Business Plan Template for New Product

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Thinking of launching a new product? You need a solid business plan to make your vision a reality. ClickUp's Business Plan Template for New Products is your secret weapon for success!

With this template, you can:

  • Craft a strategic vision and roadmap for your product
  • Conduct in-depth market analysis to understand your target audience and competition
  • Create accurate financial projections to impress investors and secure funding
  • Develop operational plans to guide every step of your product's development and launch

Don't let your brilliant idea go to waste. Use ClickUp's Business Plan Template for New Products to turn it into a thriving reality. Get started today!

Business Plan Template for New Product Benefits

Launching a new product can be an exciting but daunting endeavor. Using a business plan template for your new product can provide numerous benefits, including:

  • Streamlining the process of organizing your strategic vision, market analysis, financial projections, and operational plans
  • Attracting potential investors by showcasing a comprehensive and well-thought-out business plan
  • Securing funding for your new product by demonstrating its potential for success
  • Guiding the development and launch of your product by providing a clear roadmap and timeline
  • Ensuring that you have considered all aspects of your business, from marketing to operations, for a successful product launch

Main Elements of New Product Business Plan Template

ClickUp's Business Plan Template for New Product is the perfect tool to help entrepreneurs and business owners effectively plan and execute their product launch. This template includes:

  • Custom Statuses: Easily track the progress of each section of your business plan with statuses like Complete, In Progress, Needs Revision, and To Do.
  • Custom Fields: Utilize custom fields such as Reference, Approved, and Section to add additional details and organize your business plan.
  • Custom Views: Access different views like Topics, Status, Timeline, Business Plan, and Getting Started Guide to gain a comprehensive overview of your business plan and easily navigate through different sections.
  • Collaboration Tools: Collaborate with your team members in real-time with features like task comments, file attachments, and mentions.
  • Integration: Seamlessly integrate with your favorite tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Slack to streamline your workflow and keep all your important documents in one place.

How To Use Business Plan Template for New Product

If you're looking to create a solid business plan for a new product, ClickUp's Business Plan Template can be a valuable tool. Follow these five steps to make the most of it:

1. Define your product and target market

Start by clearly defining your new product and identifying your target market. What problem does your product solve? Who is your ideal customer? Understanding these key aspects will help you tailor your business plan to meet the needs and preferences of your target market.

Use a Doc in ClickUp to outline your product and conduct market research to identify your target market.

2. Conduct a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is a crucial step in understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your new product. Evaluate your product's unique selling points, potential challenges, market trends, and competitive landscape. This analysis will help you identify areas of improvement and develop strategies to maximize your product's success.

Create custom fields in ClickUp to track and analyze each aspect of your SWOT analysis.

3. Develop your marketing and sales strategies

Your business plan should outline how you will market and sell your new product effectively. Determine your pricing strategy, distribution channels, promotional activities, and sales targets. It's important to tailor your strategies to your target market and align them with your overall business goals.

Use tasks in ClickUp to break down your marketing and sales strategies into actionable steps and assign them to team members.

4. Outline your financial projections

Include financial projections in your business plan to demonstrate the potential profitability and viability of your new product. Estimate your sales revenue, expenses, profit margins, and cash flow projections. This will help you understand the financial feasibility of your product and attract potential investors or stakeholders.

Use the Table view in ClickUp to create a financial spreadsheet and track your revenue, expenses, and profit projections.

5. Set milestones and timelines

Setting specific milestones and timelines is crucial to keep your new product development on track. Break down your business plan into actionable tasks and assign them to team members with clear deadlines. Regularly review and update your progress to ensure that you're meeting your milestones and making timely adjustments.

Use Milestones in ClickUp to set and track important project milestones and Automations to send reminders and notifications for upcoming deadlines.

By following these steps and utilizing ClickUp's Business Plan Template, you can create a comprehensive and well-structured business plan for your new product. This will help you stay organized, focused, and increase your chances of success in the market.

Get Started with ClickUp’s Business Plan Template for New Product

Entrepreneurs and business owners can use the Business Plan Template for New Product in ClickUp to streamline the process of creating a comprehensive business plan for their upcoming product launch.

To get started, hit "Add Template" to sign up for ClickUp and add the template to your Workspace. Make sure you designate which Space or location in your Workspace you'd like this template applied.

Next, invite relevant team members or guests to your Workspace to start collaborating.

Now you can take advantage of the full potential of this template to create a successful business plan:

  • Use the Topics View to outline and organize the different sections of your business plan, such as executive summary, market analysis, financial projections, and marketing strategies.
  • The Status View will help you track the progress of each section, with statuses like Complete, In Progress, Needs Revision, and To Do.
  • The Timeline View allows you to set deadlines and milestones for each section, ensuring that you stay on track and meet your goals.
  • The Business Plan View provides a comprehensive overview of your entire plan, allowing you to easily navigate and make edits as needed.
  • The Getting Started Guide View offers step-by-step instructions and tips to help you fill out each section of the business plan.
  • Utilize the custom fields, such as Reference, Approved, and Section, to add additional information and categorize your plan.
  • Collaborate with team members by assigning tasks, leaving comments, and attaching files to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Monitor and analyze the progress of your business plan to make informed decisions and adjustments as needed.
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How to write a business plan (with template)

business plan for new product template

We all know that as a product manager you’re also the CEO of the product. While you own the product backlog, you’re also responsible for expanding the product and adding new features to increase value for users and the business. Whether you work in a start-up or are a PM in a large organization, creating a business plan is crucial before pitching in any new idea.

What is a business plan?

How To Write A Business Plan (With Template)

A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the problem, the solution, market outreach possibilities, potential threats, a clear goal, and a measurable return on investment with a year-on-year growth strategy.

Significance of a business plan

All product organizations have started seeing the importance of a business plan before approving a new product idea. A good business plan has numerous benefits, the most fundamental being an opportunity to think through the idea before investing time and resources.

The following are the key traits of a good business plan.

Clarity of vision

Taking the time to write down an idea can bring greater clarity to your vision. It allows you to better understand the problem at hand and reveal all possible solutions. This is because writing forces you to slow down and think everything through, resulting in a more evident thought process.

Strategic guidance

When creating a business plan, including financial projections and forecasts is useful. This helps develop a strategic plan by considering marketing strategies, launch plans, development costs, and expected return on investment. However, conducting proper research and due diligence is crucial to ensure that the predictions are as accurate as possible. This process can lead to gaining more insights, taking necessary steps beforehand, and fostering collaboration.

Risk management

A business plan is crucial as it allows you to identify potential risks beforehand. As part of creating a business plan, conducting a competitor analysis, identifying your target market, performing a SWOT analysis (focusing on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), and determining your unique selling points is essential. By analyzing these factors, you can gain valuable insights into potential risks and market trends and create an effective risk management plan to ensure success.

Operational planning

While creating a business plan, it becomes essential to forecast, plan milestones, and produce a roadmap. This involves looking into the development timeline, launch plan, and marketing strategies. By doing so, you can outline an operational plan and calculate the resources required to complete the project within a specified deadline. Measuring the rollout plan and determining the appropriate launch plan is crucial.

Measurable objectives and milestones

In addition to a roadmap and milestones, it’s essential to provide critical metrics to measure success. This will help product teams clearly understand the overall roadmap and milestones and ensure that the key results are defined to determine if the product is successful.

Components of a business plan

The business plan will look different for different products depending on the business, product area, and other factors. Still, a few common elements must be a part of each business plan.

Problem statement

Defining the problem in the right way is the most crucial thing. While defining the problem, always consider backing up the claims by data. Use surveys and user testimonies to construct the problem statement in the most relatable manner:

Problem

Solution description / mission statement

When presenting a solution, it’s important to avoid using technical jargon and instead describe it in a way that’s easy to understand for anyone, regardless of their technical background. If specific technical details need to be included, put them in an appendix for those who want to read more.

business plan for new product template

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business plan for new product template

Creating a clear mission statement outlining what you aim to achieve with your solution is also essential. Avoid using vague language and be as specific and straightforward as possible. The more specific your goal, the better.

Market analysis

This section requires a comprehensive and detailed analysis of various aspects crucial to any product’s success in the market. The four main areas addressed are product-market fit , target customers, total market share, and unique selling proposition (USP).

Product-market fit is about identifying the gap that exists in the market and how your product can bridge that gap.

Defining target customers includes understanding their demographics, behavior, preferences, and needs. It’s also essential to identify any secondary customer base that can be targeted, which can help expand the product’s reach and appeal:

Target Customer Segments

Total market share, or the total available market, refers to the overall revenue opportunity available for a product or service if 100 percent market share is achieved. It gives a clear idea of the scope of expansion for the product after launch.

Unique selling proposition (USP) is a critical aspect of any product’s success that defines why customers should choose your product over others. It’s what sets your product apart from the competition and makes it stand out. Identifying and promoting your USP can help to differentiate your product and create a sense of confidence among sponsors.

Competitor analysis

When analyzing competitors, people tend only to consider direct competitors. However, a great product stands out by taking customers away from even indirect competitors. For example, TikTok and Reels are taking up viewership time that Netflix and other streaming services previously held. Therefore, Netflix’s competitors are not limited to other streaming services but include other platforms providing quick and engaging content:

Competitive Landscape

Projection and forecast

Creating a comprehensive and effective business plan, including a detailed projection of operational costs and a sales and revenue generation forecast is crucial. You can enhance the plan by providing a summarized version of the roadmap and revenue plan and giving sponsors a quick overview of the expected development time, launch dates, and other essential details. Doing so can ensure that your business plan is constructive and comprehensive, in turn laying out a clear path to success.

This is a section of the business plan where you can finally reveal your expectations towards the sponsor or the investors. You have established a business model and the effect of your product. Now, it’s time to be clear and specific about the investment required to reach the goal, including the expected time frame.

The aim is to clearly outline the expected returns so that any potential sponsor or investor can decide whether the opportunity aligns with their goals. This is a mutually beneficial partnership; you can establish a foundation for a good relationship with transparency.

Business plan template

Here’s a one-pager template for a business plan that suits most products:

Business Plan Template

Here you can find the full PPT template for the business plan, including all the components.

Final thoughts

A business plan is a crucial document that outlines the entire product lifecycle from inception to launch. It aims to align stakeholders, minimize uncertainties, and increase the likelihood of product success in the market. Effective business plans are those that demonstrate a compelling opportunity backed by thorough research and a clear strategy for execution and growth.

These templates can make your next pitch easier!

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The article provides a good starting point for anyone who is looking to write a business plan. It covers the essential components of a business plan and offers some helpful tips on how to write a clear and concise plan.

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Business Plan Templates

Free Download

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2 Essential Templates For Starting Your Business. Available as an interactive PDF or a Google Docs template.

With this business plan template, you'll be able to:

  • Write a company description that sells your story
  • Plan for the future: lay out goals and metrics for success
  • Describe your product line in detail and plan for how to stand out from competitors
  • Consider any legal formalities that require attention when starting your business
  • Put together necessary financial projections to make a strong start
  • Create your buyer persona and determine your product/marketing fit

business plan template

Build A Business Plan That Works

Available as a one-page interactive PDF and a full template on both Google Docs and Microsoft Word!

Whether you’re starting a business or drafting a formalized document with  your current business goals, it’s important to clearly defi ne the scope of all aspects of the venture — from mission, to target customers, to fi nances, and beyond.

When just starting out, it can be tempting to think of a business plan as simply your company’s name and a description of your product or service. But in reality, planning a business involves thinking through a lot more details.

In this business plan template we’ll guide you through the steps of writing company and product descriptions, setting sales and marketing goals and plans, and thinking through legal and fi nancial logistics. We've included a  plain text, designed , and  completed example version of this template. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you write a business plan.

A business plan is a formal written document that you can use to identify the purpose of your company, make important decisions about your future and help grow your company. HubSpot's free business plan templates provides guidance to establishing your company mission, customer research, competition, and a business strategy to profitability.

Why do I need to fill out the information requested?

We will always keep your personal information safe..

We ask for your information in exchange for a valuable resource in order to (a) improve your browsing experience by personalizing the HubSpot site to your needs; (b) send information to you that we think may be of interest to you by email or other means; (c) send you marketing communications that we think may be of value to you. You can read more about our privacy policy here .

Where can I get a free business plan template?

HubSpot's Free Business Plan Templates are the best way to create a professional, thorough business plan. The templates include instructions and everything you need to know about starting your company.

Is this really free?

Absolutely.

Just sharing some free knowledge that we hope you’ll find useful. Keep us in mind next time you have marketing questions!

What are the basic format of a business plan?

A business plan is a written document that outlines the company's goals, strategy and implementation. The format of the plan varies depending on the type of organization (e.g., for-profit or nonprofit) and size, but most plans share some common features such as an overview, executive summary, and financial information.

What is the best business plan template?

A great business plan template clearly defines the scope of the venture -- from mission, to target customers, to finances, and beyond. HubSpot's business plan template will guide you through the steps of writing company and product descriptions, setting sales and marketing goals and plans, and thinking through legal and financial logistics.

What is needed to start a business?

If you're thinking about starting a business, you'll need to do some research first. You can't just start a business without doing any market research. Market research will tell you if there's an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. After that, write your business plan so that you know how much money and time it will take for the project to succeed. Use HubSpot's free business plan template today!

Set yourself up for success with this business plan template

Download the free business plan template.

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business plan for new product template

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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How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

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Every successful business has one thing in common, a good and well-executed business plan. A business plan is more than a document, it is a complete guide that outlines the goals your business wants to achieve, including its financial goals . It helps you analyze results, make strategic decisions, show your business operations and growth.

If you want to start a business or already have one and need to pitch it to investors for funding, writing a good business plan improves your chances of attracting financiers. As a startup, if you want to secure loans from financial institutions, part of the requirements involve submitting your business plan.

Writing a business plan does not have to be a complicated or time-consuming process. In this article, you will learn the step-by-step process for writing a successful business plan.

You will also learn what you need a business plan for, tips and strategies for writing a convincing business plan, business plan examples and templates that will save you tons of time, and the alternatives to the traditional business plan.

Let’s get started.

What Do You Need A Business Plan For?

Businesses create business plans for different purposes such as to secure funds, monitor business growth, measure your marketing strategies, and measure your business success.

1. Secure Funds

One of the primary reasons for writing a business plan is to secure funds, either from financial institutions/agencies or investors.

For you to effectively acquire funds, your business plan must contain the key elements of your business plan . For example, your business plan should include your growth plans, goals you want to achieve, and milestones you have recorded.

A business plan can also attract new business partners that are willing to contribute financially and intellectually. If you are writing a business plan to a bank, your project must show your traction , that is, the proof that you can pay back any loan borrowed.

Also, if you are writing to an investor, your plan must contain evidence that you can effectively utilize the funds you want them to invest in your business. Here, you are using your business plan to persuade a group or an individual that your business is a source of a good investment.

2. Monitor Business Growth

A business plan can help you track cash flows in your business. It steers your business to greater heights. A business plan capable of tracking business growth should contain:

  • The business goals
  • Methods to achieve the goals
  • Time-frame for attaining those goals

A good business plan should guide you through every step in achieving your goals. It can also track the allocation of assets to every aspect of the business. You can tell when you are spending more than you should on a project.

You can compare a business plan to a written GPS. It helps you manage your business and hints at the right time to expand your business.

3. Measure Business Success

A business plan can help you measure your business success rate. Some small-scale businesses are thriving better than more prominent companies because of their track record of success.

Right from the onset of your business operation, set goals and work towards them. Write a plan to guide you through your procedures. Use your plan to measure how much you have achieved and how much is left to attain.

You can also weigh your success by monitoring the position of your brand relative to competitors. On the other hand, a business plan can also show you why you have not achieved a goal. It can tell if you have elapsed the time frame you set to attain a goal.

4. Document Your Marketing Strategies

You can use a business plan to document your marketing plans. Every business should have an effective marketing plan.

Competition mandates every business owner to go the extraordinary mile to remain relevant in the market. Your business plan should contain your marketing strategies that work. You can measure the success rate of your marketing plans.

In your business plan, your marketing strategy must answer the questions:

  • How do you want to reach your target audience?
  • How do you plan to retain your customers?
  • What is/are your pricing plans?
  • What is your budget for marketing?

Business Plan Infographic

How to Write a Business Plan Step-by-Step

1. create your executive summary.

The executive summary is a snapshot of your business or a high-level overview of your business purposes and plans . Although the executive summary is the first section in your business plan, most people write it last. The length of the executive summary is not more than two pages.

Executive Summary of the business plan

Generally, there are nine sections in a business plan, the executive summary should condense essential ideas from the other eight sections.

A good executive summary should do the following:

  • A Snapshot of Growth Potential. Briefly inform the reader about your company and why it will be successful)
  • Contain your Mission Statement which explains what the main objective or focus of your business is.
  • Product Description and Differentiation. Brief description of your products or services and why it is different from other solutions in the market.
  • The Team. Basic information about your company’s leadership team and employees
  • Business Concept. A solid description of what your business does.
  • Target Market. The customers you plan to sell to.
  • Marketing Strategy. Your plans on reaching and selling to your customers
  • Current Financial State. Brief information about what revenue your business currently generates.
  • Projected Financial State. Brief information about what you foresee your business revenue to be in the future.

The executive summary is the make-or-break section of your business plan. If your summary cannot in less than two pages cannot clearly describe how your business will solve a particular problem of your target audience and make a profit, your business plan is set on a faulty foundation.

Avoid using the executive summary to hype your business, instead, focus on helping the reader understand the what and how of your plan.

View the executive summary as an opportunity to introduce your vision for your company. You know your executive summary is powerful when it can answer these key questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What sector or industry are you in?
  • What are your products and services?
  • What is the future of your industry?
  • Is your company scaleable?
  • Who are the owners and leaders of your company? What are their backgrounds and experience levels?
  • What is the motivation for starting your company?
  • What are the next steps?

Writing the executive summary last although it is the most important section of your business plan is an excellent idea. The reason why is because it is a high-level overview of your business plan. It is the section that determines whether potential investors and lenders will read further or not.

The executive summary can be a stand-alone document that covers everything in your business plan. It is not uncommon for investors to request only the executive summary when evaluating your business. If the information in the executive summary impresses them, they will ask for the complete business plan.

If you are writing your business plan for your planning purposes, you do not need to write the executive summary.

2. Add Your Company Overview

The company overview or description is the next section in your business plan after the executive summary. It describes what your business does.

Adding your company overview can be tricky especially when your business is still in the planning stages. Existing businesses can easily summarize their current operations but may encounter difficulties trying to explain what they plan to become.

Your company overview should contain the following:

  • What products and services you will provide
  • Geographical markets and locations your company have a presence
  • What you need to run your business
  • Who your target audience or customers are
  • Who will service your customers
  • Your company’s purpose, mission, and vision
  • Information about your company’s founders
  • Who the founders are
  • Notable achievements of your company so far

When creating a company overview, you have to focus on three basics: identifying your industry, identifying your customer, and explaining the problem you solve.

If you are stuck when creating your company overview, try to answer some of these questions that pertain to you.

  • Who are you targeting? (The answer is not everyone)
  • What pain point does your product or service solve for your customers that they will be willing to spend money on resolving?
  • How does your product or service overcome that pain point?
  • Where is the location of your business?
  • What products, equipment, and services do you need to run your business?
  • How is your company’s product or service different from your competition in the eyes of your customers?
  • How many employees do you need and what skills do you require them to have?

After answering some or all of these questions, you will get more than enough information you need to write your company overview or description section. When writing this section, describe what your company does for your customers.

It describes what your business does

The company description or overview section contains three elements: mission statement, history, and objectives.

  • Mission Statement

The mission statement refers to the reason why your business or company is existing. It goes beyond what you do or sell, it is about the ‘why’. A good mission statement should be emotional and inspirational.

Your mission statement should follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). For example, Shopify’s mission statement is “Make commerce better for everyone.”

When describing your company’s history, make it simple and avoid the temptation of tying it to a defensive narrative. Write it in the manner you would a profile. Your company’s history should include the following information:

  • Founding Date
  • Major Milestones
  • Location(s)
  • Flagship Products or Services
  • Number of Employees
  • Executive Leadership Roles

When you fill in this information, you use it to write one or two paragraphs about your company’s history.

Business Objectives

Your business objective must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.) Failure to clearly identify your business objectives does not inspire confidence and makes it hard for your team members to work towards a common purpose.

3. Perform Market and Competitive Analyses to Proof a Big Enough Business Opportunity

The third step in writing a business plan is the market and competitive analysis section. Every business, no matter the size, needs to perform comprehensive market and competitive analyses before it enters into a market.

Performing market and competitive analyses are critical for the success of your business. It helps you avoid entering the right market with the wrong product, or vice versa. Anyone reading your business plans, especially financiers and financial institutions will want to see proof that there is a big enough business opportunity you are targeting.

This section is where you describe the market and industry you want to operate in and show the big opportunities in the market that your business can leverage to make a profit. If you noticed any unique trends when doing your research, show them in this section.

Market analysis alone is not enough, you have to add competitive analysis to strengthen this section. There are already businesses in the industry or market, how do you plan to take a share of the market from them?

You have to clearly illustrate the competitive landscape in your business plan. Are there areas your competitors are doing well? Are there areas where they are not doing so well? Show it.

Make it clear in this section why you are moving into the industry and what weaknesses are present there that you plan to explain. How are your competitors going to react to your market entry? How do you plan to get customers? Do you plan on taking your competitors' competitors, tap into other sources for customers, or both?

Illustrate the competitive landscape as well. What are your competitors doing well and not so well?

Answering these questions and thoughts will aid your market and competitive analysis of the opportunities in your space. Depending on how sophisticated your industry is, or the expectations of your financiers, you may need to carry out a more comprehensive market and competitive analysis to prove that big business opportunity.

Instead of looking at the market and competitive analyses as one entity, separating them will make the research even more comprehensive.

Market Analysis

Market analysis, boarding speaking, refers to research a business carried out on its industry, market, and competitors. It helps businesses gain a good understanding of their target market and the outlook of their industry. Before starting a company, it is vital to carry out market research to find out if the market is viable.

Market Analysis for Online Business

The market analysis section is a key part of the business plan. It is the section where you identify who your best clients or customers are. You cannot omit this section, without it your business plan is incomplete.

A good market analysis will tell your readers how you fit into the existing market and what makes you stand out. This section requires in-depth research, it will probably be the most time-consuming part of the business plan to write.

  • Market Research

To create a compelling market analysis that will win over investors and financial institutions, you have to carry out thorough market research . Your market research should be targeted at your primary target market for your products or services. Here is what you want to find out about your target market.

  • Your target market’s needs or pain points
  • The existing solutions for their pain points
  • Geographic Location
  • Demographics

The purpose of carrying out a marketing analysis is to get all the information you need to show that you have a solid and thorough understanding of your target audience.

Only after you have fully understood the people you plan to sell your products or services to, can you evaluate correctly if your target market will be interested in your products or services.

You can easily convince interested parties to invest in your business if you can show them you thoroughly understand the market and show them that there is a market for your products or services.

How to Quantify Your Target Market

One of the goals of your marketing research is to understand who your ideal customers are and their purchasing power. To quantify your target market, you have to determine the following:

  • Your Potential Customers: They are the people you plan to target. For example, if you sell accounting software for small businesses , then anyone who runs an enterprise or large business is unlikely to be your customers. Also, individuals who do not have a business will most likely not be interested in your product.
  • Total Households: If you are selling household products such as heating and air conditioning systems, determining the number of total households is more important than finding out the total population in the area you want to sell to. The logic is simple, people buy the product but it is the household that uses it.
  • Median Income: You need to know the median income of your target market. If you target a market that cannot afford to buy your products and services, your business will not last long.
  • Income by Demographics: If your potential customers belong to a certain age group or gender, determining income levels by demographics is necessary. For example, if you sell men's clothes, your target audience is men.

What Does a Good Market Analysis Entail?

Your business does not exist on its own, it can only flourish within an industry and alongside competitors. Market analysis takes into consideration your industry, target market, and competitors. Understanding these three entities will drastically improve your company’s chances of success.

Market Analysis Steps

You can view your market analysis as an examination of the market you want to break into and an education on the emerging trends and themes in that market. Good market analyses include the following:

  • Industry Description. You find out about the history of your industry, the current and future market size, and who the largest players/companies are in your industry.
  • Overview of Target Market. You research your target market and its characteristics. Who are you targeting? Note, it cannot be everyone, it has to be a specific group. You also have to find out all information possible about your customers that can help you understand how and why they make buying decisions.
  • Size of Target Market: You need to know the size of your target market, how frequently they buy, and the expected quantity they buy so you do not risk overproducing and having lots of bad inventory. Researching the size of your target market will help you determine if it is big enough for sustained business or not.
  • Growth Potential: Before picking a target market, you want to be sure there are lots of potential for future growth. You want to avoid going for an industry that is declining slowly or rapidly with almost zero growth potential.
  • Market Share Potential: Does your business stand a good chance of taking a good share of the market?
  • Market Pricing and Promotional Strategies: Your market analysis should give you an idea of the price point you can expect to charge for your products and services. Researching your target market will also give you ideas of pricing strategies you can implement to break into the market or to enjoy maximum profits.
  • Potential Barriers to Entry: One of the biggest benefits of conducting market analysis is that it shows you every potential barrier to entry your business will likely encounter. It is a good idea to discuss potential barriers to entry such as changing technology. It informs readers of your business plan that you understand the market.
  • Research on Competitors: You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and how you can exploit them for the benefit of your business. Find patterns and trends among your competitors that make them successful, discover what works and what doesn’t, and see what you can do better.

The market analysis section is not just for talking about your target market, industry, and competitors. You also have to explain how your company can fill the hole you have identified in the market.

Here are some questions you can answer that can help you position your product or service in a positive light to your readers.

  • Is your product or service of superior quality?
  • What additional features do you offer that your competitors do not offer?
  • Are you targeting a ‘new’ market?

Basically, your market analysis should include an analysis of what already exists in the market and an explanation of how your company fits into the market.

Competitive Analysis

In the competitive analysis section, y ou have to understand who your direct and indirect competitions are, and how successful they are in the marketplace. It is the section where you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, the advantage(s) they possess in the market and show the unique features or qualities that make you different from your competitors.

Four Steps to Create a Competitive Marketing Analysis

Many businesses do market analysis and competitive analysis together. However, to fully understand what the competitive analysis entails, it is essential to separate it from the market analysis.

Competitive analysis for your business can also include analysis on how to overcome barriers to entry in your target market.

The primary goal of conducting a competitive analysis is to distinguish your business from your competitors. A strong competitive analysis is essential if you want to convince potential funding sources to invest in your business. You have to show potential investors and lenders that your business has what it takes to compete in the marketplace successfully.

Competitive analysis will s how you what the strengths of your competition are and what they are doing to maintain that advantage.

When doing your competitive research, you first have to identify your competitor and then get all the information you can about them. The idea of spending time to identify your competitor and learn everything about them may seem daunting but it is well worth it.

Find answers to the following questions after you have identified who your competitors are.

  • What are your successful competitors doing?
  • Why is what they are doing working?
  • Can your business do it better?
  • What are the weaknesses of your successful competitors?
  • What are they not doing well?
  • Can your business turn its weaknesses into strengths?
  • How good is your competitors’ customer service?
  • Where do your competitors invest in advertising?
  • What sales and pricing strategies are they using?
  • What marketing strategies are they using?
  • What kind of press coverage do they get?
  • What are their customers saying about your competitors (both the positive and negative)?

If your competitors have a website, it is a good idea to visit their websites for more competitors’ research. Check their “About Us” page for more information.

How to Perform Competitive Analysis

If you are presenting your business plan to investors, you need to clearly distinguish yourself from your competitors. Investors can easily tell when you have not properly researched your competitors.

Take time to think about what unique qualities or features set you apart from your competitors. If you do not have any direct competition offering your product to the market, it does not mean you leave out the competitor analysis section blank. Instead research on other companies that are providing a similar product, or whose product is solving the problem your product solves.

The next step is to create a table listing the top competitors you want to include in your business plan. Ensure you list your business as the last and on the right. What you just created is known as the competitor analysis table.

Direct vs Indirect Competition

You cannot know if your product or service will be a fit for your target market if you have not understood your business and the competitive landscape.

There is no market you want to target where you will not encounter competition, even if your product is innovative. Including competitive analysis in your business plan is essential.

If you are entering an established market, you need to explain how you plan to differentiate your products from the available options in the market. Also, include a list of few companies that you view as your direct competitors The competition you face in an established market is your direct competition.

In situations where you are entering a market with no direct competition, it does not mean there is no competition there. Consider your indirect competition that offers substitutes for the products or services you offer.

For example, if you sell an innovative SaaS product, let us say a project management software , a company offering time management software is your indirect competition.

There is an easy way to find out who your indirect competitors are in the absence of no direct competitors. You simply have to research how your potential customers are solving the problems that your product or service seeks to solve. That is your direct competition.

Factors that Differentiate Your Business from the Competition

There are three main factors that any business can use to differentiate itself from its competition. They are cost leadership, product differentiation, and market segmentation.

1. Cost Leadership

A strategy you can impose to maximize your profits and gain an edge over your competitors. It involves offering lower prices than what the majority of your competitors are offering.

A common practice among businesses looking to enter into a market where there are dominant players is to use free trials or pricing to attract as many customers as possible to their offer.

2. Product Differentiation

Your product or service should have a unique selling proposition (USP) that your competitors do not have or do not stress in their marketing.

Part of the marketing strategy should involve making your products unique and different from your competitors. It does not have to be different from your competitors, it can be the addition to a feature or benefit that your competitors do not currently have.

3. Market Segmentation

As a new business seeking to break into an industry, you will gain more success from focusing on a specific niche or target market, and not the whole industry.

If your competitors are focused on a general need or target market, you can differentiate yourself from them by having a small and hyper-targeted audience. For example, if your competitors are selling men’s clothes in their online stores , you can sell hoodies for men.

4. Define Your Business and Management Structure

The next step in your business plan is your business and management structure. It is the section where you describe the legal structure of your business and the team running it.

Your business is only as good as the management team that runs it, while the management team can only strive when there is a proper business and management structure in place.

If your company is a sole proprietor or a limited liability company (LLC), a general or limited partnership, or a C or an S corporation, state it clearly in this section.

Use an organizational chart to show the management structure in your business. Clearly show who is in charge of what area in your company. It is where you show how each key manager or team leader’s unique experience can contribute immensely to the success of your company. You can also opt to add the resumes and CVs of the key players in your company.

The business and management structure section should show who the owner is, and other owners of the businesses (if the business has other owners). For businesses or companies with multiple owners, include the percent ownership of the various owners and clearly show the extent of each others’ involvement in the company.

Investors want to know who is behind the company and the team running it to determine if it has the right management to achieve its set goals.

Management Team

The management team section is where you show that you have the right team in place to successfully execute the business operations and ideas. Take time to create the management structure for your business. Think about all the important roles and responsibilities that you need managers for to grow your business.

Include brief bios of each key team member and ensure you highlight only the relevant information that is needed. If your team members have background industry experience or have held top positions for other companies and achieved success while filling that role, highlight it in this section.

Create Management Team For Business Plan

A common mistake that many startups make is assigning C-level titles such as (CMO and CEO) to everyone on their team. It is unrealistic for a small business to have those titles. While it may look good on paper for the ego of your team members, it can prevent investors from investing in your business.

Instead of building an unrealistic management structure that does not fit your business reality, it is best to allow business titles to grow as the business grows. Starting everyone at the top leaves no room for future change or growth, which is bad for productivity.

Your management team does not have to be complete before you start writing your business plan. You can have a complete business plan even when there are managerial positions that are empty and need filling.

If you have management gaps in your team, simply show the gaps and indicate you are searching for the right candidates for the role(s). Investors do not expect you to have a full management team when you are just starting your business.

Key Questions to Answer When Structuring Your Management Team

  • Who are the key leaders?
  • What experiences, skills, and educational backgrounds do you expect your key leaders to have?
  • Do your key leaders have industry experience?
  • What positions will they fill and what duties will they perform in those positions?
  • What level of authority do the key leaders have and what are their responsibilities?
  • What is the salary for the various management positions that will attract the ideal candidates?

Additional Tips for Writing the Management Structure Section

1. Avoid Adding ‘Ghost’ Names to Your Management Team

There is always that temptation to include a ‘ghost’ name to your management team to attract and influence investors to invest in your business. Although the presence of these celebrity management team members may attract the attention of investors, it can cause your business to lose any credibility if you get found out.

Seasoned investors will investigate further the members of your management team before committing fully to your business If they find out that the celebrity name used does not play any actual role in your business, they will not invest and may write you off as dishonest.

2. Focus on Credentials But Pay Extra Attention to the Roles

Investors want to know the experience that your key team members have to determine if they can successfully reach the company’s growth and financial goals.

While it is an excellent boost for your key management team to have the right credentials, you also want to pay extra attention to the roles they will play in your company.

Organizational Chart

Organizational chart Infographic

Adding an organizational chart in this section of your business plan is not necessary, you can do it in your business plan’s appendix.

If you are exploring funding options, it is not uncommon to get asked for your organizational chart. The function of an organizational chart goes beyond raising money, you can also use it as a useful planning tool for your business.

An organizational chart can help you identify how best to structure your management team for maximum productivity and point you towards key roles you need to fill in the future.

You can use the organizational chart to show your company’s internal management structure such as the roles and responsibilities of your management team, and relationships that exist between them.

5. Describe Your Product and Service Offering

In your business plan, you have to describe what you sell or the service you plan to offer. It is the next step after defining your business and management structure. The products and services section is where you sell the benefits of your business.

Here you have to explain how your product or service will benefit your customers and describe your product lifecycle. It is also the section where you write down your plans for intellectual property like patent filings and copyrighting.

The research and development that you are undertaking for your product or service need to be explained in detail in this section. However, do not get too technical, sell the general idea and its benefits.

If you have any diagrams or intricate designs of your product or service, do not include them in the products and services section. Instead, leave them for the addendum page. Also, if you are leaving out diagrams or designs for the addendum, ensure you add this phrase “For more detail, visit the addendum Page #.”

Your product and service section in your business plan should include the following:

  • A detailed explanation that clearly shows how your product or service works.
  • The pricing model for your product or service.
  • Your business’ sales and distribution strategy.
  • The ideal customers that want your product or service.
  • The benefits of your products and services.
  • Reason(s) why your product or service is a better alternative to what your competitors are currently offering in the market.
  • Plans for filling the orders you receive
  • If you have current or pending patents, copyrights, and trademarks for your product or service, you can also discuss them in this section.

What to Focus On When Describing the Benefits, Lifecycle, and Production Process of Your Products or Services

In the products and services section, you have to distill the benefits, lifecycle, and production process of your products and services.

When describing the benefits of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Unique features
  • Translating the unique features into benefits
  • The emotional, psychological, and practical payoffs to attract customers
  • Intellectual property rights or any patents

When describing the product life cycle of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Upsells, cross-sells, and down-sells
  • Time between purchases
  • Plans for research and development.

When describing the production process for your products or services, you need to think about the following:

  • The creation of new or existing products and services.
  • The sources for the raw materials or components you need for production.
  • Assembling the products
  • Maintaining quality control
  • Supply-chain logistics (receiving the raw materials and delivering the finished products)
  • The day-to-day management of the production processes, bookkeeping, and inventory.

Tips for Writing the Products or Services Section of Your Business Plan

1. Avoid Technical Descriptions and Industry Buzzwords

The products and services section of your business plan should clearly describe the products and services that your company provides. However, it is not a section to include technical jargons that anyone outside your industry will not understand.

A good practice is to remove highly detailed or technical descriptions in favor of simple terms. Industry buzzwords are not necessary, if there are simpler terms you can use, then use them. If you plan to use your business plan to source funds, making the product or service section so technical will do you no favors.

2. Describe How Your Products or Services Differ from Your Competitors

When potential investors look at your business plan, they want to know how the products and services you are offering differ from that of your competition. Differentiating your products or services from your competition in a way that makes your solution more attractive is critical.

If you are going the innovative path and there is no market currently for your product or service, you need to describe in this section why the market needs your product or service.

For example, overnight delivery was a niche business that only a few companies were participating in. Federal Express (FedEx) had to show in its business plan that there was a large opportunity for that service and they justified why the market needed that service.

3. Long or Short Products or Services Section

Should your products or services section be short? Does the long products or services section attract more investors?

There are no straightforward answers to these questions. Whether your products or services section should be long or relatively short depends on the nature of your business.

If your business is product-focused, then automatically you need to use more space to describe the details of your products. However, if the product your business sells is a commodity item that relies on competitive pricing or other pricing strategies, you do not have to use up so much space to provide significant details about the product.

Likewise, if you are selling a commodity that is available in numerous outlets, then you do not have to spend time on writing a long products or services section.

The key to the success of your business is most likely the effectiveness of your marketing strategies compared to your competitors. Use more space to address that section.

If you are creating a new product or service that the market does not know about, your products or services section can be lengthy. The reason why is because you need to explain everything about the product or service such as the nature of the product, its use case, and values.

A short products or services section for an innovative product or service will not give the readers enough information to properly evaluate your business.

4. Describe Your Relationships with Vendors or Suppliers

Your business will rely on vendors or suppliers to supply raw materials or the components needed to make your products. In your products and services section, describe your relationships with your vendors and suppliers fully.

Avoid the mistake of relying on only one supplier or vendor. If that supplier or vendor fails to supply or goes out of business, you can easily face supply problems and struggle to meet your demands. Plan to set up multiple vendor or supplier relationships for better business stability.

5. Your Primary Goal Is to Convince Your Readers

The primary goal of your business plan is to convince your readers that your business is viable and to create a guide for your business to follow. It applies to the products and services section.

When drafting this section, think like the reader. See your reader as someone who has no idea about your products and services. You are using the products and services section to provide the needed information to help your reader understand your products and services. As a result, you have to be clear and to the point.

While you want to educate your readers about your products or services, you also do not want to bore them with lots of technical details. Show your products and services and not your fancy choice of words.

Your products and services section should provide the answer to the “what” question for your business. You and your management team may run the business, but it is your products and services that are the lifeblood of the business.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing your Products and Services Section

Answering these questions can help you write your products and services section quickly and in a way that will appeal to your readers.

  • Are your products existing on the market or are they still in the development stage?
  • What is your timeline for adding new products and services to the market?
  • What are the positives that make your products and services different from your competitors?
  • Do your products and services have any competitive advantage that your competitors’ products and services do not currently have?
  • Do your products or services have any competitive disadvantages that you need to overcome to compete with your competitors? If your answer is yes, state how you plan to overcome them,
  • How much does it cost to produce your products or services? How much do you plan to sell it for?
  • What is the price for your products and services compared to your competitors? Is pricing an issue?
  • What are your operating costs and will it be low enough for you to compete with your competitors and still take home a reasonable profit margin?
  • What is your plan for acquiring your products? Are you involved in the production of your products or services?
  • Are you the manufacturer and produce all the components you need to create your products? Do you assemble your products by using components supplied by other manufacturers? Do you purchase your products directly from suppliers or wholesalers?
  • Do you have a steady supply of products that you need to start your business? (If your business is yet to kick-off)
  • How do you plan to distribute your products or services to the market?

You can also hint at the marketing or promotion plans you have for your products or services such as how you plan to build awareness or retain customers. The next section is where you can go fully into details about your business’s marketing and sales plan.

6. Show and Explain Your Marketing and Sales Plan

Providing great products and services is wonderful, but it means nothing if you do not have a marketing and sales plan to inform your customers about them. Your marketing and sales plan is critical to the success of your business.

The sales and marketing section is where you show and offer a detailed explanation of your marketing and sales plan and how you plan to execute it. It covers your pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success, and the benefits of your products and services.

There are several ways you can approach your marketing and sales strategy. Ideally, your marketing and sales strategy has to fit the unique needs of your business.

In this section, you describe how the plans your business has for attracting and retaining customers, and the exact process for making a sale happen. It is essential to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales plans because you are still going to reference this section when you are making financial projections for your business.

Outline Your Business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The sales and marketing section is where you outline your business’s unique selling proposition (USP). When you are developing your unique selling proposition, think about the strongest reasons why people should buy from you over your competition. That reason(s) is most likely a good fit to serve as your unique selling proposition (USP).

Target Market and Target Audience

Plans on how to get your products or services to your target market and how to get your target audience to buy them go into this section. You also highlight the strengths of your business here, particularly what sets them apart from your competition.

Target Market Vs Target Audience

Before you start writing your marketing and sales plan, you need to have properly defined your target audience and fleshed out your buyer persona. If you do not first understand the individual you are marketing to, your marketing and sales plan will lack any substance and easily fall.

Creating a Smart Marketing and Sales Plan

Marketing your products and services is an investment that requires you to spend money. Like any other investment, you have to generate a good return on investment (ROI) to justify using that marketing and sales plan. Good marketing and sales plans bring in high sales and profits to your company.

Avoid spending money on unproductive marketing channels. Do your research and find out the best marketing and sales plan that works best for your company.

Your marketing and sales plan can be broken into different parts: your positioning statement, pricing, promotion, packaging, advertising, public relations, content marketing, social media, and strategic alliances.

Your Positioning Statement

Your positioning statement is the first part of your marketing and sales plan. It refers to the way you present your company to your customers.

Are you the premium solution, the low-price solution, or are you the intermediary between the two extremes in the market? What do you offer that your competitors do not that can give you leverage in the market?

Before you start writing your positioning statement, you need to spend some time evaluating the current market conditions. Here are some questions that can help you to evaluate the market

  • What are the unique features or benefits that you offer that your competitors lack?
  • What are your customers’ primary needs and wants?
  • Why should a customer choose you over your competition? How do you plan to differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • How does your company’s solution compare with other solutions in the market?

After answering these questions, then you can start writing your positioning statement. Your positioning statement does not have to be in-depth or too long.

All you need to explain with your positioning statement are two focus areas. The first is the position of your company within the competitive landscape. The other focus area is the core value proposition that sets your company apart from other alternatives that your ideal customer might consider.

Here is a simple template you can use to develop a positioning statement.

For [description of target market] who [need of target market], [product or service] [how it meets the need]. Unlike [top competition], it [most essential distinguishing feature].

For example, let’s create the positioning statement for fictional accounting software and QuickBooks alternative , TBooks.

“For small business owners who need accounting services, TBooks is an accounting software that helps small businesses handle their small business bookkeeping basics quickly and easily. Unlike Wave, TBooks gives small businesses access to live sessions with top accountants.”

You can edit this positioning statement sample and fill it with your business details.

After writing your positioning statement, the next step is the pricing of your offerings. The overall positioning strategy you set in your positioning statement will often determine how you price your products or services.

Pricing is a powerful tool that sends a strong message to your customers. Failure to get your pricing strategy right can make or mar your business. If you are targeting a low-income audience, setting a premium price can result in low sales.

You can use pricing to communicate your positioning to your customers. For example, if you are offering a product at a premium price, you are sending a message to your customers that the product belongs to the premium category.

Basic Rules to Follow When Pricing Your Offering

Setting a price for your offering involves more than just putting a price tag on it. Deciding on the right pricing for your offering requires following some basic rules. They include covering your costs, primary and secondary profit center pricing, and matching the market rate.

  • Covering Your Costs: The price you set for your products or service should be more than it costs you to produce and deliver them. Every business has the same goal, to make a profit. Depending on the strategy you want to use, there are exceptions to this rule. However, the vast majority of businesses follow this rule.
  • Primary and Secondary Profit Center Pricing: When a company sets its price above the cost of production, it is making that product its primary profit center. A company can also decide not to make its initial price its primary profit center by selling below or at even with its production cost. It rather depends on the support product or even maintenance that is associated with the initial purchase to make its profit. The initial price thus became its secondary profit center.
  • Matching the Market Rate: A good rule to follow when pricing your products or services is to match your pricing with consumer demand and expectations. If you price your products or services beyond the price your customer perceives as the ideal price range, you may end up with no customers. Pricing your products too low below what your customer perceives as the ideal price range may lead to them undervaluing your offering.

Pricing Strategy

Your pricing strategy influences the price of your offering. There are several pricing strategies available for you to choose from when examining the right pricing strategy for your business. They include cost-plus pricing, market-based pricing, value pricing, and more.

Pricing strategy influences the price of offering

  • Cost-plus Pricing: This strategy is one of the simplest and oldest pricing strategies. Here you consider the cost of producing a unit of your product and then add a profit to it to arrive at your market price. It is an effective pricing strategy for manufacturers because it helps them cover their initial costs. Another name for the cost-plus pricing strategy is the markup pricing strategy.
  • Market-based Pricing: This pricing strategy analyses the market including competitors’ pricing and then sets a price based on what the market is expecting. With this pricing strategy, you can either set your price at the low-end or high-end of the market.
  • Value Pricing: This pricing strategy involves setting a price based on the value you are providing to your customer. When adopting a value-based pricing strategy, you have to set a price that your customers are willing to pay. Service-based businesses such as small business insurance providers , luxury goods sellers, and the fashion industry use this pricing strategy.

After carefully sorting out your positioning statement and pricing, the next item to look at is your promotional strategy. Your promotional strategy explains how you plan on communicating with your customers and prospects.

As a business, you must measure all your costs, including the cost of your promotions. You also want to measure how much sales your promotions bring for your business to determine its usefulness. Promotional strategies or programs that do not lead to profit need to be removed.

There are different types of promotional strategies you can adopt for your business, they include advertising, public relations, and content marketing.

Advertising

Your business plan should include your advertising plan which can be found in the marketing and sales plan section. You need to include an overview of your advertising plans such as the areas you plan to spend money on to advertise your business and offers.

Ensure that you make it clear in this section if your business will be advertising online or using the more traditional offline media, or the combination of both online and offline media. You can also include the advertising medium you want to use to raise awareness about your business and offers.

Some common online advertising mediums you can use include social media ads, landing pages, sales pages, SEO, Pay-Per-Click, emails, Google Ads, and others. Some common traditional and offline advertising mediums include word of mouth, radios, direct mail, televisions, flyers, billboards, posters, and others.

A key component of your advertising strategy is how you plan to measure the effectiveness and success of your advertising campaign. There is no point in sticking with an advertising plan or medium that does not produce results for your business in the long run.

Public Relations

A great way to reach your customers is to get the media to cover your business or product. Publicity, especially good ones, should be a part of your marketing and sales plan. In this section, show your plans for getting prominent reviews of your product from reputable publications and sources.

Your business needs that exposure to grow. If public relations is a crucial part of your promotional strategy, provide details about your public relations plan here.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a popular promotional strategy used by businesses to inform and attract their customers. It is about teaching and educating your prospects on various topics of interest in your niche, it does not just involve informing them about the benefits and features of the products and services you have,

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Businesses publish content usually for free where they provide useful information, tips, and advice so that their target market can be made aware of the importance of their products and services. Content marketing strategies seek to nurture prospects into buyers over time by simply providing value.

Your company can create a blog where it will be publishing content for its target market. You will need to use the best website builder such as Wix and Squarespace and the best web hosting services such as Bluehost, Hostinger, and other Bluehost alternatives to create a functional blog or website.

If content marketing is a crucial part of your promotional strategy (as it should be), detail your plans under promotions.

Including high-quality images of the packaging of your product in your business plan is a lovely idea. You can add the images of the packaging of that product in the marketing and sales plan section. If you are not selling a product, then you do not need to include any worry about the physical packaging of your product.

When organizing the packaging section of your business plan, you can answer the following questions to make maximum use of this section.

  • Is your choice of packaging consistent with your positioning strategy?
  • What key value proposition does your packaging communicate? (It should reflect the key value proposition of your business)
  • How does your packaging compare to that of your competitors?

Social Media

Your 21st-century business needs to have a good social media presence. Not having one is leaving out opportunities for growth and reaching out to your prospect.

You do not have to join the thousands of social media platforms out there. What you need to do is join the ones that your customers are active on and be active there.

Most popular social media platforms

Businesses use social media to provide information about their products such as promotions, discounts, the benefits of their products, and content on their blogs.

Social media is also a platform for engaging with your customers and getting feedback about your products or services. Make no mistake, more and more of your prospects are using social media channels to find more information about companies.

You need to consider the social media channels you want to prioritize your business (prioritize the ones your customers are active in) and your branding plans in this section.

Choosing the right social media platform

Strategic Alliances

If your company plans to work closely with other companies as part of your sales and marketing plan, include it in this section. Prove details about those partnerships in your business plan if you have already established them.

Strategic alliances can be beneficial for all parties involved including your company. Working closely with another company in the form of a partnership can provide access to a different target market segment for your company.

The company you are partnering with may also gain access to your target market or simply offer a new product or service (that of your company) to its customers.

Mutually beneficial partnerships can cover the weaknesses of one company with the strength of another. You should consider strategic alliances with companies that sell complimentary products to yours. For example, if you provide printers, you can partner with a company that produces ink since the customers that buy printers from you will also need inks for printing.

Steps Involved in Creating a Marketing and Sales Plan

1. Focus on Your Target Market

Identify who your customers are, the market you want to target. Then determine the best ways to get your products or services to your potential customers.

2. Evaluate Your Competition

One of the goals of having a marketing plan is to distinguish yourself from your competition. You cannot stand out from them without first knowing them in and out.

You can know your competitors by gathering information about their products, pricing, service, and advertising campaigns.

These questions can help you know your competition.

  • What makes your competition successful?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are customers saying about your competition?

3. Consider Your Brand

Customers' perception of your brand has a strong impact on your sales. Your marketing and sales plan should seek to bolster the image of your brand. Before you start marketing your business, think about the message you want to pass across about your business and your products and services.

4. Focus on Benefits

The majority of your customers do not view your product in terms of features, what they want to know is the benefits and solutions your product offers. Think about the problems your product solves and the benefits it delivers, and use it to create the right sales and marketing message.

Your marketing plan should focus on what you want your customer to get instead of what you provide. Identify those benefits in your marketing and sales plan.

5. Focus on Differentiation

Your marketing and sales plan should look for a unique angle they can take that differentiates your business from the competition, even if the products offered are similar. Some good areas of differentiation you can use are your benefits, pricing, and features.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing Your Marketing and Sales Plan

  • What is your company’s budget for sales and marketing campaigns?
  • What key metrics will you use to determine if your marketing plans are successful?
  • What are your alternatives if your initial marketing efforts do not succeed?
  • Who are the sales representatives you need to promote your products or services?
  • What are the marketing and sales channels you plan to use? How do you plan to get your products in front of your ideal customers?
  • Where will you sell your products?

You may want to include samples of marketing materials you plan to use such as print ads, website descriptions, and social media ads. While it is not compulsory to include these samples, it can help you better communicate your marketing and sales plan and objectives.

The purpose of the marketing and sales section is to answer this question “How will you reach your customers?” If you cannot convincingly provide an answer to this question, you need to rework your marketing and sales section.

7. Clearly Show Your Funding Request

If you are writing your business plan to ask for funding from investors or financial institutions, the funding request section is where you will outline your funding requirements. The funding request section should answer the question ‘How much money will your business need in the near future (3 to 5 years)?’

A good funding request section will clearly outline and explain the amount of funding your business needs over the next five years. You need to know the amount of money your business needs to make an accurate funding request.

Also, when writing your funding request, provide details of how the funds will be used over the period. Specify if you want to use the funds to buy raw materials or machinery, pay salaries, pay for advertisements, and cover specific bills such as rent and electricity.

In addition to explaining what you want to use the funds requested for, you need to clearly state the projected return on investment (ROI) . Investors and creditors want to know if your business can generate profit for them if they put funds into it.

Ensure you do not inflate the figures and stay as realistic as possible. Investors and financial institutions you are seeking funds from will do their research before investing money in your business.

If you are not sure of an exact number to request from, you can use some range of numbers as rough estimates. Add a best-case scenario and a work-case scenario to your funding request. Also, include a description of your strategic future financial plans such as selling your business or paying off debts.

Funding Request: Debt or Equity?

When making your funding request, specify the type of funding you want. Do you want debt or equity? Draw out the terms that will be applicable for the funding, and the length of time the funding request will cover.

Case for Equity

If your new business has not yet started generating profits, you are most likely preparing to sell equity in your business to raise capital at the early stage. Equity here refers to ownership. In this case, you are selling a portion of your company to raise capital.

Although this method of raising capital for your business does not put your business in debt, keep in mind that an equity owner may expect to play a key role in company decisions even if he does not hold a major stake in the company.

Most equity sales for startups are usually private transactions . If you are making a funding request by offering equity in exchange for funding, let the investor know that they will be paid a dividend (a share of the company’s profit). Also, let the investor know the process for selling their equity in your business.

Case for Debt

You may decide not to offer equity in exchange for funds, instead, you make a funding request with the promise to pay back the money borrowed at the agreed time frame.

When making a funding request with an agreement to pay back, note that you will have to repay your creditors both the principal amount borrowed and the interest on it. Financial institutions offer this type of funding for businesses.

Large companies combine both equity and debt in their capital structure. When drafting your business plan, decide if you want to offer both or one over the other.

Before you sell equity in exchange for funding in your business, consider if you are willing to accept not being in total control of your business. Also, before you seek loans in your funding request section, ensure that the terms of repayment are favorable.

You should set a clear timeline in your funding request so that potential investors and creditors can know what you are expecting. Some investors and creditors may agree to your funding request and then delay payment for longer than 30 days, meanwhile, your business needs an immediate cash injection to operate efficiently.

Additional Tips for Writing the Funding Request Section of your Business Plan

The funding request section is not necessary for every business, it is only needed by businesses who plan to use their business plan to secure funding.

If you are adding the funding request section to your business plan, provide an itemized summary of how you plan to use the funds requested. Hiring a lawyer, accountant, or other professionals may be necessary for the proper development of this section.

You should also gather and use financial statements that add credibility and support to your funding requests. Ensure that the financial statements you use should include your projected financial data such as projected cash flows, forecast statements, and expenditure budgets.

If you are an existing business, include all historical financial statements such as cash flow statements, balance sheets and income statements .

Provide monthly and quarterly financial statements for a year. If your business has records that date back beyond the one-year mark, add the yearly statements of those years. These documents are for the appendix section of your business plan.

8. Detail Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projections

If you used the funding request section in your business plan, supplement it with a financial plan, metrics, and projections. This section paints a picture of the past performance of your business and then goes ahead to make an informed projection about its future.

The goal of this section is to convince readers that your business is going to be a financial success. It outlines your business plan to generate enough profit to repay the loan (with interest if applicable) and to generate a decent return on investment for investors.

If you have an existing business already in operation, use this section to demonstrate stability through finance. This section should include your cash flow statements, balance sheets, and income statements covering the last three to five years. If your business has some acceptable collateral that you can use to acquire loans, list it in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

Apart from current financial statements, this section should also contain a prospective financial outlook that spans the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, and capital expenditure budget.

If your business is new and is not yet generating profit, use clear and realistic projections to show the potentials of your business.

When drafting this section, research industry norms and the performance of comparable businesses. Your financial projections should cover at least five years. State the logic behind your financial projections. Remember you can always make adjustments to this section as the variables change.

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section create a baseline which your business can either exceed or fail to reach. If your business fails to reach your projections in this section, you need to understand why it failed.

Investors and loan managers spend a lot of time going through the financial plan, metrics, and projection section compared to other parts of the business plan. Ensure you spend time creating credible financial analyses for your business in this section.

Many entrepreneurs find this section daunting to write. You do not need a business degree to create a solid financial forecast for your business. Business finances, especially for startups, are not as complicated as they seem. There are several online tools and templates that make writing this section so much easier.

Use Graphs and Charts

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business. Charts and images make it easier to communicate your finances.

Accuracy in this section is key, ensure you carefully analyze your past financial statements properly before making financial projects.

Address the Risk Factors and Show Realistic Financial Projections

Keep your financial plan, metrics, and projection realistic. It is okay to be optimistic in your financial projection, however, you have to justify it.

You should also address the various risk factors associated with your business in this section. Investors want to know the potential risks involved, show them. You should also show your plans for mitigating those risks.

What You Should In The Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection Section of Your Business Plan

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section of your business plan should have monthly sales and revenue forecasts for the first year. It should also include annual projections that cover 3 to 5 years.

A three-year projection is a basic requirement to have in your business plan. However, some investors may request a five-year forecast.

Your business plan should include the following financial statements: sales forecast, personnel plan, income statement, income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, and an exit strategy.

1. Sales Forecast

Sales forecast refers to your projections about the number of sales your business is going to record over the next few years. It is typically broken into several rows, with each row assigned to a core product or service that your business is offering.

One common mistake people make in their business plan is to break down the sales forecast section into long details. A sales forecast should forecast the high-level details.

For example, if you are forecasting sales for a payroll software provider, you could break down your forecast into target market segments or subscription categories.

Benefits of Sales Forecasting

Your sales forecast section should also have a corresponding row for each sales row to cover the direct cost or Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). The objective of these rows is to show the expenses that your business incurs in making and delivering your product or service.

Note that your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) should only cover those direct costs incurred when making your products. Other indirect expenses such as insurance, salaries, payroll tax, and rent should not be included.

For example, the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) for a restaurant is the cost of ingredients while for a consulting company it will be the cost of paper and other presentation materials.

Factors that affect sales forecasting

2. Personnel Plan

The personnel plan section is where you provide details about the payment plan for your employees. For a small business, you can easily list every position in your company and how much you plan to pay in the personnel plan.

However, for larger businesses, you have to break the personnel plan into functional groups such as sales and marketing.

The personnel plan will also include the cost of an employee beyond salary, commonly referred to as the employee burden. These costs include insurance, payroll taxes , and other essential costs incurred monthly as a result of having employees on your payroll.

True HR Cost Infographic

3. Income Statement

The income statement section shows if your business is making a profit or taking a loss. Another name for the income statement is the profit and loss (P&L). It takes data from your sales forecast and personnel plan and adds other ongoing expenses you incur while running your business.

The income statement section

Every business plan should have an income statement. It subtracts your business expenses from its earnings to show if your business is generating profit or incurring losses.

The income statement has the following items: sales, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), gross margin, operating expenses, total operating expenses, operating income , total expenses, and net profit.

  • Sales refer to the revenue your business generates from selling its products or services. Other names for sales are income or revenue.
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) refers to the total cost of selling your products. Other names for COGS are direct costs or cost of sales. Manufacturing businesses use the Costs of Goods Manufactured (COGM) .
  • Gross Margin is the figure you get when you subtract your COGS from your sales. In your income statement, you can express it as a percentage of total sales (Gross margin / Sales = Gross Margin Percent).
  • Operating Expenses refer to all the expenses you incur from running your business. It exempts the COGS because it stands alone as a core part of your income statement. You also have to exclude taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Your operating expenses include salaries, marketing expenses, research and development (R&D) expenses, and other expenses.
  • Total Operating Expenses refers to the sum of all your operating expenses including those exemptions named above under operating expenses.
  • Operating Income refers to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. It is simply known as the acronym EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). Calculating your operating income is simple, all you need to do is to subtract your COGS and total operating expenses from your sales.
  • Total Expenses refer to the sum of your operating expenses and your business’ interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
  • Net profit shows whether your business has made a profit or taken a loss during a given timeframe.

4. Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement tracks the money you have in the bank at any given point. It is often confused with the income statement or the profit and loss statement. They are both different types of financial statements. The income statement calculates your profits and losses while the cash flow statement shows you how much you have in the bank.

Cash Flow Statement Example

5. Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a financial statement that provides an overview of the financial health of your business. It contains information about the assets and liabilities of your company, and owner’s or shareholders’ equity.

You can get the net worth of your company by subtracting your company’s liabilities from its assets.

Balance sheet Formula

6. Exit Strategy

The exit strategy refers to a probable plan for selling your business either to the public in an IPO or to another company. It is the last thing you include in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

You can choose to omit the exit strategy from your business plan if you plan to maintain full ownership of your business and do not plan on seeking angel investment or virtual capitalist (VC) funding.

Investors may want to know what your exit plan is. They invest in your business to get a good return on investment.

Your exit strategy does not have to include long and boring details. Ensure you identify some interested parties who may be interested in buying the company if it becomes a success.

Exit Strategy Section of Business Plan Infographic

Key Questions to Answer with Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection

Your financial plan, metrics, and projection section helps investors, creditors, or your internal managers to understand what your expenses are, the amount of cash you need, and what it takes to make your company profitable. It also shows what you will be doing with any funding.

You do not need to show actual financial data if you do not have one. Adding forecasts and projections to your financial statements is added proof that your strategy is feasible and shows investors you have planned properly.

Here are some key questions to answer to help you develop this section.

  • What is your sales forecast for the next year?
  • When will your company achieve a positive cash flow?
  • What are the core expenses you need to operate?
  • How much money do you need upfront to operate or grow your company?
  • How will you use the loans or investments?

9. Add an Appendix to Your Business Plan

Adding an appendix to your business plan is optional. It is a useful place to put any charts, tables, legal notes, definitions, permits, résumés, and other critical information that do not fit into other sections of your business plan.

The appendix section is where you would want to include details of a patent or patent-pending if you have one. You can always add illustrations or images of your products here. It is the last section of your business plan.

When writing your business plan, there are details you cut short or remove to prevent the entire section from becoming too lengthy. There are also details you want to include in the business plan but are not a good fit for any of the previous sections. You can add that additional information to the appendix section.

Businesses also use the appendix section to include supporting documents or other materials specially requested by investors or lenders.

You can include just about any information that supports the assumptions and statements you made in the business plan under the appendix. It is the one place in the business plan where unrelated data and information can coexist amicably.

If your appendix section is lengthy, try organizing it by adding a table of contents at the beginning of the appendix section. It is also advisable to group similar information to make it easier for the reader to access them.

A well-organized appendix section makes it easier to share your information clearly and concisely. Add footnotes throughout the rest of the business plan or make references in the plan to the documents in the appendix.

The appendix section is usually only necessary if you are seeking funding from investors or lenders, or hoping to attract partners.

People reading business plans do not want to spend time going through a heap of backup information, numbers, and charts. Keep these documents or information in the Appendix section in case the reader wants to dig deeper.

Common Items to Include in the Appendix Section of Your Business Plan

The appendix section includes documents that supplement or support the information or claims given in other sections of the business plans. Common items you can include in the appendix section include:

  • Additional data about the process of manufacturing or creation
  • Additional description of products or services such as product schematics
  • Additional financial documents or projections
  • Articles of incorporation and status
  • Backup for market research or competitive analysis
  • Bank statements
  • Business registries
  • Client testimonials (if your business is already running)
  • Copies of insurances
  • Credit histories (personal or/and business)
  • Deeds and permits
  • Equipment leases
  • Examples of marketing and advertising collateral
  • Industry associations and memberships
  • Images of product
  • Intellectual property
  • Key customer contracts
  • Legal documents and other contracts
  • Letters of reference
  • Links to references
  • Market research data
  • Organizational charts
  • Photographs of potential facilities
  • Professional licenses pertaining to your legal structure or type of business
  • Purchase orders
  • Resumes of the founder(s) and key managers
  • State and federal identification numbers or codes
  • Trademarks or patents’ registrations

Avoid using the appendix section as a place to dump any document or information you feel like adding. Only add documents or information that you support or increase the credibility of your business plan.

Tips and Strategies for Writing a Convincing Business Plan

To achieve a perfect business plan, you need to consider some key tips and strategies. These tips will raise the efficiency of your business plan above average.

1. Know Your Audience

When writing a business plan, you need to know your audience . Business owners write business plans for different reasons. Your business plan has to be specific. For example, you can write business plans to potential investors, banks, and even fellow board members of the company.

The audience you are writing to determines the structure of the business plan. As a business owner, you have to know your audience. Not everyone will be your audience. Knowing your audience will help you to narrow the scope of your business plan.

Consider what your audience wants to see in your projects, the likely questions they might ask, and what interests them.

  • A business plan used to address a company's board members will center on its employment schemes, internal affairs, projects, stakeholders, etc.
  • A business plan for financial institutions will talk about the size of your market and the chances for you to pay back any loans you demand.
  • A business plan for investors will show proof that you can return the investment capital within a specific time. In addition, it discusses your financial projections, tractions, and market size.

2. Get Inspiration from People

Writing a business plan from scratch as an entrepreneur can be daunting. That is why you need the right inspiration to push you to write one. You can gain inspiration from the successful business plans of other businesses. Look at their business plans, the style they use, the structure of the project, etc.

To make your business plan easier to create, search companies related to your business to get an exact copy of what you need to create an effective business plan. You can also make references while citing examples in your business plans.

When drafting your business plan, get as much help from others as you possibly can. By getting inspiration from people, you can create something better than what they have.

3. Avoid Being Over Optimistic

Many business owners make use of strong adjectives to qualify their content. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make when preparing a business plan is promising too much.

The use of superlatives and over-optimistic claims can prepare the audience for more than you can offer. In the end, you disappoint the confidence they have in you.

In most cases, the best option is to be realistic with your claims and statistics. Most of the investors can sense a bit of incompetency from the overuse of superlatives. As a new entrepreneur, do not be tempted to over-promise to get the interests of investors.

The concept of entrepreneurship centers on risks, nothing is certain when you make future analyses. What separates the best is the ability to do careful research and work towards achieving that, not promising more than you can achieve.

To make an excellent first impression as an entrepreneur, replace superlatives with compelling data-driven content. In this way, you are more specific than someone promising a huge ROI from an investment.

4. Keep it Simple and Short

When writing business plans, ensure you keep them simple throughout. Irrespective of the purpose of the business plan, your goal is to convince the audience.

One way to achieve this goal is to make them understand your proposal. Therefore, it would be best if you avoid the use of complex grammar to express yourself. It would be a huge turn-off if the people you want to convince are not familiar with your use of words.

Another thing to note is the length of your business plan. It would be best if you made it as brief as possible.

You hardly see investors or agencies that read through an extremely long document. In that case, if your first few pages can’t convince them, then you have lost it. The more pages you write, the higher the chances of you derailing from the essential contents.

To ensure your business plan has a high conversion rate, you need to dispose of every unnecessary information. For example, if you have a strategy that you are not sure of, it would be best to leave it out of the plan.

5. Make an Outline and Follow Through

A perfect business plan must have touched every part needed to convince the audience. Business owners get easily tempted to concentrate more on their products than on other sections. Doing this can be detrimental to the efficiency of the business plan.

For example, imagine you talking about a product but omitting or providing very little information about the target audience. You will leave your clients confused.

To ensure that your business plan communicates your full business model to readers, you have to input all the necessary information in it. One of the best ways to achieve this is to design a structure and stick to it.

This structure is what guides you throughout the writing. To make your work easier, you can assign an estimated word count or page limit to every section to avoid making it too bulky for easy reading. As a guide, the necessary things your business plan must contain are:

  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Product or service description
  • Target audience
  • Market size
  • Competition analysis
  • Financial projections

Some specific businesses can include some other essential sections, but these are the key sections that must be in every business plan.

6. Ask a Professional to Proofread

When writing a business plan, you must tie all loose ends to get a perfect result. When you are done with writing, call a professional to go through the document for you. You are bound to make mistakes, and the way to correct them is to get external help.

You should get a professional in your field who can relate to every section of your business plan. It would be easier for the professional to notice the inner flaws in the document than an editor with no knowledge of your business.

In addition to getting a professional to proofread, get an editor to proofread and edit your document. The editor will help you identify grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and inappropriate writing styles.

Writing a business plan can be daunting, but you can surmount that obstacle and get the best out of it with these tips.

Business Plan Examples and Templates That’ll Save You Tons of Time

1. hubspot's one-page business plan.

HubSpot's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan template by HubSpot is the perfect guide for businesses of any size, irrespective of their business strategy. Although the template is condensed into a page, your final business plan should not be a page long! The template is designed to ask helpful questions that can help you develop your business plan.

Hubspot’s one-page business plan template is divided into nine fields:

  • Business opportunity
  • Company description
  • Industry analysis
  • Target market
  • Implementation timeline
  • Marketing plan
  • Financial summary
  • Funding required

2. Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplans' free business plan template is investor-approved. It is a rich template used by prestigious educational institutions such as Babson College and Princeton University to teach entrepreneurs how to create a business plan.

The template has six sections: the executive summary, opportunity, execution, company, financial plan, and appendix. There is a step-by-step guide for writing every little detail in the business plan. Follow the instructions each step of the way and you will create a business plan that impresses investors or lenders easily.

3. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot’s downloadable business plan template is a more comprehensive option compared to the one-page business template by HubSpot. This free and downloadable business plan template is designed for entrepreneurs.

The template is a comprehensive guide and checklist for business owners just starting their businesses. It tells you everything you need to fill in each section of the business plan and how to do it.

There are nine sections in this business plan template: an executive summary, company and business description, product and services line, market analysis, marketing plan, sales plan, legal notes, financial considerations, and appendix.

4. Business Plan by My Own Business Institute

The Business Profile

My Own Business Institute (MOBI) which is a part of Santa Clara University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a free business plan template. You can either copy the free business template from the link provided above or download it as a Word document.

The comprehensive template consists of a whopping 15 sections.

  • The Business Profile
  • The Vision and the People
  • Home-Based Business and Freelance Business Opportunities
  • Organization
  • Licenses and Permits
  • Business Insurance
  • Communication Tools
  • Acquisitions
  • Location and Leasing
  • Accounting and Cash Flow
  • Opening and Marketing
  • Managing Employees
  • Expanding and Handling Problems

There are lots of helpful tips on how to fill each section in the free business plan template by MOBI.

5. Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score is an American nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs build successful companies. This business plan template for startups by Score is available for free download. The business plan template asks a whooping 150 generic questions that help entrepreneurs from different fields to set up the perfect business plan.

The business plan template for startups contains clear instructions and worksheets, all you have to do is answer the questions and fill the worksheets.

There are nine sections in the business plan template: executive summary, company description, products and services, marketing plan, operational plan, management and organization, startup expenses and capitalization, financial plan, and appendices.

The ‘refining the plan’ resource contains instructions that help you modify your business plan to suit your specific needs, industry, and target audience. After you have completed Score’s business plan template, you can work with a SCORE mentor for expert advice in business planning.

6. Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

The minimalist architecture business plan template is a simple template by Venngage that you can customize to suit your business needs .

There are five sections in the template: an executive summary, statement of problem, approach and methodology, qualifications, and schedule and benchmark. The business plan template has instructions that guide users on what to fill in each section.

7. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two free business plan templates, filled with practical real-life examples that you can model to create your business plan. Both free business plan templates are written by fictional business owners: Rebecca who owns a consulting firm, and Andrew who owns a toy company.

There are five sections in the two SBA’s free business plan templates.

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Service Line
  • Marketing and Sales

8. The $100 Startup's One-Page Business Plan

The $100 Startup's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan by the $100 startup is a simple business plan template for entrepreneurs who do not want to create a long and complicated plan . You can include more details in the appendices for funders who want more information beyond what you can put in the one-page business plan.

There are five sections in the one-page business plan such as overview, ka-ching, hustling, success, and obstacles or challenges or open questions. You can answer all the questions using one or two sentences.

9. PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

The free business plan template by PandaDoc is a comprehensive 15-page document that describes the information you should include in every section.

There are 11 sections in PandaDoc’s free business plan template.

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Products and services
  • Operations plan
  • Management organization
  • Financial plan
  • Conclusion / Call to action
  • Confidentiality statement

You have to sign up for its 14-day free trial to access the template. You will find different business plan templates on PandaDoc once you sign up (including templates for general businesses and specific businesses such as bakeries, startups, restaurants, salons, hotels, and coffee shops)

PandaDoc allows you to customize its business plan templates to fit the needs of your business. After editing the template, you can send it to interested parties and track opens and views through PandaDoc.

10. Invoiceberry Templates for Word, Open Office, Excel, or PPT

Invoiceberry Templates Business Concept

InvoiceBerry is a U.K based online invoicing and tracking platform that offers free business plan templates in .docx, .odt, .xlsx, and .pptx formats for freelancers and small businesses.

Before you can download the free business plan template, it will ask you to give it your email address. After you complete the little task, it will send the download link to your inbox for you to download. It also provides a business plan checklist in .xlsx file format that ensures you add the right information to the business plan.

Alternatives to the Traditional Business Plan

A business plan is very important in mapping out how one expects their business to grow over a set number of years, particularly when they need external investment in their business. However, many investors do not have the time to watch you present your business plan. It is a long and boring read.

Luckily, there are three alternatives to the traditional business plan (the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck). These alternatives are less laborious and easier and quicker to present to investors.

Business Model Canvas (BMC)

The business model canvas is a business tool used to present all the important components of setting up a business, such as customers, route to market, value proposition, and finance in a single sheet. It provides a very focused blueprint that defines your business initially which you can later expand on if needed.

Business Model Canvas (BMC) Infographic

The sheet is divided mainly into company, industry, and consumer models that are interconnected in how they find problems and proffer solutions.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas was developed by founder Alexander Osterwalder to answer important business questions. It contains nine segments.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

  • Key Partners: Who will be occupying important executive positions in your business? What do they bring to the table? Will there be a third party involved with the company?
  • Key Activities: What important activities will production entail? What activities will be carried out to ensure the smooth running of the company?
  • The Product’s Value Propositions: What does your product do? How will it be different from other products?
  • Customer Segments: What demography of consumers are you targeting? What are the habits of these consumers? Who are the MVPs of your target consumers?
  • Customer Relationships: How will the team support and work with its customer base? How do you intend to build and maintain trust with the customer?
  • Key Resources: What type of personnel and tools will be needed? What size of the budget will they need access to?
  • Channels: How do you plan to create awareness of your products? How do you intend to transport your product to the customer?
  • Cost Structure: What is the estimated cost of production? How much will distribution cost?
  • Revenue Streams: For what value are customers willing to pay? How do they prefer to pay for the product? Are there any external revenues attached apart from the main source? How do the revenue streams contribute to the overall revenue?

Lean Canvas

The lean canvas is a problem-oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas. It was proposed by Ash Maurya, creator of Lean Stack as a development of the business model generation. It uses a more problem-focused approach and it majorly targets entrepreneurs and startup businesses.

The lean canvas is a problem oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas

Lean Canvas uses the same 9 blocks concept as the business model canvas, however, they have been modified slightly to suit the needs and purpose of a small startup. The key partners, key activities, customer relationships, and key resources are replaced by new segments which are:

  • Problem: Simple and straightforward number of problems you have identified, ideally three.
  • Solution: The solutions to each problem.
  • Unfair Advantage: Something you possess that can't be easily bought or replicated.
  • Key Metrics: Important numbers that will tell how your business is doing.

Startup Pitch Deck

While the business model canvas compresses into a factual sheet, startup pitch decks expand flamboyantly.

Pitch decks, through slides, convey your business plan, often through graphs and images used to emphasize estimations and observations in your presentation. Entrepreneurs often use pitch decks to fully convince their target audience of their plans before discussing funding arrangements.

Startup Pitch Deck Presentation

Considering the likelihood of it being used in a small time frame, a good startup pitch deck should ideally contain 20 slides or less to have enough time to answer questions from the audience.

Unlike the standard and lean business model canvases, a pitch deck doesn't have a set template on how to present your business plan but there are still important components to it. These components often mirror those of the business model canvas except that they are in slide form and contain more details.

Airbnb Pitch Deck

Using Airbnb (one of the most successful start-ups in recent history) for reference, the important components of a good slide are listed below.

  • Cover/Introduction Slide: Here, you should include your company's name and mission statement. Your mission statement should be a very catchy tagline. Also, include personal information and contact details to provide an easy link for potential investors.
  • Problem Slide: This slide requires you to create a connection with the audience or the investor that you are pitching. For example in their pitch, Airbnb summarized the most important problems it would solve in three brief points – pricing of hotels, disconnection from city culture, and connection problems for local bookings.
  • Solution Slide: This slide includes your core value proposition. List simple and direct solutions to the problems you have mentioned
  • Customer Analysis: Here you will provide information on the customers you will be offering your service to. The identity of your customers plays an important part in fundraising as well as the long-run viability of the business.
  • Market Validation: Use competitive analysis to show numbers that prove the presence of a market for your product, industry behavior in the present and the long run, as well as the percentage of the market you aim to attract. It shows that you understand your competitors and customers and convinces investors of the opportunities presented in the market.
  • Business Model: Your business model is the hook of your presentation. It may vary in complexity but it should generally include a pricing system informed by your market analysis. The goal of the slide is to confirm your business model is easy to implement.
  • Marketing Strategy: This slide should summarize a few customer acquisition methods that you plan to use to grow the business.
  • Competitive Advantage: What this slide will do is provide information on what will set you apart and make you a more attractive option to customers. It could be the possession of technology that is not widely known in the market.
  • Team Slide: Here you will give a brief description of your team. Include your key management personnel here and their specific roles in the company. Include their educational background, job history, and skillsets. Also, talk about their accomplishments in their careers so far to build investors' confidence in members of your team.
  • Traction Slide: This validates the company’s business model by showing growth through early sales and support. The slide aims to reduce any lingering fears in potential investors by showing realistic periodic milestones and profit margins. It can include current sales, growth, valuable customers, pre-orders, or data from surveys outlining current consumer interest.
  • Funding Slide: This slide is popularly referred to as ‘the ask'. Here you will include important details like how much is needed to get your business off the ground and how the funding will be spent to help the company reach its goals.
  • Appendix Slides: Your pitch deck appendix should always be included alongside a standard pitch presentation. It consists of additional slides you could not show in the pitch deck but you need to complement your presentation.

It is important to support your calculations with pictorial renditions. Infographics, such as pie charts or bar graphs, will be more effective in presenting the information than just listing numbers. For example, a six-month graph that shows rising profit margins will easily look more impressive than merely writing it.

Lastly, since a pitch deck is primarily used to secure meetings and you may be sharing your pitch with several investors, it is advisable to keep a separate public version that doesn't include financials. Only disclose the one with projections once you have secured a link with an investor.

Advantages of the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck over the Traditional Business Plan

  • Time-Saving: Writing a detailed traditional business plan could take weeks or months. On the other hand, all three alternatives can be done in a few days or even one night of brainstorming if you have a comprehensive understanding of your business.
  • Easier to Understand: Since the information presented is almost entirely factual, it puts focus on what is most important in running the business. They cut away the excess pages of fillers in a traditional business plan and allow investors to see what is driving the business and what is getting in the way.
  • Easy to Update: Businesses typically present their business plans to many potential investors before they secure funding. What this means is that you may regularly have to amend your presentation to update statistics or adjust to audience-specific needs. For a traditional business plan, this could mean rewriting a whole section of your plan. For the three alternatives, updating is much easier because they are not voluminous.
  • Guide for a More In-depth Business Plan: All three alternatives have the added benefit of being able to double as a sketch of your business plan if the need to create one arises in the future.

Business Plan FAQ

Business plans are important for any entrepreneur who is looking for a framework to run their company over some time or seeking external support. Although they are essential for new businesses, every company should ideally have a business plan to track their growth from time to time.  They can be used by startups seeking investments or loans to convey their business ideas or an employee to convince his boss of the feasibility of starting a new project. They can also be used by companies seeking to recruit high-profile employee targets into key positions or trying to secure partnerships with other firms.

Business plans often vary depending on your target audience, the scope, and the goals for the plan. Startup plans are the most common among the different types of business plans.  A start-up plan is used by a new business to present all the necessary information to help get the business up and running. They are usually used by entrepreneurs who are seeking funding from investors or bank loans. The established company alternative to a start-up plan is a feasibility plan. A feasibility plan is often used by an established company looking for new business opportunities. They are used to show the upsides of creating a new product for a consumer base. Because the audience is usually company people, it requires less company analysis. The third type of business plan is the lean business plan. A lean business plan is a brief, straight-to-the-point breakdown of your ideas and analysis for your business. It does not contain details of your proposal and can be written on one page. Finally, you have the what-if plan. As it implies, a what-if plan is a preparation for the worst-case scenario. You must always be prepared for the possibility of your original plan being rejected. A good what-if plan will serve as a good plan B to the original.

A good business plan has 10 key components. They include an executive plan, product analysis, desired customer base, company analysis, industry analysis, marketing strategy, sales strategy, financial projection, funding, and appendix. Executive Plan Your business should begin with your executive plan. An executive plan will provide early insight into what you are planning to achieve with your business. It should include your mission statement and highlight some of the important points which you will explain later. Product Analysis The next component of your business plan is your product analysis. A key part of this section is explaining the type of item or service you are going to offer as well as the market problems your product will solve. Desired Consumer Base Your product analysis should be supplemented with a detailed breakdown of your desired consumer base. Investors are always interested in knowing the economic power of your market as well as potential MVP customers. Company Analysis The next component of your business plan is your company analysis. Here, you explain how you want to run your business. It will include your operational strategy, an insight into the workforce needed to keep the company running, and important executive positions. It will also provide a calculation of expected operational costs.  Industry Analysis A good business plan should also contain well laid out industry analysis. It is important to convince potential investors you know the companies you will be competing with, as well as your plans to gain an edge on the competition. Marketing Strategy Your business plan should also include your marketing strategy. This is how you intend to spread awareness of your product. It should include a detailed explanation of the company brand as well as your advertising methods. Sales Strategy Your sales strategy comes after the market strategy. Here you give an overview of your company's pricing strategy and how you aim to maximize profits. You can also explain how your prices will adapt to market behaviors. Financial Projection The financial projection is the next component of your business plan. It explains your company's expected running cost and revenue earned during the tenure of the business plan. Financial projection gives a clear idea of how your company will develop in the future. Funding The next component of your business plan is funding. You have to detail how much external investment you need to get your business idea off the ground here. Appendix The last component of your plan is the appendix. This is where you put licenses, graphs, or key information that does not fit in any of the other components.

The business model canvas is a business management tool used to quickly define your business idea and model. It is often used when investors need you to pitch your business idea during a brief window.

A pitch deck is similar to a business model canvas except that it makes use of slides in its presentation. A pitch is not primarily used to secure funding, rather its main purpose is to entice potential investors by selling a very optimistic outlook on the business.

Business plan competitions help you evaluate the strength of your business plan. By participating in business plan competitions, you are improving your experience. The experience provides you with a degree of validation while practicing important skills. The main motivation for entering into the competitions is often to secure funding by finishing in podium positions. There is also the chance that you may catch the eye of a casual observer outside of the competition. These competitions also provide good networking opportunities. You could meet mentors who will take a keen interest in guiding you in your business journey. You also have the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs whose ideas can complement yours.

Exlore Further

  • 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)
  • 13 Sources of Business Finance For Companies & Sole Traders
  • 5 Common Types of Business Structures (+ Pros & Cons)
  • How to Buy a Business in 8 Steps (+ Due Diligence Checklist)

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Martin luenendonk.

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

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

Powerful business plan templates

Plan for the future, no matter what your business plans are or the size of your business with these designs and templates. whether it's just one big project or an entire organization's worth of dreams, these templates will keep you and your company on track from ideation to completion..

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Put your ideas to work with simple templates for every business plan

Every successful business took a lot of planning to get there, and these templates will be cornerstones of your future success. Whether you're looking to attract new business, pitch your services or reimagine your company, with these simple, customizable templates at your fingertips you can turn complexity into something tangible. These templates can become marketing assets or simply remain internal touchpoints for your team. And as your dreams change, you'll always have this template to refer to – it's easy to change what exists on paper. If you're a small business, focusing on your niche can help you dominate in your field, and you can forge a plan to figure out exactly what that niche might be and how to target your ideal customer . When it's time to share your vision with stakeholders, craft a presentation that outlines your plan succinctly and with style. Let these templates from Microsoft Designer be your partner in business strategy for years to come.

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How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)

May 24, 2021

How to Write a Business Plan (Plus Examples & Templates)

Have you ever wondered how to write a business plan step by step? Mike Andes, told us: 

This guide will help you write a business plan to impress investors.

Throughout this process, we’ll get information from Mike Andes, who started Augusta Lawn Care Services when he was 12 and turned it into a franchise with over 90 locations. He has gone on to help others learn how to write business plans and start businesses.  He knows a thing or two about writing  business plans!

We’ll start by discussing the definition of a business plan. Then we’ll discuss how to come up with the idea, how to do the market research, and then the important elements in the business plan format. Keep reading to start your journey!

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is simply a road map of what you are trying to achieve with your business and how you will go about achieving it. It should cover all elements of your business including: 

  • Finding customers
  • Plans for developing a team
  •  Competition
  • Legal structures
  • Key milestones you are pursuing

If you aren’t quite ready to create a business plan, consider starting by reading our business startup guide .

Get a Business Idea

Before you can write a business plan, you have to have a business idea. You may see a problem that needs to be solved and have an idea how to solve it, or you might start by evaluating your interests and skills. 

Mike told us, “The three things I suggest asking yourself when thinking about starting a business are:

  • What am I good at?
  • What would I enjoy doing?
  • What can I get paid for?”

Three adjoining circles about business opportunity

If all three of these questions don’t lead to at least one common answer, it will probably be a much harder road to success. Either there is not much market for it, you won’t be good at it, or you won’t enjoy doing it. 

As Mike told us, “There’s enough stress starting and running a business that if you don’t like it or aren’t good at it, it’s hard to succeed.”

If you’d like to hear more about Mike’s approach to starting a business, check out our YouTube video

Conduct Market Analysis

Market analysis is focused on establishing if there is a target market for your products and services, how large the target market is, and identifying the demographics of people or businesses that would be interested in the product or service. The goal here is to establish how much money your business concept can make.

Product and Service Demand

An image showing product service and demand

A search engine is your best friend when trying to figure out if there is demand for your products and services. Personally, I love using presearch.org because it lets you directly search on a ton of different platforms including Google, Youtube, Twitter, and more. Check out the screenshot for the full list of search options.

With quick web searches, you can find out how many competitors you have, look through their reviews, and see if there are common complaints about the competitors. Bad reviews are a great place to find opportunities to offer better products or services. 

If there are no similar products or services, you may have stumbled upon something new, or there may just be no demand for it. To find out, go talk to your most honest friend about the idea and see what they think. If they tell you it’s dumb or stare at you vacantly, there’s probably no market for it.

You can also conduct a survey through social media to get public opinion on your idea. Using Facebook Business Manager , you could get a feel for who would be interested in your product or service.

 I ran a quick test of how many people between 18-65  you could reach in the U.S. during a week. It returned an estimated 700-2,000 for the total number of leads, which is enough to do a fairly accurate statistical analysis.

Identify Demographics of Target Market

Depending on what type of business you want to run, your target market will be different. The narrower the demographic, the fewer potential customers you’ll have. If you did a survey, you’ll be able to use that data to help define your target audience. Some considerations you’ll want to consider are:

  • Other Interests
  • Marital Status
  • Do they have kids?

Once you have this information, it can help you narrow down your options for location and help define your marketing further. One resource that Mike recommended using is the Census Bureau’s Quick Facts Map . He told us,  

“It helps you quickly evaluate what the best areas are for your business to be located.”

How to Write a Business Plan

Business plan development

Now that you’ve developed your idea a little and established there is a market for it, you can begin writing a business plan. Getting started is easier with the business plan template we created for you to download. I strongly recommend using it as it is updated to make it easier to create an action plan. 

Each of the following should be a section of your business plan:

  • Business Plan Cover Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Description of Products and Services

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

  • Distribution Channel Assessment
  • Operational Plan
  • Management and Organizational Strategy
  • Financial Statements and/or Financial Projections

We’ll look into each of these. Don’t forget to download our free business plan template (mentioned just above) so you can follow along as we go. 

How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page

The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions.

A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:

  • Professionally designed logo
  • Company name
  • Mission or Vision Statement
  • Contact Info

Basically, think of a cover page for your business plan like a giant business card. It is meant to capture people’s attention but be quickly processed.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 2. Create a Table of Contents

Most people are busy enough that they don’t have a lot of time. Providing a table of contents makes it easy for them to find the pages of your plan that are meaningful to them.

A table of contents will be immediately after the cover page, but you can include it after the executive summary. Including the table of contents immediately after the executive summary will help investors know what section of your business plan they want to review more thoroughly.

Check out Canva’s article about creating a  table of contents . It has a ton of great information about creating easy access to each section of your business plan. Just remember that you’ll want to use different strategies for digital and hard copy business plans.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 3. Write an Executive Summary

A notepad with a written executive summary for business plan writing

An executive summary is where your business plan should catch the readers interest.  It doesn’t need to be long, but should be quick and easy to read.

Mike told us,

How long should an executive summary bein an informal business plan?

For casual use, an executive summary should be similar to an elevator pitch, no more than 150-160 words, just enough to get them interested and wanting more. Indeed has a great article on elevator pitches .  This can also be used for the content of emails to get readers’ attention.

It consists of three basic parts:

  • An introduction to you and your business.
  • What your business is about.
  • A call to action

Example of an informal executive summary 

One of the best elevator pitches I’ve used is:

So far that pitch has achieved a 100% success rate in getting partnerships for the business.

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

Investors are going to need a more detailed executive summary if you want to secure financing or sell equity. The executive summary should be a brief overview of your entire business plan and include:

  • Introduction of yourself and company.
  • An origin story (Recognition of a problem and how you came to solution)
  • An introduction to your products or services.
  • Your unique value proposition. Make sure to include intellectual property.
  • Where you are in the business life cycle
  • Request and why you need it.

Successful business plan examples

The owner of Urbanity told us he spent 2 months writing a 75-page business plan and received a $250,000 loan from the bank when he was 23. Make your business plan as detailed as possible when looking for financing. We’ve provided a template to help you prepare the portions of a business plan that banks expect.

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

When to write an executive summary?

Even though the summary is near the beginning of a business plan, you should write it after you complete the rest of a business plan. You can’t talk about revenue, profits, and expected expenditures if you haven’t done the market research and created a financial plan.

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

Business owners commonly go into too much detail about the following items in an executive summary:

  • Marketing and sales processes
  • Financial statements
  • Organizational structure
  • Market analysis

These are things that people will want to know later, but they don’t hook the reader. They won’t spark interest in your small business, but they’ll close the deal.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

Every business plan should include a company description. A great business plan will include the following elements while describing the company:

  • Mission statement
  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

Let’s take a look at what each section includes in a good business plan.

Mission Statement

A mission statement is a brief explanation of why you started the company and what the company’s main focus is. It should be no more than one or two sentences. Check out HubSpot’s article 27 Inspiring Mission Statement for a great read on informative and inspiring mission and vision statements. 

Company Philosophy and Vision

Writing the company philosophy and vision

The company philosophy is what drives your company. You’ll normally hear them called core values.  These are the building blocks that make your company different. You want to communicate your values to customers, business owners, and investors as often as possible to build a company culture, but make sure to back them up.

What makes your company different?

Each company is different. Your new business should rise above the standard company lines of honesty, integrity, fun, innovation, and community when communicating your business values. The standard answers are corporate jargon and lack authenticity. 

Examples of core values

One of my clients decided to add a core values page to their website. As a tech company they emphasized the values:

  •  Prioritize communication.
  •  Never stop learning.
  •  Be transparent.
  •  Start small and grow incrementally.

These values communicate how the owner and the rest of the company operate. They also show a value proposition and competitive advantage because they specifically focus on delivering business value from the start. These values also genuinely show what the company is about and customers recognize the sincerity. Indeed has a great blog about how to identify your core values .

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement communicate the long lasting change a business pursues. The vision helps investors and customers understand what your company is trying to accomplish. The vision statement goes beyond a mission statement to provide something meaningful to the community, customer’s lives, or even the world.

Example vision statements

The Alzheimer’s Association is a great example of a vision statement:

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

It clearly tells how they want to change the world. A world without Alzheimers might be unachievable, but that means they always have room for improvement.

Business Goals

You have to measure success against goals for a business plan to be meaningful. A business plan helps guide a company similar to how your GPS provides a road map to your favorite travel destination. A goal to make as much money as possible is not inspirational and sounds greedy.

Sure, business owners want to increase their profits and improve customer service, but they need to present an overview of what they consider success. The goals should help everyone prioritize their work.

How far in advance should a business plan?

Business planning should be done at least one year in advance, but many banks and investors prefer three to five year business plans. Longer plans show investors that the management team  understands the market and knows the business is operating in a constantly shifting market. In addition, a plan helps businesses to adjust to changes because they have already considered how to handle them.

Example of great business goals

My all time-favorite long-term company goals are included in Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux . These goals were written in 2016 and drive the company’s decisions through 2026. They are the reason that investors are so forgiving when Elon Musk continually fails to meet his quarterly and annual goals.

If the progress aligns with the business plan investors are likely to continue to believe in the company. Just make sure the goals are reasonable or you’ll be discredited (unless you’re Elon Musk).

A man holding an iPad with a cup of coffee on his desk

You did target market research before creating a business plan. Now it’s time to add it to the plan so others understand what your ideal customer looks like. As a new business owner, you may not be considered an expert in your field yet, so document everything. Make sure the references you use are from respectable sources. 

Use information from the specific lender when you are applying for lending. Most lenders provide industry research reports and using their data can strengthen the position of your business plan.

A small business plan should include a section on the external environment. Understanding the industry is crucial because we don’t plan a business in a vacuum. Make sure to research the industry trends, competitors, and forecasts. I personally prefer IBIS World for my business research. Make sure to answer questions like:

  • What is the industry outlook long-term and short-term?
  • How will your business take advantage of projected industry changes and trends?
  • What might happen to your competitors and how will your business successfully compete?

Industry resources

Some helpful resources to help you establish more about your industry are:

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

There are five basic types of legal structures that most people will utilize:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Partnerships

Corporations.

  • Franchises.

Each business structure has their pros and cons. An LLC is the most common legal structure due to its protection of personal assets and ease of setting up. Make sure to specify how ownership is divided and what roles each owner plays when you have more than one business owner.

You’ll have to decide which structure is best for you, but we’ve gathered information on each to make it easier.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the easiest legal structure to set up but doesn’t protect the owner’s personal assets from legal issues. That means if something goes wrong, you could lose both your company and your home.

To start a sole proprietorship, fill out a special tax form called a  Schedule C . Sole proprietors can also join the American Independent Business Alliance .

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is the most common business structure used in the United States because an LLC protects the owner’s personal assets. It’s similar to partnerships and corporations, but can be a single-member LLC in most states. An LLC requires a document called an operating agreement.

Each state has different requirements. Here’s a link to find your state’s requirements . Delaware and Nevada are common states to file an LLC because they are really business-friendly. Here’s a blog on the top 10 states to get an LLC.

Partnerships are typically for legal firms. If you choose to use a partnership choose a Limited Liability Partnership. Alternatively, you can just use an LLC.

Corporations are typically for massive organizations. Corporations have taxes on both corporate and income tax so unless you plan on selling stock, you are better off considering an LLC with S-Corp status . Investopedia has good information corporations here .

An iPad with colored pens on a desk

There are several opportunities to purchase successful franchises. TopFranchise.com has a list of companies in a variety of industries that offer franchise opportunities. This makes it where an entrepreneur can benefit from the reputation of an established business that has already worked out many of the kinks of starting from scratch.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 5. Products and Services

This section of the business plan should focus on what you sell, how you source it, and how you sell it. You should include:

  • Unique features that differentiate your business products from competitors
  • Intellectual property
  • Your supply chain
  • Cost and pricing structure 

Questions to answer about your products and services

Mike gave us a list  of the most important questions to answer about your product and services:

  • How will you be selling the product? (in person, ecommerce, wholesale, direct to consumer)?
  • How do you let them know they need a product?
  • How do you communicate the message?
  • How will you do transactions?
  • How much will you be selling it for?
  • How many do you think you’ll sell and why?

Make sure to use the worksheet on our business plan template .

How to Write a Business Plan Step 6. Sales and Marketing Plan

The marketing and sales plan is focused on the strategy to bring awareness to your company and guides how you will get the product to the consumer.  It should contain the following sections:

SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Not only do you want to identify them, but you also want to document how the business plans to deal with them.

Business owners need to do a thorough job documenting how their service or product stacks up against the competition.

If proper research isn’t done, investors will be able to tell that the owner hasn’t researched the competition and is less likely to believe that the team can protect its service from threats by the more well-established competition. This is one of the most common parts of a presentation that trips up business owners presenting on Shark Tank .

SWOT Examples

Business plan SWOT analysis

Examples of strengths and weaknesses could be things like the lack of cash flow, intellectual property ownership, high costs of suppliers, and customers’ expectations on shipping times.

Opportunities could be ways to capitalize on your strengths or improve your weaknesses, but may also be gaps in the industry. This includes:

  • Adding offerings that fit with your current small business
  • Increase sales to current customers
  • Reducing costs through bulk ordering
  • Finding ways to reduce inventory
  •  And other areas you can improve

Threats will normally come from outside of the company but could also be things like losing a key member of the team. Threats normally come from competition, regulations, taxes, and unforeseen events.

The management team should use the SWOT analysis to guide other areas of business planning, but it absolutely has to be done before a business owner starts marketing. 

Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan

When you plan a business, taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the competition is key to navigating the field. Providing an overview of your competition and where they are headed shows that you are invested in understanding the industry.

For smaller businesses, you’ll want to search both the company and the owners names to see what they are working on. For publicly held corporations, you can find their quarterly and annual reports on the SEC website .

What another business plans to do can impact your business. Make sure to include things that might make it attractive for bigger companies to outsource to a small business.

Marketing Strategy

The marketing and sales part of business plans should be focused on how you are going to make potential customers aware of your business and then sell to them.

If you haven’t already included it, Mike recommends:

“They’ll want to know about Demographics, ages, and wealth of your target market.”

Make sure to include the Total addressable market .  The term refers to the value if you captured 100% of the market.

Advertising Strategy

You’ll explain what formats of advertising you’ll be using. Some possibilities are:

  • Online: Facebook and Google are the big names to work with here.
  • Print : Print can be used to reach broad groups or targeted markets. Check out this for tips .
  • Radio : iHeartMedia is one of the best ways to advertise on the radio
  • Cable television : High priced, hard to measure ROI, but here’s an explanation of the process
  • Billboards: Attracting customers with billboards can be beneficial in high traffic areas.

You’ll want to define how you’ll be using each including frequency, duration, and cost. If you have the materials already created, including pictures or links to the marketing to show creative assets.

Mike told us “Most businesses are marketing digitally now due to Covid, but that’s not always the right answer.”

Make sure the marketing strategy will help team members or external marketing agencies stay within the brand guidelines .

An iPad with graph about pricing strategy

This section of a business plan should be focused on pricing. There are a ton of pricing strategies that may work for different business plans. Which one will work for you depends on what kind of a business you run.

Some common pricing strategies are:

  • Value-based pricing – Commonly used with home buying and selling or other products that are status symbols.
  • Skimming pricing – Commonly seen in video game consoles, price starts off high to recoup expenses quickly, then reduces over time.
  • Competition-based pricing – Pricing based on competitors’ pricing is commonly seen at gas stations.
  • Freemium services –  Commonly used for software, where there is a free plan, then purchase options for more functionality.

HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.

Beyond explaining what strategy your business plans to use, you should include references for how you came to this pricing strategy and how it will impact your cash flow.

Distribution Plan

This part of a business plan is focused on how the product or service is going to go through the supply chain. These may include multiple divisions or multiple companies. Make sure to include any parts of the workflow that are automated so investors can see where cost savings are expected and when.

Supply Chain Examples

For instance, lawn care companies  would need to cover aspects such as:

  • Suppliers for lawn care equipment and tools
  • Any chemicals or treatments needed
  • Repair parts for sprinkler systems
  • Vehicles to transport equipment and employees
  • Insurance to protect the company vehicles and people.

Examples of Supply Chains

These are fairly flat supply chains compared to something like a clothing designer where the clothes would go through multiple vendors. A clothing company might have the following supply chain:

  • Raw materials
  • Shipping of raw materials
  • Converting of raw materials to thread
  • Shipping thread to produce garments
  • Garment producer
  • Shipping to company
  • Company storage
  • Shipping to retail stores

There have been advances such as print on demand that eliminate many of these steps. If you are designing completely custom clothing, all of this would need to be planned to keep from having business disruptions.

The main thing to include in the business plan is the list of suppliers, the path the supply chain follows, the time from order to the customer’s home, and the costs associated with each step of the process.

According to BizPlanReview , a business plan without this information is likely to get rejected because they have failed to research the key elements necessary to make sales to the customer.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 7. Company Organization and Operational Plan

This part of the business plan is focused on how the business model will function while serving customers.  The business plan should provide an overview of  how the team will manage the following aspects:

Quality Control

  • Legal environment

Let’s look at each for some insight.

Production has already been discussed in previous sections so I won’t go into it much. When writing a business plan for investors, try to avoid repetition as it creates a more simple business plan.

If the organizational plan will be used by the team as an overview of how to perform the best services for the customer, then redundancy makes more sense as it communicates what is important to the business.

A wooden stamp with the words "quality control"

Quality control policies help to keep the team focused on how to verify that the company adheres to the business plan and meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Quality control can be anything from a standard that says “all labels on shirts can be no more than 1/16″ off center” to a defined checklist of steps that should be performed and filled out for every customer.

There are a variety of organizations that help define quality control including:

  • International Organization for Standardization – Quality standards for energy, technology, food, production environments, and cybersecurity
  • AICPA – Standard defined for accounting.
  • The Joint Commission – Healthcare
  • ASHRAE – HVAC best practices

You can find lists of the organizations that contribute most to the government regulation of industries on Open Secrets . Research what the leaders in your field are doing. Follow their example and implement it in your quality control plan.

For location, you should use information from the market research to establish where the location will be. Make sure to include the following in the location documentation.

  • The size of your location
  • The type of building (retail, industrial, commercial, etc.)
  • Zoning restrictions – Urban Wire has a good map on how zoning works in each state
  • Accessibility – Does it meet ADA requirements?
  • Costs including rent, maintenance, utilities, insurance and any buildout or remodeling costs
  • Utilities – b.e.f. has a good energy calculator .

Legal Environment

The legal requirement section is focused on defining how to meet the legal requirements for your industry. A good business plan should include all of the following:

  • Any licenses and/or permits that are needed and whether you’ve obtained them
  • Any trademarks, copyrights, or patents that you have or are in the process of applying for
  • The insurance coverage your business requires and how much it costs
  • Any environmental, health, or workplace regulations affecting your business
  • Any special regulations affecting your industry
  • Bonding requirements, if applicable

Your local SBA office can help you establish requirements in your area. I strongly recommend using them. They are a great resource.

Your business plan should include a plan for company organization and hiring. While you may be the only person with the company right now, down the road you’ll need more people. Make sure to consider and document the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the current leadership structure and what will it look like in the future?
  • What types of employees will you have? Are there any licensing or educational requirements?
  • How many employees will you need?
  • Will you ever hire freelancers or independent contractors?
  • What is each position’s job description?
  • What is the pay structure (hourly, salaried, base plus commission, etc.)?
  • How do you plan to find qualified employees and contractors?

One of the most crucial parts of a business plan is the organizational chart. This simply shows the positions the company will need, who is in charge of them and the relationship of each of them. It will look similar to this:

Organization chart

Our small business plan template has a much more in-depth organizational chart you can edit to include when you include the organizational chart in your business plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements 

No business plan is complete without financial statements or financial projections. The business plan format will be different based on whether you are writing a business plan to expand a business or a startup business plan. Let’s dig deeper into each.

Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business

An existing business should use their past financial documents including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement to find trends to estimate the next 3-5 years.

You can create easy trendlines in excel to predict future revenue, profit and loss, cash flow, and other changes in year-over-year performance. This will show your expected performance assuming business continues as normal.

If you are seeking an investment, then the business is probably not going to continue as normal. Depending on the financial plan and the purpose of getting financing, adjustments may be needed to the following:

  • Higher Revenue if expanding business
  • Lower Cost of Goods Sold if purchasing inventory with bulk discounts
  • Adding interest if utilizing financing (not equity deal)
  • Changes in expenses
  • Addition of financing information to the cash flow statement
  • Changes in Earnings per Share on the balance sheet

Financial modeling is a challenging subject, but there are plenty of low-cost courses on the subject. If you need help planning your business financial documentation take some time to watch some of them.

Make it a point to document how you calculated all the changes to the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in your business plan so that key team members or investors can verify your research.

Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan

Unlike an existing business, a startup doesn’t have previous success to model its future performance. In this scenario, you need to focus on how to make a business plan realistic through the use of industry research and averages.

Mike gave the following advice in his interview:

Financial Forecasting Mistakes

One of the things a lot of inexperienced people use is the argument, “If I get one percent of the market, it is worth $100 million.” If you use this, investors are likely to file the document under bad business plan examples.

Let’s use custom t-shirts as an example.

Credence Research estimated in 2018 there were 11,334,800,000 custom t-shirts sold for a total of $206.12 Billion, with a 6% compound annual growth rate.

With that data,  you can calculate that the industry will grow to $270 Billion in 2023 and that the average shirt sold creates $18.18 in revenue.

Combine that with an IBIS World estimate of 11,094 custom screen printers and that means even if you become an average seller, you’ll get .009% of the market.

Here’s a table for easier viewing of that information.

A table showing yearly revenue of a business

The point here is to make sure your business proposal examples make sense.

You’ll need to know industry averages such as cost of customer acquisition, revenue per customer, the average cost of goods sold, and admin costs to be able to create accurate estimates.

Our simple business plan templates walk you through most of these processes. If you follow them you’ll have a good idea of how to write a business proposal.

How to Write a Business Plan Step 9. Business Plan Example of Funding Requests

What is a business plan without a plan on how to obtain funding?

The Small Business Administration has an example for a pizza restaurant that theoretically needed nearly $20k to make it through their first month.

In our video, How to Start a $500K/Year T-Shirt Business (Pt. 1 ), Sanford Booth told us he needed about $200,000 to start his franchise and broke even after 4 months.

Freshbooks estimates it takes on average 2-3 years for a business to be profitable, which means the fictitious pizza company from the SBA could need up to $330k to make it through that time and still pay their bills for their home and pizza shop.

Not every business needs that much to start, but realistically it’s a good idea to assume that you need a fairly large cushion.

Ways to get funding for a small business

There are a variety of ways to cover this. the most common are:

  • Bootstrapping – Using your savings without external funding.
  • Taking out debt – loans, credit cards
  • Equity, Seed Funding – Ownership of a percentage of the company in exchange for current funds
  • Crowdsourcing – Promising a good for funding to create the product

Keep reading for more tips on how to write a business plan.

How funding will be used

When asking for business financing make sure to include:

  • How much to get started?
  • What is the minimum viable product and how soon can you make money?
  • How will the money be spent?

Mike emphasized two aspects that should be included in every plan, 

How to Write a Business Plan Resources

Here are some links to a business plan sample and business plan outline. 

  • Sample plan

It’s also helpful to follow some of the leading influencers in the business plan writing community. Here’s a list:

  • Wise Plans –  Shares a lot of information on starting businesses and is a business plan writing company.
  • Optimus Business Plans –  Another business plan writing company.
  • Venture Capital – A venture capital thread that can help give you ideas.

How to Write a Business Plan: What’s Next?

We hope this guide about how to write a simple business plan step by step has been helpful. We’ve covered:

  • The definition of a business plan
  • Coming up with a business idea
  • Performing market research
  • The critical components of a business plan
  • An example business plan

In addition, we provided you with a simple business plan template to assist you in the process of writing your startup business plan. The startup business plan template also includes a business model template that will be the key to your success.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our business hub .

Have you written a business plan before? How did it impact your ability to achieve your goals?

80% of businesses fail... Learn how not to.

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business plan for new product template

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How to Start a $420K/Year Consulting Business

What Is a Consulting Business?

IBIS screenshot

Defining Consulting Business Ideas

  • Types of consultants
  • Different business models
  • Industry outlook
  • Major players

Types of Consulting Businesses

  • IT Consultant: Focuses on improving the use of software and hardware so companies can achieve more profitable business goals. (NAICS code 54151)
  • Real Estate Asset Management & Consulting: Helps people and businesses make better decisions involving real estate investments. (NAICS code 53139)
  • Business Management Consulting: Advises businesses to better manage company resources including people, money, and supply chains. Typically broken down into smaller segments. (NAICS code 54161)
  • Human Resource Consulting: Focuses on advising companies regarding hiring, meeting employment law, payroll management, and navigating the job market. (NAICS code 54161b)
  • Marketing Consulting: Focuses on helping people attract clients through marketing campaigns, writing services, social media marketing, and brand consulting.
  • Environmental Consulting: Consults on the environmental impact decisions have. These are especially common in the oil & gas industry, as well as in construction near protected habitats. (NAICS code 54162)
  • Economic Consultant: Advises business owners on the industry outlook and other micro- or macro-economic issues. (NAICS code 54169)
  • Sales Consultant: Helps businesses improve their sales strategy or improve the sales team’s performance.
  • Tax Consultant or Financial Consultant: Helps businesses find ways to improve their financial results through accounting practices. Will normally be a Certified Financial Planner.

Which Business Model Is Best for a Consulting Business?

  • Solo Consultant Model
  • Productized Consulting Model
  • Consulting Firm Model
  • Hybrid Consulting Model

What is a Solo Consultant?

  • A small number of clients
  • High-value clients
  • Building personal relationships
  • Clients that need unique solutions

What is a Productized Consulting Model?

  • Build sheet

What is a Consulting Firm Model?

Team meeting on a table

Have you considered a Hybridized Model?

What is the industry outlook, who are the major players in the consulting business.

  • Accenture PLC : Market leader in most types of business consulting
  • IBM : IT Consulting
  • Jacobs Engineering Group : Environmental cleanup and construction
  • Omnicom Group : Marketing and PR
  • Kirkland & Ellis : Law firm

Consulting business chart

  • OnStrategy : $6 million annual revenue Strategy Consultant
  • Kristin Cutura : Former Google Employee turned Google Ads Consultant
  • Libby Gill : Brand and Leadership

How to Start a Consulting Business

  • Writing a plan for your consulting company
  • Funding your consulting
  • Naming your consulting practice
  • Meeting the legal requirements for a consulting business
  • Market your consulting business
  • Submit client proposals
  • Perform business consultation

Write a Consulting Business Plan

  • What consulting services you will provide: HR Consultant, Accounting consultant, management consultant, marketing consultant, IT consultant, brand consultant?
  • Target market for your consultant business: What size companies will you target? What industry will they be in?
  • How most consultants in your industry operate: Do they use affiliate links, provide implementation, or just advise?
  • Your Business Model: Will you be solo, productized, firm, or hybrid?
  • A Marketing Plan: How will you market your consulting company?
  • Other Expenses: What other business expenses do you expect and how will you cover them?

Funding Your Consulting Business

How much profit can a successful consultant make, how much does it cost to start a successful consulting business.

  • Business Formation : Free to $1,000 annually
  • Internet : $30 to $200 monthly
  • Website, Domain, Hosting : $100 to $25,000+ monthly for lower end or one-time plus upkeep for higher end
  • Computer : $600 to $3,000
  • Software and Other Equipmen t: $250+ per month
  • Marketing Budget : 8% of the revenue you want to make

How to start a consulting business with no money?

Naming your own consulting business, get a domain name.

Laptop with website screenshot

  • Google Domains

Meeting the Legal Requirements for Consulting Services

Sole proprietor, limited liability corporation (llc).

Limited Liability Company LLC is shown in notebook

Partnerships and Corporations

Apply for an ein, sales tax permit, tax filing and withholding.

Withholding tax showing in text

Federal employment and labor law posters

  • A state’s New Hire Program
  • Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Disability Insurance—each state is different

Unemployment Insurance

Grow through marketing.

  • Market research
  • Marketing plan
  • Launch a website
  • Marketing on social media
  • Growing your email list
  • Tapping into and growing your network

Market Research

Businessman looking at business concept on wall

  • Defining the industries you want to service
  • Identify the size of companies you want to service
  • Establishing the best way to reach these companies
  • Finding common requirements for the industry you’ll provide services.
  • Identifying industry trends
  • Recognizing gaps are in the market

Create a marketing plan and use it

Project presentation plan

  • Create meaningful content on my YouTube channel.
  • Link to a free resource list or a free book to collect emails.
  • Share new content through emails.
  • Future clients can reach out for advice on their own business efforts.
  • Social media marketing
  • Business writing (Blogs and White Papers)
  • Working with editorial services
  • Hiring a Public Relations Consultant

Build a website

Marketing with social media, grow your email list.

laptop with email and mailchimp screenshot

Tap into Your Network

Running your consulting business.

  • Hiring employees and payroll
  • Submitting client proposals
  • Helping customers

Hiring Employees and Payroll

  • Post job openings
  • Conduct interviews
  • Decide fair pay
  • Manage tax filings and withholdings
  • Obey labor laws

Job Posting 

Mobile phone with freelancing platform

  • Examples of previous work: Understand that many will be protected under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Be willing to accept reviews.
  • Availability: Most professionals will be remote. If you want someone who is available between specific hours specify that in the job post.
  • Experience with software: You need people who know how to use the tools you use.
  • Employee values: Every company values specific traits that vary. One might be focused on growth, while another is focused on cost cutting. It doesn’t help to put people who are focused on growth in a company trying to cut costs, they won’t fit.

Compensation

Fixed price or commission.

  • Screenshot Monitor : Captures screenshots, time tracking, plus manual entry
  • Upwork time tracker : Only for billing on Upwork
  • ClickUp time tracke r: Built into ClickUp features (I don’t love it.)

Submit Client Proposals

  • A questionnaire to establish what challenges new clients are experiencing.
  • A proposal that outlines what you will and will not be doing in the process.
  • Contract templates that should be filled out and sent with the proposal.
  • Invoicing and payment system for current and new clients to pay for their consulting.

How to Retain Customers for Your Consulting Business

Marketing team working on table

  • Reducing inventory
  • Reducing transportation costs
  • Sourcing locally

Top Consulting Influencers

  • Gary Vaynerchuk takes risks and shows new ways to market a business. He is a one to follow!
  • Tony Robbins has helped ShakeShack, Airbnb, Salesforce, Serena Williams, and Aerosmith improve their brands.
  • McKinsey & Co is considered the most prestigious consulting company by consultants.

How to Start a $2M/Year Remote Cleaning Business

Have you ever wondered how to start a cleaning company? Cleaning businesses are some of the easiest businesses to start, but some people would prefer to just manage the business, not do the actual cleaning. Here, we explain how to start a remote house cleaning business without needing to do any cleaning yourself.

We talked to Neel Parekh, who started MaidThis in 2013. He built his remote cleaning concept into a company that makes over $166K per month and offers franchises to help small business owners do the same. The best part? He did this while traveling for 5+ years and to over 50 countries.

We’ll share his story about how to start a remote cleaning company, plus tons of great marketing tips and systems advice.

[su_note note_color="#dbeafc"]

You’ll learn everything you need to know about starting a remote service business, including:

What is a remote cleaning business?

What businesses can be remote, how to start a remote cleaning business, remote businesses faq.

  • Start your own remote business [/su_note]

Get ready to learn how to start a remote cleaning business.

A remote cleaning business is a cleaning company where the owner performs marketing, human resources, and administrative functions of the business from anywhere in the world while outsourcing or hiring local workers to perform the cleaning for customers.

Effectively, you’ll start a cleaning business without cleaning.

Three criteria have to be met for any business to be run remotely:

  • The staff have to go to a service location. For example, gyms won’t work, but cleaning companies do.
  • The small business should have low overhead. You can’t hold a lot of supplies or inventory.
  • Management tasks need to be done remotely.

Neel told us:

[su_quote] This makes service businesses ideal for remote jobs.[/su_quote]

Check out our interview with Neel to learn about remote business success stories.

He has a special offer for UpFlip members to get $6,000 in credit when they start a MaidThis franchise .

Keep reading to get great remote business ideas.

Remote business ideas

Remote businesses normally fall into two categories:

  • Online businesses
  • Local service businesses

Best online business ideas

UpFlip best online business ideas blog on a tablet

A successful online business can be created using online business ideas like an:

  • Online store: Sell online using dropshipping or Fulfillment by Amazon to make money from people who are online shopping.
  • Podcast: Talk about subjects that interest you and earn a living from ads and sponsorships with this online business idea. Learn more about podcasting .
  • YouTube creator: Learn how to start an online business by creating YouTube videos .
  • Online tutoring business: Start your own online tutoring business or use a tutoring and test prep platform like TutorMe , Skooli , or Wyzant .
  • Freelancing: Most freelancers work remotely using platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.
  • Online courses: Course creation is a great option for remote businesses because you create the course and can consult from anywhere in the world.

In addition to a remote cleaning business, you might consider other popular remote businesses like eCommerce, human resources, and accounting.

Check out our blog about online businesses for more remote business ideas.

Local service businesses can be remote businesses

You can use Neel’s strategies for service businesses like:

  • Cleaning : Neel chose a cleaning business because it is the easiest of the service businesses to apply his techniques. There’s a large pool of qualified employees and lots of places that need cleaning. Plus, everyone has the supplies they need.
  • Locksmith: Most of the parts in locks are interchangeable, which means these same strategies could be applied to create a remote locksmith business.
  • Painting : A small business painting homes and businesses could be run remotely. You might need AI that pulls up the design documents and calculates the total square feet that need painting, but it can also be calculated using other means.
  • Pressure washing : The challenge with pressure washing may be the equipment. You would probably want your remote business to focus on providing referrals to other businesses to remove this challenge.
  • HVAC : Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning companies can provide services like preventive maintenance, fan repairs, and filter changes without needing a lot of inventory. You’ll probably want a referral partner for larger fixes, though.

Learn about other service business ideas .

Woman using WiFi internet connection to run a business while traveling

Starting remote businesses is all about creating systems that make it easier for you to run your own business from anywhere in the world. The process of starting a remote cleaning business will include:

  • Perform market research.
  • Write a business plan.
  • Create a website and CRM.
  • Set up a payment processor.
  • Create your business structure.
  • Get remote cleaning business insurance.
  • Create cleaning contracts.
  • Find cleaners.
  • Market your remote business.

[su_quote]I didn’t have a mentor, so I was scared to quit my day job when I hit my freedom number. I cushioned my bank account and wish I had just dove in faster.[/su_quote]

Keep reading for more information about creating a remote business model.

Perform market research

There are plenty of people who have business ideas but never turn them into a profitable business. Your chances of success are much higher if you research what other businesses in the industry do and where there are gaps in the industry.

A remote cleaning business might want to use social media and Google to find locations that have higher population-to-cleaning business ratios.

In our research about the best small-town businesses , we found that locations with more than 416 people per cleaning business tend to be the best places to open a cleaning company.

You also want to understand what marketing strategy, pricing, and services competitors offer. Learn more about market research .

Write a business plan

Full-time business brainstorming with a sketchpad at a desk with a potted plant, laptop, and glasses

Every successful business idea needs a business plan. Given we’re talking about a business model that can be run from anywhere in the world, you need to focus on systems.

You’ll want to include the answers to questions like:

What is the cost of starting a remote cleaning business?

Neel told us a remote cleaning business has low startup costs.

[su_quote]I probably spent under $1,000. You just need internet connection, a WordPress website, and a computer. You can grow from there.[/su_quote]

Pro Tip: If you want to grow faster, consider joining a system where a lot of the work is already done for you, like MaidThis Franchise .

What systems do I need for a fully remote business?

MaidThis website screenshot

You’ll need some systems to run a successful remote business including a(n):

  • 24/7 remote call service or VoIP provider (Neel uses DialPad)
  • SMS + email automation system (at UpFlip we use MailChimp )
  • Online booking system like Launch27 or Booking Koala
  • Human resources for your remote business

[su_quote]Basically anything you don’t want to do, or don’t know how to, outsource it.[/su_quote]

You might need translation services if your internet business idea involves providing services in a foreign country or contracting or hiring cleaners whose first language is different than yours.

The best thing about a MaidThis franchise is that they provide aspiring entrepreneurs with everything they need to run a fully remote business.

Create a website and CRM

You’ll need a website and customer relationship management system to operate any remote business. Neel told us:

[su_quote]Just get a $100 WordPress template and then build from there when you first start.[/su_quote]

Remote business founder Neel Parekh cleaning a laptop

At a minimum, your remote cleaning business website will need to include:

  • Booking page
  • Services page (include pricing)
  • About us page
  • Locations page

Check out the MaidThis website for more information on how they approach each of these.

Website building resources

Some useful resources for building a remote cleaning business website include:

  • GoDaddy: Get website hosting, domain names, and email marketing automation through GoDaddy .
  • NameCheap: Get domains, email accounts, WordPress hosting, and other services from NameCheap .
  • Build a website: Learn how to build a website .
  • Creating a brand: Get tips on building a brand .

Your customer relationship management system is a database and interface that helps you easily manage everything going on with your company. Each CRM works slightly differently, but you’ll need a CRM that either includes or connects to your:

  • Online booking system
  • Call support system
  • SMS and email marketing systems
  • Payroll and accounting system
  • Dispatch system
  • Invoicing and payment processing

Many systems include easy integrations with commonly used providers.

CRM resources

  • GBG Marketing: Neel and his franchise use a CRM created by GBG Marketing that automates follow-ups and puts booking on autopilot.
  • Housecall Pro: Simplify your workflows and grow your business with the easiest-to-use CRM. Get a 14-day trial from Housecall Pro.
  • monday.com: One of the most commonly used CRM and project management tools is monday.com . Check out our monday.com review .
  • Jobber: This CRM focuses on making service businesses easier to run. It’s fairly intuitive to use. Check out Jobber .
  • ClickUp : We use ClickUp at UpFlip. It’s a great system that lets you monitor and control your workflows at a reasonable cost.
  • HubSpot: HubSpot is one of the most amazing programs I have ever seen, but the coolest features are complex. Compare HubSpot’s pricing options . I’d suggest starting with the Starter CRM.

Any of these should provide the functionality you need, but each works differently, so check out the demos to decide which you like best.

Set up a payment processor

Remote business payment options including cash, credit card, QR code, and POS machine

You’ll need a payment processor to charge your cleaning customers and pay cleaners. Most businesses use Stripe because it is easy to use and integrations are normally built into other software.

Payment processors normally charge a fee based on the value of the transaction PLUS a per-transaction fee. In addition, they may also charge a monthly fee.

You might also consider options like:

  • Stax by Fattmerchant

View the table below for a quick overview of the differences between each.

As you can see, there are some details that make it harder to compare payment processors than some other systems, but in most scenarios, Helcim will save you money.

If the vast majority of your payments are in-person Visa payments and your transactions amount to almost exactly $250K or $500K per year, you may be able to save even more with Stax tiered plans.

Pro Tip: One money-saving trick is to make sure that your online business uses technologies to qualify for lower “card-present” fees.

Make your online cleaning business legal

You’ll need to create a business structure, get any business licenses you need, and get a business bank account to run a remote business idea legally. Let’s look at how to accomplish each of these.

Choose a business structure

UpFlip business types blog on a laptop

Small business ideas can make up to $600 before you need to start reporting the income on your taxes. Most business owners start a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and file taxes as an S-Corp.

First, you’ll need to check the USPTO and the Secretary of State website in the location you want to register to make sure the name for your remote business is available. If the name is available, apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and save it somewhere safe.

Then apply for an LLC on your Secretary of State website. We walk you through an example of what the application looks like in this blog .

Next you’ll need to fill out Form 8832 and Form 2553 with the IRS to opt into the S-Corp tax structure, which provides benefits to LLCs like:

  • Potentially reduced taxes
  • No double taxation
  • Wages paid to owners
  • Dividends paid with profits

There are plenty of other business structures for online business ideas, but this is one of the best.

Get business licenses and permits for your remote business

You will probably need business licenses in the location(s) where you operate your remote business. This could include tax permits, local business licenses, and other requirements.

Make sure to check with your local authorities or a business law attorney to ensure you comply with all local laws. Each location is different, so you may need someone who has familiarity with multiple locations or specializes in helping unique online businesses.

Don’t forget a business bank account

You’ll need a business bank account to make your remote business easier to manage. In addition, a business bank account protects the limited liability status of a company because it keeps personal and business finances separate.

There are many available business bank accounts, and which one you choose will depend on your small business needs and structure. At the time of writing, I recommend Live Oak Bank because it

  • Uses IntraFi Cash Service to provide FDIC insurance up to $10 million
  • Was the 2022 leader in SBA loans
  • Offers 4.0% interest on its savings accounts

Learn more about opening a business bank account .

Get remote cleaning business insurance

Using consulting services from an insurance broker who’s showing a certificate of liability insurance on a clipboard

You’ll need small business insurance coverage in case anything goes wrong on the job. You’ll want to consider getting a Business Owners Policy (BOP) that covers:

  • General Liability Insurance: Covers liability claims and lawsuits
  • Commercial Property Insurance: Protects buildings, inventory, and equipment
  • Additional Riders: Covers other business scenarios like shutdowns, errors and omissions (E&O), workers’ compensation, and commercial automobile insurance

Check out Simply Business to get quotes from 16 of America’s best business insurance companies.

Create cleaning contracts

You’ll need to have some contracts prepared before you hire cleaners to work for your remote cleaning business. You’ll need an employment agreement that covers:

  • The relationship between your company and the cleaner
  • Noncompete terms

Payment structure

  • Property damages

Let’s look at each of these in more detail to help you understand how to manage employee or contractor relationships.

Company and cleaner relationship

Cleaner wearing orange rubber glove shaking hands with business owner

You’ll want to define whether the cleaners you hire are employees or subcontractors. Many remote businesses will consider all people who work with them as subcontractors, but you have to be careful.

Cristobal Mondragon classified all his employees as independent contractors and that resulted in a hefty fine.

Ultimately, your remote house cleaning business is a digital marketing business that provides cleaners. That means the maids and housekeepers count as independent contractors, but the IRS suggests requesting a ruling for positions you routinely need to fill to verify if the workers are actually employees or subcontractors.

Try out our cleaning business course Want to get all the templates, workflows, and systems that Chris uses to make $5,800 per day? Check out our  free cleaning business course !

Noncompete term

A remote cleaning business start-up will probably want noncompete clauses when they hire employees or subcontractors. Remote working may need terms like:

“The subcontractor/employee agrees that all clients are clients of [Company Name]. Performing any work for the clients except through [Company Name] is a violation of the services agreement and will result in the termination of the contract and pursuit of loss income at the rate of $[Amount].”

The paragraph above is just an example. Consult with an attorney or human resource specialist to get a noncompete agreement that is legal in each location where your business operates.

Neel holding up a payment agreement document to show how to build remote cleaning business with contracts

You’ll want to specify how you will pay your cleaning people. Many business owners find that pay-for-performance is the best business model to align unique online business ideas with the employees’ interests. This payment model may mean paying them:

  • A percentage of each job
  • Incentives for performing certain tasks

[su_quote]I pay my cleaners $25 for each person who provides a review after they cleaned their house. This encourages them to ask for reviews and helps us build faster business growth.[/su_quote]

Property damage

Your virtual business should add terms that protect against items broken or otherwise damaged by your employees. These terms may require subcontractors to carry small business insurance or specify that employees may be responsible for the cost of the replacement up to a certain amount.

Make sure to get legal advice to establish what is legal in the locations you serve.

In addition, you’ll need cleaning contracts for your clients. Many residential home cleaners do not use contracts, but Airbnb cleaners may.

Find cleaners

Remote workers cleaning concept showing janitorial employee popping out of a laptop next to cleaning supplies

Neel explained how he finds remote employees:

[su_quote] I’m looking for three main things when hiring people:

  • Good reliability
  • Good communication
  • Good attitude[/su_quote]

He went on to explain that Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great places to find employees without spending a lot on hiring. Once you have eligible candidates, Neel told us:

[su_quote]We use an automated five-step recruiting process. That includes:

  • Initial screening call that asks questions like do they have business insurance and licenses.
  • Then we conduct a second Zoom call to see if they show up and how they interact.
  • Send them on a test job.
  • Officially onboard.
  • Monitor what they do.[/su_quote]

One of the benefits of buying a MaidThis franchise is you get to skip a lot of the mistakes most people experience as they learn how to build a remote cleaning business.

In addition to all the other support and resources, you’ll get access to MaidThis’s detailed standard operating procedures, which are over 1,000 pages long. Find out why in the video below.

Conduct background checks

In-person businesses like cleaning companies rely on customer service from remote teams. You’ll want to make sure every in-person worker has a clean background. That means you’ll need to conduct a background check.

You can consider companies like

  • Crtain: Crtain is used by Tesla, Shopify, and Deloitte to get up to 80% faster criminal background checks.
  • Checkr: One of the biggest background check companies but sometimes the checks take too long. Issues normally arise when people have criminal backgrounds or have lived in multiple jurisdictions in the last seven years.

UpFlip Cautionary Tale

I have a lot of experience with Checkr background checks because they were run on me for multiple employers. I used to move approximately once per year to go experience new places.

My background checks would ALWAYS take at least a week because they had to check seven jurisdictions. Meanwhile, my significant other’s background checks almost always come back instantaneously.

The other scenario that commonly holds up background checks is criminal charges that don’t necessarily convert easily from one state to another. For instance, Nevada gross misdemeanors are often considered felonies because other states don’t have gross misdemeanors, and they are only available as plea bargains in Nevada.

If you need someone fast, ask screening questions like:

  • How many locations have you lived in the last seven years?
  • Have you ever been charged with a felony?

These two questions will let you know if screening the applicant will take longer than normal.

Fill out HR paperwork

UpFlip hiring blog on a laptop

You’ll need to provide new hire paperwork before managing remote employees in the U.S.

  • W-4 Form: This document lets you know how much to deduct for taxes. States that have income tax will also require a state form.
  • I-9 Form: This is a proof of identity form that is required to work in the U.S.
  • Offer of Employment: This document details exactly what you are offering the new hire.
  • Employment Contract: This document details the terms of the employment and goes into more detail than the original offer.
  • Emergency Contact Info: You’ll need this document to contact the next of kin if your employee is injured, gets sick, or dies on the job.
  • Employee Handbook: Let the employee know what is expected of them, including values, policies, dress codes or uniforms, and other behavior. You need a page for them to sign to document receipt of and agreement with the handbook.
  • Payroll and Benefits: Documents like a direct deposit form and any other benefit forms the company offers.

Remote work in other countries may have different requirements. When working remotely, always consult with someone familiar with the laws in the country where the remote team works. Learn more about hiring .

Hiring resources

Some resources that you can use for hiring include:

  • Trello: Neel uses Trello to manage the onboarding of remote employees.
  • QuickBooks Payroll: Handle your payroll and accounting with QuickBooks .

Market your cleaning business

Woman cleaning a bright office space

A remote cleaning business will need to use a combination of digital marketing and “boots-on-the-ground” marketing.

Neel loves talking about marketing. He gave us input on how much you should spend to get unique online business ideas to start making money.

How much is the marketing budget for a startup?

To most effectively start a great online business idea, you’ll want to spend 15 to 20% of your desired revenue on a combination of digital and print marketing. Neel told us:

[su_quote]We spend about 5% of revenue on marketing. When you first start, I recommend 15 to 20% of your spending on marketing because once you get a client, it’s pretty easy to keep them.[/su_quote]

As your marketing strategy helps you reach your desired revenue, you can reduce your marketing to maintain revenue and increase profits.

How to offer remote cleaning services

App development allows remote work concept showing Neel holding a globe with social media apps surrounding it in one hand and a Swiffer in the other

The best business ideas can fall flat if you don’t market them right and find the right clients. You’ll want to use digital marketing skills like:

  • Social media
  • Search engine optimization

Neel explained how to start a remote house cleaning company and get ahead of the competition fast.

[su_quote]If you answer the call, we close 60% of requests, but if we don’t answer, we only close 16%. So we use a call agency and an automated text messaging system to follow up if we miss the call.[/su_quote]

MaidThis also uses an online booking system to provide potential clients another booking option.

In addition, any time they clean a home, they’ll send postcards to the five houses on either side of it. Neel told us:

[su_quote]If someone in a neighborhood is our client, their neighbors are probably our target audience.[/su_quote]

Neel explained what to include in your calls:

[su_quote]When someone calls, we ask them something like, ‘Do you want weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly cleanings?’ Note we don’t offer them a one-time cleaning.[/su_quote]

Neel also uses automated marketing tools and funnels to help book customers more regularly.

[su_quote] When a client hasn’t requested their home cleaned recently, they’ll send an automated text message. They even have a one-click brownie-sending service (yes, he sends baked goods) to help encourage return customers.[/su_quote]

How to get reviews

Customer reviews are crucial to work remotely. You’ll want to provide great customer service. Then you want to encourage the cleaner to ask for a review because in-person meetings tend to create a better relationship than remote interactions. Neel told us:

[su_quote]Make sure your cleaners ask for reviews because the customer is more likely to review when they ask. We give the cleaners a $25 bonus for every review they get.[/su_quote]

Neel went on to explain:

[su_quote]After each cleaning, we’ll request an automated review that takes about 10 seconds for the customer to review us.[/su_quote]

You can also minimize bad reviews in the business world. Neel shared his secret:

[su_quote]When you get a bad review, call them and offer to send someone over for a complimentary recleaning.[/su_quote]

Useful marketing tools

Concept showing how remote workers benefit from marketing tools with smiling woman in a white tee and orange cleaning gloves surrounded by icons for MailChimp, Canva, and Surfer

There are some useful marketing tools that small business owners use to market their companies:

  • Canva: Simplify graphic design with Canva . Get access to thousands of templates for website and social media for as low as $4.99 per month.
  • SurferSEO: Write blog content faster and rank higher on search engines with SurferSEO .
  • MailChimp: Email and SMS marketing automation is one of the keys to success that many small business owners mention. Get started with Mailchimp .

Next we’ll discuss some of the frequently asked questions about remote businesses.

Still considering whether a remote cleaning business is for you? We’ll answer some of the commonly asked questions about companies that work remotely including:

What companies are fully remote?

What is a remote-first company, benefits of remote work for companies, reasons not to allow work from home.

Young woman wearing over-ear headphones and working on social media management for remote business at her laptop

There are plenty of companies that are fully remote, but some of the best small business ideas that you can operate from your own home (or anywhere in the world, like Neel does) include:

  • Consulting services: You can be your own boss and advise people on your area of expertise as a business consultant.
  • Social media management: Manage other companies’ social media accounts using online communication tools to manage multiple platforms at once.
  • Online courses: Online courses can make millions and can approach 90% profits without the need for a physical office.
  • Affiliate marketing business: Working as an affiliate marketer is another opportunity to create pieces of content once and let them make you money forever.
  • eCommerce business: An eCommerce site that sells print-on-demand products can be a fully remote business.
  • Web development: Creating websites or app development is another great remote business.
  • Graphic design: Designing digital and print materials for companies doesn’t require being in their physical offices. Just grab a computer and get started.
  • Virtual event planning: Start your own business as an event planner. You’ll be working remotely most of the time. When you plan virtual events, it’s 100% remote work.
  • Virtual assistant business: A virtual assistant helps business professionals with work that is time-consuming and has to be done but doesn’t create much business value. You can be a virtual assistant with 100% remote work from your own home.

“Remote-first” companies prioritize remote work over in-person jobs. These companies are often similar to fully remote businesses, but they still maintain an office for when people need to get together to achieve their organizational goals.

Internet connection facilitates remote business, shown by woman in dark-framed glasses holding a laptop with a cost meter in one hand and cash in the other

Whether you run online store ideas or want to start a remote business sanitizing company, there are benefits to remote work for many business owners, companies, and remote employees , including:

  • Global talent pool
  • Lower costs
  • Happier employees
  • Freedom to work when and where you want
  • Potential efficiency gains
  • Lower turnover
  • Healthier workforce
  • Green initiative compliance

There are also many reasons why you might not want to run a remote business.

There are numerous reasons why companies might not want to allow remote work, including:

  • Potential efficiency loss
  • Harder to schedule meetings
  • Buildings and office furniture are being paid for but not utilized
  • Inability to monitor employee behavior
  • Difficult to share knowledge
  • Harder to build corporate culture
  • Lack of control
  • Collaboration may suffer
  • May cause employee isolation issues
  • Difficult to hire efficiently
  • Some people work better in person
  • Cyber security issues

Where can I learn more about Neel and MaidThis?

You can learn more about Neel and MaidThis on the following sites:

  • Neel’s Podcast: The Remote Local
  • MaidThis Franchise: Apply to Be a Franchisee

Start your own remote business

We’ve explained how to start a remote cleaning company, shared other online business ideas that can be run remotely, and provided advice from a highly successful business owner about how to start a cleaning business without cleaning.

Now it’s up to you. Will you put in the time and energy it takes to create the systems you need to build a business you can run from anywhere in the world?

Digital Real Estate for Beginners (2024)

Digital real estate investing has been the source of wealth for 12% of billionaires in the world, according to Forbes. But that raises a lot of questions—like how do you acquire digital real estate, and what are digital worlds?

We’ll discuss the global market and how to create passive income or earn capital gains by investing in digital real estate. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll understand how to create, buy, and monetize digital real estate.

[su_note note_color="#dbeafc"] Click on any of the links below to jump to that section, or just continue reading:

What is digital real estate?

What is digital real estate investing, is digital real estate legit, how to make money from digital real estate, how to buy digital real estate.

  • What other digital properties should we discuss? [/su_note]

The following information is educational and isn’t meant to be financial advice. Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and other forms of digital real estate are highly volatile, mostly unregulated, and speculative assets.

In addition, the author of this blog holds investments in many of the assets mentioned.

Businessman holding a tablet with a holograph of three high rise buildings emerging from it

Digital real estate is the ownership and monetization of online assets or properties.

It isn’t an investment in land but rather investing in virtual properties or digital assets that have value because of their online reputation, visibility, and potential for generating income. 

The term is borrowed from the real estate industry to describe the concept of owning and profiting from online properties. Forms of digital real estate include:

Domain names

Websites and blogs, social media accounts, apps and software, ecommerce stores, youtube channels, email lists, real estate in digital worlds, cryptocurrency and nfts.

Let’s look at each of these digital real estate assets to show you how you can make money on them. But first, an important disclaimer:

Digital real estate is a high-risk asset

Many of the assets in digital real estate investing are high risk. Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and metaverse (i.e., virtual reality space) assets are not regulated as either securities or commodities. These assets have high volatility and may incur 100% losses, but some investors make up to 1,000 times their money in very short periods of time.

Concept of a cityscape emerging from a smartphone held in two hands surrounded by coins and an upward trending arrow

Digital real estate investing is buying digital assets with the hope that they will provide additional cash flow or increase in property value. Digital properties can be a good source of passive income and can see substantial profits when sold, but they also run the risk of never providing any value, unlike physical real estate.

A domain name is the web address (e.g., www.upflip.com) where users can access a website. Valuable domain names are often short, memorable, and relevant to a particular industry or keyword.

They can be bought and sold, and owning a high-quality domain can be a lucrative investment. Domains like cars.com, business.com, and LasVegas.com have been sold for as much as $872M .

When you own a domain name that others view as a valuable brand asset, selling it can earn you a huge premium over your annual investment, which can be in the single digits.

Case Study: LasVegas.com

The digital world is full of virtual real estate opportunities. One of the largest digital real estate transactions was the 2005 sale of the domain name LasVegas.com.

LasVegas.com acts as a travel agency focused on travel to Las Vegas. It was bought in 2005 by Vegas.com LLC, another site that helps people find activities in Las Vegas. LasVegas.com gets over 70K views each month in addition to the 1.1M monthly website traffic that Vegas.com gets. 

According to TheDomains.com , the original owner of LasVegas.com received $12M in June 2005, plus:

  • $2.988M ($83K per month for 36 months)
  • $7.5M ($125K for the next 60 months)
  • $7.488M ($208K for the next 36 months)
  • $34.944M ($208K per month through June 30, 2040)

That's a combined $90M for selling a successful domain name. 

In addition to domain names, a fully developed website or blog can be built and sold as digital real estate. Many local SEO (search engine optimization) gurus will build sites with quality content, good SEO, and high traffic, then sell the website to a company.

They can also earn revenue through methods like hosting ads, affiliate marketing, or selling products and services.

Digital real estate investor taking a picture of a gorgeous glass high rise on their smartphone, which is surrounded by social media icons including Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and X

Social media accounts with more than 10,000 engaged followers can be valuable assets. They can be monetized through sponsored posts, brand collaborations, or by promoting products and services. With a large enough following, you can even sell them.

Developing and owning popular mobile apps or software programs can be a form of digital real estate. These assets can generate revenue through app sales, in-app purchases, or advertising. The best apps can be sold to major tech companies and earn the founder millions (or billions)!

Online stores can be considered digital real estate. The value of an eCommerce store is often determined by its revenue, customer base, and brand reputation.

MrBeast YouTube channel on a desktop computer

YouTube channels with a substantial subscriber base and regular viewership are valuable. They generate revenue through ad revenue, sponsored content, and merchandise sales.

MrBeast is the current leader on YouTube with over $80M in annual earnings, according to Forbes, and over 185 million followers.

A well-curated email list with a large number of engaged subscribers can be a valuable asset for marketing purposes. Email lists can be monetized through email marketing campaigns, affiliate marketing, or selling products and services.

Flodesk describes how to calculate the value of an email list, and you can download an email valuation calculator as well.

Digital real estate concept showing a holographic cityscape emerging from an upward facing smartphone surrounded by upward trending graph icons

In virtual reality worlds and games, like Decentraland , The Sandbox , or Minecraft , owning and developing virtual land or properties can be a form of digital real estate. These can appreciate in value and potentially generate income through virtual businesses or events.

You can also buy metaverse real estate to offer virtual concerts and other types of online businesses. For instance, my buddies at Crypto Lids sell clothing in digital lands like Decentraland. These products are called “phygital goods” because the buyer gets both real-life clothing and an NFT to wear in the virtual space.

Owning valuable digital currencies can be a form of digital real estate investment.

Digital currency may be either cryptocurrencies or non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which represent ownership of unique digital assets. Some blockchain platforms offer virtual real estate investing opportunities, like:

  • NFT real estate titles: Propy partnered with Tech Crunch Founder Michael Arrington to sell the first real estate NFT that serves as proof of ownership for real-world real estate.
  • Selling domain names : ENS and Avvy sell domain names for blockchain wallets, websites, and more.
  • Art NFTs: Opensea.io is one of the more well-known places to buy art and gaming NFTs, but other sites sell them as well. I use Joepegs frequently because I like the Avalanche blockchain for its business use cases.
  • Virtual reality real estate NFTs: Buying virtual land gives you a piece of internet real estate to create your own virtual reality.

Remember, the value of digital real estate can fluctuate based on market trends, technology changes, and user behavior. It's crucial to research and assess the potential return on investment before acquiring or investing in any form of digital real estate.

Yes, digital real estate is a legitimate concept. And just like physical real estate, digital properties can hold value and generate income.

Legitimate digital real estate has:

  • Tangible value: They can be bought, sold, and leased, and they can generate revenue through various monetization methods.
  • Market demand: There is a thriving market for many digital properties. Individuals and businesses are willing to invest in established online assets that can provide them with opportunities for revenue generation.
  • Diverse opportunities: Digital real estate encompasses a wide range of opportunities, including domain flipping, website development, content creation, social media influence, app development, and more. This diversity allows individuals and businesses to find niches that align with their expertise.
  • Legitimate monetization methods: There are legitimate and widely accepted ways to monetize digital real estate, such as advertising, affiliate marketing, eCommerce, sponsored content, and subscription-based models.
  • Growth potential: With the increasing importance of the internet in various industries, the demand for certain digital properties could continue growing. This can present opportunities for individuals and businesses to enter the market and build valuable online assets.

However, like any form of investment or business venture, there are risks and challenges associated with digital real estate. It's important to conduct thorough research, understand the market dynamics, and carefully assess potential opportunities.

Additionally, staying informed about industry trends and best practices is essential for success.

How to avoid a digital real estate scam

Avoiding digital real estate scams is crucial to protect your investments and financial well-being.

Due diligence and caution are essential when engaging in any form of digital real estate transactions. If you encounter a situation that raises concerns, it's best to err on the side of caution and seek further verification before proceeding.

Here are some tips to help you steer clear of potential scams in the digital real estate market:

  • Research thoroughly: Take the time to research the specific type of digital real estate you're interested in (e.g., domain names, websites, social media accounts). Understand market trends, valuation methods, and common practices within that niche.
  • Verify ownership and legitimacy: Ensure that the seller has legitimate ownership of the digital property they're offering. Request proof of ownership and verify it through reputable platforms or third-party services.
  • Use trusted platforms and marketplaces: When buying or selling digital assets, use established and reputable platforms and marketplaces that have a track record of facilitating legitimate transactions. Be cautious of deals made on obscure or unverified platforms.
  • Check for red flags: Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, such as incredibly low prices for high-value assets. Look out for suspicious communication, lack of transparency, or requests for payment through unsecured or untraceable methods.
  • Ask for detailed documentation: Request detailed information about the digital property, including traffic statistics (for websites), history, revenue reports, and any other relevant documentation. A legitimate seller should be willing to provide this information.
  • Escrow services: Consider using an escrow service for transactions. Escrow services act as intermediaries, holding funds until both parties fulfill their obligations. This provides an added layer of security.
  • Avoid rushed decisions: Don't feel pressured to make a quick decision. Take the time to carefully evaluate the offer, conduct due diligence, and consult with professionals if needed.
  • Beware of unrealistic promises: Be cautious of sellers who make extravagant claims about potential earnings or the future value of the digital property. While there may be potential for growth, avoid deals that rely solely on speculative projections.
  • Seek professional advice: If you're unsure about a deal, consider seeking advice from professionals or experts in digital real estate. They can provide valuable insights and help you make informed decisions.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts. It's better to pass on a deal than fall victim to a scam.

Model city with dollar sign icons hovering over the buildings

Making money from digital real estate involves acquiring, developing, and monetizing online properties or assets. Here are some strategies you can use to generate income from various forms of digital real estate:

  • Flip web domains.
  • Develop and flip websites.
  • Monetize content.
  • Monetize social media.
  • Build and sell virtual real estate.
  • Invest in crypto and NFTs.
  • Create membership sites.
  • Provide coaching and consulting services.

Flip web domains

Look for short, memorable, and keyword-rich domain names that have potential market value. You can sell them at a higher price to businesses or individuals looking for a relevant web address.

Buy open domains with potential value on GoDaddy or Namecheap , then either hold them until someone offers the price you want or build out the digital real estate to increase its value.

Develop and flip websites

Another way to invest in digital real estate is to build or buy websites, improve their content, design, and SEO, and then sell them for a profit. Websites with established traffic, revenue streams, and a good reputation tend to fetch higher prices.

Monetize content

Create quality content on a blog or website and monetize it through methods like:

  • Advertising: Use ad networks such as Google AdSense or join an ad exchange program to sell ad space on your website.
  • Affiliate marketing: Promote products or services and earn a commission for each sale made through your referral links.
  • Sponsored content: Partner with brands for paid blog posts or articles.
  • Products and services: Offer products, online courses, or services related to your content.

Check out our interview with a digital marketer who turned $2 into a $14M-per-year company.

Monetize social media

If you have a large and engaged following on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok, you can earn money through:

  • Sponsored posts: Promote products or services in exchange for payment.
  • Affiliate marketing: Share affiliate links and earn a commission for sales.
  • Brand collaborations: Partner with companies for sponsored promotions.

You can also build accounts on social media platforms and sell them to someone else once you’ve achieved the goals that you set.

Build and sell virtual land

The Sandbox website on a laptop

In virtual worlds like Decentraland or The Sandbox , you can develop and monetize virtual properties by hosting events, creating experiences, or selling virtual goods.

To fully utilize these sites, you’ll need to:

  • Get a crypto wallet, like Metamask , which is available for Chrome, Android, and Apple products.
  • Save your account information somewhere safe. Most people suggest writing it on a piece of paper and locking it in a safe.
  • Buy some ETH—the digital currency, or “gas token,” used to pay transaction fees on the Ethereum blockchain. You can do this through Metamask. It will require Know Your Customer (KYC) verification, then you can pay with a card, bank account, Google Pay, or Apple Pay.
  • Log into the virtual world with Metamask.
  • Build what you want to build.

You can use a debit or credit card to interact with the virtual world, but without a crypto wallet, you won’t have anywhere to store the digital land and other virtual property.

Invest in cryptocurrency and NFTs

Invest in valuable NFTs or participate in cryptocurrency-related activities, like staking, lending, or trading.

Most people will start investing in cryptocurrency and NFTs through centralized exchanges like Coinbase or Crypto.com, but you should be careful with digital real estate investing on these platforms. Many exchanges have failed and the investors often get pennies on the dollar.

You can use Metamask or other decentralized platforms in the digital world to reduce the loss of assets due to lack of custody, but you should educate yourself on how blockchain works because once you perform a transaction, you cannot change it.

My personal favorite way to interact with crypto projects is VaporDEX , a decentralized exchange.

Defining ‘decentralized’

Simply put, “decentralized” means there is no central governing agency. With decentralized platforms, you can process and review transactions and store your digital assets yourself. This makes you the primary custodian of your wealth.

Bitcoin was created in response to the global recession in 2009, which started because banks and money lenders made many decisions that were solely for their profits. The theory behind decentralization is that a programmatic, unchangeable public database and monetary supply would prevent government manipulation of money.

Create membership sites with subscription services

Create a platform where members pay a subscription fee for access to premium content, exclusive resources, or a community of like-minded individuals.

Provide coaching and consulting services

Use your expertise in a specific field to offer consulting or coaching services through a website or social media platform.

Hands holding gold coins over wood block houses

Buying digital real estate involves a process similar to traditional real estate transactions but with unique considerations.

Here are specific steps to guide you through the buying process.

  • Search and evaluate listings: Browse listings to find digital properties that align with your objectives. Pay attention to factors like asking price, history, revenue reports (for websites), traffic statistics, and any relevant documentation.
  • Contact the seller: Reach out to the seller to express your interest and request additional information. Ask questions and confirm the advertised details about the property.
  • Verify ownership and legitimacy: Make sure the seller has legitimate ownership of the digital property. Request proof of ownership from the seller and verify it through reputable platforms or third-party services.
  • Negotiate terms: Discuss the terms of the transaction with the seller. This may include the purchase price, payment method, transfer of ownership, and any conditions or contingencies.
  • Draft a contract: Depending on the complexity of the transaction, consider drafting a contract that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale. It's advisable to involve legal professionals for complex deals.
  • Finalize the transaction: Once both parties agree on the terms, proceed with the payment. Ensure that all necessary documentation (e.g., transfer of ownership, login credentials, access rights) is provided.
  • Complete the transfer: Follow the specific transfer process for the type of digital property you're acquiring. This may involve domain transfer, website migration, or other relevant steps.
  • Update registrations and ownership: Make sure that the digital property is officially transferred into your name or ownership. Update any relevant registrations or accounts associated with the property.
  • Monitor and manage: After acquiring the digital property, monitor its performance and manage it according to your investment goals. This may involve optimizing content, marketing, and other aspects.

Most of these steps will be done in a digital exchange of assets or using a blockchain explorer. Attempting to bridge between the real and digital world can be a real challenge; it is not advised to try to hand a person U.S. dollar bills for the purchase of assets in the digital world without a trusted intermediary.

And when buying digital real estate, you’ll want to employ all the scam-avoidance tactics listed above. To summarize:

  • Define your objective.
  • Do your research.
  • Use a reliable platform or marketplace.
  • Look out for red flags.
  • Ask for documentation.
  • Use an escrow service.
  • Avoid rushed decisions and “too good to be true” deals.
  • Get professional advice.
  • Trust your gut.

What other digital properties should we discuss?

Now you know how to invest in digital real estate. Digital real estate depends on people’s perception of value and can be a significant investment of time and money.

Don’t forget to read digital real estate reviews before investing in any project. You’ll also want to interact with the companies you invest in because digital real estate marketing on the community of holders to increase awareness.

Remember to exercise caution, conduct due diligence, and seek professional advice if needed. It's important to approach digital real estate transactions with the same level of diligence and care as you would with physical real estate.

What else would you like to know about how digital real estate works?

business plan for new product template

nice work https://binarychemist.com/

business plan for new product template

My Name is PRETTY NGOMANE. A south African female. Aspiring to do farming. And finding a home away from home for the differently abled persons in their daily needs.

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business plan for new product template

24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

Clifford Chi

Published: February 06, 2024

I believe that reading sample business plans is essential when writing your own.

sample business plans and examples

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As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, it’s easier for you to learn how to write a good one.

But what does a good business plan look like? And how do you write one that’s both viable and convincing. I’ll walk you through the ideal business plan format along with some examples to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Business Plan Format

Business plan types, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. To me, the same logic applies to business.

If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, I’m sure you’re wondering where to begin.

business plan for new product template

Free Business Plan Template

The essential document for starting a business -- custom built for your needs.

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

First, you’ll want to nail down your formatting. Most business plans include the following sections.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. 

Why? Essentially, it's the overview or introduction, written in a way to grab readers' attention and guide them through the rest of the business plan. This is important, because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary:

Company Description

This is the perfect space to highlight your company’s mission statement and goals, a brief overview of your history and leadership, and your top accomplishments as a business.

Tell potential investors who you are and why what you do matters. Naturally, they’re going to want to know who they’re getting into business with up front, and this is a great opportunity to showcase your impact.

Need some extra help firming up those business goals? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set goals that matter — I’d highly recommend it

Products and Services

To piggyback off of the company description, be sure to incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive — just another chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business.

In addition to the items above, I recommend including some information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here too.:

Keep in mind you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. So, keep the executive summary clear and brief, and only include the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template:

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

This executive summary is so good to me because it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Start with a strong introduction of your company, showcase your mission and impact, and outline the products and services you provide.
  • Clearly define a problem, and explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists.

Check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary for more guidance.

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market.

The main question I’d ask myself here is this: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

More specifically, here’s what I’d include in this section:

  • The size of the market
  • Current or potential market share
  • Trends in the industry and consumer behavior
  • Where the gap is
  • What caused the gap
  • How you intend to fill it

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis and perform market research on your industry.

You may also benefit from creating a SWOT analysis to get some of the insights for this section.

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

I like this example because it uses critical data to underline the size of the potential market and what part of that market this service hopes to capture.

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

  • Focus on demand and potential for growth.
  • Use market research, surveys, and industry trend data to support your market forecast and projections.
  • Add a review of regulation shifts, tech advances, and consumer behavior changes.
  • Refer to reliable sources.
  • Showcase how your business can make the most of this opportunity.

3. Competitive Landscape

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you'll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are.

After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you'll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

My favorite part of performing a competitive analysis is that it can help you uncover:

  • Industry trends that other brands may not be utilizing
  • Strengths in your competition that may be obstacles to handle
  • Weaknesses in your competition that may help you develop selling points
  • The unique proposition you bring to the market that may resonate with customers

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location, which shows useful experience in this specific industry. 

This can help build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

  • Complete in-depth research, then emphasize your most important findings.
  • Compare your unique selling proposition (USP) to your direct and indirect competitors.
  • Show a clear and realistic plan for product and brand differentiation.
  • Look for specific advantages and barriers in the competitive landscape. Then, highlight how that information could impact your business.
  • Outline growth opportunities from a competitive perspective.
  • Add customer feedback and insights to support your competitive analysis.

4. Target Audience

Use this section to describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience?

If your immediate answer is "everyone," you'll need to dig deeper. Here are some questions I’d ask myself here:

  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

I’d also recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear on why you're targeting them.

Target Audience Business Plan Example

I like the example below because it uses in-depth research to draw conclusions about audience priorities. It also analyzes how to create the right content for this audience.

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

  • Include details on the size and growth potential of your target audience.
  • Figure out and refine the pain points for your target audience , then show why your product is a useful solution.
  • Describe your targeted customer acquisition strategy in detail.
  • Share anticipated challenges your business may face in acquiring customers and how you plan to address them.
  • Add case studies, testimonials, and other data to support your target audience ideas.
  • Remember to consider niche audiences and segments of your target audience in your business plan.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I’d suggest including information:

  • Your brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use

I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler.

In my opinion, it really works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

  • Include a section about how you believe your brand vision will appeal to customers.
  • Add the budget and resources you'll need to put your plan in place.
  • Outline strategies for specific marketing segments.
  • Connect strategies to earlier sections like target audience and competitive analysis.
  • Review how your marketing strategy will scale with the growth of your business.
  • Cover a range of channels and tactics to highlight your ability to adapt your plan in the face of change.

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll need to review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services.

Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use. It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

In my opinion, the example below does a great job outlining products and services for this business, along with why these qualities will attract the audience.

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

  • Emphasize why and how your product or service offers value to customers.
  • Use metrics and testimonials to support the ideas in this section.
  • Talk about how your products and services have the potential to scale.
  • Think about including a product roadmap.
  • Focus on customer needs, and how the features and benefits you are sharing meet those needs.
  • Offer proof of concept for your ideas, like case studies or pilot program feedback.
  • Proofread this section carefully, and remove any jargon or complex language.

7. Pricing and Revenue

This is where you'll discuss your cost structure and various revenue streams. Your pricing strategy must be solid enough to turn a profit while staying competitive in the industry. 

For this reason, here’s what I’d might outline in this section:

  • The specific pricing breakdowns per product or service
  • Why your pricing is higher or lower than your competition's
  • (If higher) Why customers would be willing to pay more
  • (If lower) How you're able to offer your products or services at a lower cost
  • When you expect to break even, what margins do you expect, etc?

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

I like how this business plan example begins with an overview of the business revenue model, then shows proposed pricing for key products.

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

  • Get specific about your pricing strategy. Specifically, how you connect that strategy to customer needs and product value.
  • If you are asking a premium price, share unique features or innovations that justify that price point.
  • Show how you plan to communicate pricing to customers.
  • Create an overview of every revenue stream for your business and how each stream adds to your business model as a whole.
  • Share plans to develop new revenue streams in the future.
  • Show how and whether pricing will vary by customer segment and how pricing aligns with marketing strategies.
  • Restate your value proposition and explain how it aligns with your revenue model.

8. Financials

To me, this section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to figure out funding strategies, investment opportunities, and more.

 According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

  • Profit/Loss Statement - This answers the question of whether your business is currently profitable.
  • Cash Flow Statement - This details exactly how much cash is incoming and outgoing to give insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details I’d include in this section.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet is a great example of level of detail you’ll need to include in the financials section of your business plan.

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

  • Growth potential is important in this section too. Using your data, create a forecast of financial performance in the next three to five years.
  • Include any data that supports your projections to assure investors of the credibility of your proposal.
  • Add a break-even analysis to show that your business plan is financially practical. This information can also help you pivot quickly as your business grows.
  • Consider adding a section that reviews potential risks and how sensitive your plan is to changes in the market.
  • Triple-check all financial information in your plan for accuracy.
  • Show how any proposed funding needs align with your plans for growth.

As you create your business plan, keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others could be charts or graphs.

The formats above apply to most types of business plans. That said, the format and structure of your plan will vary by your goals for that plan. 

So, I’ve added a quick review of different business plan types. For a more detailed overview, check out this post .

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

Feasibility business plans focus on that business's product or service. Feasibility plans are sometimes added to startup business plans. They can also be a new business plan for an already thriving organization.

3. Internal Use

You can use internal business plans to share goals, strategies, or performance updates with stakeholders. In my opinion, internal business plans are useful for alignment and building support for ambitious goals.

4. Strategic Initiatives

Another business plan that's often for sharing internally is a strategic business plan. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

When a business is moving forward with an acquisition or repositioning, it may need extra structure and support. These types of business plans expand on a company's acquisition or repositioning strategy.

Growth sometimes just happens as a business continues operations. But more often, a business needs to create a structure with specific targets to meet set goals for expansion. This business plan type can help a business focus on short-term growth goals and align resources with those goals.

Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some of my favorite templates.

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Download a free, editable one-page business plan template..

The business plan linked above was created here at HubSpot and is perfect for businesses of any size — no matter how many strategies we still have to develop.

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline give this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow.

Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why I Like It

This one-page business plan is a fantastic choice for the new business owner who doesn’t have the time or resources to draft a full-blown business plan. It includes all the essential sections in an accessible, bullet-point-friendly format. That way, you can get the broad strokes down before honing in on the details.

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

The template is designed as a guide and checklist for starting your own business. You’ll learn what to include in each section of your business plan and how to do it.

There’s also a list for you to check off when you finish each section of your business plan.

Strong game plans help coaches win games and help businesses rocket to the top of their industries. So if you dedicate the time and effort required to write a workable and convincing business plan, you’ll boost your chances of success and even dominance in your market.

This business plan kit is essential for the budding entrepreneur who needs a more extensive document to share with investors and other stakeholders.

It not only includes sections for your executive summary, product line, market analysis, marketing plan, and sales plan, but it also offers hands-on guidance for filling out those sections.

3. LiveFlow’s Financial Planning Template with built-in automation

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

This free template from LiveFlow aims to make it easy for businesses to create a financial plan and track their progress on a monthly basis.

The P&L Budget versus Actual format allows users to track their revenue, cost of sales, operating expenses, operating profit margin, net profit, and more.

The summary dashboard aggregates all of the data put into the financial plan sheet and will automatically update when changes are made.

Instead of wasting hours manually importing your data to your spreadsheet, LiveFlow can also help you to automatically connect your accounting and banking data directly to your spreadsheet, so your numbers are always up-to-date.

With the dashboard, you can view your runway, cash balance, burn rate, gross margins, and other metrics. Having a simple way to track everything in one place will make it easier to complete the financials section of your business plan.

This is a fantastic template to track performance and alignment internally and to create a dependable process for documenting financial information across the business. It’s highly versatile and beginner-friendly.

It’s especially useful if you don’t have an accountant on the team. (I always recommend you do, but for new businesses, having one might not be possible.)

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

One of the more financially oriented sample business plans in this list, BPlan’s free business plan template dedicates many of its pages to your business’s financial plan and financial statements.

After filling this business plan out, your company will truly understand its financial health and the steps you need to take to maintain or improve it.

I absolutely love this business plan template because of its ease-of-use and hands-on instructions (in addition to its finance-centric components). If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing an entire business plan, consider using this template to help you with the process.

6. Harvard Business Review’s "How to Write a Winning Business Plan"

Most sample business plans teach you what to include in your business plan, but this Harvard Business Review article will take your business plan to the next level — it teaches you the why and how behind writing a business plan.

With the guidance of Stanley Rich and Richard Gumpert, co-authors of " Business Plans That Win: Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum ", you'll learn how to write a convincing business plan that emphasizes the market demand for your product or service.

You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

This business plan guide focuses less on the individual parts of a business plan, and more on the overarching goal of writing one. For that reason, it’s one of my favorites to supplement any template you choose to use. Harvard Business Review’s guide is instrumental for both new and seasoned business owners.

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know writing a business plan is one of the most challenging first steps to starting a business.

Fortunately, with HubSpot's comprehensive guide to starting a business, you'll learn how to map out all the details by understanding what to include in your business plan and why it’s important to include them. The guide also fleshes out an entire sample business plan for you.

If you need further guidance on starting a business, HubSpot's guide can teach you how to make your business legal, choose and register your business name, and fund your business. It will also give small business tax information and includes marketing, sales, and service tips.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a business, in addition to writing your business plan, with a high level of exactitude and detail. So if you’re in the midst of starting your business, this is an excellent guide for you.

It also offers other resources you might need, such as market analysis templates.

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

Once you fill it out, you’ll fully understand your business’ nitty-gritty details and how all of its moving parts should work together to contribute to its success.

This template has two things I love: comprehensiveness and in-depth instructions. Plus, it’s synced with PandaDoc’s e-signature software so that you and other stakeholders can sign it with ease. For that reason, I especially love it for those starting a business with a partner or with a board of directors.

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several free business plan templates that can be used to inspire your own plan.

Before you get started, you can decide what type of business plan you need — a traditional or lean start-up plan.

Then, you can review the format for both of those plans and view examples of what they might look like.

We love both of the SBA’s templates because of their versatility. You can choose between two options and use the existing content in the templates to flesh out your own plan. Plus, if needed, you can get a free business counselor to help you along the way.

I’ve compiled some completed business plan samples to help you get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business.

I chose different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

Let’s take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue.

I included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

Fintech startup, LiveFlow, allows users to sync real-time data from its accounting services, payment platforms, and banks into custom reports. This eliminates the task of pulling reports together manually, saving teams time and helping automate workflows.

"Using this framework over a traditional marketing plan will help you set a profitable marketing strategy taking things like CAC, LTV, Payback period, and P&L into consideration," explains LiveFlow co-founder, Lasse Kalkar .

When it came to including marketing strategy in its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives.

This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact. Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

Sometimes all you need is a solid mission statement and core values to guide you on how to go about everything. You do this by creating a business plan revolving around how to fulfill your statement best.

For example, Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so their plan discusses how to make the best environmentally friendly products without causing harm.

A good mission statement  should not only resonate with consumers but should also serve as a core value compass for employees as well.

Patagonia has one of the most compelling mission statements I’ve seen:

"Together, let’s prioritise purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home."

It reels you in from the start, and the environmentally friendly theme continues throughout the rest of the statement.

This mission goes on to explain that they are out to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to protect nature."

Their mission statement is compelling and detailed, with each section outlining how they will accomplish their goal.

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

This executive summary for a smart home device startup is part of a business plan created by students at Mount Royal University .

While it lacks some of the sleek visuals of the templates above, its executive summary does a great job of demonstrating how invested they are in the business.

Right away, they mention they’ve invested $200,000 into the company already, which shows investors they have skin in the game and aren’t just looking for someone else to foot the bill.

This is the kind of business plan you need when applying for business funds. It clearly illustrates the expected future of the company and how the business has been coming along over the years.

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more.

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. 

This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

It’s essential to keep this information up-to-date as your market and target buyer changes. For that reason, you should carry out market research as often as possible to ensure that you’re targeting the correct audience and sharing accurate information with your investors.

Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. 

Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission.

The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

It’s essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your "Why?" and this example does just that. In other words, why do you do what you do, and why should stakeholders care? This is an important section to include if you feel that your mission will drive interest in the business and its offerings.

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Culina's sample business plan is an excellent example of how to lay out your business plan so that it flows naturally, engages readers, and provides the critical information investors and stakeholders need. 

You can use this template as a guide while you're gathering important information for your own business plan. You'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do since Culina’s plan outlines these details so flawlessly for inspiration.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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550+ Free Sample Business Plans

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.

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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 we have a round-up of real-world pitch deck examples used by successful startups that you can review and reference as you build your pitch.

For more resources, check out our full Business Pitch Guide .

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.

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Manufacturing Business Plan PDF Example

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  • May 7, 2024
  • Business Plan

the business plan template for a manufacturing business

Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for launching and running a successful manufacturing business. This plan serves as your roadmap, detailing your vision, operational strategies, and financial plan. It helps establish your manufacturing business’s identity, navigate the competitive market, and secure funding for growth.

This article not only breaks down the critical components of a manufacturing business plan, but also provides an example of a business plan to help you craft your own.

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or new to the manufacturing industry, this guide, complete with a business plan example, lays the groundwork for turning your manufacturing business concept into reality. Let’s dive in!

Our manufacturing business plan covers all essential aspects necessary for a comprehensive strategy. It details operations, marketing strategy , market environment, competitors, management team, and financial forecasts.

  • Executive Summary : Provides an overview of the manufacturing company’s business concept, market analysis , management, and financial strategy.
  • Facilities & Equipment: Describes the facility’s capabilities, machinery, and technological advancements.
  • Operations & Supply: Outlines the production processes, supply chain logistics, and inventory management.
  • Key Stats: Offers data on industry size , growth trends, and market positioning.
  • Key Trends: Highlights significant trends impacting the industry, such as automation and localization.
  • Key Competitors : Analyzes primary competitors and differentiates the company from these rivals.
  • SWOT: Analyzes strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Marketing Plan : Outlines tactics for attracting new contracts and maintaining client relationships.
  • Timeline : Sets out key milestones from inception through the first year of operations.
  • Management: Information on the management team and their roles within the company.
  • Financial Plan: Projects the company’s financial performance over the next five years, detailing revenue, profits, and anticipated expenses.

the business plan template for a manufacturing business

Manufacturing Business Plan

business plan for new product template

Fully editable 30+ slides Powerpoint presentation business plan template.

Download an expert-built 30+ slides Powerpoint business plan template

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary introduces your manufacturing business plan, offering a concise overview of your manufacturing facility and its products. It should detail your market positioning, the range of products manufactured, the production process, its location, size, and an outline of day-to-day operations.

This section should also explore how your manufacturing business will integrate into the local and broader markets, including the number of direct competitors within the area, identifying who they are, along with your business’s unique selling points that differentiate it from these competitors.

Furthermore, you should include information about the management and co-founding team, detailing their roles and contributions to the business’s success. Additionally, a summary of your financial projections, including revenue and profits over the next five years, should be presented here to provide a clear picture of your business’s financial plan.

Make sure to cover here _ Business Overview _ Market Overview _ Management Team _ Financial Plan

Manufacturing Business Plan exec summary1

Dive deeper into Executive Summary

Business Overview

Facilities & equipment.

Describe your manufacturing facility. Highlight its design, capacity, and technology. Mention the location, emphasizing accessibility to transport routes. Discuss advantages for efficiency and cost management. Detail essential equipment and its capabilities.

Operations & Supply Chain

Detail product range. Outline your operations strategy for efficiency and scalability. Discuss supply chain management. Highlight sourcing of materials, inventory control, and logistics. Emphasize strong partnerships with suppliers and distributors.

Make sure to cover here _ Facilities & Equipment _ Operations & Supplies

business plan for new product template

Market Overview

Industry size & growth.

Start by examining the size of the manufacturing industry relevant to your products and its growth potential. This analysis is crucial for understanding the market’s scope and identifying expansion opportunities.

Key Market Trends

Proceed to discuss recent market trends , such as the increasing demand for sustainable manufacturing processes, automation, and advanced materials. For example, highlight the demand for products that utilize eco-friendly materials or energy-efficient production techniques, alongside the rising popularity of smart manufacturing.

Key Competitors

Then, consider the competitive landscape, which includes a range of manufacturers from large-scale enterprises to niche firms. For example, emphasize what makes your business distinctive, whether it’s through advanced technology, superior product quality, or specialization in certain manufacturing niches. This section will help articulate the demand for your products, the competitive environment, and how your business is positioned to thrive within this dynamic market.

Make sure to cover here _ Industry size & growth _ Key competitors _ Key market trends

business plan for new product template

Dive deeper into Key competitors

First, conduct a SWOT analysis for your manufacturing business. Highlight Strengths such as advanced production technology and a skilled workforce. Address Weaknesses, including potential supply chain vulnerabilities or high production costs. Identify Opportunities like emerging markets for your products or potential for innovation in production processes. Consider Threats such as global competition or economic downturns that may impact demand for your products.

Marketing Plan

Next, develop a marketing strategy that outlines how to attract and retain customers through targeted advertising, trade shows, digital marketing, and strategic partnerships. Emphasize the importance of showcasing product quality and technological advantages to differentiate your business in the market.

Finally, create a detailed timeline that outlines critical milestones for your manufacturing business’s launch, marketing initiatives, customer acquisition, and expansion goals. Ensure the business progresses with clear direction and purpose, setting specific dates for achieving key operational and sales targets.

Make sure to cover here _ SWOT _ Marketing Plan _ Timeline

Manufacturing Business Plan strategy

Dive deeper into SWOT

Dive deeper into Marketing Plan

The Management section focuses on the manufacturing business’s management and their direct roles in daily operations and strategic direction. This part is crucial for understanding who is responsible for making key decisions and driving the manufacturing business toward its financial and operational goals.

For your manufacturing business plan, list the core team members, their specific responsibilities, and how their expertise supports the business.

Manufacturing Business Plan management

Financial Plan

The Financial Plan section is a comprehensive analysis of your financial projections for revenue, expenses, and profitability. It lays out your manufacturing business’s approach to securing funding, managing cash flow, and achieving breakeven.

This section typically includes detailed forecasts for the first 5 years of operation, highlighting expected revenue, operating costs and capital expenditures.

For your manufacturing business plan, provide a snapshot of your financial statement (profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow statement), as well as your key assumptions (e.g. number of customers and prices, expenses, etc.).

Make sure to cover here _ Profit and Loss _ Cash Flow Statement _ Balance Sheet _ Use of Funds

Manufacturing Business Plan financial plan

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How to create a marketing plan [free template].

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What is a Marketing Plan?

What is a marketing plan template, use workamajig’s free marketing plan templates, how to write a marketing plan that works, build & execute your marketing plan with workamajig, browse more blogs.

As the famous Benjamin Franklin quote says, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This rings especially true in highly competitive industries, and even more so with the rise of social media and the vast array of options for selling products and services.

It can be easy to get lost among all the options available, which means you need a framework for quickly and successfully launching and supporting your brand, product, or service in the market.

This is where a marketing plan comes in.

A marketing plan outlines a company’s overall marketing strategy, including the research and data that support it. Key information that comprise a marketing plan include:

  • Company information : highlighting its relevance to the strategy in place
  • Company, market, and competitor research: isolating and informing high-value marketing opportunities
  • Concrete marketing plans: outlining goals, activities, and resources for enabling success

Marketing plans are typically laid out over a year but can change depending on the team’s objectives—the more frequently you need to create one, the more valuable it becomes to do it efficiently. This is where a marketing plan template comes in handy.

A marketing plan template is a tool used to build a comprehensive marketing strategy. It mainly eliminates the manual work of identifying and structuring the key information we outlined above. This allows you to focus on the actual task of building your marketing strategy, from setting goals and conducting research to identifying activities and resources essential to your campaigns. Our template is designed to cover these essentials while also leaving room for you to tailor content and sections to your specific needs.

Why Are These Important?

Alignment and efficiency are the overarching themes when creating a marketing plan and building an easy marketing plan template. For starters, a marketing plan helps establish a clear set of goals and objectives, which allows teams to optimize their efforts toward the same outcome. It also qualifies as an effective risk management tool when done right by clearly outlining stakeholders and their responsibilities for minimal overlap, as well as budget allocations and projections to ensure that planned activities are equipped to succeed.

When you create a marketing template, you achieve even more efficiency. This allows for more seamless creation of new marketing plans to fit new requirements and continuous learning from using and evaluating an established format.

The difference between a marketing plan and an effective one is subtle yet critical to your success. A basic marketing plan template should be:

  •   Simple: by following a straightforward approach, using terms and a structure that’s easy to digest, both for the one creating it as well as those reading it,
  • Interesting: with expertly designed layouts or formats that synergize well with the outline/structure and
  • Versatile: allowing you to freely and easily add, remove, or rearrange sections and information to make sense of your strategy.

Below, we’ve created two free marketing plan templates that are designed around the above principles.

business plan for new product template

The Google Slides template is designed for more flexible layouts and more images.

business plan for new product template

The Google Docs template offers a more straightforward approach.

To begin using either template, click the matching link above and select File > Make a copy.

While you’re free to start populating the template however you like, there are ways to optimize this activity further. Below, we’ve reorganized the various sections in our template so you can populate them in an order that makes sense; these are grouped into five phases: Introduction, Research, two Strategy phases, and Polish. By following this section like a step-by-step guide, you would prioritize sections that inform other parts of the document so that you can complete each part almost in one go.

Introduction

First, fill in your Title Page before navigating to the Company Overview. This is like the ‘About Us’ section of a website and will help stakeholders learn about your business by filling in the following:

  • Your Company Name
  • Where your company is located (Headquarters)
  • Your market category and a summary of the products or services you provide (Category, Products & Services)
  • Your Mission Statement

It’s important to create a mission statement if you don’t have one yet—this gives both you and your audience a vivid impression of what your company is about and what it’s trying to achieve, which would be an important piece to understanding why your whole marketing plan can be expected to work. Your goal here is to write a mission statement that is clear and easy to understand.

An option to include information about your team or other specific individuals within the company is included. This would make sense if a specific group of individuals in your company is involved; the alternative implies that the plan may involve efforts from across the entire organization.

After wrapping up your introductory sections, it’s time to collect data to inform your marketing strategy. In this phase, we’ll be looking at your company, your customers, and your competitors and using that to identify your ideal client.

Start with the SWOT Analysis. This stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Here is a quick rundown and some guide questions for identifying each section:

  • Strengths refer to internal advantages that your company might have over your competition. For example, do you have a strong brand reputation? Do you have a tried-and-tested pipeline and track record for launching successful marketing campaigns? Do you have a sizable budget? How about highly skilled employees?
  • Weaknesses outline the opposite—these are factors that might put you at a disadvantage against competitors. These are often related to either a limited budget or a lack of skills or experience.
  • Opportunities serve to highlight external factors that you might be able to use to your advantage. Consider this: are there relevant changes to market trends or consumer behavior? Have new market segments emerged? Are there new business models you can utilize in your strategy?
  • Threats, on the other hand, are external factors that could negatively affect your business. Look into the following: Have new competitors emerged, or have existing competitors experienced substantial growth or change? Has the economy taken a turn for the worse? Are your customers’ preferences seemingly changing? Are there notable changes in technology or the environment to worry about?

Next, move to Customer Analysis. This is the process of evaluating and understanding different aspects of your consumer base, including their preferences and habits. This is fundamental to your overall strategy, as customer satisfaction almost always directly correlates to greater returns. A customer analysis is mainly broken down into demographics, which relate to their biological, educational, professional, and marital information, and psychographics, which relate to their behaviors, thought processes, and preferences. This also includes exploring various external factors that might influence their purchasing decisions, such as events and the offerings of competitors.

Once that’s finished, navigate to your Competitor Analysis section. This is the process of analyzing competitors who offer similar products or services or operate within the same industry or market as your company. This includes inspecting their overall strategy, including branding, operations, and promotion, identifying strengths and what resonates with their market or yours, and looking into areas where they might be lacking. This helps inform opportunities for your plan to stand out and succeed.

Finally, you can jump back to the Buyer Persona. A buyer persona is a detailed description of your target audience or customer built on the market research you conducted above; this includes existing data on your customers—this would include demographic information, motivations, and behavior, among other details. This helps businesses build a deeper understanding of their audience and is used to anchor marketing, sales, communication, and product development strategies to satisfy a given persona’s needs and preferences. Creating an effective buyer persona now will help build strategy for meaningful engagement.

Strategy-Building (Part 1)

Completing the previous sections should result in a clear picture of your position in the market. You can now use that to build the marketing plan's meat thoroughly. For starters, you will want to find the Goals section—our guide on SMART goals has everything we believe you will need to fill in this part of the plan.

Next, we will be tackling the Marketing Mix in two parts.

Product. In this section, discuss the products and/or services you intend to release or market as part of this strategy. This means outlining various features, design elements, or variants that will be available to customers.

Pricing. This is where you’ll be outlining amounts—how much will each of the products you included previously cost? When determining these, it’s critical that you consider your buyer persona, as well as competitor pricing and any promotions or discounts that might be part of your strategy. This will further increase your products’ perceived value among customers, especially your target market. Tables are a great formatting tool here; you can also link to an external spreadsheet, where you have more room to create a detailed pricing scheme.

Place. This section discusses how you would make products or services available to customers. It includes the method by which sales are generated (e.g., retail, online, direct), as well as strategies for storing, housing, and distributing inventory. Your main consideration here is making sure that your products and services are as convenient and efficient to access as possible in order to sufficiently meet customer demand.

The second part of the marketing mix covers both the Promotion and Marketing Channels sections. This is done so you can cross-reference between the two sections, ensuring that they are updated to synergize with one another.

The Promotion section primarily focuses on how you will help customers understand the value of your products and services, including tools and techniques for providing support across the customer journey (before, during, and after a sale.) A critical consideration here is ensuring the methods align with your goals while respecting your brand identity.

Marketing Channels then focus on the what or where of your promotion plan, which is typically broken down into traditional, digital, retail, and event marketing channels. Building this section relies heaviest on your buyer persona and the specific products and services you’re looking to promote—understanding where you can best reach your existing market or attract new eyes is important here.

Working on these sections first allows you to transition seamlessly to your Unique Value Proposition. Use this section to talk about how or why your products/services are a better choice than the competition. Your customer and competitor analysis would feed a lot of information here.

Strategy-Building (Part 2)

The second phase of your strategy will move between the template's Performance Management and Budget sections.

Under Performance Management , it’s time to identify your Key Metrics. Also known as key performance indicators (KPI) are quantifiable measures that determine your campaign or strategy’s progress or success. To assist with this, look back at your Goals section to see what factors can be represented by numbers and data—for some of these, you may need to derive them from computations of other factors. Common key metrics include total conversions, conversion rate, click-through rate, and social media engagements.

At this point, you can freely work on two sections simultaneously: Monitoring & Evaluation Methods and  Projected Expenses.

Monitoring & Evaluation Methods answers the question of how you will collect the metrics listed. Include relevant tools and data collection methods to be used here.

Projected Expenses refer to an itemized list of unique costs required to execute the strategy. This includes hardware and software needs, resources needed to run online or in-person events and promotions, travel and other logistics, and even compensation for in-house or outsourced manpower. A table is a great way to format information here.

Once all of that is ready, you can begin working on Projected Returns . In this section, you want to outline how this strategy is expected to generate value beyond just the immediate sale of whatever products or services are being offered and how much each of these sources is expected to contribute. From here, you can define your expected return on investment (ROI) by subtracting the total earnings from the costs in your Projected Expenses section.

You will notice that only one section remains—jump back to the early part of the template to work on your Executive Summary. This section combines all of the sections into a big-picture pitch. Your highest priorities here are summarizing your Goals, Marketing Mix, Unique Value Proposition, and Projected Returns sections.

Now that you’ve filled in all template sections double-check everything for errors or omissions.

A marketing plan serves as the blueprint for your success over time. A marketing plan template ensures that you can quickly and expertly craft a strategy while allowing for continuous improvement.

With Workamajig, the premier agency management software , you have an all-in-one solution for planning, organizing, and delegating these efforts and easily transitioning between the phases of every project. Easily adjust your schedule or modify task requirements and assignees to ensure efficiency, and use native reporting tools to measure your progress and identify and address roadblocks along the way.

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    Whether you're an experienced entrepreneur or new to the manufacturing industry, this guide, complete with a business plan example, lays the groundwork for turning your manufacturing business concept into reality. Let's dive in! The Plan. Our manufacturing business plan covers all essential aspects necessary for a comprehensive strategy.

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  28. Welcome to Claude

    API reference. Get all the details on API endpoints, request/response formats, parameters, and more on our API reference pages.