Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples

By Joe Weller | May 6, 2020

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In this article, we’ve rounded up a variety of the top, professionally designed startup business plan templates, all of which are free to download in PDF, Word, and Excel formats.

Included on this page, you’ll find a one-page startup business plan template , a business plan outline template for startups , a startup business planning template with a timeline , and a sample startup business plan .

Startup Business Plan Template

business plan outline startup

Download Startup Business Plan Template - Word

Word | Smartsheet

This startup business plan template contains the essential components you need to convey your business idea and strategy to investors and stakeholders, but you can customize this template to fit your needs. The template provides room to include an executive summary, a financial overview, a marketing strategy, details on product or service offerings, and more.

One-Page Startup Business Plan Template

One Page Business Plan For Start Up Template

Download One-Page Startup Business Plan Template

Excel | Word | PDF

This one-page business plan is ideal for startup companies that want to document and organize key business concepts. The template offers an easy-to-scan layout that’s ideal for investors and stakeholders. Use this plan to create a high-level view of your business idea and as a reference as you flesh out a more detailed roadmap for your business.

For additional resources, visit " Free One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template for Startups

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

Download Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan Template for Startups

This comprehensive fill-in-the-blank business plan template is designed to guide entrepreneurs through the process of building a startup business plan. This template comes with a customizable cover page and table of contents, and each section includes sample content that you can modify to fit the needs of your business. For more fill-in business templates, read our  "Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates"  article.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

This Lean business plan template takes a traditional business plan outline and extracts the most essential elements. Use this template to outline your company and industry overview, convey the problem you are solving, identify customer segments, highlight key performance metrics, and list a timeline of key activities.

Business Plan Outline Template for Startups

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Download Business Plan Outline Template for Startups

You can use this business plan outline as a basis to create your own business plan. This template contains all the elements of a traditional business plan, including a title page, a table of contents, and information on what to include in each section. Simplify or expand this outline based on the size and needs of your startup business.

Startup Business Planning Template with Timeline

Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Download Startup Business Planning Template with Timeline

Excel | Smartsheet

As you create your business plan, this business planning template doubles as a schedule and timeline to track the progress of key activities. This template enables you to break down your plan into phases and provides space to include key tasks and dates for each task. For a visual timeline, shade in the cells according to each task’s start and end dates. The timeline ensures that your plan stays on track.

Business Plan Rubric Template for Startups

business plan outline startup

Download Business Plan Rubric Template for Startups

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

If you’re starting a business and want to keep all your ducks in a row, use this rubric to evaluate and score each aspect of your startup business plan. You can tailor this template to the needs of your specific business, and can also highlight areas of your plan that require improvement or expansion. Use this template as a tool to make sure your plan is clear, articulate, and organized. A sharp, insightful, well thought-out plan will definitely get the attention of potential investors and partners.

For additional resources to help support your business planning efforts, check out “Free Startup Plan, Budget, and Cost Templates.”

What’s the Best Business Plan Template for Startups?

The template you choose for your startup business depends on a number of factors, including the size and specific needs of your company. Moreover, as your business grows and your objectives change, you will need to adjust your plan (and possibly your choice of template) accordingly. 

Some entrepreneurs find it useful to use a Lean business plan template design in order to jot down a business concept and see if it’s feasible before pursuing it further. Typically one to three pages, a Lean business plan template encourages you to highlight core ideas and strategic activities and remain focused on key points.

Other entrepreneurs prefer a template with a more traditional business plan design, which allows you to go into greater detail and ensure you include every detail. A traditional plan can range from 10 to 100 pages and cover both the high-level and granular particulars of your overall concept, objectives, and strategy.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the following section outlines the minimum that your business plan template should include in order to gain buy-in from potential investors.

What to Include in a Startup Business Plan

Whether you choose to use a template to develop your startup business plan or decide to write one from scratch, you need to include the following elements:

  • An overview of your company and the industry in which it operates
  • The problem you are solving and the proposed solution
  • A description of your product or service offerings, including key features
  • The existing alternatives that customers use and your competitive advantage
  • The target customer segments and the channels you will use to reach them
  • The cost structure and revenue streams associated with your business
  • A financial plan, including sales and revenue projections (ideally 3-5 years)
  • If applicable, the financial requirements to get your business running, including how you will source and allocate funds

Each of the following sections provides an example of a business plan that you can use for reference as you develop your own.

One-Page Lean Business Plan Example

This Lean business plan example displays a visually appealing and scannable one-page illustration of a business plan. It conveys the key strategies you need to meet your main objectives. Each element of this concise plan provides stakeholders and potential investors with links to resources that support and expand upon the plan’s details, and it can also serve as an investor pitch deck.

One Page Business Plan Example

Startup Business Plan Sample

This business plan sample contains all the aspects of a standard business plan. Using a fictional food truck business as the basis for a startup business plan, this sample will give you all the ideas you need to make your plan outstanding.

Basic Business Plan Sample

Download Startup Business Plan Sample - PDF

When the time comes that you need more space to lay out your goals and strategies, choose from our variety of  free simple business plan templates . You can learn how to write a successful simple business plan  here . 

Visit this  free non-profit business plan template roundup  or of you are looking for a business plan template by file type, visit our pages dedicated specifically to  Microsoft Excel ,  Microsoft Word , and  Adobe PDF  business plan templates. Read our articles offering  free 30-60-90-day business plan templates  to find more tailored options.

Top 10 Tips to Create a Startup Business Plan

Putting together a business plan can be overwhelming and time consuming, especially if you aren’t sure where to begin. Below, we share tips you can use to help simplify the process of developing a startup business plan of your own. 

  • Use a business plan template, or begin with a business plan outline that provides all the elements of a standard plan to get your ideas down on paper in a structured manner. (You can choose from the selection of templates above.)  
  • Remove sections from your outline that aren’t relevant or that aren’t necessary to launch and operate your business.
  • Compile the data you have gathered on your business and industry, including research on your target market and product or service offerings, details on the competitive landscape, and a financial plan that anticipates the next three to five years. Use that information to fill in the sections of your plan outline. 
  • Get input and feedback from team members (e.g., finance, marketing, sales) and subject matter experts to ensure that the information you’ve included in the plan is accurate.
  • Make certain that the objectives of your plan align with marketing, sales, and financial goals to ensure that all team members are moving in the same direction.
  • Although this section of the plan comes first, write the executive summary last to provide an overview of the key points in your business plan.
  • Prepare a pitch deck for potential clients, partners, or investors with whom you plan to meet in order to share vital information about your business, including what sets you apart and the direction you are headed. 
  • Who are the founders and management executives, and what relevant experience do they bring to the table?
  • What is the problem you are solving, and how is your solution better than what currently exists? 
  • What’s the size of the market, and how much market share do you plan to capture?
  • What are the trends in your market, and how are you applying them to your business?
  • Who are your direct competitors, and what is your competitive advantage?
  • What are the key features of your product or service that set it apart from alternative offerings, and what features do you plan to add in the future?
  • What are the potential risks associated with your business, and how do you plan to address them?
  • How much money do you need to get your business running, and how do you plan to source it?
  • With the money you source, how do you plan to use it to scale your business?
  • What are the key performance metrics associated with your business, and how will you know when you’re successful?
  • Revisit and modify your plan on a regular basis as your goals and strategies evolve.
  • Use a work collaboration tool that keeps key information across teams in one place, allows you to track plan progress, and captures updates in real time.

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Business plans might seem like an old-school stiff-collared practice, but they deserve a place in the startup realm, too. It’s probably not going to be the frame-worthy document you hang in the office—yet, it may one day be deserving of the privilege.

Whether you’re looking to win the heart of an angel investor or convince a bank to lend you money, you’ll need a business plan. And not just any ol’ notes and scribble on the back of a pizza box or napkin—you’ll need a professional, standardized report.

Bah. Sounds like homework, right?

Yes. Yes, it does.

However, just like bookkeeping, loan applications, and 404 redirects, business plans are an essential step in cementing your business foundation.

Don’t worry. We’ll show you how to write a business plan without boring you to tears. We’ve jam-packed this article with all the business plan examples, templates, and tips you need to take your non-existent proposal from concept to completion.

Table of Contents

What Is a Business Plan?

Tips to Make Your Small Business Plan Ironclad

How to Write a Business Plan in 6 Steps

Startup Business Plan Template

Business Plan Examples

Work on Making Your Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan FAQs

What is a business plan why do you desperately need one.

A business plan is a roadmap that outlines:

  • Who your business is, what it does, and who it serves
  • Where your business is now
  • Where you want it to go
  • How you’re going to make it happen
  • What might stop you from taking your business from Point A to Point B
  • How you’ll overcome the predicted obstacles

While it’s not required when starting a business, having a business plan is helpful for a few reasons:

  • Secure a Bank Loan: Before approving you for a business loan, banks will want to see that your business is legitimate and can repay the loan. They want to know how you’re going to use the loan and how you’ll make monthly payments on your debt. Lenders want to see a sound business strategy that doesn’t end in loan default.
  • Win Over Investors: Like lenders, investors want to know they’re going to make a return on their investment. They need to see your business plan to have the confidence to hand you money.
  • Stay Focused: It’s easy to get lost chasing the next big thing. Your business plan keeps you on track and focused on the big picture. Your business plan can prevent you from wasting time and resources on something that isn’t aligned with your business goals.

Beyond the reasoning, let’s look at what the data says:

  • Simply writing a business plan can boost your average annual growth by 30%
  • Entrepreneurs who create a formal business plan are 16% more likely to succeed than those who don’t
  • A study looking at 65 fast-growth companies found that 71% had small business plans
  • The process and output of creating a business plan have shown to improve business performance

Convinced yet? If those numbers and reasons don’t have you scrambling for pen and paper, who knows what will.

Don’t Skip: Business Startup Costs Checklist

Before we get into the nitty-gritty steps of how to write a business plan, let’s look at some high-level tips to get you started in the right direction:

Be Professional and Legit

You might be tempted to get cutesy or revolutionary with your business plan—resist the urge. While you should let your brand and creativity shine with everything you produce, business plans fall more into the realm of professional documents.

Think of your business plan the same way as your terms and conditions, employee contracts, or financial statements. You want your plan to be as uniform as possible so investors, lenders, partners, and prospective employees can find the information they need to make important decisions.

If you want to create a fun summary business plan for internal consumption, then, by all means, go right ahead. However, for the purpose of writing this external-facing document, keep it legit.

Know Your Audience

Your official business plan document is for lenders, investors, partners, and big-time prospective employees. Keep these names and faces in your mind as you draft your plan.

Think about what they might be interested in seeing, what questions they’ll ask, and what might convince (or scare) them. Cut the jargon and tailor your language so these individuals can understand.

Remember, these are busy people. They’re likely looking at hundreds of applicants and startup investments every month. Keep your business plan succinct and to the point. Include the most pertinent information and omit the sections that won’t impact their decision-making.

Invest Time Researching

You might not have answers to all the sections you should include in your business plan. Don’t skip over these!

Your audience will want:

  • Detailed information about your customers
  • Numbers and solid math to back up your financial claims and estimates
  • Deep insights about your competitors and potential threats
  • Data to support market opportunities and strategy

Your answers can’t be hypothetical or opinionated. You need research to back up your claims. If you don’t have that data yet, then invest time and money in collecting it. That information isn’t just critical for your business plan—it’s essential for owning, operating, and growing your company.

Stay Realistic

Your business may be ambitious, but reign in the enthusiasm just a teeny-tiny bit. The last thing you want to do is have an angel investor call BS and say “I’m out” before even giving you a chance.

The folks looking at your business and evaluating your plan have been around the block—they know a thing or two about fact and fiction. Your plan should be a blueprint for success. It should be the step-by-step roadmap for how you’re going from Point A to Point B.

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How to Write a Business Plan—6 Essential Elements

Not every business plan looks the same, but most share a few common elements. Here’s what they typically include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Overview
  • Products and Services
  • Market Analysis
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Financial Strategy

Below, we’ll break down each of these sections in more detail.

1. Executive Summary

While your executive summary is the first page of your business plan, it’s the section you’ll write last. That’s because it summarizes your entire business plan into a succinct one-pager.

Begin with an executive summary that introduces the reader to your business and gives them an overview of what’s inside the business plan.

Your executive summary highlights key points of your plan. Consider this your elevator pitch. You want to put all your juiciest strengths and opportunities strategically in this section.

2. Business Overview

In this section, you can dive deeper into the elements of your business, including answering:

  • What’s your business structure? Sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.
  • Where is it located?
  • Who owns the business? Does it have employees?
  • What problem does it solve, and how?
  • What’s your mission statement? Your mission statement briefly describes why you are in business. To write a proper mission statement, brainstorm your business’s core values and who you serve.

Don’t overlook your mission statement. This powerful sentence or paragraph could be the inspiration that drives an investor to take an interest in your business. Here are a few examples of powerful mission statements that just might give you the goosebumps:

  • Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
  • Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
  • InvisionApp : Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.
  • TED : Spread ideas.
  • Warby Parker : To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.

3. Products and Services

As the owner, you know your business and the industry inside and out. However, whoever’s reading your document might not. You’re going to need to break down your products and services in minute detail.

For example, if you own a SaaS business, you’re going to need to explain how this business model works and what you’re selling.

You’ll need to include:

  • What services you sell: Describe the services you provide and how these will help your target audience.
  • What products you sell: Describe your products (and types if applicable) and how they will solve a need for your target and provide value.
  • How much you charge: If you’re selling services, will you charge hourly, per project, retainer, or a mixture of all of these? If you’re selling products, what are the price ranges?

4. Market Analysis

Your market analysis essentially explains how your products and services address customer concerns and pain points. This section will include research and data on the state and direction of your industry and target market.

This research should reveal lucrative opportunities and how your business is uniquely positioned to seize the advantage. You’ll also want to touch on your marketing strategy and how it will (or does) work for your audience.

Include a detailed analysis of your target customers. This describes the people you serve and sell your product to. Be careful not to go too broad here—you don’t want to fall into the common entrepreneurial trap of trying to sell to everyone and thereby not differentiating yourself enough to survive the competition.

The market analysis section will include your unique value proposition. Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the thing that makes you stand out from your competitors. This is your key to success.

If you don’t have a UVP, you don’t have a way to take on competitors who are already in this space. Here’s an example of an ecommerce internet business plan outlining their competitive edge:

FireStarters’ competitive advantage is offering product lines that make a statement but won’t leave you broke. The major brands are expensive and not distinctive enough to satisfy the changing taste of our target customers. FireStarters offers products that are just ahead of the curve and so affordable that our customers will return to the website often to check out what’s new.

5. Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis examines the strengths and weaknesses of competing businesses in your market or industry. This will include direct and indirect competitors. It can also include threats and opportunities, like economic concerns or legal restraints.

The best way to sum up this section is with a classic SWOT analysis. This will explain your company’s position in relation to your competitors.

6. Financial Strategy

Your financial strategy will sum up your revenue, expenses, profit (or loss), and financial plan for the future. It’ll explain how you make money, where your cash flow goes, and how you’ll become profitable or stay profitable.

This is one of the most important sections for lenders and investors. Have you ever watched Shark Tank? They always ask about the company’s financial situation. How has it performed in the past? What’s the ongoing outlook moving forward? How does the business plan to make it happen?

Answer all of these questions in your financial strategy so that your audience doesn’t have to ask. Go ahead and include forecasts and graphs in your plan, too:

  • Balance sheet: This includes your assets, liabilities, and equity.
  • Profit & Loss (P&L) statement: This details your income and expenses over a given period.
  • Cash flow statement: Similar to the P&L, this one will show all cash flowing into and out of the business each month.

It takes cash to change the world—lenders and investors get it. If you’re short on funding, explain how much money you’ll need and how you’ll use the capital. Where are you looking for financing? Are you looking to take out a business loan, or would you rather trade equity for capital instead?

Read More: 16 Financial Concepts Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Startup Business Plan Template (Copy/Paste Outline)

Ready to write your own business plan? Copy/paste the startup business plan template below and fill in the blanks.

Executive Summary Remember, do this last. Summarize who you are and your business plan in one page.

Business Overview Describe your business. What’s it do? Who owns it? How’s it structured? What’s the mission statement?

Products and Services Detail the products and services you offer. How do they work? What do you charge?

Market Analysis Write about the state of the market and opportunities. Use date. Describe your customers. Include your UVP.

Competitive Analysis Outline the competitors in your market and industry. Include threats and opportunities. Add a SWOT analysis of your business.

Financial Strategy Sum up your revenue, expenses, profit (or loss), and financial plan for the future. If you’re applying for a loan, include how you’ll use the funding to progress the business.

What’s the Best Business Plan to Succeed as a Consultant?

5 Frame-Worthy Business Plan Examples

Want to explore other templates and examples? We got you covered. Check out these 5 business plan examples you can use as inspiration when writing your plan:

  • SBA Wooden Grain Toy Company
  • SBA We Can Do It Consulting
  • OrcaSmart Business Plan Sample
  • Plum Business Plan Template
  • PandaDoc Free Business Plan Templates

Get to Work on Making Your Business Plan

If you find you’re getting stuck on perfecting your document, opt for a simple one-page business plan —and then get to work. You can always polish up your official plan later as you learn more about your business and the industry.

Remember, business plans are not a requirement for starting a business—they’re only truly essential if a bank or investor is asking for it.

Ask others to review your business plan. Get feedback from other startups and successful business owners. They’ll likely be able to see holes in your planning or undetected opportunities—just make sure these individuals aren’t your competitors (or potential competitors).

Your business plan isn’t a one-and-done report—it’s a living, breathing document. You’ll make changes to it as you grow and evolve. When the market or your customers change, your plan will need to change to adapt.

That means when you’re finished with this exercise, it’s not time to print your plan out and stuff it in a file cabinet somewhere. No, it should sit on your desk as a day-to-day reference. Use it (and update it) as you make decisions about your product, customers, and financial plan.

Review your business plan frequently, update it routinely, and follow the path you’ve developed to the future you’re building.

Keep Learning: New Product Development Process in 8 Easy Steps

What financial information should be included in a business plan?

Be as detailed as you can without assuming too much. For example, include your expected revenue, expenses, profit, and growth for the future.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a business plan?

The most common mistake is turning your business plan into a textbook. A business plan is an internal guide and an external pitching tool. Cut the fat and only include the most relevant information to start and run your business.

Who should review my business plan before I submit it?

Co-founders, investors, or a board of advisors. Otherwise, reach out to a trusted mentor, your local chamber of commerce, or someone you know that runs a business.

Ready to Write Your Business Plan?

Don’t let creating a business plan hold you back from starting your business. Writing documents might not be your thing—that doesn’t mean your business is a bad idea.

Let us help you get started.

Join our free training to learn how to start an online side hustle in 30 days or less. We’ll provide you with a proven roadmap for how to find, validate, and pursue a profitable business idea (even if you have zero entrepreneurial experience).

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About Jesse Sumrak

Jesse Sumrak is a writing zealot focused on creating killer content. He’s spent almost a decade writing about startup, marketing, and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped business. A writer by day and a peak bagger by night (and early early morning), you can usually find Jesse preparing for the apocalypse on a precipitous peak somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

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business plan outline startup

Business Plan Templates

biz-plan-template-cta

A well-written business plan can help you identify your goals, map out strategies to achieve them, and measure progress along the way. And while some proponents of the ' no plan ' business plan argue that businesses can survive without a business plan — research shows that having a solid plan can help fuel growth and improve business performance, especially if you're a startup.

What's a Startup Business Plan?

Before diving into the specifics, let’s revisit the basics of a startup business plan. Briefly, a business plan is a written document outlining your strategies and ideas for launching, growing, managing, and (later on) exiting your business venture. 

Business plans are by no means set in stone. In fact, your plan will likely evolve as the market changes and as you learn more about your customers. A typical business plan will include your financial projections, marketing strategies, timelines, products and services, management plans, competitive analysis, and more.

Why Does it Matter?

Studies show that both new and existing businesses can benefit from a business plan , as planning drastically improves business performance and efficiency. Also, companies with business plans tend to grow at least 30% faster than those that don't have any sort of planning in place. 

Additionally, 71% of fast-growing companies attribute their growth to having defined their budgets, sales goals, and business strategies early on. And to really drive the point home, yet another study revealed that companies that had a growth rate in sales of over 92% year-over-year all had business plans to inform their next steps. 

Briefly put, business plans help you focus on your business goals and keep your team and investors informed regarding the future of your company. Putting things on paper enables you to set realistic goals and actionable steps for reaching them. For example, if you're developing a new product, you'll need to know exactly how much it will cost and whether you need additional funding. 

Who Will Want to Read It?

No, sorry, the "About Us" section on your website or social media page is not enough. You'll need a well-written, comprehensive business plan to get your startup off the ground — and that means you should be prepared to share it with potential investors, partners, and lenders.

Your potential investors or partners will want to know exactly what they're investing in and how their money will help your company reach its goals. By having a comprehensive business plan in place, you can show potential investors and partners that you have done your homework and are serious about taking your business venture to the next level. Plus, it gives them a glimpse into what kind of returns they can expect from financing your business or partnering with you.

The Starting Point

Creating a business plan can be a daunting task. That’s why we created the Startup Business Plan Template – an easy-to-use editable template that provides guidance on writing a high-quality business plan (or checking what you already have so far). Here's what the kit contains:

  • Guidelines for Writing a rockstar business plan
  • The nine components your business plan needs
  • Editable fields for easy creation
  • A business plan gut checklist
  • How to make the template work for you.

Get access to the templates now

Built to scale with hubspot for startups.

It takes some time to put together a startup pitch deck that works, but once you’ve nailed your presentation, you can reuse it for multiple pitches with just a few tweaks to update any data or statistics. HubSpot for Startups helps you track marketing and sales data to make this process easier. New investors can rest easy knowing you’ve got the support of HubSpot’s powerful CRM at your fingertips.

Amazon Web Services

From Airbnb to Zocdoc, the world’s top startups build on Amazon Web Services. But they didn’t do it alone. So whether you need help solving a technical challenge, hiring the right engineers, or finalizing a fundraising round, we have all the resources you need to get started. There’s a reason more startups build on AWS than any other provider: we’re here to help you succeed, from inception to IPO.

To learn more about AWS, visit aws.amazon.com .

Get the biz plan template!

business plan outline startup

Small Business Trends

How to create a business plan: examples & free template.

This is the ultimate guide to creating a comprehensive and effective plan to start a business . In today’s dynamic business landscape, having a well-crafted business plan is an important first step to securing funding, attracting partners, and navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship.

This guide has been designed to help you create a winning plan that stands out in the ever-evolving marketplace. U sing real-world examples and a free downloadable template, it will walk you through each step of the process.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or launching your very first startup, the guide will give you the insights, tools, and confidence you need to create a solid foundation for your business.

Table of Contents

How to Write a Business Plan

Embarking on the journey of creating a successful business requires a solid foundation, and a well-crafted business plan is the cornerstone. Here is the process of writing a comprehensive business plan and the main parts of a winning business plan . From setting objectives to conducting market research, this guide will have everything you need.

Executive Summary

business plan

The Executive Summary serves as the gateway to your business plan, offering a snapshot of your venture’s core aspects. This section should captivate and inform, succinctly summarizing the essence of your plan.

It’s crucial to include a clear mission statement, a brief description of your primary products or services, an overview of your target market, and key financial projections or achievements.

Think of it as an elevator pitch in written form: it should be compelling enough to engage potential investors or stakeholders and provide them with a clear understanding of what your business is about, its goals, and why it’s a promising investment.

Example: EcoTech is a technology company specializing in eco-friendly and sustainable products designed to reduce energy consumption and minimize waste. Our mission is to create innovative solutions that contribute to a cleaner, greener environment.

Our target market includes environmentally conscious consumers and businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. We project a 200% increase in revenue within the first three years of operation.

Overview and Business Objectives

business plan

In the Overview and Business Objectives section, outline your business’s core goals and the strategic approaches you plan to use to achieve them. This section should set forth clear, specific objectives that are attainable and time-bound, providing a roadmap for your business’s growth and success.

It’s important to detail how these objectives align with your company’s overall mission and vision. Discuss the milestones you aim to achieve and the timeframe you’ve set for these accomplishments.

This part of the plan demonstrates to investors and stakeholders your vision for growth and the practical steps you’ll take to get there.

Example: EcoTech’s primary objective is to become a market leader in sustainable technology products within the next five years. Our key objectives include:

  • Introducing three new products within the first two years of operation.
  • Achieving annual revenue growth of 30%.
  • Expanding our customer base to over 10,000 clients by the end of the third year.

Company Description

business plan

The Company Description section is your opportunity to delve into the details of your business. Provide a comprehensive overview that includes your company’s history, its mission statement, and its vision for the future.

Highlight your unique selling proposition (USP) – what makes your business stand out in the market. Explain the problems your company solves and how it benefits your customers.

Include information about the company’s founders, their expertise, and why they are suited to lead the business to success. This section should paint a vivid picture of your business, its values, and its place in the industry.

Example: EcoTech is committed to developing cutting-edge sustainable technology products that benefit both the environment and our customers. Our unique combination of innovative solutions and eco-friendly design sets us apart from the competition. We envision a future where technology and sustainability go hand in hand, leading to a greener planet.

Define Your Target Market

business plan

Defining Your Target Market is critical for tailoring your business strategy effectively. This section should describe your ideal customer base in detail, including demographic information (such as age, gender, income level, and location) and psychographic data (like interests, values, and lifestyle).

Elucidate on the specific needs or pain points of your target audience and how your product or service addresses these. This information will help you know your target market and develop targeted marketing strategies.

Example: Our target market comprises environmentally conscious consumers and businesses looking for innovative solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. Our ideal customers are those who prioritize sustainability and are willing to invest in eco-friendly products.

Market Analysis

business plan

The Market Analysis section requires thorough research and a keen understanding of the industry. It involves examining the current trends within your industry, understanding the needs and preferences of your customers, and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

This analysis will enable you to spot market opportunities and anticipate potential challenges. Include data and statistics to back up your claims, and use graphs or charts to illustrate market trends.

This section should demonstrate that you have a deep understanding of the market in which you operate and that your business is well-positioned to capitalize on its opportunities.

Example: The market for eco-friendly technology products has experienced significant growth in recent years, with an estimated annual growth rate of 10%. As consumers become increasingly aware of environmental issues, the demand for sustainable solutions continues to rise.

Our research indicates a gap in the market for high-quality, innovative eco-friendly technology products that cater to both individual and business clients.

SWOT Analysis

business plan

A SWOT analysis in your business plan offers a comprehensive examination of your company’s internal and external factors. By assessing Strengths, you showcase what your business does best and where your capabilities lie.

Weaknesses involve an honest introspection of areas where your business may be lacking or could improve. Opportunities can be external factors that your business could capitalize on, such as market gaps or emerging trends.

Threats include external challenges your business may face, like competition or market changes. This analysis is crucial for strategic planning, as it helps in recognizing and leveraging your strengths, addressing weaknesses, seizing opportunities, and preparing for potential threats.

Including a SWOT analysis demonstrates to stakeholders that you have a balanced and realistic understanding of your business in its operational context.

  • Innovative and eco-friendly product offerings.
  • Strong commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.
  • Skilled and experienced team with expertise in technology and sustainability.

Weaknesses:

  • Limited brand recognition compared to established competitors.
  • Reliance on third-party manufacturers for product development.

Opportunities:

  • Growing consumer interest in sustainable products.
  • Partnerships with environmentally-focused organizations and influencers.
  • Expansion into international markets.
  • Intense competition from established technology companies.
  • Regulatory changes could impact the sustainable technology market.

Competitive Analysis

business plan

In this section, you’ll analyze your competitors in-depth, examining their products, services, market positioning, and pricing strategies. Understanding your competition allows you to identify gaps in the market and tailor your offerings to outperform them.

By conducting a thorough competitive analysis, you can gain insights into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to develop strategies to differentiate your business and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Example: Key competitors include:

GreenTech: A well-known brand offering eco-friendly technology products, but with a narrower focus on energy-saving devices.

EarthSolutions: A direct competitor specializing in sustainable technology, but with a limited product range and higher prices.

By offering a diverse product portfolio, competitive pricing, and continuous innovation, we believe we can capture a significant share of the growing sustainable technology market.

Organization and Management Team

business plan

Provide an overview of your company’s organizational structure, including key roles and responsibilities. Introduce your management team, highlighting their expertise and experience to demonstrate that your team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.

Showcasing your team’s background, skills, and accomplishments instills confidence in investors and other stakeholders, proving that your business has the leadership and talent necessary to achieve its objectives and manage growth effectively.

Example: EcoTech’s organizational structure comprises the following key roles: CEO, CTO, CFO, Sales Director, Marketing Director, and R&D Manager. Our management team has extensive experience in technology, sustainability, and business development, ensuring that we are well-equipped to execute our business plan successfully.

Products and Services Offered

business plan

Describe the products or services your business offers, focusing on their unique features and benefits. Explain how your offerings solve customer pain points and why they will choose your products or services over the competition.

This section should emphasize the value you provide to customers, demonstrating that your business has a deep understanding of customer needs and is well-positioned to deliver innovative solutions that address those needs and set your company apart from competitors.

Example: EcoTech offers a range of eco-friendly technology products, including energy-efficient lighting solutions, solar chargers, and smart home devices that optimize energy usage. Our products are designed to help customers reduce energy consumption, minimize waste, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

business plan

In this section, articulate your comprehensive strategy for reaching your target market and driving sales. Detail the specific marketing channels you plan to use, such as social media, email marketing, SEO, or traditional advertising.

Describe the nature of your advertising campaigns and promotional activities, explaining how they will capture the attention of your target audience and convey the value of your products or services. Outline your sales strategy, including your sales process, team structure, and sales targets.

Discuss how these marketing and sales efforts will work together to attract and retain customers, generate leads, and ultimately contribute to achieving your business’s revenue goals.

This section is critical to convey to investors and stakeholders that you have a well-thought-out approach to market your business effectively and drive sales growth.

Example: Our marketing strategy includes digital advertising, content marketing, social media promotion, and influencer partnerships. We will also attend trade shows and conferences to showcase our products and connect with potential clients. Our sales strategy involves both direct sales and partnerships with retail stores, as well as online sales through our website and e-commerce platforms.

Logistics and Operations Plan

business plan

The Logistics and Operations Plan is a critical component that outlines the inner workings of your business. It encompasses the management of your supply chain, detailing how you acquire raw materials and manage vendor relationships.

Inventory control is another crucial aspect, where you explain strategies for inventory management to ensure efficiency and reduce wastage. The section should also describe your production processes, emphasizing scalability and adaptability to meet changing market demands.

Quality control measures are essential to maintain product standards and customer satisfaction. This plan assures investors and stakeholders of your operational competency and readiness to meet business demands.

Highlighting your commitment to operational efficiency and customer satisfaction underlines your business’s capability to maintain smooth, effective operations even as it scales.

Example: EcoTech partners with reliable third-party manufacturers to produce our eco-friendly technology products. Our operations involve maintaining strong relationships with suppliers, ensuring quality control, and managing inventory.

We also prioritize efficient distribution through various channels, including online platforms and retail partners, to deliver products to our customers in a timely manner.

Financial Projections Plan

business plan

In the Financial Projections Plan, lay out a clear and realistic financial future for your business. This should include detailed projections for revenue, costs, and profitability over the next three to five years.

Ground these projections in solid assumptions based on your market analysis, industry benchmarks, and realistic growth scenarios. Break down revenue streams and include an analysis of the cost of goods sold, operating expenses, and potential investments.

This section should also discuss your break-even analysis, cash flow projections, and any assumptions about external funding requirements.

By presenting a thorough and data-backed financial forecast, you instill confidence in potential investors and lenders, showcasing your business’s potential for profitability and financial stability.

This forward-looking financial plan is crucial for demonstrating that you have a firm grasp of the financial nuances of your business and are prepared to manage its financial health effectively.

Example: Over the next three years, we expect to see significant growth in revenue, driven by new product launches and market expansion. Our financial projections include:

  • Year 1: $1.5 million in revenue, with a net profit of $200,000.
  • Year 2: $3 million in revenue, with a net profit of $500,000.
  • Year 3: $4.5 million in revenue, with a net profit of $1 million.

These projections are based on realistic market analysis, growth rates, and product pricing.

Income Statement

business plan

The income statement , also known as the profit and loss statement, provides a summary of your company’s revenues and expenses over a specified period. It helps you track your business’s financial performance and identify trends, ensuring you stay on track to achieve your financial goals.

Regularly reviewing and analyzing your income statement allows you to monitor the health of your business, evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies, and make data-driven decisions to optimize profitability and growth.

Example: The income statement for EcoTech’s first year of operation is as follows:

  • Revenue: $1,500,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold: $800,000
  • Gross Profit: $700,000
  • Operating Expenses: $450,000
  • Net Income: $250,000

This statement highlights our company’s profitability and overall financial health during the first year of operation.

Cash Flow Statement

business plan

A cash flow statement is a crucial part of a financial business plan that shows the inflows and outflows of cash within your business. It helps you monitor your company’s liquidity, ensuring you have enough cash on hand to cover operating expenses, pay debts, and invest in growth opportunities.

By including a cash flow statement in your business plan, you demonstrate your ability to manage your company’s finances effectively.

Example:  The cash flow statement for EcoTech’s first year of operation is as follows:

Operating Activities:

  • Depreciation: $10,000
  • Changes in Working Capital: -$50,000
  • Net Cash from Operating Activities: $210,000

Investing Activities:

  •  Capital Expenditures: -$100,000
  • Net Cash from Investing Activities: -$100,000

Financing Activities:

  • Proceeds from Loans: $150,000
  • Loan Repayments: -$50,000
  • Net Cash from Financing Activities: $100,000
  • Net Increase in Cash: $210,000

This statement demonstrates EcoTech’s ability to generate positive cash flow from operations, maintain sufficient liquidity, and invest in growth opportunities.

Tips on Writing a Business Plan

business plan

1. Be clear and concise: Keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid jargon and overly technical terms. A clear and concise business plan is easier for investors and stakeholders to understand and demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively.

2. Conduct thorough research: Before writing your business plan, gather as much information as possible about your industry, competitors, and target market. Use reliable sources and industry reports to inform your analysis and make data-driven decisions.

3. Set realistic goals: Your business plan should outline achievable objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Setting realistic goals demonstrates your understanding of the market and increases the likelihood of success.

4. Focus on your unique selling proposition (USP): Clearly articulate what sets your business apart from the competition. Emphasize your USP throughout your business plan to showcase your company’s value and potential for success.

5. Be flexible and adaptable: A business plan is a living document that should evolve as your business grows and changes. Be prepared to update and revise your plan as you gather new information and learn from your experiences.

6. Use visuals to enhance understanding: Include charts, graphs, and other visuals to help convey complex data and ideas. Visuals can make your business plan more engaging and easier to digest, especially for those who prefer visual learning.

7. Seek feedback from trusted sources: Share your business plan with mentors, industry experts, or colleagues and ask for their feedback. Their insights can help you identify areas for improvement and strengthen your plan before presenting it to potential investors or partners.

FREE Business Plan Template

To help you get started on your business plan, we have created a template that includes all the essential components discussed in the “How to Write a Business Plan” section. This easy-to-use template will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you don’t miss any critical details.

The template is divided into the following sections:

  • Mission statement
  • Business Overview
  • Key products or services
  • Target market
  • Financial highlights
  • Company goals
  • Strategies to achieve goals
  • Measurable, time-bound objectives
  • Company History
  • Mission and vision
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Pain points
  • Industry trends
  • Customer needs
  • Competitor strengths and weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Competitor products and services
  • Market positioning
  • Pricing strategies
  • Organizational structure
  • Key roles and responsibilities
  • Management team backgrounds
  • Product or service features
  • Competitive advantages
  • Marketing channels
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Promotional activities
  • Sales strategies
  • Supply chain management
  • Inventory control
  • Production processes
  • Quality control measures
  • Projected revenue
  • Assumptions
  • Cash inflows
  • Cash outflows
  • Net cash flow

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a strategic document that outlines an organization’s goals, objectives, and the steps required to achieve them. It serves as a roadmap as you start a business , guiding the company’s direction and growth while identifying potential obstacles and opportunities.

Typically, a business plan covers areas such as market analysis, financial projections, marketing strategies, and organizational structure. It not only helps in securing funding from investors and lenders but also provides clarity and focus to the management team.

A well-crafted business plan is a very important part of your business startup checklist because it fosters informed decision-making and long-term success.

business plan

Why You Should Write a Business Plan

Understanding the importance of a business plan in today’s competitive environment is crucial for entrepreneurs and business owners. Here are five compelling reasons to write a business plan:

  • Attract Investors and Secure Funding : A well-written business plan demonstrates your venture’s potential and profitability, making it easier to attract investors and secure the necessary funding for growth and development. It provides a detailed overview of your business model, target market, financial projections, and growth strategies, instilling confidence in potential investors and lenders that your company is a worthy investment.
  • Clarify Business Objectives and Strategies : Crafting a business plan forces you to think critically about your goals and the strategies you’ll employ to achieve them, providing a clear roadmap for success. This process helps you refine your vision and prioritize the most critical objectives, ensuring that your efforts are focused on achieving the desired results.
  • Identify Potential Risks and Opportunities : Analyzing the market, competition, and industry trends within your business plan helps identify potential risks and uncover untapped opportunities for growth and expansion. This insight enables you to develop proactive strategies to mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities, positioning your business for long-term success.
  • Improve Decision-Making : A business plan serves as a reference point so you can make informed decisions that align with your company’s overall objectives and long-term vision. By consistently referring to your plan and adjusting it as needed, you can ensure that your business remains on track and adapts to changes in the market, industry, or internal operations.
  • Foster Team Alignment and Communication : A shared business plan helps ensure that all team members are on the same page, promoting clear communication, collaboration, and a unified approach to achieving the company’s goals. By involving your team in the planning process and regularly reviewing the plan together, you can foster a sense of ownership, commitment, and accountability that drives success.

What are the Different Types of Business Plans?

In today’s fast-paced business world, having a well-structured roadmap is more important than ever. A traditional business plan provides a comprehensive overview of your company’s goals and strategies, helping you make informed decisions and achieve long-term success. There are various types of business plans, each designed to suit different needs and purposes. Let’s explore the main types:

  • Startup Business Plan: Tailored for new ventures, a startup business plan outlines the company’s mission, objectives, target market, competition, marketing strategies, and financial projections. It helps entrepreneurs clarify their vision, secure funding from investors, and create a roadmap for their business’s future. Additionally, this plan identifies potential challenges and opportunities, which are crucial for making informed decisions and adapting to changing market conditions.
  • Internal Business Plan: This type of plan is intended for internal use, focusing on strategies, milestones, deadlines, and resource allocation. It serves as a management tool for guiding the company’s growth, evaluating its progress, and ensuring that all departments are aligned with the overall vision. The internal business plan also helps identify areas of improvement, fosters collaboration among team members, and provides a reference point for measuring performance.
  • Strategic Business Plan: A strategic business plan outlines long-term goals and the steps to achieve them, providing a clear roadmap for the company’s direction. It typically includes a SWOT analysis, market research, and competitive analysis. This plan allows businesses to align their resources with their objectives, anticipate changes in the market, and develop contingency plans. By focusing on the big picture, a strategic business plan fosters long-term success and stability.
  • Feasibility Business Plan: This plan is designed to assess the viability of a business idea, examining factors such as market demand, competition, and financial projections. It is often used to decide whether or not to pursue a particular venture. By conducting a thorough feasibility analysis, entrepreneurs can avoid investing time and resources into an unviable business concept. This plan also helps refine the business idea, identify potential obstacles, and determine the necessary resources for success.
  • Growth Business Plan: Also known as an expansion plan, a growth business plan focuses on strategies for scaling up an existing business. It includes market analysis, new product or service offerings, and financial projections to support expansion plans. This type of plan is essential for businesses looking to enter new markets, increase their customer base, or launch new products or services. By outlining clear growth strategies, the plan helps ensure that expansion efforts are well-coordinated and sustainable.
  • Operational Business Plan: This type of plan outlines the company’s day-to-day operations, detailing the processes, procedures, and organizational structure. It is an essential tool for managing resources, streamlining workflows, and ensuring smooth operations. The operational business plan also helps identify inefficiencies, implement best practices, and establish a strong foundation for future growth. By providing a clear understanding of daily operations, this plan enables businesses to optimize their resources and enhance productivity.
  • Lean Business Plan: A lean business plan is a simplified, agile version of a traditional plan, focusing on key elements such as value proposition, customer segments, revenue streams, and cost structure. It is perfect for startups looking for a flexible, adaptable planning approach. The lean business plan allows for rapid iteration and continuous improvement, enabling businesses to pivot and adapt to changing market conditions. This streamlined approach is particularly beneficial for businesses in fast-paced or uncertain industries.
  • One-Page Business Plan: As the name suggests, a one-page business plan is a concise summary of your company’s key objectives, strategies, and milestones. It serves as a quick reference guide and is ideal for pitching to potential investors or partners. This plan helps keep teams focused on essential goals and priorities, fosters clear communication, and provides a snapshot of the company’s progress. While not as comprehensive as other plans, a one-page business plan is an effective tool for maintaining clarity and direction.
  • Nonprofit Business Plan: Specifically designed for nonprofit organizations, this plan outlines the mission, goals, target audience, fundraising strategies, and budget allocation. It helps secure grants and donations while ensuring the organization stays on track with its objectives. The nonprofit business plan also helps attract volunteers, board members, and community support. By demonstrating the organization’s impact and plans for the future, this plan is essential for maintaining transparency, accountability, and long-term sustainability within the nonprofit sector.
  • Franchise Business Plan: For entrepreneurs seeking to open a franchise, this type of plan focuses on the franchisor’s requirements, as well as the franchisee’s goals, strategies, and financial projections. It is crucial for securing a franchise agreement and ensuring the business’s success within the franchise system. This plan outlines the franchisee’s commitment to brand standards, marketing efforts, and operational procedures, while also addressing local market conditions and opportunities. By creating a solid franchise business plan, entrepreneurs can demonstrate their ability to effectively manage and grow their franchise, increasing the likelihood of a successful partnership with the franchisor.

Using Business Plan Software

business plan

Creating a comprehensive business plan can be intimidating, but business plan software can streamline the process and help you produce a professional document. These tools offer a number of benefits, including guided step-by-step instructions, financial projections, and industry-specific templates. Here are the top 5 business plan software options available to help you craft a great business plan.

1. LivePlan

LivePlan is a popular choice for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features. It offers over 500 sample plans, financial forecasting tools, and the ability to track your progress against key performance indicators. With LivePlan, you can create visually appealing, professional business plans that will impress investors and stakeholders.

2. Upmetrics

Upmetrics provides a simple and intuitive platform for creating a well-structured business plan. It features customizable templates, financial forecasting tools, and collaboration capabilities, allowing you to work with team members and advisors. Upmetrics also offers a library of resources to guide you through the business planning process.

Bizplan is designed to simplify the business planning process with a drag-and-drop builder and modular sections. It offers financial forecasting tools, progress tracking, and a visually appealing interface. With Bizplan, you can create a business plan that is both easy to understand and visually engaging.

Enloop is a robust business plan software that automatically generates a tailored plan based on your inputs. It provides industry-specific templates, financial forecasting, and a unique performance score that updates as you make changes to your plan. Enloop also offers a free version, making it accessible for businesses on a budget.

5. Tarkenton GoSmallBiz

Developed by NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, GoSmallBiz is tailored for small businesses and startups. It features a guided business plan builder, customizable templates, and financial projection tools. GoSmallBiz also offers additional resources, such as CRM tools and legal document templates, to support your business beyond the planning stage.

Business Plan FAQs

What is a good business plan.

A good business plan is a well-researched, clear, and concise document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies, target market, competitive advantages, and financial projections. It should be adaptable to change and provide a roadmap for achieving success.

What are the 3 main purposes of a business plan?

The three main purposes of a business plan are to guide the company’s strategy, attract investment, and evaluate performance against objectives. Here’s a closer look at each of these:

  • It outlines the company’s purpose and core values to ensure that all activities align with its mission and vision.
  • It provides an in-depth analysis of the market, including trends, customer needs, and competition, helping the company tailor its products and services to meet market demands.
  • It defines the company’s marketing and sales strategies, guiding how the company will attract and retain customers.
  • It describes the company’s organizational structure and management team, outlining roles and responsibilities to ensure effective operation and leadership.
  • It sets measurable, time-bound objectives, allowing the company to plan its activities effectively and make strategic decisions to achieve these goals.
  • It provides a comprehensive overview of the company and its business model, demonstrating its uniqueness and potential for success.
  • It presents the company’s financial projections, showing its potential for profitability and return on investment.
  • It demonstrates the company’s understanding of the market, including its target customers and competition, convincing investors that the company is capable of gaining a significant market share.
  • It showcases the management team’s expertise and experience, instilling confidence in investors that the team is capable of executing the business plan successfully.
  • It establishes clear, measurable objectives that serve as performance benchmarks.
  • It provides a basis for regular performance reviews, allowing the company to monitor its progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • It enables the company to assess the effectiveness of its strategies and make adjustments as needed to achieve its objectives.
  • It helps the company identify potential risks and challenges, enabling it to develop contingency plans and manage risks effectively.
  • It provides a mechanism for evaluating the company’s financial performance, including revenue, expenses, profitability, and cash flow.

Can I write a business plan by myself?

Yes, you can write a business plan by yourself, but it can be helpful to consult with mentors, colleagues, or industry experts to gather feedback and insights. There are also many creative business plan templates and business plan examples available online, including those above.

We also have examples for specific industries, including a using food truck business plan , salon business plan , farm business plan , daycare business plan , and restaurant business plan .

Is it possible to create a one-page business plan?

Yes, a one-page business plan is a condensed version that highlights the most essential elements, including the company’s mission, target market, unique selling proposition, and financial goals.

How long should a business plan be?

A typical business plan ranges from 20 to 50 pages, but the length may vary depending on the complexity and needs of the business.

What is a business plan outline?

A business plan outline is a structured framework that organizes the content of a business plan into sections, such as the executive summary, company description, market analysis, and financial projections.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

The five most common business plan mistakes include inadequate research, unrealistic financial projections, lack of focus on the unique selling proposition, poor organization and structure, and failure to update the plan as circumstances change.

What questions should be asked in a business plan?

A business plan should address questions such as: What problem does the business solve? Who is the specific target market ? What is the unique selling proposition? What are the company’s objectives? How will it achieve those objectives?

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan focuses on the overall vision, goals, and tactics of a company, while a strategic plan outlines the specific strategies, action steps, and performance measures necessary to achieve the company’s objectives.

How is business planning for a nonprofit different?

Nonprofit business planning focuses on the organization’s mission, social impact, and resource management, rather than profit generation. The financial section typically includes funding sources, expenses, and projected budgets for programs and operations.

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Blog Feature Updates

Startup Business Plans 101: Your Path to Success

By Jay Nair , Jul 24, 2023

business plan outline startup

It’s time — you’ve got a promising idea and you’re now prepared to invest the necessary effort to turn it into reality. Startup business plans are vital hack tools that will guide you through your entrepreneurial journey and a business venture with clarity and purpose.

Though vital, business planning doesn’t have to be a chore. Business plans for lean startups and solopreneurs can simply outline the business concept, sales proposition, target customers and sketch out a plan of action to bring the product or service to market. These plans will serve as strategic documents outlining your company’s vision, mission statements, business objectives, target market, financial forecasts and growth strategies.

To simplify the creation of a robust business plan as an entrepreneur, you can harness the power of a business plan maker . This invaluable tool streamlines the process and ensures a polished and well-organized presentation.  Startup business plan templates provide pre-designed frameworks that can be customized to suit your specific industry needs, saving valuable time and effort while preserving the essential structure of a comprehensive business plan.

Ready to begin? Let’s go!

business plan outline startup

Just so you know, some of our business plan templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign-up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.

Click to jump ahead:

  • Laying the foundation of your startup business plan
  • Business plan executive summary
  • Writing your business description
  • Marketing & sales strategies
  • Startup operational plans
  • Financial plans – forecasting and projections
  • Team and management
  • Appendix and supporting documents

FAQs on startup business plans

  • Use Venngage to create your startup business plan

Preparation and research: 6 steps to laying the foundation of your startup business plan

  • What problem does your product or service solve? 
  • Who are your target customers? 
  • What differentiates your offering from existing solutions in the market? 

This self-reflection will help you establish a clear direction for your startup.

  • Next, conduct market research to gather valuable insights about your target market , including demographics, preferences, and purchasing behavior . This data will enable you to tailor your product or service to meet the specific needs of your customers. Identify trends, industry growth projections, and any potential barriers or challenges you may encounter.
  • Competitive analysis is another critical aspect of preparation and research. Study your competitors to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies. Analyze their pricing, marketing tactics, customer experience, and product/service features. This analysis will allow you to identify gaps in the market and position your startup to offer a unique value proposition .
  • Financial research is equally important during this phase. Calculate the costs associated with starting and operating your business , including overhead expenses, production costs, marketing expenses, and employee salaries. Assess potential revenue streams and estimate your expected sales. This financial analysis will help you determine the feasibility of your business idea and outline a realistic financial plan.
  • Additionally, gather information about legal and regulatory requirements that apply to your industry and location . Understand the necessary permits, licenses, and certifications you need to operate legally. Complying with these regulations from the outset will prevent potential setbacks or legal issues in the future.
  • Finally, organize your findings and insights into a coherent business plan. Create your business plan outline , list your business plan goals, strategies, target market, competitive analysis, marketing plan, financial projections and any other relevant information. This compilation will serve as a roadmap for your startup, guiding your decisions and actions moving forward.

You’ve just encountered a wealth of information and are well on your way to becoming a seasoned business owner! This can sometimes feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, take a moment to breathe deeply and remember how far you’ve come. You’ve got this!

To help you condense and organize your essential points, I have brilliant one-page samples of business plan layouts and templates that will capture everything in a concise format.

business plan outline startup

Knowing when to use a one-page business plan versus a more comprehensive plan depends on various factors. A one-page business plan is ideal for providing a quick overview, saving time, and internal planning. However, it may not suffice for detailed information, complex business models, or meeting external stakeholders’ expectations.

Ultimately, consider the purpose, audience, and complexity of your business when deciding whether to utilize a one-page business plan or opt for a more detailed approach.

Executive Summary: Your Startup’s Elevator Pitch

First impressions are crucial, and a concise yet comprehensive executive summary is your chance to grab potential investors’ attention.

To create a compelling elevator pitch, consider the following key elements:

Problem Statement : Clearly articulate the problem or pain point that your startup addresses. Emphasize the significance of the problem and the potential market size

Solution : Concisely describe your innovative solution or product that solves the identified problem. Highlight its unique features or benefits that differentiate it from existing alternatives.

Target Market : Define your ideal customer segment and outline the market potential. Demonstrate a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs, preferences, and behavior.

Competitive Advantage : Showcase the competitive edge that sets your startup apart from competitors. This could include intellectual property, strategic partnerships, cost advantages, or disruptive technology.

Business Model : Briefly explain how your startup generates revenue and sustains profitability. Outline your monetization strategy, pricing model, and any recurring revenue streams .

Traction and Milestones : Highlight any significant achievements or milestones reached by your startup. This could include customer acquisitions, partnerships, product development progress, or market validation.

Team : Showcase the expertise and qualifications of your founding team or business partners. Highlight key members and their relevant experiences demonstrating their ability to execute the business plan.

I can sense your eagerness to dive right in! To expedite your progress, I’m excited to present you with a collection of meticulously crafted executive summary templates. These templates have been thoughtfully designed and structured by Venngage designers, ensuring seamless integration into your thorough business plan. All you need to do is infuse them with your brilliant startup ideas, and you’ll be well on your way to success!

business plan outline startup

Now, remember that there’s still a ton of work to be done. Let’s take a moment to regroup and ensure we’re on the right track. Before diving into the process of writing your business plan , it’s imperative to gather a wealth of essential information. Conducting comprehensive research is key, and it should encompass the following aspects:

How to assess your target audience

To gain comprehensive insights into your potential user base, creating a user persona report is invaluable. This persona guide report will help you develop a detailed understanding of various user profiles, enabling you to tailor your products or services to meet their specific needs and preferences.

business plan outline startup

Understanding Your Market and Competition

Analyze your market and any trends relevant to your startup. Research your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and identify what differentiates your offering from the competition.

business plan outline startup

Developing a Unique Value Proposition

A business Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is a concise statement that communicates the unique advantage a product or service offers over competitors, addressing a specific problem or need. It highlights the distinctive value and benefits customers can expect, helping businesses attract and retain customers by differentiating themselves in the market.

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the cornerstone of your startup, defining what sets you apart from your competitors. A strong UVP focuses on the specific benefits and solutions your startup offers to customers.

business plan outline startup

Company Description: Painting the Picture

Your company description allows you to showcase your startup’s unique features and provide more in-depth details about your business. This section should include:

The Purpose of the Company Description

Clarify the purpose of your business, your goals and how your startup is uniquely positioned to achieve them.

Essential Information to Include

Include details such as your company’s legal structure, location and a brief history of any founders or key personnel.

Showcase Your Company’s Unique Features

Emphasize the unique aspects of your startup, explaining how these features translate into a competitive advantage.

Allow me to provide you with a dash of inspiration to ignite the momentum for your startup business plan:

business plan outline startup

When it comes to showcasing your company’s unique features, keep in mind that it is essential to emphasize and highlight the distinctive aspects of your startup . Clearly articulate how these features set your company apart from competitors and translate into a tangible competitive advantage . 

Whether it’s through cutting-edge technology, innovative business models, exceptional customer service, or a combination of factors, conveying the value and impact of these unique features is crucial. By effectively communicating the benefits they bring to customers, investors, and partners, you can demonstrate the significance of your offerings and differentiate yourself in the market.

Product/Service Line: What You’re Bringing to the Table

This section highlights the finer details of your product or service offerings:

Detailing Your Product/Service Offerings

Provide a thorough description of your products/services, highlighting key features and their intended use.

business plan outline startup

Highlighting Features, Benefits, and Solutions

Demonstrate how your startup’s offerings solve specific problems or address customer needs through an analysis of product features and associated benefits.

business plan outline startup

Defining Your Pricing and Revenue Model

Outline your startup’s pricing strategy and how it aligns with the overall business model. Detail any plans for scaling or expanding your revenue sources in the future.

business plan outline startup

Presenting Your Market Research Findings

Share insights from your market research, including target customer demographics, market size, and growth potential.

business plan outline startup

Identifying Market Trends and Opportunities

Discuss current trends, emerging opportunities, and how your startup will capitalize on these developments.

business plan outline startup

Marketing and Sales Strategies: Spreading the Word

Developing a robust marketing and sales strategy plan aligns with your overall business strategy and ensures steady growth. Marketing planning will be an essential part of your journey once you’ve got your business plan tight-knit! Also, creating a marketing strategy can be the most fun part of your business plan!

Developing a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy & Plan

  • Outline Specific Marketing Goals : Clearly define your marketing objectives, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales . Set measurable targets to track progress.
  • Identify Target Audience : Conduct thorough market research to identify your ideal customer profiles. Understand their demographics, behaviors, preferences, and pain points. Tailor your marketing messages to resonate with their needs.
  • Select Effective Marketing Channels : Consider both digital and traditional channels that align with your target audience and marketing goals. This may include online advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email campaigns, print media, events, or partnerships.
  • Craft Compelling Messages : Develop persuasive and consistent messaging that highlights the unique value proposition of your products or services. Clearly communicate how your offerings solve customer problems or improve their lives.

business plan outline startup

5 Tips for Effective Sales Techniques and Growth Strategies + free templates

  • Define Your Sales Strategy : Outline the approach and tactics your sales team will use to reach and convert customers. This may involve direct sales, channel partnerships, online sales, or a combination of strategies. Specify your sales process, including lead generation, qualification, nurturing, and closing.
  • Expand Your Customer Base : Identify opportunities to expand your customer reach. Consider targeting new customer segments, entering new geographic markets, or exploring untapped market niches. Develop strategies to attract and engage these potential customers.
  • Penetrate New Markets : Assess the feasibility of expanding into new markets or verticals. Market research will help you understand the dynamics, competition, and customer needs in these markets. Adapt your marketing and sales strategies accordingly to effectively penetrate and capture market share.
  • Innovate Products/Services : Continuously evaluate and enhance your product or service offerings to meet evolving customer demands. Identify areas for innovation or improvement and develop a roadmap for launching new features, versions, or complementary offerings.
  • Perform a SWOT analysis : By conducting a sales SWOT analysis , you will gather valuable insights to enhance your department’s performance. This analysis involves evaluating your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, enabling you to identify areas for improvement and capitalize on advantageous factors in the market.

Here’s a hack to get you organized – Get right into it with the help of these growth strategy templates and strategic planning templates :

business plan outline startup

Operational Plan: How Your Startup Will Run

Define an efficient and scalable operational plan, keeping in mind the following points:

Defining an Efficient and Scalable Plan

Outline the day-to-day operations, including processes, timelines, and necessary resources.

Legal Considerations for Your Startup Business

Identify any legal requirements or considerations, such as licenses, permits, or regulations that may apply to your startup.

Key Elements of Supply Chain Management and Logistics

Discuss supply chain and logistical aspects relevant to your business. Include details on how you plan to manage and scale these processes.

Here’s a kickstart on how you can structure your operating plans:

business plan outline startup

Financial Projections: Crunching the Numbers

A startup’s financial projections are vital in securing investor buy-in. This section should address:

The Importance of Financial Forecasting and Budgeting

Explain the significance of accurate financial forecasting, budgeting, and the assumptions made in your projections.

Identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Highlight the KPIs used to gauge your business’s financial health and growth trajectory.

Outlining Funding Requirements

Detail the amount and type of funding your startup requires , including how the funds will be allocated and how this investment positions the company for growth.

business plan outline startup

Team and Management Structure: Building Your Dream Team

Your startup’s success depends on the people behind it. This section should cover:

Tips for Building the Right Team

Share your strategy for assembling a skilled team that supports your startup’s vision and growth trajectory.

Founders’ Background and Roles

Provide an overview of the founders’ backgrounds, their roles within the company, and how their skills contribute to the startup’s success.

Organizational Structure and Key Management Personnel

Outline your startup’s organizational structure, including any key management personnel who play a pivotal role in day-to-day operations.

Appendices and Supporting Documents: Backing Up Your Plan

Include any other relevant supporting documents, such as:

  • Research data, market analysis, or competitor analyses.
  • Financial statements, budgeting or forecasting data, and other financial documentation.
  • Legal documents, agreements or contracts, and any patent or trademark information.

Finally, remember to review and update your business plan regularly as the industry, market, and competitive landscape evolve!

1. Why is a business plan essential for a startup?

A startup business plan is crucial for a startup because it provides a framework for strategic decision-making, facilitates financial planning, helps assess risks, aligns teams, communicates your vision, and ensures effective resource allocation. 

2. What should a startup business plan include?

A startup business plan should include:

  • Vision and Direction : Set clear goals and objectives, and outline strategies to achieve them. With a well-defined plan, you will stay focused, make informed decisions, and ensure alignment with your vision.
  • Market Analysis : A business plan necessitates thorough market research to understand your target market, identify competition, and assess product/service demand. These insights enable you to tailor offerings, meet customer needs, and gain a competitive edge.
  • Financial Planning : By constructing a financial roadmap through projected statements such as income, cash flow, and balance sheets, a business plan unveils the expected revenues, expenses, and profitability. This comprehensive planning not only anticipates challenges and sets realistic goals but also serves as a magnet for attracting investors and securing funding.
  • Risk Assessment : Devise strategies for risk mitigation and contingency planning. By proactively doing this, you can significantly enhance the likelihood of success by anticipating and effectively addressing potential obstacles.
  • Communication and Team Alignment : From fostering effective communication with both internal and external stakeholders to aligning team members and showcasing your startup’s unique value proposition, a business plan plays a crucial role. It enables you to articulate target market insights, competitive advantages, and growth strategies to potential investors, partners, and employees.
  • Resource Allocation : A business plan helps you identify the resources required to launch and operate your startup successfully. It includes an assessment of your human resources, technology needs, infrastructure requirements, and other key resources. By understanding your resource needs, you can allocate them effectively, ensuring that you have the necessary assets to execute your business strategy.
  • Adaptability and Flexibility : Your business plan should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and adapt to new circumstances. Startups operate in dynamic environments, and a well-designed plan allows you to monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, and make adjustments as needed. This agility enables you to seize new opportunities and navigate challenges effectively.

3. What is the ideal length for a startup business plan?

The optimal length for a startup business plan typically depends on the specific requirements and intended audience, but a concise and focused plan of around 20 to 30 pages is often recommended.

4. How to write a good startup business plan?

To write a good and effective startup plan, include an executive summary, company description, market analysis, detailed products/services description and a clear marketing and sales strategy. Also incorporate a comprehensive financial plan, outline your organizational structure, and demonstrates your team’s expertise and capabilities. Your plan should be well-researched, concise, and compelling, with a focus on your company’s unique value proposition and market opportunity, making it attractive to investors and stakeholders.

Utilizing Venngage templates & other tools for success

A visually appealing and professional business plan needn’t be a daunting task. Leverage tools like Venngage Business Plan Maker for effective templates that cater to various industries and streamline the process. 

  • Leveraging Venngage for Visually Appealing and Professional Business Plans

Venngage offers a range of templates designed specifically for business plans, allowing you to craft a polished and visually engaging plan without any design experience. Simply choose a template, customize it to suit your startup’s branding, and populate it with your content.

  • Exploring Additional Resources and Tools for Entrepreneurs. In addition to Venngage, several other resources and tools can assist entrepreneurs in crafting the perfect business plan. Examples include:
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) – Offers guidance on writing business plans and provides templates and resources for each section.
  • SCORE – A nonprofit organization providing mentorship, workshops, and other resources for entrepreneurs.
  • Industry-specific resources – Research relevant professional organizations, industry publications, and blogs to stay up to date on industry trends and insights.

Embarking on the entrepreneurial path may present formidable challenges, yet it offers abundant rewards in various aspects. Embrace the art of continuous learning, delving not only into the essence of your business idea but also immersing yourself in the vast world that surrounds it. Cultivate a genuine passion for understanding every facet of your enterprise, for it is through this journey of exploration that you will uncover invaluable insights and experience the true fulfillment of entrepreneurship.

business plan outline startup

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Startup Business Plan

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Starting a business is an exciting and overwhelming prospect at the same time. Having a business gives you autonomy but comes with a lot of responsibility at the same time.

But you don’t need to worry! If you plan your business down to the last detail, all the overwhelming aspects of your business can become easier to manage.

Proper business planning also helps you get the maximum out of your business efforts and writing a business plan is the first step for any business planning.

A well-written business plan helps you grow your business rapidly and optimally. To make the business plan writing process easy and faster, we have created this startup business plan.

First, let’s understand an important question.

What is Business Plan Template?

A business plan template is a guide that consists of an outline of all the required sections of a perfect business plan. It also includes step-by-step instructions on how to write each section of the business plan.

A good business plan usually consists of an executive summary, business overview, market analysis, operations plan, and so on.

Now that you know what a business plan template is, let’s move on to understand why you need one.

Why do you need a business plan for your startup?

If you’ve recently set up your startup business, it’s understandable why you might be dumbstruck. There’s a lot that needs to be done and it’s not always obvious why. Fortunately, we can help you create a business plan. Some of the reasons why you need a business plan are:

  • Getting started: Getting a business up and running may seem chaotic. You may be unsure of where to begin, and here’s when a business plan can help you set things straight. It helps prioritize and organize your business activities.
  • Predict challenges: Creating a startup business plan helps determine the risks and obstacles that your startup is likely to face in the future. This helps you stay prepared with suitable tactics to overcome these challenges.
  • Funding: Attracting investors to score funding is essential for startups. Whether you’re applying for a loan or seeking investors, a business plan helps gain their trust. Having a business plan conveys that you are serious about your business and are trustworthy.
  • Goals and milestones: A business plan helps you create measurable goals . It further helps induce focus and track your progress. Witnessing the progress motivates you and your team to perform better and achieve more milestones.
  • Finances: Finances are one of the trickiest aspects of a business, especially for a startup. Every decision you make has a financial implication. Hence, it is vital to consider every aspect in decision-making. A business plan helps you manage, track, and predict your finances.
  • Revising strategies: When you’re just setting up your business, you’re bound to make the wrong assumptions. A business plan helps you identify your mistakes and revamp your strategies to get back on track.

Types of Business Plan Template

Moreover, business plan templates come in different forms and you can select the one that fits your needs the best.

Here are the two most common ones:

Simple Business Plan

Traditional business plan.

Let’s understand what’s the difference between these business plans and which one is best for you.

A simple business plan template is super handy to write a quick and concise business plan.

It helps you cover all the pointers necessary to attract investors as well as for creating a well-rounded plan.

A lean business plan is not only easy to write but it is also written in a way that helps you take action to solve business problems as well as to introduce product and service-based solutions in the market.

Here are the 9 sections of a simple or lean business plan:

  • Problem:  This section consists of a brief description of the market problem you are trying to solve with your product or service.
  • Solution:  This section would consist of how you’ll solve the concerned market problem, and how is your solution different from the already existing ones.
  • Key Metrics:  Include all your data including sales target, break-even analysis, funding requirements, and so on in this section.
  • Unique Proposition:  In this section, you’ll describe the USP of your product and the data to support your claim. It can either be in the form of surveys or customer and competitive analysis.
  • Unfair Advantage:  This section will help you take note of all the unfair advantages of your competitors and how you’ll prevent them from using the same.
  • Channels:  In this section list down mediums through which you can market and distribute your product or service.
  • Target Audience:  Through this section, you’ll describe the key attributes of your ideal customer or draw out your customer persona .
  • Cost Structure:  This section would consist of the cost structure and describe its feasibility.
  • Revenue Streams:  In this section list out your revenue stream and when you plan on starting it.

In conclusion, a lean business plan is a great tool if you are just starting and don’t want to get into the hassle of writing a 30-page-long business plan . Moreover, it can also serve as a pitch for investors.

But despite all of its advantages, a lean business plan might not be your cup of tea. Or if you plan on growing your business you might need a more detailed and elaborate plan.

And for that, a traditional business plan is a very handy tool. It might seem tedious to write, but it acts as a guide at every step of your business.

And here’s what you’ll include in a traditional business plan.

A traditional business plan is a living document that grows alongside your business. It helps you grab opportunities unforeseen by unplanned businesses and helps you tackle obstacles smartly and smoothly. A business plan is one of the best investments of time that you can put into your business.

Here are a few major sections of a traditional business plan:

  • Business Overview
  • Mission Statement
  • Product/Service Summary
  • Market Opportunity Summary
  • Traction Summary
  • Vision Statement
  • Capital Request
  • Problem Analysis
  • Market Size & Growth
  • Market Trends
  • Market Segments
  • Industry Success Stories
  • Market position
  • Unique selling position
  • Pricing strategy
  • Value to customer
  • Revenue Channels
  • Critical Costs
  • Cost Maturation & Milestones
  • Investment Costs
  • Operating Efficiencies
  • Competitor 1
  • Competitor 2
  • Similarities & Differences
  • Customer Definition
  • Channel Cost Assumptions
  • SWOT – internal and external forces
  • Launch Strategy and Budget
  • Distribution Channels
  • Product Development
  • Manufacturing/Distribution
  • Early Customers & Revenue
  • Testimonials & Social Proof
  • Partnerships
  • Intellectual Property
  • Press Mentions
  • Organization Chart
  • Hiring Plan
  • Funding Goal
  • Use of Funds
  • Why Invest? / Conclusion
  • Income Statement
  • Balance Sheet
  • Break-Even Analysis

Say goodbye to boring templates

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Why Choose a Traditional Business Plan?

Startups are very different from established businesses. The most obvious reason is that startups don’t have any previous data on how to run their business. This is precisely why a traditional business plan will work for any startup.

There are some vital differences between a traditional business plan and a simple business plan. These differences exist due to several reasons:

  • Lack of a definite business model In the early stages, it’s difficult to state the structure of your business model because your business idea and its execution are still in the testing phase. Only after a certain period of trial and error, you would be able to describe your business model.
  • No performance history While creating financial projections, an established company examines its credit history, past sales, revenue, expenditure, and growth rate. In contrast, a startup needs to begin with assumptions. You have to predict sales, costs, expenses, growth rate, etc. To increase the accuracy of your predictions, you need to gather reliable factual data to back your predictions.
  • Increased risk Startups have an increased risk factor compared to established businesses. This is because startups lack a loyal customer base, an expert team, brand recognition, etc. Devise strategies to overcome the potential risks and challenges that may come your way in the future.

These are the reasons why you need a dedicated business plan for your startup that helps focus on the essential elements while setting up your business.

Before you start writing your business plan, go through the below checkpoints to make sure you are ready for it.

Tips to Create a Business Plan for Your Startup

Writing your first business plan can be overwhelming and confusing. However daunting it may seem, it is still something you can’t avoid.

  • Use a startup business plan template: It can be hard to start from scratch, especially when you are unsure of where to begin. A business plan template helps you get started quickly. You can use it to navigate and structure your plan according to your standards
  • Tailor your plan: After choosing a template, it is essential to customize it to your business requirements. Remove sections that are irrelevant and create your business plan based on the purpose you need it for. For instance, if you are building a business plan to get funding, the financial section of your business plan needs more emphasis.
  • Research thoroughly: Every section of your business plan needs extensive research. Collect data about your market, industry, and competitors. Study their pricing strategies and market trends. Run surveys and talk to your potential customers to understand their needs and problems.
  • Compose according to your objectives: It can be easy to lose sight of your objectives and get lost in the process of writing your business plan. To avoid that, make sure that your marketing strategies, operations, and financial goals are aligning with your business objectives.
  • Ask for feedback: Once you finish creating a business plan, get your team and various experts to provide your feedback. This helps you revise and make adjustments to your plan before presenting it to an investor or client.
  • Be prepared to answer questions: Before you present your startup business plan, it is crucial to prepare yourself to answer any questions related to your plan. It can be because the reader of your business plan may not understand a specific topic or want to test your knowledge. Regardless, keep yourselves informed and ready.

Download a sample startup business plan

Need help writing your business plan from scratch? Here you go;  download our free startup business plan pdf  to start.

It’s a modern business plan template specifically designed for your house-flipping business. Use the example business plan as a guide for writing your own.

The Quickest Way to turn a Business Idea into a Business Plan

Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.

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In conclusion, a business plan is an extremely handy device to get the best out of your efforts if you use it the right way. Planning your business involves consideration of several aspects that make up your business like the type of your industry, the stage of your business, the number of competitors, market size, etc.

Nonetheless, business planning always acts as a plus while tackling the challenges your business will face. It provides you with a proper structure to deal with your business problems head-on.

So, are you thinking of starting your own business? Then go ahead and start planning!

After getting started with Upmetrics , you can copy this startup business plan template into your business plan, modify the required information, and download your startup business plan pdf or doc file. It’s the fastest and easiest way to start writing a business plan for your new startup.

Related Articles On Business Plan Writing

  • How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step
  • Deciding the Ideal Length of Your Business Plan
  • How to Write an Operations Plan for Your Business Plan
  • Browse Through 400+ Free Business Plan Examples
  • How to Design a Detailed Table of Contents for Your Business Plan

About the Author

business plan outline startup

Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan (10 Effective Steps)

Learn how to create an effective business plan in 10 easy steps and discover the transformative power of mentorship to elevate your startup's strategy.

business plan outline startup

Robin Waite

5 minute read

10 steps to create a business plan

Short answer

What should an effective business plan include?

An effective business plan should include the following elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Your products or services
  • Marketing and sales strategies
  • Organization and management
  • Financial projections
  • Funding requirements
  • Risk assessment
  • Conclusion and Call to Action

You need a strategic business plan to successfully navigate the startup world

Diving into the startup world without a clear plan is like setting sail without a compass ; you might drift aimlessly or even crash.

A solid business plan isn't just a piece of paper—it's your roadmap to success. It attracts the right investors, guides your decisions, and sets you on a clear path to victory.

In this article, I’ll walk you through 10 essential steps to craft that perfect plan. Plus, I’ll touch on the invaluable insights a business mentor can offer.

So, if you want to avoid common pitfalls and boost your chances of success, keep reading. Your startup's future might just depend on it.

Step 1: Executive summary

Think of the executive summary as the elevator pitch for your startup. It's a quick snapshot that captures the heart of your business idea, mission, and goals.

In this brief section, make sure to highlight who your target audience is, what sets you apart in the market, and your unique selling points.

And don't forget to give a glimpse of your financial outlook and any funding needs—it sets the stage for the details that follow.

Here's an example of an executive summary slide:

Executive summary slide example

Step 2: Company description

Here's where you tell your startup's story. It's not just a list of facts or a timeline. It's about painting a picture that connects with your readers.

Clearly outline your vision, mission, and the values that drive you. Share key milestones you've hit and where you currently stand in your business journey. This section gives depth to your startup, showing both where you've been and where you're headed.

Here's an example of a company introduction slide:

Company introduction slide example

Step 3: Market analysis

To thrive, you've got to know the lay of the land. That's where market analysis comes in. Start by zeroing in on your target audience and truly understanding what they're looking for.

Dive deep into industry trends, the overall market size, and where it's headed. And don't just know your competitors—understand what makes you stand out from the crowd.

Here's what a market analysis slide should look like:

Market analysis slide example

Step 4: Products or services

Here's your chance to shine a spotlight on what you're offering. What problems are your products or services solving? What makes them special? Whether it's a unique feature, a patent, or some groundbreaking tech, make it clear why your offerings are game-changers.

Here's an example of a solution slide:

Solution slide example

Step 5: Marketing and sales strategies

In today's crowded market, standing out is crucial. This step is all about your game plan to grab attention and win customers. Detail how you'll sell, where you'll promote, and how you'll get your products or services into the hands of those who need them.

Here's what a go-to-market slide should look like:

Go-to-market slide example

Step 6: Organization and management

Behind every great startup is a team of passionate people. Here, introduce your squad. Highlight their expertise, define their roles, and show the structure that keeps everything running smoothly.

If you've got advisors or partners in your corner, mention them—it shows you're serious about growing in every direction.

Here’s a full guide on how to create the perfect team slide for your startup . And here's a great example of one:

Team slide example

Step 7: Financial projections

Numbers don't lie, and in this step, they sketch out your startup's potential future. Dive into the financials, projecting where you see your revenue, expenses, and profits heading over the next few years.

By breaking down your initial costs and where you expect to get your funding, you give a clear view of how you're setting up for success.

Here's an example of a financials slide:

Financial projections slide example

Step 8: Funding requirements

Every startup needs fuel to get off the ground, and that fuel is capital. Here, be clear about how much you need to launch and keep things running.

Break down where every dollar will go, whether that's marketing, product development, or daily operations.

If you've already got some backers or have your eye on potential investors, mention them—it adds weight to your pitch.

Here's what a use of funds slide should look like:

Use of funds slide example

Step 9: Risk assessment

Every venture has its bumps in the road. Here, show that you're not just aware of potential challenges but that you've got a plan to tackle them. In assessing risks, it's crucial to choose the right business structure at the beginning. For examples, the formation of an LLC as a strategic measure not only protects your personal assets from business liabilities but also mitigates financial risks for stakeholders. By laying out your strategies for handling risks, you prove you're not just optimistic—you're realistic and ready.

Here's an example of a risk assessment slide:

Risk assessment slide example

Step 10: Conclusion and Call to Action

Time to wrap it up and rally your readers. Summarize the key points of your plan, driving home why your startup is a solid bet.

But remember, this isn't just a conclusion—it's a launchpad. Encourage readers to get involved, whether that's investing, partnering, or simply supporting your vision. Let's get this journey started!

And, if you need more information, check out our comprehensive guide on how to write a business plan .

Here's an example of a next step slide:

Next step slide example

Seek guidance from a business mentor

While a solid business plan is your startup's compass, adding guidance from a business mentor to your journey is like having a seasoned captain on board.

They bring a treasure trove of insights, lessons from past experiences, and a network of industry contacts. Their tailored advice doesn't just polish your plan—it also boosts your confidence and resilience, two must-haves for the unpredictable startup seas.

By embracing mentorship, you're signaling that you're all in on growth, ready to soak up wisdom and accelerate your path to success.

Why is a business plan crucial for startups?

Think of a business plan as your startup's GPS. It helps you navigate the twists and turns, pointing out both the challenges and the golden opportunities ahead. It's your master blueprint, detailing everything from your big-picture goals to your financial forecasts .

What role does a business mentor play in this process?

A business mentor serves as a seasoned guide in the startup journey. Drawing from their wealth of experience, they offer invaluable insights, helping startups navigate challenges and optimize their strategies. Their guidance is instrumental in making informed, strategic decisions.

How can a mentor enhance my market analysis?

Mentors have their finger on the pulse of the industry. They can help you get a clearer picture of market trends, spot who you're really up against, and gauge where the opportunities lie. With their insights, your market analysis won't just be good—it'll be top-notch.

Can a mentor assist in financial projections?

Absolutely. If your mentor has a financial background, they can be a goldmine. They'll help you craft projections that are both ambitious and grounded in reality. From revenue estimates to potential expenses, they'll ensure your numbers make sense.

How can you incorporate mentorship into the business plan?

Consider adding a dedicated section in your business plan to highlight the mentorship aspect. By detailing the insights and guidance you've received, or intend to seek, you underscore your commitment to informed growth. This proactive approach can resonate well with potential investors and stakeholders.

Business plan templates

Starting your business plan can feel like staring at a blank canvas—it's full of potential, but where do you begin? That's where interactive business plan templates come into play.

These templates serve as a structured guide, ensuring you don't miss any crucial details while allowing for flexibility and customization. They're designed to streamline the process, making it easier to organize your thoughts and present your vision in a coherent manner.

Ready to dive in? Grab a template from the library below and give your business plan a head start.

business plan outline startup

Robin Waite is a business coach based in the UK, bestselling author, and also regular business speaker. Robin's Fearless Business Accelerator covers pricing, productising services, and sales for coaches, consultants, and freelancers. Robin's passion is content marketing and blogging and he enjoys finding creative ways to make complex business topics simple for his readers.

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  • Startup Business Plan Template

Business woman working on business plan.

Last Updated: June 30, 2023 By TRUiC Team

A startup business plan template can help entrepreneurs set their goals, objectives, and strategies. These templates are usually adapted to suit specific businesses or industries.

What Is a Startup Business Plan?

A startup business plan is, as the name suggests, a business plan for companies that are still in the startup phase. A startup company has to be prepared for future problems. A business plan helps it be prepared for the unexpected by giving insights into the market and competition.

If the product it produces is not successful, a startup should have an idea of what to do next. It also needs to know how much money will be required for things like marketing campaigns or expansion. It is important that a startup business plan offers a clear idea for growth strategy to best allocate resources.

If you'd like to learn more about startup business plans, check out our What Is a Business Plan guide.

How Long Should a Startup Business Plan Be?

A startup business plan should be between one to three pages long with key points listed in bullet points. It should also be easy to read and understand.

Benefits of Using a Startup Business Plan Template

A startup business plan template can be a useful tool for entrepreneurs, no matter what type of company they are trying to launch.

Some of the benefits of using a startup business plan template include:

  • It will help you save time and make it easy for you to create your business plan.
  • It can also help you avoid mistakes and ensure that your business plan is on file.
  • Having a consistent format and look will make it easier for investors and other stakeholders to understand what you’re proposing.

Different Types of Startup Business Plan Templates

Creating or purchasing a blank startup business template will ensure you create a proper business plan for your business. Templates can be modified to include only those sections you need for your specific business type. Sections including financial projections, product launch plans, and more.

A template lets you fill out all the information you need to create a polished and professional business plan — from an executive summary to forecasting annual profits based on market insights. 

A good startup template includes these sections:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Products and services
  • Market analysis
  • Management team
  • Financial plan
  • Operational plan

Free Startup Business Plan Generator

Use our free business plan generator to write your startup business plan. Start filling out the sections while keeping the following in mind.

Startup business plan template best practices:

  • Think about your product or service and what market it will be in.
  • Understand your competition.
  • Do some in depth market research to ensure you have the competitive advantage.
  • Work through each section of the business plan template.
  • Consult with noncompetitive experts to see how you might improve your plan.
  • Create a final draft.
  • Stick to your plan as you build out your business, modifying it as needed.

Final Thoughts

Writing can be frustrating. Researching can be daunting. To make writing a business plan easier, use a business plan template. A business plan template saves you time and the hassle of starting from scratch. 

The better your business plan, the more likely your business will succeed.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What types of businesses need business plans.

Business plans are one of the most important documents for today’s startups. They help potential investors decide whether they should invest in your business or not.

For startups looking for funding, a business plan is the best way to present to potential investors. It also offers a great opportunity for startups to get feedback from peers and other professionals in the field.

Business plans are necessary when businesses need to apply for certain types of loans or grants. A business plan can be used as proof that you have an idea, have taken steps to bring it into fruition, and know how to run a successful enterprise.

What is the difference between a startup business plan and an existing company's business plan?

In a startup business plan, the founders need to give a detailed description of what their company does and why it is better than its competitors. In an existing company's business plan, the focus is more on discussing past accomplishments and future plans.

How long should a startup business plan be?

A business plan is a written document that provides an overview of the business, its objectives, and the market. Generally these plans are one to three pages long with key points listed in bullet-point format. 

Keep the plan on hand for when you need it most - like when you hit hard times or when you're faced with a problem that cannot be solved by any other means.

550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business

550+ Free Sample Business Plans

Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration.

Find your business plan example

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Example business plan format

Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.

Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).

Products & services

The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.

This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.

Market analysis

Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.

Competition

Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.

To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.

Marketing & sales

The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.

The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.

Milestones & metrics

The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.

A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.

You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.

Company & team

Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.

Financial projections

Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.

Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.

The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.

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. 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 in any other situation where the full details of your business must be understood by another individual.

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 format 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.

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.

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.

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's 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, forecast, review, and refine based on your 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 more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.

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

Download a free sample business plan template

Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2024.

This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.

How to use an example business plan to help you write your own

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How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.

For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.

Use a business plan example as a guide

Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.

One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.

You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.

If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template .

Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document

Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.

Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool

Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.

If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.

Prepare to pitch your business

If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.

Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.

With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples.

Ready to get started?

Now that you know how to use an example business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it's time to find the right one.

Use the search bar below to get started and find the right match for your business idea.

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Do you want to increase the odds that your business startup will be a success? Download this step-by-step business plan template to lay the groundwork for your new business.

Writing a business plan allows you to carefully think through every step of starting your company so you can better prepare and handle any challenges. While a thorough business plan is essential in the financing process, it's helpful even if you don’t need outside financing.

Creating a business plan can:

  • Help you discover any weaknesses in your business idea so you can address them before you open for business
  • Identify business opportunities you may not have considered and plan how to take advantage of them
  • Analyze the market and competition to strengthen your idea
  • Give you a chance to plan strategies for dealing with potential challenges so they don’t derail your startup
  • Convince potential partners, customers, and key employees that you’re serious about your idea and persuade them to work with you
  • Force you to calculate when your business will make a profit and how much money you need to reach that point so that you can be prepared with adequate startup capital
  • Determine your target market and how to reach them

A detailed, step-by-step plan gives you a blueprint you can refer to during the startup process and helps you maintain momentum.

What this business plan template includes

Writing a business plan for a startup can sometimes seem overwhelming. To make the process easier and more manageable, this template will guide you step-by-step. The template includes easy-to-follow instructions for completing each business plan section, questions to help you think through each aspect, and corresponding fillable worksheet/s for critical sections.

After you complete the 11 worksheets, you will have a working business plan for your startup to show your SCORE mentor .

Business plan sections covered in this template:

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Products and Services
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operational Plan
  • Management and Organization
  • Startup Expenses and Capitalization
  • Financial Plan

The Appendices include documents that supplement information in the body of the plan.  These might be contracts, leases, purchase orders, intellectual property, key managers’ resumes, market research data or anything that supports assumptions or statements made in the plan.

The last section of the template, “Refining Your Plan,” explains ways to modify your plan for specific purposes, such as getting a bank loan, or for specific industries, such as retail or manufacturing.

Complete the Business Plan Template for a Startup Business to create a working business plan for your startup.

Then, contact a  SCORE mentor  to review and refine your plan online or in person.

Quick Start Business Plan The aim of this module is to give you the tools, direction and ideas you need to build a business plan. If you're starting a business then a business plan is essential, because it forces you to think through your ideas and options.

10 Business Planning Tips for Starting a Business In this webinar, you'll learn 10 business planning tips to help you start your entrepreneurial journey on the right path.

Business Plan 101: Sales & Marketing The sales and marketing section of your business plan describes how you intend to sell your product. Learn what you should include in this section.

Copyright © 2024 SCORE Association, SCORE.org

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

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan

May 28, 2022 - 10 min read

Yuvika Iyer

A startup business plan is an outline of your ideas and strategies for what you’ll need to do to start, manage, and even complete your startup’s mission. Creating one might sound simple enough, but because it’s a startup’s roadmap for success, it can be a complex document to create. 

Writing a business plan can make a world of difference for entrepreneurs who desire external funding. It involves determining your target customers, understanding what makes them tick, and figuring out how to reach them through marketing campaigns. 

In this blog post, we’ve explained why you should have a startup business plan, different types of startup business plans, and we’ve included 12 of the most effective tips for writing a startup business plan. If you’re ready to start with now, we have a product launch template to get you started quickly. 

What is a startup business plan?

A startup business plan is a written document that outlines your ideas and strategies for launching, managing, and eventually exiting your new venture. 

A well-constructed business plan can be crucial to the success of any entrepreneurial endeavor . As you prepare your proposal, keep in mind that it will evolve as you learn more about your market.

To start, create an outline of the most important items you'd like feedback on before writing anything down officially.

Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want?
  • Why does my company exist?
  • How will I make money?
  • What are my long-term goals?

A detailed business plan helps you set milestones for measuring success. You can share the plan with investors who may want some reassurance on the viability of their investment in your company.

The best way to create a successful startup business plan is by including everything in an organized and easy-to-read document — marketing strategies, financial projections, team bios, timelines, and more.

What is a lean startup business plan?

A lean startup business plan is a method for developing products that relies on iterative experimentation to reduce uncertainty. 

It has been used by companies such as Google , Amazon, and Facebook in the early stages of their development, and involves testing your idea with real customers early in development.

Lean startups are less likely to fail because they have tested their product or service with live feedback from consumers. Doing this allows them to make changes quickly without wasting resources on something no one wants.

The goal is not to build an extensive business plan but rather a "lean" one that can be changed based on customer feedback and then re-evaluated in regular intervals until it reaches market potential — or fails.

A lean startup business plan is a strategy that focuses on getting a product in front of customers as quickly and cheaply as possible. Use the lean startup business plan to validate your ideas before wasting time and resources.

Why do you need a small startup business plan?

A small startup business plan is one of the most important steps in building a company. Apart from helping you to focus on company goals, it aids in obtaining feedback from potential partners and keeps the team on the same page.

The best thing about starting small? You can change course at any time! If you need help developing or tweaking your small startup business plan, use this guide for entrepreneurs to get started.

You've built a product and you're ready to take the next step, but what's your plan? First, you need a strategy in place. Do you know how much money it will cost, or where exactly that funding should come from? What about marketing strategies for getting customers in the door? 

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You’ll also need to find ways to retain them afterwards so they keep coming back again and again (and spending more).

product launch startup template

Obtain external funding

If you want to get funding from lenders or investors, you need a startup business plan. Lenders want to make sure they're investing in a company that will last and grow.

A well-organized idea shows passion for its purpose and outlines clear goals for helping customers. At the same time, having an exit strategy is also important.

Making a plan for when things don’t pan out as desired lets investors understand how much value there can be while giving customers (and yourself) peace of mind.

Understand your target market

One key piece of your business plan is knowing how to conduct a market analysis. To do this, consider the industry, target market, and competitors. 

Are there any market trends or competitor factors that can affect your business? Review them closely and get ready to make required changes to your business plan.

Prioritize high ROI strategies

In business, ROI is important. Any business that doesn’t generate as much cash as it burns is likely to fail.

With a startup business plan in place, the strategies with the highest ROI become crystal clear. You'll know exactly what to tackle first and how to prioritize the rest of your tasks.

Accelerate financial health

Business plans are not crystal balls, but they can help forecast your financial health. Planning for expenses is vital to keep operations steady and identify problems as soon as possible. 

Cash flow projections can help you see if goals are achievable or highlight upcoming issues that need correction before it's too late.

How to write a small startup business plan

Use this guide for entrepreneurs to develop or tweak a startup business plan. By following this easy six-step process, you'll soon have a clear path to startup success.

1. Clarify the startup vision, mission, and values

The first step to writing a startup business plan is understanding the startup itself.

Once you know what your startup does, ask yourself why. What is the startup's mission? What problem will it help customers solve? The startup's mission statement helps define its reason for existing.

It’s usually expressed in a simple sentence, but can also be written as a short paragraph.

Try to answer these questions: What does your startup do? How will it make money? How quickly do you hope it will grow? Are there any significant milestones or deadlines that need to be met?

2. Outline the executive summary

Now that you have an idea for your startup, its mission, and a vision in mind, it's time to write your startup business plan executive summary.

Keep it simple and precise. Begin by writing a one-sentence startup business plan introduction that showcases the core customer need/pain point and how you propose to solve it.

3. Develop startup goals and milestones

Next, write down the milestones and goals for your startup business plan. This is a crucial step that many entrepreneurs forget when they're starting out.

Do you want to focus on getting new customers? Or attaining a specific revenue number?  Without clear short-term goals, it can be hard to know how to prioritize startup tasks.

4. Write a company description

Answer the two fundamental questions — who are you and what will you do? Then, give an introduction to why you're in business.

Provide a summary of introspective goals, clarifying intangible aspects such as values or cultural philosophies. Make sure to mention:

  • Proposed business structure (limited partnership, sole proprietorship, incorporated company, or a general partnership)
  • Business model
  • Business vision and mission statement
  • Background information of your team members

business plan outline startup

5. Conduct market analysis

Choosing the right market is crucial to your organization’s success. There are different kinds of products and services that a business can offer and each has particular requirements for a successful market fit.

If you choose one that doesn't have a large enough customer base or is not profitable enough, your company may end up struggling for every sale.

Ensure that there is a clear market niche — an ideal audience of customers with a need or a pain point that your business can help solve.

6. Develop startup partnerships and resources

When you're launching a small startup, one of the most important things that your business needs is capital. There are several ways to get going on this front.

When thinking about sources of funding for startups , consider startup grants, startup loans, startup investors, and startup accelerators.

7. Write a startup marketing plan and startup budget

Your startup business plan is almost complete! All that's left is to create a startup marketing plan and budget. Your startup marketing plan will help you define your company’s target audience and brand image.

The startup budget is an integral part of any startup that helps you take the guesswork out of writing expenses.

Examples of startup business plans

Business plans differ based on the nature of the business, target market, competitive advantage, delivery of product/service, scope, and size.

Though the core business plan template remains the same, the content and flow change. Here is an example of an accounting firm's business plan:

Vision statement

At our company, ABC Accounting Services LLC, we work hard to provide the best service and build a strong team. Our vision is for this brand to be recognized as #1 throughout NYC by both smaller businesses and larger corporations.

Our values are reflected in all that we do: integrity (ethical behavior), service (giving top priority to clients' needs), excellence ("doing it right"), teamwork (working together).

Executive summary

ABC Accounting Services LLC is the premier accounting firm in New York City and will handle various financial services. We specialize in audits, bookkeeping, tax preparation/compliance work, and budgeting assistance with high-quality consulting.

Business structure

ABC Accounting Services LLC will be structured as an LLC — a Limited Liability Company in the state of New York. It will provide accounting, bookkeeping, taxation, auditing, and compliance-related services to small, medium, and large enterprises situated in New York City.

Marketing strategy and competitive advantages

Despite the fact that there are many established accounting services firms in our industry, we have a great chance of becoming successful because of the high demand for financial consulting. 

Often, small businesses don't need full-time employees but would rather hire an accounting service provider like us to handle their bookkeeping and tax returns on time every year.

It is best to find a unique niche or carve out your own market in the financial consulting services industry. If you're able to create an identifiable brand identity for your accounting business, then you will likely see less competition from other firms.

Startup milestones

ABC Accounting Services LLC will focus on delivering an exceptional client experience to grow the business and expand market share.

Startup business plan template

Here's a template you can follow when creating your startup business plan:

business plan outline startup

Top tips for writing a startup business plan

The following tips will help you create a compelling startup business plan without getting overwhelmed.

Know your audience

To write an effective business plan, tailor your language and level of detail to match the audience reading it. 

Have a simple and clear goal

If you have a goal of securing funding for your business, it will be an uphill task with lots of work and research.

Simplifying and breaking down bigger goals into smaller, actionable tasks will assist you in getting through them faster.

Spend time researching

Avoid assuming anything about your target audience, product/service, or the market need.

Spending adequate time and effort on research from primary and secondary sources will help you develop an accurate business plan.

Build a startup toolkit

The process of creation becomes easier if you have the right startup tools and software by your side. Pick the right ones that will help you in your journey.

Keep it precise

Short and easy-to-read business plans are best kept within 20 pages. If you have additional documents, consider adding them as appendices or provide a link if available online.

Ensure tonal consistency

Keep the tone consistent by having just one author write your startup business plan. Otherwise, be sure to edit it thoroughly before you finalize it.

Add reference points

All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative data points.

Be ready to pivot

A business plan should be fluid and flexible. Think of it as an evolving document that will continue to change over time.

How to create a business plan with Wrike

A good business plan is a powerful tool and can be a key predictor of future progress, but simply filling in a startup business plan won’t help you achieve success. You need to create action steps with accountability that will help you reach your goals. 

Wrike’s project management software can help your organization deliver successful projects and maximize individual and team productivity, and our product launch template can help you turn your startup business plan goals into actionable steps. 

Start a free trial of Wrike today to see how it can help to simplify work, showcase progress to stakeholders, and achieve startup success.

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika is a freelance writer who specializes in recruitment and resume writing.

Related articles

How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)

How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)

A business plan is a straightforward document. In it, you’ll include market research, your overall goals for the business, and your strategies for achieving those goals.  But what is a business case and why do you need one if a business plan outlines everything else? A business case takes a closer look at a specific problem and how you can solve it. Think of a business case as the reason you create a project you’re going to manage in the first place.  The article provides a step-by-step guide on how to write a successful business case, including a checklist for identifying problems, researching solutions, and presenting to stakeholders. As a bonus, we’ll show you how to use Wrike to manage your product business cases with a requirements management template or implement them with a project scheduling template. What is a business case? A business case is a project you’ll assemble for identifying, addressing, and solving a specific business problem.  The key to a business case is the change it creates in your business. Developing a business case starts with identifying a problem that needs a permanent solution. Without that lasting change, a business case is only an observation about what’s going wrong. A complete business case addresses how a company can alter its strategy to fix that problem. Front-to-back, a business case is a complete story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It typically looks like this: Beginning: Someone identifies a problem within the business and presents the business case to the key decision-makers. Middle: With the project go-ahead, the company launches an internal team to address the business case and deliver results. End: The team delivers a presentation on the changes made and their long-term effects. In short, a business case is the story of a problem that needs solving.   Examples of business cases The problem for many companies is that they can turn a blind eye to challenges that are right in front of their faces. This is even the case when the company has a compelling product to sell. Consider the example of Febreze. In the mid-1990s, a researcher at Procter & Gamble was working with hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin. His wife noticed that his clothes no longer smelled like cigarettes, which was a frequent complaint. P&G had something of a miracle product on its hands. However, their approach was wrong. They initially marketed Febreze as a way to eliminate embarrassing smells. Predictably, the product flopped.  But P&G stuck at it. They had a potential business case on their hands: a highly marketable product proved difficult to market. What was going wrong? Working on the business case from beginning to end provided the answer. After some focus group testing, P&G found out that few consumers recognized the nasty odors they were used to. Instead, they learned to use a different business case for Febreze: it was a cleaning product now, a way to make the house smell nice when the floors are vacuumed and the counters are wiped clean. They gave it its own pleasant smell and fashioned it into a cleaning product. And because it worked so well, so did the campaign.  That’s an example of a business case overall. But let’s get specific: developing a business case is easier when you have a template to look at. Let’s build an example using a made-up company, ABC Widgets, and a hypothetical business case. Let’s call our business case example “Operation Super Widgets”: Business Case: ABC Widgets Section 1: Summary Briefly describe the problem and the opportunities.  ABC Widgets’ latest widget, the Super Widget, is suffering from supply issues, requiring higher shipping costs to procure the necessary resources, and eating into profits. We need to switch to a new supplier to restore the viability of the Super Widget. Section 2: Project Scope This section should include the following: Financial appraisal of the situation. Super Widgets are now 20% more expensive to produce than in the year prior, resulting in -1% profits with each Super Widget sold. Business objectives. To get revenues back up, we need to restore profit margins on Cost Per Unit Sold for every Super Widget back to 2020 levels. Benefits/limitations. Restoring Cost Per Unit Sold will restore 5% of sagging revenues. However, we are limited to three choices for new Super Widget suppliers. Scope and impact. We will need to involve supply chain managers and Super Widget project management teams, which may temporarily reduce the number of widgets we’re able to produce, potentially resulting in $25,000 in lost revenue. Plan. Project Management Teams A and B will take the next two weeks to get quotes from suppliers and select one while integrating an immediate plan to bring in new Super Widget parts for manufacturing within four weeks. Organization. Team Member Sarah will take the lead on Operation Super Widget Profit. Both teams will report to Sarah. This is a bare-bones example of what a business case might look like, but it does hit on the key points: what’s the problem, how can you fix it, what’s the plan to fix it, and what will happen if you succeed? How do you write and develop a business case? When writing your own business case, the above example is a good guide to follow as you get started with the basics.  But, once you’re more familiar with the nuts and bolts, it’s also worth being prepared for some potential roadblocks you could face along the way.  Challenges of writing a good business case Why don’t more companies create a business case? It might come down to a lack of good communication. Many people don’t even know how to write a business case, let alone present one. “The idea may be great, but if it’s not communicated well, it won’t get any traction,” said Nancy Duarte, communication and author who wrote The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. The key challenge, notes Duarte, is taking abstract business concepts (like lagging numbers) and turning them into an immediately recognizable problem. After all, if a company already had perfect awareness that it was making a mistake, it likely would find a way to stop the error in its tracks.  A business case is challenging because it usually means you’ll have to persuade someone that change is needed. And change can be difficult. In a thriving business, it’s especially problematic because it’s easy to point to the bottom line and say that whatever the company is doing is already working. How do you present a business case? The tips and examples above give you some nice remedies for creating a business case without the typical problems. But you’ll still want to present a business case with the straightforward proposals and numbers you’d associate with any new project.  Essentially, it all comes down to how well your business case can persuade the decision-makers. That’s why you shouldn’t just build a case off of raw numbers. The bottom line might be a compelling argument, but it’s not always what “clicks.”  If you’re presenting a business case, you’re a salesperson. And not every sale is a matter of precise logic. It’s also about emotion—the story of why something’s gone wrong and what needs doing if you’re going to overcome it.  The art of a good business case is the art of persuasion. Keep these specific points in mind as you craft one of your own: Point to an example of a bad business case and liken it to the present case. No one likes the idea of watching themselves walk into a mistake. Presenting an example of a business that made the same mistake your company is making and then translating it into the present moment is a compelling way to craft a business case that makes ears perk up. Build a narrative. Nancy Duarte pointed out that in one business case, a client convinced a CEO to follow through with a project by using simple illustrations. It’s not that the idea of adding illustrations to the business case was so great. It’s that the illustrations were able to tell a compelling story about why the case needed to go through. Distill the idea into an elevator pitch. Try this exercise: get your business case down to one sentence. If you can’t explain it any more simply than that, your business case might not be as memorable as it needs to be to sway decision-makers. Use analogies to drive the point home. Let’s say you discovered a problem in a growing business. Overall, revenues are good — but you’ve noticed an associated cost that has the potential to explode in the future and tank the business. But it’s not compelling to use dollars and cents when the business is doing so well. Instead, consider introducing the business case with a simple analogy: “Without repair, every leaky boat eventually sinks.” You now have their attention. Use the numbers to drive the point home, but not to make the point. If you’re presenting a business case to decision-makers, remember that it’s not only the logic of your argument that will convince people — it’s how persuasive you can be. Business case checklist Before you can check “learn how to write a business case” off your list, you have to know the essentials. Make sure you include the following elements in your business case checklist (and, of course, your business case itself): Reasons. This should be the most compelling part of your business case. You can tell a story here. And the most compelling stories start with a loss or a complication of some sort. What is the threat to the business that needs remedy? What are the reasons for moving forward? Potential courses of action. It’s not a complete story until we know the next chapter. A business case isn’t just about the problem — it’s about rectifying a problem through the solution. Recommend a few specific courses of action to help spur discussion about what to do next. Risks and benefits. Not every solution is going to be perfectly clean. There are going to be solutions with downsides. There are going to be costs along with the benefits. Make sure to include each of these to give a clear and complete picture. This is the time to manage expectations — but also the time to inspire action. Cost. What’s it going to cost to complete the project? The people making the decisions need to know the bottom line figure to assess which business cases to prioritize. Timeline. A good project isn’t only measured in dollars but in days, weeks, and months. What is the expected timeline for the business case? How quickly can the problem meet its solution?  With every business case, specificity is key. A vague timeline won’t help — a timeline with specific weekly milestones looks more achievable. To make your business case more compelling, always look for the specific details that tie your story together. Business case template A business case template is a document that outlines the key elements of a business case in a structured format. By using a standardized template, companies can ensure that all relevant information is captured and shared in a clear and consistent manner. Depending on the size of your business and the scope of your project, your business case template can be as detailed or as simple as you like. For a smaller project, you can use a one-pager to get started, detailing the main points of your project, which include: Executive summary: An overview of your project, its goals, and the benefits of completing it for your business Team and stakeholders: A list of the relevant people involved in your project, and their contact information SWOT analysis: An analysis of how your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats weigh up against your competitors Risk analysis: An overview of the kind of risks that are involved with your project and how you may avoid them Budget and financial plan: Details of your budget and where you may secure financing for your project Project plan: A schedule of how you plan to implement your project and what tasks are involved Let's see what that might look like. Executive summary   Team and stakeholders   SWOT analysis   Risk analysis   Budget   Project plan   How to write a business case with Wrike Wrike’s project management software can step in and turn a business case from the seedling of an idea to a full-fledged initiative.  The requirements management pre-built template can help you document and track project requirements in a structured manner. The template includes sections for capturing stakeholder requirements and business cases, as well as any constraints that may affect the project’s success. By using this template, you can ensure that all necessary requirements are identified and that potential issues are addressed early in the project planning process. If you want to move from the business case description to the actual implementation faster, consider using the project scheduling template. This template can help you create a detailed project timeline with milestones, identify task dependencies, and assign resources. By utilizing this template, you can ensure that the project is realistically achievable and meets all business needs, giving stakeholders confidence in the project’s success.

Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

Learn how to create an operational plan that will help your business succeed. Check out our guide to everything you need to know about operational planning.

What Is a PMIS and How Does it Work?

What Is a PMIS and How Does it Work?

Discover how a PMIS can help your team deliver high-quality projects faster in this in-depth guide. Learn what is PMIS and how you can set one up.

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Start » startup, how to write a startup business plan.

As a startup, you'll need to know how to write a business plan in order to attract investors. Here are some templates and examples to help you get started.

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If you're starting a new business or executing a new plan within your company, you’ll want to have a business plan. It’s a formal document that outlines your company, your project, funding options and your means of execution. There are many resources available to help you write your business plan, including countless templates you can follow depending on your goals. Below we’ve outlined some examples, including a sample plan.

[Read: How to Write a Business Plan During a Pandemic ]

Business plan template examples

While business plans can be general, it’s helpful to gear yours toward your industry. Here are five business plan templates for specific industries or situations:

  • For first-time entrepreneurs: The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) .
  • For getting your ideas down: $100 Startup .
  • For law firms: Cilo .
  • For established businesses: SCORE .
  • For additional industries: LawDepot .

Sample business plan

A one-page business plan briefly states your opportunity and timeline. It’s often used as an introduction to your longer, more robust plan. Here is a brief overview of a business plan and the nine elements that should be included.

1. The business opportunity

At the top of your plan, state the endeavor you're looking to pursue. Are you a new startup or an existing company looking to grow? Describe your challenges and how you plan to work through them. This section should be a one- or two-sentence elevator pitch of your business opportunity.

[Read: How to Refine Your Business Plan for Every Stage of Your Business ]

2. Your company description

When writing your company description, assume the reader knows nothing about your company. Briefly define who you are, identifying your values and why your company is necessary right now.

Outline your timeline for launching your business or project. Timelines are always subject to change, so make sure you account for alternative scenarios and setbacks.

3. Your talent description

In this section, you’ll want to introduce your team and demonstrate why they are the right fit for your business. Talk about their relevant skills, experience and background, getting as specific as possible. Providing their track record will reassure potential investors that your business is backed by reliable professionals.

4. The industry analysis

While writing your plan, it’s important to recognize your industry's outlook and your potential within it. This will also help you identify your competitors and analyze their offerings in comparison to yours, so you can focus on how you might stand out among them. This analysis is a great way to show investors that you’ve done your research and understand how you fit into your market.

[Read: Pivoting During the Pandemic? 16 Tools That Will Help Your Business Adapt ]

5. Your target audience

In this section, you will identify your target audience, defining their demographic, location and other specific traits. Additionally, explain how your audience will benefit from your company or project, or how you will solve common problems they share.

6. The timeline

Outline your timeline for launching your business or project. Timelines are always subject to change, so make sure you account for alternative scenarios and setbacks. For your one-page business plan, talk about your general timeline, its phases and why it’s a realistic goal.

7. Your marketing plan

How will you get the word out about your new business or project? Identify the avenues you and your company will choose to explore and how you plan to meet your target audience there. For example, consider your social media efforts, digital marketing and other methods that you seek to execute.

8. The financial summary

Clearly define your cost structure and revenue streams, describing your sales methods and post-launch goals, as well as how you will achieve them. Be sure to include both your long- and short-term financial goals and benchmarks.

[Read: Smart Strategies for Presenting Your Business Plan ]

9. Your funding requirements

One of the primary reasons you write a business plan is to help obtain funding. In this section, talk about the amount of funding you'll need from investors and where that funding will go. You should also be clear about how you plan to pay back your investors through your financial plan.

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

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

What is a business plan?

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

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

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

business plan outline startup

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Write an Online Business Plan in 2024

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Written by Vanessa Petersen on July 26, 2023 Blog , Sell Online .

You’ve committed to turning your ecommerce or online business idea into something real. You want your small business to produce revenue and change the course of your life, but what’s your first step in realizing your dream? Developing a plan. If you’re not sure about how to write an online business plan, you’ve come to the right place.

One of the most essential tasks involved in starting any kind of business is to write a business plan. An online business plan won’t look that different from a traditional business plan and will include many of the same elements.

In this post, we’ll show you how to write an online business plan, including all the components and sections. We’ll also walk through how WooCommerce can help you put your plan to action and achieve your business goals.

Why write a business plan? 

Starting your own business is a great experience and something that will shape your life, fill you with self-confidence and independence, and inspire other people around you. A new business is also a serious endeavor that will take time, money, sweat, lots of decisions, and a degree of risk.

A traditional business plan template helps you document and keep track of your business goals, challenges, opportunities, and all the steps and processes involved with making your idea work. It will help you conduct thorough market research and set you up for success.

When you write a business plan, it can confirm that you’ve found the best online business to start , or provide clarity about the need to pivot.

woman working on a laptop at a table

It details all the things you will need to do in order to successfully launch and grow your business, and may include revenue projections, timelines for specific goals, concept art for products, and architectural drawings for any brick and mortar aspects of your business. 

Business plans help create a structure for your company’s development and keep you grounded in reality, focused, and not distracted by less important matters. 

If you have more than one person helping run the business, the business plan also keeps everyone unified around the same set of goals and objectives. 

Another reason to write a business plan is for situations where you are presenting your idea to someone else and asking them to invest. In that scenario, your business plan is also a sort of sales document. It makes the argument for why your business idea is so good and well-considered that an investor should want to be a part of it. 

But even if you’re self-funding your entire business — which is more common with online businesses — you still want to write the plan for the reasons given earlier.

The benefits of running an online business

Starting an online business or ecommerce store offers many of the same great benefits as any other business, but without as much risk. If you’re thinking of starting a business, here’s why an online one is a great option:

It has low startup costs

Without a storefront, you eliminate so many costs of running a business. With all the bills that come with having property — like rent, parking, furnishings and decor, etc. — there’s a much higher investment required to start a brick-and-mortar-based business. Online businesses still have startup costs, but they are much lower. 

It gives you freedom over your schedule

With an online business, you have more freedom to set your own hours, because you don’t always have to be open during the usual times. You can build your business to suit the lifestyle you want. Rearrange your time to get things done in the fastest possible way and take time off when you need it. 

You can start small

Once you have a location, it’s yours, and you have to make it work. With an online business, you can start very small, offering just a few products or even just a single service. You can more easily test the waters without making huge commitments with inventory, and other physical investments.

You can more easily pivot

If your online or ecommerce business doesn’t do as well as you expected, it’s easier to pivot and adapt to something new because you haven’t committed so much to making your original idea work. There are many business success stories where the business owner adjusted their idea after gaining some experience, and then it took off. It’s a lot easier to do that when you aren’t tied to a physical location.

But, there’s one thing online businesses have in common with every other type of business: You need a robust business plan to help guide your idea from concept to a successful reality that makes money and fulfills your dreams and goals. 

So, let’s get into business planning. 

two people working at a whiteboard

How do I write my own online business plan?

Most formal business plans and business plan templates include seven sections, plus an executive summary. You’ll need to keep in mind who you’re writing your business plan for. If you are taking this to potential investors or will be seeking a business loan, your business plan needs to sell the idea of your business as a great investment opportunity and communicate the skills, expertise, and commitment you personally bring to the table. 

Here are the key sections of a traditional business plan format:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Organization and management
  • Service and product line
  • Sales and marketing plans
  • Financial projections
  • Funding request (if working with investors or partners)

Here’s a brief look at each step of creating an online business plan:

Draft an executive summary

In the executive summary, the first section of almost every business plan template, you’ll present your vision and focus on building excitement. If the business plan is a sales document, the executive summary is the lead. It gets the reader engaged and excited to hear more. 

Your executive summary should achieve two goals:

  • Deliver the basic facts about your business
  • Motivate the reader to keep going and get them excited about your idea

What facts should you include? Whatever helps the reader understand your business idea. Describe the industry and niche. Mention the target market. Briefly state the needs or problems your products and services will be solving. Touch on the potential for growth in terms of revenue and customers. 

For motivation, describe your mission statement and company values. What will set you apart from the competition? What is your value proposition as a business owner? What makes you different? Again — keep this brief. You’ll elaborate later. 

It might be a good move to write all the other sections first, then finish with the executive summary so it will be the most concise and best version of how you describe your business.

team of women working around a table

Write a company description

Here, you’ll give a brief overview of your company. What are your strengths, skills, and areas of expertise as a business owner that will position you for success? If you have a compelling story behind why you’re starting your business, you can include that too.

Conduct a SWOT analysis 

If you’re not sure where to start, consider doing a SWOT analysis , which is a diagram outlining your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 

It’s a common part of many business plans and will help paint a realistic picture of what your business can achieve, and what stands in the way. You won’t include all of this in the company description, but your strengths and opportunities may fit here. 

Create a mission and vision statement

The company description is also the place to create a mission statement and a vision statement. What’s the difference between these? 

The vision is where you’re going, the mission is how you’ll get there. A vision statement paints a picture of a future reality for your customers and perhaps the world at large, as a result of your company’s influence. A mission statement expresses how you will achieve that.

The company description can elaborate on your vision and mission beyond just a single sentence, and later you can fine-tune what you write into a succinct pair of statements. Feeling some writer’s block? See company description templates by industry for some inspiration.

Include any unique attributes

If your company will involve particular attributes such as manufacturing, supply chains, dropshipping, affiliates, coaching or advising, online courses, or other relevant particulars, include that in your company description, too. 

State your business location, industry, niche, and other details

Also, state the location of your business, even though it’s online. Name your industry and niche target market again, and describe the nature of your company. For example, is it an ecommerce business, a consulting firm, delivery service, wholesale, or ad-based website? These are just some of many types of online business structures. 

You may also want to include whether your business is in any special class of business that might position it for special loan or grant opportunities like women-owned businesses or veteran-owned businesses.

After reading your description, readers should have a good understanding of what your business is about, why it exists, and how it works. Here’s a detailed look at company descriptions , with an example.

Perform a market analysis

A market analysis uses industry research to assess the scope of your business’s target market and describe the current competition in your industry. It can help you estimate the potential for success and prepare for the challenges you may face when you launch your online business or ecommerce shop.

Doing this research, and including it your business plan, can also help you:

  • Identify industry trends
  • Pinpoint opportunities 
  • Diminish risks and reduce costs
  • Generate new ideas for products and services
  • Learn from the failures and shortcomings of your competitors
  • Find ways to stand out from your competitors
  • Discover new markets
  • Refine your marketing plans

Now let’s dig into the elements involved in a thorough market analysis.

Understand your audience

Here, you will explain in detail who your target customers are and why they want or need what you’ll be selling. What problems or needs does your product solve? What will motivate people to buy from you? And why can’t they get it somewhere else just as easily? An ecommerce business competes against other ecommerce businesses as well as brick-and-mortar stores and shopping malls. Stores with omnichannel strategies compete with both. Why would someone choose you?

Share your key customer demographics, psychographics, and interests. Who will you be serving? What drives them? 

What are their values? If your product, service, or personal brand will appeal to a customer segment that also shares particular values, that’s a strength, not a weakness, and you can use that to win them over. 

Perform customer segmentation

Break down different categories of target customers your business plans to serve. One category could be age. Another might be life situations such as retirees, parents, divorcees, or living with older relatives. You could create a segment of people with particular health conditions, or who live certain lifestyles. 

woman hiking with a backpack

But you can also get way more specific than that. Runners are different from hikers, who are different from bikers, yoga enthusiasts, and gym enthusiasts. Different supplements, philosophies about food, motivations for eating various foods — all of these present near endless possibilities for more narrowly defining your customer segments, all under the broad category of ‘health.’ And you might serve multiple segments. 

The more customer segments you know, the more effectively you can market to them. In an online store, good product descriptions call out the various customer segments that product is designed for.

Also, give a sense of the potential size of your target market. How many people need what you’re selling? Show how this market is large enough to justify your business and drive revenue. You might do this by studying revenue reports from other companies in your industry. Or look at specific products related to yours and research their sales and revenue performance. 

You may also perform a survey of some kind, or an online quiz, and use that to express the needs your potential customers have that aren’t currently being met.

Perform a competitive analysis

Study your competition. What are they doing well? What areas are they underserving? Where are they underperforming? Make note of what other companies in your industry are struggling with or failing at so that you can deliver something more valuable and gain a competitive advantage.

It could be product quality, customer service, or selection. Maybe their ecommerce store is badly designed and hard to use. Perhaps there’s a huge industry serving the masses, but customers who have more particular tastes or needs aren’t being well-served by the big companies. Those customers might spend more on something that delivers what they really want. 

Maybe your key competition has been rocked by scandal. Maybe a company went out of business, was sold, or closed down due to retirement and there’s an opening in the market you want to leverage. 

The main point of the competitive analysis is to persuade investors that there’s an underserved market that your business plans to cater to. You must be able to promise something that no one else is currently delivering. Otherwise, why should your business exist? Put them at ease by demonstrating proper market research.

Refer to your SWOT analysis and present any potential threats from the competition here, too.

Outline management and organizational structure

Next, present your management and legal structure. Is your company an LLC, sole proprietorship, S corporation, partnership, or some other arrangement? Who’s in charge of what? If you have different departments, list out the leadership for each one. If relevant, you might even include some information about the expertise of your leaders concerning the areas under their charge and the tasks they’ll be performing.

Remember — if your business plan will be used to persuade investors to help fund your business idea, this sort of information will reassure them that your company has strong and competent leadership. 

If there’s a chain of command, use a diagram or other method for laying out who reports to whom. 

bars of soap lined on a shelf

List your products and services

What are you selling? You’ll touch on this briefly in the earlier sections, but here is where you’ll expand on the details. If you have an array of similar products, such as food flavors or clothing variations, list as many as seem relevant. But focus on the spirit of the business plan — you’re simply communicating what your business is about, not listing every SKU in your projected inventory. 

Also, include information about your products such as quality, durability, expirations, patents, and whatever else will give a clear picture of what you’re selling.

For service businesses and memberships that may include multiple packages, bundles, or tiers, describe each of these so your readers get a sense of how you’ll appeal to different types of customers and price points. 

Develop a sales and marketing strategy

Having products is great, but how do you intend to sell them? How will people find your business? How will anyone know you exist? And once they know, what will motivate them to buy from you and not from your competition? What is your unique value proposition — the thing that sets you apart from your direct competitors?

You’ll need to develop an initial marketing plan to help promote your business, products, and services to your target customers.

And remember, competition isn’t limited just to other businesses. Sometimes, competition is against the customer’s time, or their budget, or mere indifference — the conflict between doing something and doing nothing. Your SWOT analysis should touch on several of these potential barriers to the success of your online business.

Your marketing plan will obviously change over time, but give your readers and potential investors a sense of how you plan to launch and grow your business. 

Google ad for a blue shirt

Discuss media channels you plan to use, such as pay-per-click (PPC) ads , social media , email marketing , affiliate marketing , direct mail, referrals, joint ventures, search engine optimization (SEO), webinars, influencer marketing , and live events. Describe the ones you actually plan to use, and explain the core strategy you’ll begin with and how you will measure success. 

Also, include a sense of your marketing budget. If you will have a dedicated marketing team, or actual sales professionals using a particular process or sales script, discuss that as well. 

For ecommerce businesses, include a discussion of how you plan to leverage platforms like WooCommerce, which features a host of extensions that can help manage your business , engage customers, save money, and promote growth .

charts showing business growth

Make financial projections

You’ve made a lot of claims in your business plan, but how will your investors be convinced of your future success? At some point, you have to show them the money. 

If this is a brand new business with no income, where will your finances come from for the first year? Give realistic financial projections for anticipated profits and losses, as well as growth expectations for the first five years. Include financial documents if you have them, including profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Include costs of employment, manufacturing, and other investments both one-time and ongoing.

Your financial projections should reference your:

  • market analysis 
  • anticipated sales volume 

Investors will feel more confident when they can see your business plan does not rely entirely on just one or two ‘wins.’ For example, if your entire plan hinges on selling on eBay or Amazon , what happens if Amazon suspends your store, changes the terms, or you struggle to get noticed there? 

If your plan depends on winning over a few Instagram influencers, what if they don’t come through? It’s really easy to say what you hope will happen. But actually making it happen is another thing. Business success happens more easily when you apply a multi-channel marketing and sales approach. 

Your financial projections will feel based in reality, when you can demonstrate some prior successes, either in other businesses you’ve already launched, test audiences, local sales you made, prior experience, or data from other businesses. 

Explain your funding request — if applicable

If you intend to ask investors to help fund your business idea, present your request in the final main section of your business plan. If you’ve already secured funding from other sources, include that here as well. An investor will feel better knowing they are not the only one who believes in the potential of your business. 

Will your funding request be for a one-time payment, monthly, annually, or at some other interval? How do you plan to repay their investment? Will you allow them to charge interest? How much ROI can you promise them? 

How WooCommerce can help

WooCommerce can help you build a scalable online business that supports your business plan. No matter what you’re selling, WooCommerce offers a suite of flexible tools that allows you to customize your store to meet your needs and goals. 

WooCommerce homepage launch info

Here are just some of the benefits your business will enjoy when you choose to build your store with WooCommerce:

  • Sell absolutely anything you can imagine . From physical items and digital downloads to subscriptions, memberships, bookings, courses, and affiliate products, WooCommerce provides everything you need. Want to run a wholesale store? You can do that, too!
  • Harness the power of WordPress . Since WooCommerce is a plugin specifically for WordPress, you can take advantage of powerful features like the block editor and blogging capabilities. 
  • Capture payments securely. Choose from a large number of payment gateways, from popular options like PayPal and Stripe, to more niche processors for specific locations and types of regulated products. And with tools like WooPayments , you can keep customers on-site, capture a variety of currencies, and even accept digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • Customize your shipping options. Offer free shipping, charge based on weight, set fixed prices, or calculate shipping costs based on real-time carrier rates. You can even use extensions like Table Rate Shipping to create complicated shipping rules based on conditions that you set. And with WooCommerce Shipping , you benefit from discounted shipping labels and the ability to print right from your dashboard. 
  • Connect to your social media channels. Use extensions to sync your store with social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can even sell on those platforms alongside your store without having to update inventory and information manually.
  • Integrate with marketing tools. Quickly connect your store to any number of marketing tools, from email platforms like MailPoet to CRMs like Jetpack CRM . You can also implement a number of marketing strategies, from abandoned cart emails to loyalty programs.
  • Keep track of your numbers. Ecommerce accounting is a big part of running an online business. While you can easily view data in your dashboard, you can also sync with tools like QuickBooks to make your accountant’s life a little bit easier.
  • Manage inventory. Update your inventory levels manually or connect to tools like Scanventory to sync with your warehouse. Running low or out of stock? Add a wishlist option so customers get an alert as soon as it’s available.

As you can see, WooCommerce is well-equipped to handle any type of online store and support you as you grow. Here are a few more reasons that WooCommerce should be your go-to choice for implementing the ecommerce side of your online business plan:

WooCommerce itself is free! Many extensions for WooCommerce can also be found for free in the WordPress.org plugins library or on the Woo Marketplace . If you need to start your website with a limited budget, but want to build on a platform that can grow to support a thriving, high-traffic store, WooCommerce is an excellent option.

creating a page with the Block Editor

You have full control over your store

Unlike other ecommerce solutions that are tied to the platform’s own web hosting, WooCommerce is designed to be used with WordPress along with any hosting provider of your choice. You are also free to use whatever payment processor you want without any additional fees from WooCommerce. You can also customize your site’s appearance and functionality more extensively than you can with other ecommerce platforms and with less (or no) coding knowledge.

WooCommerce extension store

Thousands of free and premium extensions

There are over 800 free and premium extensions for WooCommerce on WooCommerce.com alone and over 1,000 in the WordPress.org plugins library . There are also hundreds of independent developers and agencies that offer premium and custom extensions for WooCommerce so that you can customize your store with the exact features you need. 

WooCommerce documentation

Excellent support and large community of users

WooCommerce is used by over 3.9 million stores — 23% of all online stores worldwide . The support team is available to answer questions and the documentation library is extensive and thorough. There are also plenty of independent resources for learning how to use WordPress and WooCommerce.

Dedicate time and resources to put your online business plan in action

A successful business plan is one that empowers and guides the business owner to launch their online or ecommerce business, and possibly secure funding. But it only works if you use it.

One advantage of starting an ecommerce store or online business is that you aren’t as locked down by deadlines. With a physical location, once you start paying the rent, you better have your business plan ready to put into action. 

But the beauty of being online is that you have more flexibility on the front end. Despite having more wiggle room with your timelines, you still need to keep your momentum going forward. Staying on track with your business projects and goals is one of the keys to reaching profitability sooner and turning your business plan into reality. A few quick tips:

  • Schedule your time. Block out hours and specific days to work on your business.
  • Treat it like a job, not a hobby. Build on your momentum week after week.
  • Always keep learning. Research your industry, competition, target audience, and potential customers. Learn marketing — you can never know too much.
  • Try stuff! Take risks, make calls, create campaigns, write content.

Your business plan template should give you a concrete list of tasks and business objectives. Once you write a business plan, then you can implement it.

Frequently asked questions about writing an online business plan

What are the seven steps of a business plan.

The seven key elements of a business plan are the executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management, services and products, marketing plan, and financial projections. If you’re making a funding request, that would be an eighth section.

Where can I find business plan templates?

You can find a free business plan template online, for general business plans as well as for specific industries. However, since each business is different and your plan must be authentic and specific to your company — a business plan template can only get you so far. 

If you need design inspiration for your own custom business plan template or want to start with a pre-designed template that you can customize, you can purchase one for a relatively low cost through a stock resources site like Envato Market or Creative Market .

downloads available from Creative Market

Do I need a business plan if I am already running an online business or ecommerce shop?

Business plans aren’t only for people who are launching new businesses. You can create a business plan at any time to help you maintain or change the direction of your store or just to get a better picture of the health of your business. Below are a few different types of business plans that you might want to consider for your established online business:

  • Operational business plan. Outlines the structure of your business operations, staffing, and logistics.
  • Feasibility plan. Feasibility plans are like mini business plans that cover new business ideas and outline steps for implementation.
  • Growth business plan. This plan is for businesses that want to demonstrate opportunities and plans for growth to attract investors.
  • Maturing business plan. This plan is for businesses looking to merge with or acquire other companies, significantly expand, or go public.
  • Strategic business plan. Any time your business wants to shift strategies regarding products or marketing or any other major changes to your previous business plan, you’ll want to create a new strategic business plan to address your new goals and the steps involved in achieving them.

What software should I use for my online business plan?

Your business plan should include some images, graphs, and graphic elements in the layout, so you’ll want to at least use word processing software to put your business plan together. If you have access to Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Canva, or Adobe Creative Cloud, you’ll have some other options that might lead to a more professional layout.

business plan templates from Canva

Here’s a list of free and paid software that can help you put together your online business plan outline:

What do investors want to see in a business plan?

The most important piece of information to show investors in your business plan is potential for profitability. Investors don’t want to throw money at a sinking ship, no matter how cool and exciting the business sounds. 

Most investors also want to make sure that they’ll see a decent return on their investment in a relatively short time period — probably around 5-7 years. How much of a return they’ll expect will depend on your industry and what kind of investor they are. 

Investors will also want to see that you clearly understand your business, your industry, and that you have concrete, actionable steps for achieving, maintaining, and growing profitability. They’ll want to make sure that the key people on your team also understand your business and the roles they play and they’ll want to see that each person has a good amount of experience in their field and the required skill sets to fulfill their job duties, if not go above and beyond. 

Any details you can include that highlight unique aspects of your business will also be important. Any area where you have a competitive edge, are offering a unique or proprietary solution, have established any celebrity endorsements, have the backing of other investors, or have secured special grants will be of special interest to investors.

Create your plan for success

Now that you understand what goes into creating a formal business plan, it’s time to write one! Take the time to think through and consider each aspect of the list included in this article, and you’ll be well on your way to finding success.

And WooCommerce is here to support your business every step of the way, with powerful and flexible tools that help your business grow. Start selling online today !

business plan outline startup

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Politics latest: Next Scottish FM tipped to be 'crowned with no contest' after Yousaf quits

Humza Yousaf has announced his resignation as SNP leader and Scotland's first minister following the fallout from his decision to end the SNP's powersharing agreement with the Scottish Greens. Former SNP leader John Swinney is an early favourite for the job.

Monday 29 April 2024 21:00, UK

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  • Yousaf quits as Scottish FM after ending powersharing deal
  • Outgoing SNP leader admits he 'underestimated' hurt caused
  • Next SNP leader tipped to be 'crowned with no contest'
  • The contenders who could replace him in Scotland's top job
  • Analysis: The biggest political miscalculation of Yousaf's career
  • Explained: How did we get here - and what happens next?
  • Daily podcast: Does this spell end for Scottish independence?
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler and (earlier)  Samuel Osborne

With a general election looming, what counts as gains and losses for the main parties in next week's locals? 

Sky's election analyst Michael Thrasher tells us what to look out for:

By Jenness Mitchell , Scotland reporter

John Swinney is a name that has kept coming up since Humza Yousaf announced his resignation as SNP leader and Scottish first minister today.

He's received the backing of party heavyweights like Stephen Flynn and Ian Blackford, and was the first to announce he's giving "very careful consideration" to running for the leadership.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Swinney said: "I'm giving very careful consideration to standing to be the leader of the SNP.

"I've been somewhat overwhelmed by the requests that have been made of me to do that, with many, many messages from many colleagues across the party."

There and back again?

Mr Swinney stood down as deputy first minister following Ms Sturgeon's shock resignation in 2023.

The former SNP leader, who resigned from that post in 2004 following poor European Parliament election results, is clearly tempted to once again step into the spotlight following his year on the backbenches.

The MSP for Perthshire North, who was finance secretary under Alex Salmond's government, has the experience to hold the fort following Mr Yousaf's departure.

He ruled himself out of the 2023 leadership race, citing that he had to put his young family first.

Mr Swinney said he's got "lots of things to think about".

He added: "There's the whole question of my family. And I have to make sure that I do the right thing by my family, they are precious to me.

"I have to do the right thing by my party and by my country. So, there's lots to be thought about, and I'll give all of that consideration in the days to come."

By  Jennifer Scott , political reporter

For the DUP's Carla Lockhart, the death of her father gave her a different view.

He died last year aged 66 after suffering from cancer for almost five years, and she said due to his faith "he never feared dying because he knew he was going to his heavenly home". 

Speaking at Westminster Hall's assisted dying debate today, Ms Lockhart said her father's cancer was "absolutely horrendous" and "caused him immense pain and suffering".

Despite that, she said he "knew that there was an appointed time for his home calling, and it wasn't for him or any other to decide in that time". 

She added: "The palliative care and cancer care was exceptional. With further investment, it could be even better. 

"So I speak today, not as someone who hasn't experienced a loved one who has suffered with terminal illness. I know the journey. But I also know the one thing these people don't need is the law telling them their lives aren't worth living or that they are costing too much. 

"We need to tell such people they are valued, they are important, we care for them no matter the cost, and we must put our money where our mouth is and ensure that all those who need it can access high quality specialist palliative care."  

By Jennifer Scott , political reporter

MPs crammed into Westminster Hall today to discuss the contentious issue of assisted dying after a petition - sparked by the campaign of Dame Esther Rantzen to change the law - came to the floor.

Conservative Simon Jupp told the story of how one of his own constituents made his mind up on the issue.

They met when he was walking past the elderly man's garden, where he was pruning on his wife's behalf as she was now in a local care home.

"At this point I could see he wanted to cry," said Mr Jupp. 

"In a very British way he apologised and went on to explain… his dear wife, the love of his life, is terminally ill, has no quality of life, lives in constant pain and can't leave her bed.

"He visits her everyday and every single day she tells him she doesn't want to be here any more. It was clearly breaking his heart."

The man asked the MP if he supported assisted dying.

"The look of relief when I said yes was palpable, and we shared a moment together," said Mr Jupp. "And I will never forget that conversation."

Our deputy political editor Sam Coates is now joining Sophy Ridge, and he comes prepared with some new polling on the Tees Valley mayoral election.

Ben Houchen has a seven-point lead on 51% of the projected vote, he says, with Labour's candidate trailing behind with an estimated 44% and the Liberal Democrats with 5%.

"It's not a massive lead," Sam stresses. "It's down from 73% when this seat was last fought, he's dropped to 51%, but a clear lead over Chris McEwan the Labour candidate and the Lib Dems far behind there."

He adds that he was "really ahead" in the over-65s category.

Turning to the West Midlands, a YouGov poll has put Conservative candidate Andy Street two points ahead of Labour.

"YouGov say these figures are essentially too close to call… actually you can see the Lib Dems, Reform, Green and the independent George Galloway-backed candidate totalling much more than the 2%.

"If you squeeze these, then that might just turn the outcome."

Sam says that Thursday - the day of the local elections - could well be a "red letter day" for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

This would be the case "if he loses half of his local councillors" and mayoral elections. 

"But this polling suggests that Rishi Sunak is in with a chance of holding on" in Tees Valley and the West Midlands.

If he does that, Sam says, "could it be Labour who have been ramping up expectations, then end up having to do some explaining?"

As a reminder, here are the candidates for the Tees Valley mayoral election:

  • Ben Houchen, Conservatives; 
  • Chris McEwan, Labour; 
  • Simon Thorley, Lib Dems.

And for the West Midlands:

  • Siobhan Harper-Nunes, Greens; 
  • Richard Parker, Labour; 
  • Andy Street, Conservatives; 
  • Sunny Virk, Lib Dems; 
  • Elaine Ruth Williams, Reform; 
  • Akhmed Yakoob, independent.

That wraps up tonight's Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge , but we'll have all the latest from Westminster and beyond throughout the night.

The week has kicked off with a huge political story - the resignation of Humza Yousaf - and will end with another, as voters across England and Wales turn out for the local elections.

Sky's political reporter Alexandra Rogers   has looked ahead to a potentially defining night for Rishi Sunak's premiership, when hundreds of council seats, police and crime commissioner jobs, and mayoral posts will be up for grabs.

Read her full explainer below:

We're turning briefly to the diplomatic row which has erupted between the UK and Irish governments over Rishi Sunak's Rwanda policy.

Dublin has claimed that the threat of being sent to Rwanda has led to some migrants crossing from Northern Ireland into Ireland, and that it would introduce emergency legislation to send them back to the UK.

Our Ireland correspondent  Stephen Murphy  says some refugees in the country feel like they are being used as "pawns in a much wider political game".

He says he has spoken to five or six people that have attributed their journey from Britain to Northern Ireland, and subsequently to Ireland, as directly due to the Conservatives' Rwanda scheme.

There is "reality" in the Irish government's claims, Murphy says - but he adds the suggestion migrants from Northern Ireland make up 80% of those seeking support is "also just an estimate".

"It is a political row, but it's hard sometimes to remember at the heart of all this is people, and the people here that we spoke to, they really do feel they're now being used as pawns in a much wider political game."

Read more on this below:

 Next up is Alex Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland and current leader of the Alba Party.

Asked for his reaction to the day's events, he says: "I do feel for Humza (Yousaf) today, I mean I've been there, I've done a resignation speech as first minister."

Mr Salmond says most people in politics aspire to be in the "top job", adding: "It's a great wrench when you leave it."

Sophy then asks about suggestions that the Alba Party could have propped up the Scottish government with their one MSP. A source had said: "That would be like doing a deal with the devil."

What does it say that Mr Yousaf would rather collapse his own leadership than make a deal with the Alba Party?

"Well, what it says is it is not true," Mr Salmond says. 

He adds: "I'm not certain that everyone around Humza Yousaf was acting in his best interests."

Newspaper 'briefed' about replacing Yousaf

The politician points to a Times newspaper story from this morning that claimed Mr Yousaf would resign - and be replaced by John Swinney.

"That might well be accurate," he says. "But I'm very puzzled by this."

Mr Salmond also questions reports that Mr Yousaf was trying to save his job in a phone call to Ash Regan - the MSP for the Alba Party - at 7.30am today.

Sophy asks him to clarify whether he thinks there was a plot to oust Mr Yousaf in favour of Mr Swinney.

The Alba Party leader points again to The Times front page.

"Somebody briefed The Times newspaper," he says.

Sophy Ridge puts to Douglas Ross that he is the "Keir Starmer of Scotland", having used the SNP's latest leadership crisis to call for an early election.

Sir Keir has done just that at Westminster on many occasions, having seen the Tories replace both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss since he became Labour leader.

Scottish Conservatives leader Mr Ross says 17 years of SNP rule has worsened the country, and claims that waiting lists in Scotland are the "worst anywhere in the United Kingdom".

He says his inbox is "full of people" who can't see a GP or get the surgery they need.

"We know more and more people in Scotland are going private because they can't wait in pain," he says.

Mr Ross denies it is the "unspoken political truth" that his party needs the SNP to do OK in order to avoid Labour "mopping up" seats.

"These are nationalists who want to divide our country all over again, just like they did in 2014. So I want to see as many of them removed from office as possible," he says.

Next up on the show is Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

He tells Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge that Humza Yousaf's departure was "inevitable" after his decision to "dump" the Greens out of government.

Asked if there is an SNP frontrunner his party fears the most, Mr Ross says there will be "no contest" with John Swinney likely to be crowned leader.

"It will be more of the same, which is focusing on independence at the expense of the real priorities that people across Scotland have," he says.

Mr Ross also calls for an election in Holyrood.

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Insider Q&A: Avelo Airlines CEO Andrew Levy describes the challenges of starting a new carrier

It’s not easy to break into the U.S. airline industry, which is dominated by four big carriers and a sprinkling of other niche players, but that didn’t scare away Andrew Levy.

Neither did a pandemic that briefly caused air travel to plummet more than 90%.

In April 2021, while COVID-19 still raged and billions of dollars from taxpayers were propping up big airlines, Levy launched Avelo Airlines with flights between Burbank, California, and Las Vegas.

The airline saves money by flying older Boeing 737 jets that can be bought at relatively low prices. It operates out of less-crowded and less-costly secondary airports, and flies routes that are ignored by the big airlines.

Levy was involved in the launch of ValuJet, which became Allegiant Air, and he also did a stint as the chief financial officer of United Airlines before starting Avelo (it rhymes with yellow).

He spoke with The Associated Press about the challenges of starting a new airline, how the carrier is doing, and plans to sell shares to the public. The answers were edited for length and clarity.

Q: Why did you think you should start a new airline?

A: Shortly after I left Allegiant in 2014, I actually started thinking about about doing this. The market had become very consolidated, and there was a lot of opportunity that was out there that wasn’t being served by the existing, incumbent carriers. You have these four behemoths that are massive, that are protected by the government it seems, because certainly they’re stronger than they have ever been, after the pandemic. My view was we had room for more.

Q: What have you learned?

A: While there are these four behemoths, the toughest challenge, quite honestly, might even be the regulatory regime. For smaller companies like ours, it imposes these really substantial burdens on us. I’ll give you an example. For the (Department of Justice) lawsuit (against) JetBlue and Spirit, we had to go spend a ton of money on our end to produce documents for something that we really didn’t care how it ended up. And they’re trying to get us to do the same thing for Alaska-Hawaiian, which again, we could care less if Alaska and Hawaiian merge.

Q: How do you get people to fly on a new airline?

A: Number one, you have an awareness issue. You want people to know that you exist. So that’s one challenge, which is more of a marketing challenge. The other challenge is of course getting people to trust you. Like, ‘Who are these people? Are they going to really get me there? What’s the airplane going to look like? Is it safe? Is it reliable? What happens if something goes wrong?’ All those questions that most consumers may have when they think about choosing an airline that perhaps they’re unfamiliar with. You just have to focus on doing a really great job. Obviously not every flight is on time, but as time goes on I think people recognize that, hey, you know what? These guys offer a lot of value. We offer great convenience.

Q: Where does the name, Avelo, come from?

A: There’s no great story there. I wish I could tell you it was. It was a play on two words: velocity, which is swift in Latin, and convenience.

Q: Avelo reported a profit for fourth quarter 2023 but gave no details. Was that on a GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) basis? And how much was it?

A: We actually have cash that generates interest income nowadays. Those are GAAP numbers where we have audited financials from Ernst & Young. These are real numbers with no adjustments or anything else. I’m not going to give you the numbers because we are a private company and so we have no real need to provide that kind of information. I’ll tell you that we made money in the first quarter as well.

Q: You've talked about your cost advantage as a startup. Is that sustainable?

A: Most costs creep up over time for every airline because our labor costs are tied to pay scales, but it is very sustainable. It’s based on how we designed the business. We distribute our product directly to the customer so we don’t use third-party intermediaries. We go in to smaller, more convenient, less-expensive airports. Your taxi times are lower; you’re not burning gas. We spend money on things that matter, and that includes our people. Our pilot pay is very competitive. It’s not the same as United Airlines, but it’s extremely competitive. We operate older equipment also — midlife (Boeing) 737 NGs, and those are certainly less expensive than brand-new aircraft. They burn a little bit more gas, but not much, and we like that trade.

Q: Do you plan to sell stock to the public, and when?

There’s obviously two issues. The single biggest one is one we don’t control, which is when are the IPO markets going to be actually open and vibrant, and they’re not right now. Beyond that, we have to be ready as a company. We put two straight quarters of profits ... so we expect every quarter this year to be profitable. We hope that we’ll have a company that people would want to own, and hopefully by year end or sometime next year. There’s no magic to being public for us. It’s just that historically that is typically the best way to access the capital markets for companies like ours. It is a very capital-intensive industry.

Q: What advice would you give to somebody else looking to start a business?

A: There’s nothing more rewarding than taking control of of your destiny. Just make sure you know what you think you know about whatever it is you’re going to start. I think you have to be wired a certain way to want to do something like this because it’s unbelievably difficult. I’ve been at this now for almost six years. When we get to a certain point, I’ll look back and feel really good about what we’ve done. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.

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A Gen Xer who got $250,000 in student loans forgiven said he can now finally start saving for retirement — and consider his dream of studying in India

  • Joel Lambdin, 49, received $250,000 in student-loan forgiveness in January.
  • It's a result of the Education Department's one-time account adjustments.
  • Lambdin said the relief would allow him to save for retirement and consider long-term dreams.

Insider Today

Joel Lambdin finished graduate school in 1998 — but as a professional musician, he was hardly making enough money to pay off his student loans and other bills.

So Lambdin, now 49, said his only option to make ends meet was to put his student loans in forbearance — in which he was not making payments but interest was still accumulating .

"It was just so that I could subsist, so that I could survive," Lambdin told Business Insider. "With the hope that at some point, I would be making enough money that I would be able to take them out of forbearance and start paying them down."

But he grew to realize that the only way he could make a significant dent in his student loans was by switching careers. He didn't want to do that because he loved working in music, so he decided to keep his larger student loan in forbearance and begin paying off his smaller loan with a lower monthly payment.

He continued making those payments until the pandemic pause on student-loan payments , at which point he and his wife started making a plan of action to tackle the larger debt once the pause ended. That led them to discover the Education Department's initiative allowing some borrowers a one-time account adjustment . It lets the department evaluate borrowers' accounts and update payment progress toward forgiveness on income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, including any payments made during a forbearance period.

That account adjustment led to a letter Lambdin received on January 31, reviewed by BI, from his student-loan servicer Aidvantage. It said: "Congratulations! The Biden-Harris Administration has forgiven your federal student loan(s) listed below with Aidvantage in full."

For Lambdin, that letter meant his $249,255 outstanding student-loan balance was effectively wiped out.

"It had started to feel like my fate was being decided for me by the cold hand of finance," Lambdin said, "and that was a weight that I didn't realize was there until it wasn't there."

He added: "The feeling was much more like putting down a backpack that was really full of books that you got used to. And then you put it down, and you're like, 'Oh, man, that feels so much better.' It's more like that, rather than sort of a jump-for-joy kind of situation."

While Lambdin is still working to determine what exactly the relief will mean for him and his wife, he said, discussing retirement is "a much more present conversation now" because contributing to savings is viable after the relief. He can also begin to look into buying a home.

Related stories

The Education Department continues to cancel student debt through its one-time account adjustments, a process it plans to complete this summer. Most recently, the department wiped out $7.4 billion in student debt for 277,000 borrowers , some of whom benefited from the adjustments.

Beyond financial goals, Lambdin said the relief was also allowing him the freedom to pursue some of his long-term dreams, including taking a sabbatical to study with his meditation teacher in India.

"It's something that I wouldn't have been able to even consider doing if we had to pay off student loans, but without them, it's something that I can really seriously consider doing," he said. "And so those are the kinds of things that I think get really lost in the monetary side of the conversation about debt relief."

'I've been really lucky'

While Lambdin said he felt as though he earned the relief given his decades of payments, he recognized that it's not that easy for many other borrowers.

For example, as BI has previously reported , some borrowers who might qualify for relief through different repayment programs may not have gotten it yet because of paperwork backlogs and administrative errors. On top of that, funding for federal student-loan servicers is strained — meaning many borrowers face hourslong hold times and cannot get clear answers from customer service regarding their payment progress.

"There are some real horror stories out there, and I've been really lucky in that I haven't experienced the kinds of shenanigans that other people have experienced," Lambdin said. "So I actually feel very lucky that things have transpired the way they have."

Some of those horror stories include inaccurate payment projections and delayed billing statements . When it comes to student-loan forgiveness, some borrowers told BI that their servicer made a mistake with the forgiveness , reinstating their payments months later.

The Education Department has said it's aware of the challenges borrowers face and has established an accountability framework to punish servicers when they fail to fulfill their contractual obligations.

The department is also in the process of crafting its new plan for student-loan forgiveness — it recently released the draft text of the rules , which included relief for borrowers with unpaid interest and those who have been in repayment for at least 20 years.

As for Lambdin, he's still figuring out how to approach life without student debt hanging over his head. But now he can consider various options, and he can thank the loan forgiveness for that freedom.

"There's a certain amount of waiting for the other shoe to drop because it's not that I don't trust that it's happening but just that the debt has been with me for so long, and then it's not there," Lambdin said. "And it's something that I think really takes some getting used to."

Watch: Biden announces who can have $10,000 erased in student loans

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  3. 📚 Entrepreneur's Business Plan guide🏅

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    6. The timeline. Outline your timeline for launching your business or project. Timelines are always subject to change, so make sure you account for alternative scenarios and setbacks. For your one-page business plan, talk about your general timeline, its phases and why it's a realistic goal. 7.

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  22. Politics latest: First minister to hold news conference today

    Humza Yousaf is expected to make an announcement today on his future as Scotland's first minister in a news conference at 12pm. Mr Yousaf faces two votes of no confidence after ending the SNP's ...

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  24. Fact Sheet on FTC's Proposed Final Noncompete Rule

    The following outline provides a high-level overview of the FTC's proposed final rule: The final rule bans new noncompetes with all workers, including senior executives after the effective date. Specifically, the final rule provides that it is an unfair method of competition—and therefore a violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act—for ...

  25. Insider Q&A: Avelo Airlines CEO Andrew Levy describes the challenges of

    A: Shortly after I left Allegiant in 2014, I actually started thinking about about doing this. The market had become very consolidated, and there was a lot of opportunity that was out there that ...

  26. 'I've been really lucky'

    A Gen Xer who got $250,000 in student loans forgiven said he can now finally start saving for retirement — and consider his dream of studying in India Ayelet Sheffey 2024-04-21T10:18:01Z