heat of the battle.

3. A barometer and a scorecard : A business plan sets goals – Written goals, published goals, goals for the world to see. Goals that publicly state the entrepreneur’s intentions.

Functions of a business plan

You May Like Also:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of starting a new business
  • Major legal factors affecting business
  • Sources of new business ideas
  • Different Uses of Capital in Business
  • Financial needs Planning for business

Leave a Comment Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

What Are the Functions of a Business Plan?

by Deb McLeod

Published on 26 Sep 2017

A business plan can help you to define and classify the goals you have for your business. Devoid of fluff, a business plan is a business document that is written for a variety of audiences. You might send your business plan to investors or it might be written for the benefit of your employees. Generally, the audience should have no bearing on the content. In the end, the business plan is about the business, its goals and how to achieve those goals.

Short-term goals

A business plan helps you to define, for the short term, where you want your business to go. Because most people write a business plan when the business is new--or even still in the formative stages--providing immediate goals can be one solid method for defining exactly how you want your business to run right out of the box.

Long-term goals

A good business plan will define in an unequivocal manner where you want your business to go. Some business plans will outline a two-, five- and 10-year plan, while others will simply identify long-term goals. The goals should be realistic; this part of the business plan should be the one that you give the most attention to. Having a solid long-term plan helps you to define how to operate now.

A good business plan will identify costs, sources of funding and expected income. Consider doing proper research before you add this element of the business plan; it’s important that your numbers are accurate, especially if you will be presenting your business plan to the bank or potential investors.

Business Strategy

Use the business plan to identify your overall business strategy. You can identify how you plan to get and retain customers, get funding, improve your technology, deal with difficulties, send shipments, grow your business, hire employees and any other aspects of running your business.

Though it might not be read often, at its core, your business plan helps you to define what you want out of your business. Writing it down helps you to refine those goals and make them real.

Communication

Your business plan communicates to readers--who might be customers, investors or employees--what exactly your business is about. It’s likely you don’t have time to communicate these things verbally, so the business plan gives you a forum and a mechanism for communicating what matters to you about your business.

ZenBusinessPlans

Home » Business Plan Tips

14 Types of Business Plans and Their Functions

Are you about starting a business but you don’t know what kind of business plan to write? If YES, here are 14 types of business plans and their functions.

A business plan is a formal written document that contains business goals, the methods on how these goals can be attained, and the time frame within which these goals need to be achieved. Business plans guide owners, management and investors during the start off stage of the business, and it equally guides the business as it grows from one stage to the other.

Savvy business owners write a business plan to guide management and to promote investment capital. Businesses without a solid plan typically burn out fast or fail to turn a profit in the long run. Without a well-planned business strategy, it is not possible for a business to scale through problems smoothly, and it would equally be an uphill task to achieve success.

A foolproof business plan highlights varying aspects of a potential business and integrates few essential features like business objectives, possible growth rate and many other characteristics that your business will include and assimilate. How to promote investment capital will be illustrated broadly in a business plan.

There are various kinds of business plans and in this article we will outline the various business plans and tell you the function of each.

  • Start-Up Business Plans

One of the very popular business plans in the world of business is the startup business plan. The startup business plans contain an exhaustive approach for starting and growing a business. It is different from all other business plans because of its nature and the details that are taken into consideration right from the inception of the business till the growth stage along with the vision of at least five years.

With this business plan, new businesses need to detail the steps they need to take while starting a business. This document typically includes sections describing the company, the product or service the business will supply, market evaluations and the intended projected management team.

Potential investors will also require a financial analysis with spreadsheets describing financial areas including, but not limited to, income, profit and cash flow projections. Startup business plans can equally be used by established companies to launch a new product line or to enter an entirely new business segment in the market . Conglomerates use this plan if they are launching a new business.

  • It xrays the Business:  The startup business plan explains what a business is all about by describing the products or services in detail and what the ultimate goals of the business are. For example, your plan may stipulate what your revenue goals are for each of your first three years of operation. Your plan should also indicate why you believe there is a need for your business and who your main competitors will be.
  • Helps in securing funding: It’s no secret that businesses can’t function without any operating capital to kick-start their production cycle. Entrepreneurs are often required to take loans from financial institutions to purchase property, get the equipment or hire manpower. Startup business plans would help them access funding speedily.
  • Outlines Possible Weaknesses:   Startup business plans helps businesses to find out the weaknesses of the business in question. Highs and lows are a part of life and without them; we wouldn’t feel the need for improvement. A startup business plan helps you preempt the lows and maximize the highs.
  • It provides an execution plan: Describing how your business will function and perform in the market is important when dealing with sponsors and investors. A startup business plan will explain your products and services, your targeted customers, the required funds and what’s necessary for your startup to thrive
  • Internal Business Plans

As the name suggests the internal business plan is for internal stakeholders of the business. This type of business plan helps to evaluate projects which are specific and they keep the team up to speed about the current status of the company.

The company has more chances of success if everyone in the team is entirely on board, that is why the internal business plan is needed to keep everyone in the company on the same lane. It contains strategies and ways to improve the current business working and suggests a new pattern for growth.

  • It answers questions pertaining to the internal workings of the company: Is the company growing or declining? Does the working pattern need change, improvement or modification? These are the type of questions which internal business plans answer. The primary purpose of the internal business plan is not to show the balance sheet of the financial position of the company to the external stakeholders but it is to run the business as smoothly as possible.
  • It targets specific teams to streamline their functions: Internal business plans target a specific audience within the business, for example, the marketing team who need to evaluate a proposed project. This document will describe the company’s current state, including operational costs and profitability, then calculate if and how the business will repay any capital needed for the project. Internal plans provide information about project marketing, hiring and tech costs.
  • Strategic Business Plans

A strategic business plan provides a high-level view of a company’s goals and how it will achieve them, laying out a foundational plan for the entire company. While the structure of a strategic plan differs from company to company, most include five elements: business vision, mission statement, definition of critical success factors, strategies for achieving objectives and an implementation schedule.

A strategic business plan brings all levels of the business into the big picture, inspiring employees to work together to create a successful culmination to the company’s goals. These types of plans typically skip the more detailed financial data and milestones because they are not important to the team at this point.

Strategic business plans also help to create internal efficiency so you can get the best results. The strategic business plan also comprises business vision, mission statement, strategies for achieving objectives, success factors and implementation schedules.

  • They help in the execution of business strategies: Strategic business plans help to outline how the company will get to where it wants to go. They outline the strategy your team must carry out to achieve your goals, including your strengths, weaknesses and how you’re going to utilize your opportunities.
  • To keep the company focused: The primary purpose of the strategic business plan is to carve the way to go ahead and answer the questions like What are you going to get and How do you intend to go about it. These answers are nothing but the strategy that the team must execute in order to achieve their targets.
  • Feasibility Business Plans

A feasibility business plan answers two primary questions about a proposed business venture: who, if anyone, will purchase the service or product a company wants to sell, and if the venture can turn a profit. Feasibility business plans include, but are not limited to, sections describing the need for the product or service, target demographics and required capital. A feasibility plan ends with recommendations for going forward.

  • Identify the target market of a business:  The feasibility business plan determines who will purchase the service or product of the company.
  • To answer the ‘why’ question of a company: The feasibility business plan describes the need for a product or service including the target demographics and the financials required to start the business.
  • Operations Business Plans

Operations plans are internal plans that consist of elements related to company operations. An operations plan, specifies implementation markers and deadlines for the coming year. The operations plan outlines employees’ responsibilities. Operational business plans are typically very small because they are cut down to a year’s worth of information.

  • It projects the business on a yearly basis: The operations business plan isn’t made to tell investors how you intend on turning a profit in the span of five years. It’s simply where you expect to be in 365 days. An annual plan can also be an internal plan (i.e., the strategy your employees intend to enact over the next year).
  • It is used to scout for investors: The operations business plan can also be used to attract investors at the very beginning. Annual business plans are perfect for companies that expect to make big changes in the not-so-distant future. Investors love to see this.
  • Growth Business Plans

Growth plans or expansion plans are in-depth descriptions of proposed business growth and are written for internal or external purposes. If company’s growth requires investment, a growth plan may include complete descriptions of the company, its management and officers. The plan must provide all company details to satisfy potential investors.

If a growth plan needs no capital, the authors may forego obvious company descriptions, but will include financial sales and expense projections. If you’re looking for a hyper-focused business plan, this is it. Growth or expansion plans focus on a specific area within your business, like opening a new location or launching a certain product.

Growth business plans are internal and external facing. Internal growth plans are a lean version of a strategic business plan. You’ll use them if your company’s growth or expansion is being funded internally, such as if you’re launching a new product line from the last product line’s revenue. You already know what you’re funding, so you don’t need to deeply explain the product.

For an external or investor-facing growth plan, you’re going to need some different information. This type of plan assumes that the bank, investor or individual you’re pitching doesn’t know much about your business at all. You’ll need to look at it like you’re a startup and include additional details about your growth or expansion.

  • Helps a company attract investors:  Growth plans are aimed at investors and banks so as to attract external investment. This plan usually include everything in a standard business plan. You need the financial data and projections, the market research and the funding request.
  • It helps to analyse the business on a yearly basis: Growth plans are also termed as Annual Business plan and as the name suggests, the plan is for annual purposes. These types of business plans are more important to startups. This is because you only need a years’ worth of information to write it.
  • It helps during the time of big changes in company: Growth plans are very helpful to companies that are trying to make monumental changes in a short time.
  • The Lean Plan

Businesses use the Lean business plan to manage strategy, tactics, dates, milestones, activities, and cash flow. The Lean Plan is faster, easier, and more efficient than a formal business plan because it doesn’t include summaries, descriptions, and background details that you and your partners or employees already know. A Lean Plan includes specific deadlines and milestones, and the budgets allotted for meeting them.

  • It is used to track milestones:  The lean business plan is most useful if you’re trying to grow your business and want to use it as a tool to track your financials and milestones against what you projected so you can respond to opportunity and react to challenges quickly.
  • The standard business plan

You’ll need to put together a stand business plan if you have a business plan event, which is what it is called when a business needs to present a business plan to a bank, prospective investor, vendor, ally, partner, or employee.

The most standard business plan starts with an executive summary and includes sections or chapters covering the company, the product or service it sells, the target market, strategy and implementation milestones and goals, management team, and financial forecasting, and analysis. The exact order of topics is not important, but most people expect to see all of these topics covered as part of the standard plan.

Think of your Lean Plan as a good first draft of a standard plan. Those complete projections include the three essential financial projections (also called pro-forma statements): profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow. Every standard business plan needs sales plus these three essentials.

  • To analyze cash flow:  The cash flow is an essential part of a standard business plan. Businesses need cash to stay open. Even if a business can survive temporarily without profits, it still needs the cash to pay its bills. And since profits alone don’t guarantee cash in the bank, projected cash flow is essential.

Many standard plans also include a table for personnel spending. Some standard plans will need additional projections to meet the needs of the specific business plan event.

For example, plans for seeking outside investment should include a discussion of an eventual exit for investors, and of course the planned use of the invested funds. Plans supporting a bank loan application might include projected ratios the bank wants to see, such as debt to equity, quick, or current ratios.

  • One-page business plan

A one-page business plan is typically a one-page summary of the business, and it includes highlights only. This business plan is used to offer a very quick overview of a business.

  • To provide a quick business summary: The one-page business plan summarizes the target market , business offering, main milestones, and essential sales forecast of a business in a single page. Such a summary can be useful as a summary for banks, potential investors, vendors, allies, and employees. A one-page business plan can also be called a business pitch.
  • The Miniplan

The miniplan is a sort of abridged version of the normal business plan. This business plan is preferred by many recipients because they can read it, or download it quickly to read later on their iPhone or tablet. You include most of the same ingredients that you would in a longer plan, but you cut to the highlights while telling the same story.

  • It provides a quick overview of the business for investors:  The miniplan provides a quick summary of the business or company for someone who may not have the time to go through the longer version.
  • The Presentation Plan

The advent of PowerPoint presentations changed the way many, if not most, plans are presented. And while the plan is shorter than its predecessors, it’s not necessarily easier to present. Many people lose sleep over an upcoming presentation, especially one that can play a vital role in the future of their business. But presenting your plan as a deck can be very powerful.

Readers of a plan can’t always capture your passion for the business nor can they ask questions when you finish. But in 20 minutes, you can cover all the key points and tell your story from concept and mission statement through financial forecasts.

  • It helps to present the company in a detailed format to an audience: The presentation plan helps to present the company in a concise to a listening audience. In 20 minutes, you can cover all the key points and tell the story of your organisation from concept and mission statement through to financial forecasts.
  • The Working Plan

A working plan is a tool to be used to operate your business. It is usually long on detail but may be short on presentation. As with a miniplan, you can probably use a somewhat higher degree of informality when preparing a working plan. It is there to work for your company and provide the required guide.

The plan is usually intended strictly for internal use, and so you can omit some elements that you need not explain to yourself and your team. Likewise, you probably don’t need to include an appendix with resumes of key executives. Nor would a working plan especially benefit from product photos.

  • It provides guidelines for the day to day running of the business: The working plan is like an old pair of slacks you wear to the office on Saturdays. It’s there to be used, not admired. It provides pointers on how things are to be done in the company.
  • The What-If Plan

When you face unusual circumstances, you need something a bit different from your usual working plan. For example, you might want to prepare a contingency plan when you’re seeking bank financing.

A contingency plan is a plan based on the worst-case scenario that you can imagine your business surviving—loss of market share, heavy price competition, defection of a key member of your management team. A contingency plan can soothe the fears of a banker or investor by demonstrating that you have indeed considered more than a rosy scenario.

Your business may be considering an acquisition, in which case a pro forma business plan (some call this a what-if plan) can help you understand what the acquisition is worth and how it might affect your core business. What if you raise prices, invest in staff training and reduce duplicative efforts?

Such what-if planning doesn’t have to be as formal as a presentation plan. Perhaps you want to mull over the chances of a major expansion. A what-if plan can help you spot the increased needs for space, equipment, personnel and other variables so you can make good decisions.

  • It helps in analyzing various business scenarios, good or bad: If a company wants to make sudden changes, a what-if business plan is used to analyse the changes properly so the company knows what it is getting itself into.
  • They provide insight: This business plan provides insight into the decisions companies makes at every point in their existence. What sets these kinds of plans apart from the working and presentation plans is that they aren’t necessarily describing how you’ll run the business. They’re essentially more like an addendum to your actual business plan.
  • It helps the company make good decisions: A “what if” plan helps a company consider major changes that affect the core of the business, so they can make good decisions. It’s the plan you should consider before you consider any expansion or growth plan.

14. Development Business Plan

Development plans or extension plans are top to bottom depictions of proposed business development and they are composed to display inward or outside purposes of a business. A development policy incorporates overall details of the organization, its administration and responsibility the personnel share among themselves.

The policy must show the organization detail and emphasize the elements required to fulfill potential speculators. If in case the development plan requires no capital, the plan composers may pass by those organization portrayals, but will surely incorporate money related deals and cost projections.

  • It is used in detailed industry analysis: A development policy incorporates overall details of the organization, its administration and responsibility the personnel share among themselves.

More on Business Plan Tips

10 Characteristics Of A Business Plan, its Functions, Features and Benefits

We explain what a business plan is, its functions, and the benefits it provides. Also, what are its features and methods it uses?

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a written document that expresses  a formal declaration of the objectives  of the initiatives that a company has in the projection and evaluation phase.

These initiatives  can be new projects within  the company's activities or the start of the company itself. Therefore, a business plan describes a series of interrelated activities aimed at achieving certain goals.

This allows a planning of the tasks and  the evaluation of the resources that will be necessary  to achieve those goals (for example, resorting to banks or investors for financing).

In addition, its function is to transmit to current or potential investors (investors, shareholders, financiers, etc.)  how the investment will be recovered and the guarantees  they have. It differs from an investment project in that a business plan is more focused on the strategies that will be carried out.

Characteristics of a business plan  :

Flexibility.

Function

  • It allows errors to be detected and difficulties to be anticipated before the start of the investment . In this way solutions can be planned.
  • By including the economic and financial forecast of the business, it facilitates access to bank financing, as well as attracting new partners and collaborators.
  • It allows the measurement of results of each stage, through short and medium-term goals that allow establishing measurement criteria.
  • It allows detecting the most promising business opportunities in terms of markets of interest, products and services.
  • It allows an evaluation of the company's situation in the context of its competitors, and the identification of tasks and areas that need improvement.
  • It facilitates the rational use of resources, including personnel, since planning facilitates the assignment of responsibilities and coordinated work .
  • Once the goals of the company have been established, it allows evaluating various strategies according to their effectiveness .
  • Establishes the financial framework.

Executive Summary

Executive Summary

After the cover and table of contents, the executive summary  gives an overall impression of the project  . For that, you must highlight the key data of the same and include all the relevant information .

Among this information  should not be missing the needs and objectives of the business  , the advantages offered by the product or service and the opportunity offered by the market, as well as the history of the company and its management team.

Most of this information will be expanded upon in the rest of the document.

Insertion in the market

The projected product or service must be described in detail and its possible insertion in the market explained. For that, it  is necessary to make a comparison with similar products or services  that already exist in the market.

The project arises to cover an existing need in the market, which is why potential consumers must be identified and  what advantages or weak points they will find  in the proposed product or service.

The relationship between the product and the market  must include a SWOT analysis  (strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, threats).

Market Characteristics

Market Characteristics

Once the market that will be the context of the business has been identified, said market is described in depth. This includes:

  • Size, rate of growth and potential benefits offered.
  • What segments does it include?
  • Locate it geographically.
  • Identify possible competitors, substitutes and complements.
  • Define means of audience research.

It details  who makes up the management team  , but also the characteristics of the work team: how the company will be managed, the history of the personnel involved, the general experience of the company, the various areas of management, sales, stock control and quality.

Marketing plan

Promotional strategies are described,  taking into account "the four P's"  : product , price, advertising , points of sale.

Business system and schedule

Business system and schedule

All the necessary steps  are described from the manufacture of the product to the moment of purchase or completion of the service. It includes the areas of human resources , sales, commercial, management and organizational culture .

The schedule must specify  when each of the necessary steps will be activated  (hiring or relocation of personnel, start of production, purchase of raw material , etc.).

Financing

The accounting-financial area  allows detailing the structure and composition of social capital  , as well as calculating capital flows and valuing the investment.

Sources of income are analyzed and  a plan is created that determines how profits and losses will be managed . If it is a search for risk capital, what are exit alternatives for investors should be included?

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.

avatar

Luke Wigman

Luke is passionate about fostering student involvement and connection. He studied psychology for his major and likes learning about the past. Luke aims to specialize in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. .

Leave a reply

Social media, entertainment, recent post.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Sport: What Is It, Types, Risks, Features, Characteristics and Examples

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Dogs: Emergence, Features, Characteristics, Feeding and Breeds

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Story: Definition, Elements, Structure, Features and Characteristics

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Essay: Definition, Structure, Features, Characteristics, How to Do It

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

Narrative Text: What It Is, Structure, Features, Characteristics and Examples

etr-logo-white

The 3 Essential Functions of Every Successful Business

What I am about to tell you is the most important thing you will ever hear about starting a business. (I have probably started more businesses than anyone I’ve ever met, so please forgive me for sounding like a know-it-all.)

To start a business — any business — successfully, you must be able to do three things:

  • Develop a product that people want to buy.
  • Figure out how to sell it at a profit.
  • Push yourself and everyone else on your start-up team to get the first two things done before you run out of money.

To make that happen, you must have three distinct personalities on your start-up team:

The thinker’s primary job is to come up with new ideas. He must understand the psychology of the market. He must know who your typical customer is, what he likes to buy and why.

The marketer’s primary job is to understand the mechanics of sales and marketing. He must know all the details — and pay attention to them.

The pusher’s primary job is to be pushy. He must be goal-oriented and willing to take on the responsibility of making the thinker and marketer do their jobs.

In an ideal world, every new business would be launched by three people: a thinker, a marketer, and a pusher.

But in most cases, new businesses are started by one or two people. And that means one person must do the work of two or three.

You might have a good marketer who is a so-so idea man and is trying to run the business himself. Or a talented product developer who partners with a good marketer but has no one to do the day-to-day pushing. I know of one business that has neither a good marketer nor a good idea person. It gets by — barely — but only because its CEO keeps pushing inexperienced people to make mostly mediocre efforts.

Imperfectly balanced start-ups can succeed so long as all the people at the top recognize the work that needs to be done and work hard.

But don’t lose sight of the three essential jobs that need to be done and the different personalities those jobs require. Ignore them at your peril.

You might not want to think about estate planning, but as a financial planner, I know it's essential for small-business owners

Paid non-client promotion: Affiliate links for the products on this page are from partners that compensate us (see our advertiser disclosure with our list of partners for more details). However, our opinions are our own. See how we rate investing products to write unbiased product reviews.

  • Estate planning may not be a topic you want to think about, but it's essential for small-business owners.
  • Besides a will, you may also benefit from setting up a revocable living trust.
  • Be sure to update things like beneficiary designations if you have a major life event.

Insider Today

Estate planning is a very sensitive, emotional topic, but as a financial planner, I believe it's essential to discuss. Estate planning should be a top priority — especially for Black business owners seeking to build generational wealth and preserve their legacies. Your business, likely your most valuable asset, deserves careful consideration within your estate plan to ensure a smooth transition of ownership and management in the event of incapacity or death.

As a business owner, there are more complexities and nuances to consider as it relates to estate planning. Therefore, it is critical to work with a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you create an estate plan that protects you, your business, and your heirs. As you navigate the estate planning process, consider these important items tailored to small business owners.

1. Last will and testament

One of the fundamental pieces to an effective estate plan is the last will and testament. This legal document is inexpensive and simple to set up.

This document serves as your voice beyond the grave, providing instructions to the state probate court regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of your dependents upon your passing. Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to state inheritance laws, which may not align with your wishes. In addition to personal assets, you may include business assets in your will.

A will may be amended during your lifetime and should be reviewed periodically, especially after major life events.

One thing to note is that a will does not avoid the probate process. While it provides guidance for asset distribution, your estate will still go through probate.

2. Revocable living trust

Establishing a revocable living trust is more complex and expensive than a will. Nevertheless, the advantages a living trust offers, especially for business owners, make it very attractive.

As a business owner, it is likely that most of your assets are tied to your business. A revocable living trust provides you with more control over these assets. Through a trust, you can appoint a trustee and provide them with specific instructions on how and when you want your business assets distributed. Moreover, you retain the flexibility and control to transfer assets into the trust and modify its terms during your lifetime.

One significant advantage of a trust is the protection it affords your assets from the probate process. By bypassing probate court proceedings, your estate information remains private, and your heirs save considerable time and money.

It is always a great idea to regularly update the assets in your living trust, as your business assets will change as your business grows over time.

3. Financial power of attorney

In most cases, as a small business owner, you are your business. If you become incapacitated, you want to ensure that you have someone you trust to handle your financial affairs. It is essential that you do not delay this task, as you must be legally competent to assign this role to someone. A financial power of attorney is a legal document that authorizes your selected agent to act on your behalf regarding certain financial matters of your choosing. Some of these matters may include:

  • Paying your business bills
  • Making business bank deposits and withdrawals
  • Collecting and managing your self-employed retirement benefits
  • Filing your business and personal taxes

There are different types of financial power of attorney that will determine how much power your agent holds and when their responsibilities take effect.

4. Succession plan

It is one thing to decide on how you want your business interests and assets to be distributed to your heirs. However, it is also critical to have an exit strategy for what happens to your business if you die or are incapacitated. Who do you want to run your business in your absence? Or do you want someone to be in charge of selling your business for a fair price?

Without an effective succession plan, your heirs may be forced to undersell your business, undermining all your hard work. An established succession plan will provide guidance on how to manage, sell, or pass on your business to new owners.

When developing your business succession plan, it is critical to work with a team of attorneys and CPAs. Not working with experienced professionals could create a significant tax bill for your heirs, eating into their inheritance.

Life happens, so make sure that you start working on your succession plan now.

5. Digital estate planning document

A common blind spot in estate planning is the digital asset space. So much of our lives are digital, but we often do not consider what happens to our digital assets if we were no longer here to manage them. As a small-business owner, it is critical to create a plan for your digital assets after you are gone to prevent any financial and sentimental harm.

The first step is to create a list of all the digital assets that you own. Some examples include email accounts, social media accounts, bank accounts, credit card accounts, and cellphones.

Digital estate planning will make it easier for your heirs to access your digital assets as needed. For example, there may be unpaid business invoices or bills that need to be taken care of.

I recommend that you consult with an attorney, as laws and regulations surrounding data and digital assets are constantly evolving.

6. Reviewing beneficiary designations

Most assets should be included in a will or trust to ensure these assets are distributed the way you want. An exception to this is any account where you are allowed to designate a beneficiary.

Example accounts include retirement plans , investment accounts, bank accounts , health savings accounts, UGMA or UTMA custodial accounts , and life insurance policies. These accounts will bypass probate and go directly to the beneficiaries listed on the account.

Typically, you are allowed to designate a primary and secondary beneficiary. In addition, you are allowed to make changes to these designations at any point. It is a good idea to reevaluate your designations after major life events.

7. Life insurance for estate liquidity

As mentioned above, life insurance proceeds avoid probate because of the beneficiary designations listed within the accounts.

Life insurance is designed to fill in financial gaps for your heirs. This is especially important for a business owner. There may be unpaid debts, payroll, or operating costs that need to be paid. Life insurance proceeds will help ease the pain of your heirs while they devote their time to sorting out other details.

what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

  • Main content

IMAGES

  1. 7 Essential Elements of a Winning Business Plan [Infographic]

    what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

  2. The Essential Guide to Making a Business Plan

    what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

  3. What Are The Main Parts Of A Business Plan

    what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

  4. 11 Important Business Plan Benefits & Purposes

    what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

  5. 7 Essential Sections of a Business Plan [infographic

    what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

  6. What is Business Plan? definition, formats, elements and importance

    what are 3 essential functions of a business plan

VIDEO

  1. What is Business Plan Presentation || Types of Business Plan Presentation

  2. Business Functions part discussion // types Of business Functions // meaning of Business functions

  3. PLUS TWO ECONOMICS

  4. Master Excel: Top 3 Essential Lookup Functions

  5. Planning (REVISION)

  6. Business Progress Technique || Professional Business Plan

COMMENTS

  1. The 12 Key Components of a Business Plan (2023)

    Some entrepreneurs choose to use diagrams and charts, while others rely on text alone. Regardless of how you go about it, good business plans tend to include the following elements: Executive summary. Company description. Market analysis. Marketing plan. Sales plan. Competitive analysis. Organizational structure.

  2. 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)

    Here are some of the components of an effective business plan. 1. Executive Summary. One of the key elements of a business plan is the executive summary. Write the executive summary as part of the concluding topics in the business plan. Creating an executive summary with all the facts and information available is easier.

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

    It's the roadmap for your business. The outline of your goals, objectives, and the steps you'll take to get there. It describes the structure of your organization, how it operates, as well as the financial expectations and actual performance. A business plan can help you explore ideas, successfully start a business, manage operations, and ...

  4. The 10 Components of a Business Plan

    Above all, the numbers should help answer why your business can do it better. 4. Competitive Analysis. A good business plan will present a clear comparison of your business vs your direct and indirect competitors. This is where you prove your knowledge of the industry by breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.

  5. What Are the Functions of a Business Plan?

    Then a business plan becomes a necessity. Until then, Nolo says it plays a role in the financial future of your business by: Analyzing the competition so it can outmaneuver it. Outlining a winning ...

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

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

  7. 8 Key Components of a Business Plan

    There are eight essential components, all of which are detailed in this handy guide. 1. Executive Summary. The executive summary opens your business plan, but it's the section you'll write last. It summarizes the key points and highlights the most important aspects of your plan.

  8. The 3 Key Elements of a Business Plan

    At a minimum, your business plan should have best- and worst-case scenarios in four key areas: Operating budget. List your business's day-to-day operating expenses — rent, salaries, supplies ...

  9. 13 Key Business Plan Components

    10. Traction. Many investors see hundreds of deals every year. If you want to stand a chance of making any sort of meaningful impression, it's important to show them that your business is more than just an idea and that you've already got some irons in the fire. Traction is a huge part of making that case.

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

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

  11. Business Week 3 Flashcards

    What are three essential functions of a business plan? First, it guides the company operations and outlines a strategy for turning an idea into reality. Second, it helps persuade lenders and investors to finance your business. Third, it can provide a reality check in case an idea just isn't feasible. What are the advantages of buying a business ...

  12. Business Plan Roadmap: Building Your Path to Business Success

    In today's fast-paced entrepreneurial landscape, a meticulously crafted business plan functions as the guiding star for your venture's journey toward success. Whether you're an experienced entrepreneur or a budding startup creator, possessing a comprehensive business plan is indispensable, serving as the key to securing funding, making well-informed decisions, and effectively navigating ...

  13. 10 Important Components of an Effective Business Plan

    10 essential components of a business plan. Effective business plans contain several key components that cover various aspects of a company's goals. The most important parts of a business plan include: 1. Executive summary. The executive summary is the first and one of the most critical parts of a business plan.

  14. Business Plan Essentials

    A plan for an ongoing or already existing company should describe the legal form of the business, the company history and the business's past performance. 3. What You Sell.

  15. 11 Important Business Plan Benefits & Purposes

    Let's take a closer look at how each of the important business planning benefits can catapult your business forward: 1. Validate Your Business Idea. The process of writing your business plan will force you to ask the difficult questions about the major components of your business, including: External: industry, target market of prospective ...

  16. How to Write a Business Plan: 6 Essential Sections

    1 Executive summary. This is the first and most important section of your business plan. It should summarize the main points of your plan, such as your mission, value proposition, target market ...

  17. The importance of a business plan

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

  18. Functions of a Business Plan (3 Most Important Functions)

    3. A barometer and a scorecard: A business plan sets goals - Written goals, published goals, goals for the world to see. Goals that publicly state the entrepreneur's intentions. Functions of a business plan. You May Like Also: Advantages and disadvantages of starting a new business. Major legal factors affecting business.

  19. Business Plan

    A business plan is an effective way of communicating with potential investors, and the level of expertise and time used in preparing a business plan also gives professional credibility to entrepreneurs. It analyzes and predicts the chances of success for the investor and helps to raise capital. Features of a Good Business Plan 1. Executive Summary

  20. What Are the Functions of a Business Plan?

    A business plan can help you to define and classify the goals you have for your business. Devoid of fluff, a business plan is a business document that is written for a variety of audiences. You might send your business plan to investors or it might be written for the benefit of your employees. Generally, the audience should have no bearing on ...

  21. 14 Types of Business Plans and Their Functions

    Those complete projections include the three essential financial projections (also called pro-forma statements): profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow. Every standard business plan needs sales plus these three essentials. Functions To analyze cash flow: The cash flow is an essential part of a standard business plan. Businesses need cash ...

  22. 10 Characteristics Of A Business Plan, its Functions, Features and

    Function. The main function of a business plan is to define the model and the strategic actions to achieve the goals. Once defined, you must establish the economic viability of the project. This requires analyzing the different areas involved , which allows supporting the project conceptually and observing it from all dimensions.

  23. The 3 Essential Functions of Every Successful Business

    To make that happen, you must have three distinct personalities on your start-up team: A thinker. A marketer. A pusher. The thinker's primary job is to come up with new ideas. He must understand the psychology of the market. He must know who your typical customer is, what he likes to buy and why.

  24. 7 Estate Planning Steps Every Small-Business Owner Needs to Take

    As you navigate the estate planning process, consider these important items tailored to small business owners. 1. Last will and testament. One of the fundamental pieces to an effective estate plan ...