Planning for Purchasing a Business

business plan for buy and sell

A business plan is normally essential to the process of purchasing a business. A good business plan always defines the business’ specific mission and objectives, new ownership, sales focus, market, strategy, management team, and financials.

This is particularly important when you are purchasing an existing business, because there is so much uncertainty involved. Here’s what to pay attention to throughout the process, and what to include in your plan going forward, should you decide to buy an existing business.

Start with existing information

Start with the information you get from previous owners. Ideally, during the purchasing process, you received a business plan from the previous owners.

One of the important functions of a plan is to define business prospects, therefore, sophisticated business sellers normally use a business plan as a selling document. It should contain information about business history, financial history, previous management, and possible prospects.

Proceed with caution

If you do have such a plan provided by the sellers, proceed with caution. Assume the seller’s plan was developed to sell the business, not to manage the business, and may be too optimistic.

Question the assumptions. At every point that you possibly can, compare the seller’s plan for the business with its past financial information, market data from objective sources, and whatever other reality checks you can find.

Make sure you have enough information on the financials

You should always have financial information. Normally you’ll have past financial statements, and copies of tax forms, at the very least—few transactions take place without some basic financial information.

Use this financial information as a basis of comparison

Question the information sources: copies of tax forms, if they are real, show what the sellers have told the government. Do they match the financial statements coming from the accounting? How reliable are the financial statements? Have they been audited by outside accountants? Is the seller willing to allow an audit?

Growth forecasts are immediately suspect

Compare projected growth to past results. If the seller shows a future much more rosy than the past, ask why? What assumptions justify the change? Why was this business for sale if projections are optimistic?

However, sometimes sellers have good reasons—needing capital, aging, divorce, for example—so don’t automatically assume that all growth projections are false. Try to understand why owners are selling a business, and how this affects their willingness to produce real numbers, and how it affects your own possibilities to make this purchased business work for you.

Don’t underestimate the importance of reality checks

Don’t rely on second-hand information. Where possible, spend time at the business in question, talk to customers, eat at the counter, use the service. For retail locations, for example, you can spend some time outside the store, count the customers, see how many go in empty-handed and how many come out with bags.

Make estimates

Count the business for some sample hours, and then calculate what total sales might be by multiplying your estimated average purchase value per hour.

For example, say a shoe store has three customers per average hour, and guess that the average sale is $50. That’s $150 per hour total, which would be $1,200 per day and $7,200 per six-day week at eight hours per day. If that’s what you estimate and the seller reports $30,000 in sales per month, you’re reassured, because the two numbers—your estimate and the sellers reports—are in the same range. $7,200 per week for 4 weeks is $28,800, so $30,000 is close. However, if the seller is reporting $100,000 per month you will need to investigate carefully to explain this discrepancy.

Plan for a new business or an existing one?

As you plan for the business you purchase, you start by making an important choice: business plans can be either for startup new businesses or for already-existing and ongoing business. When you buy a business from somebody else, either option is acceptable. This is a choice you make.

The main difference between the two options is the existence in the plan of either a startup table, or a past performance table. In a new business, a startup table establishes opening balances for starting expenses, and financial balances including initial capital, debt, and assets. For an existing business, a past performance table shows past history of profit or loss, and balances of capital, debt, and assets.

How to decide? Either way can be acceptable. Here are some suggestions:

  • When you are purchasing a strong business with a good past, use that strength as an asset by developing a plan for an existing business. Develop a plan for an ongoing business, use the past performance table to set your balances, and include a section on company history.
  • If you’re purchasing a failed business (presumably for a good price), then start over, with a new plan, built for a new company. Set your startup table for a new business, and treat the business as a new business when you describe its history (or lack of history), ownership, and strategy.
  • The better the information available from the sellers, the more advisable that you develop the plan as a plan for an existing business. In the worst cases, when you have little information available, then you don’t really have the option of starting with past performance, because you don’t know about past performance.
  • Consider the name. If you plan to keep the business name, lean toward a plan for an existing business. If you are planning to change the business name, then you’re more likely to be better off with a new plan, not an existing plan. The naming decision is often a tip-off to the same variables that affect the plan. The factors that make you want to keep the name will make you want to use past performance and develop a plan for an ongoing business.

Ultimately, it’s your choice

Remember a business plan is always your plan; not the consultant’s plan, not the expert’s plan, but your own plan, for your business. As you look at the business you’re purchasing, decide what makes you feel best about it, and make that the choice for startup or ongoing.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry .

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business plan for buy and sell

24 Best Sample Business Plans & Examples to Help You Write Your Own

Clifford Chi

Published: August 17, 2023

Free Business Plan Template

business plan for buy and sell

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Reading sample business plans is essential when you’re writing your own. As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, you’ll learn how to write one that gets your business off on the right foot, convinces investors to provide funding, and confirms your venture is sustainable for the long term.

sample business plans and examples

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But what does a business plan look like? And how do you write one that is viable and convincing? Let's review the ideal business plan formally, then take a look at business plan templates and samples you can use to inspire your own.

Business Plan Format

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. 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. Referencing one will keep you on the path toward success. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, you might be wondering, "Where do I start? How should I format this?"

Typically, a business plan is a document that will detail how a company will achieve its goals.

business plan for buy and sell

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

Most business plans include the following sections:

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is arguably the most important section of the entire business plan. 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.

Most executive summaries include:

  • Mission statement
  • Company history and leadership
  • Competitive advantage overview
  • Financial projections
  • Company goals

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, including only 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

And the executive summary below tells potential investors a short story that covers all the most important details this business plan will cover in a succinct and interesting way.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • 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. Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will your product fill that gap?

In this section, you might include:

  • 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

This example 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

Speaking of market share, you'll 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. Performing a competitive analysis 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

The competitive landscape section of the business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are. 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.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

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

This section will 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. Ask yourself:

  • 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?

It can be helpful to build 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

The example below 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. You might consider including information on:

  • The 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

It can help to already have a marketing plan built out to help you with this part of your business plan.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler. It offers a comprehensive picture of how it plans 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 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

The example below outlines 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, you might outline:

  • 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

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

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 you'll want to include.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet example shows the level of detail you will 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.

Business Plan Types

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, we’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. 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.

Sample Business Plan Templates

Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some 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 We 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. (We 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.

We 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 our 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 we 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, we 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.

Top Business Plan Examples

Here are some completed business plan samples to get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business. We’ve chosen different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

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. We 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.

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.

"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 .

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.

Outdoor clothing retailer, Patagonia, has one of the most compelling mission statements we’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 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.

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.

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. 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 .

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.

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 also essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your "Why?" 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 also use this template as a guide while you're gathering important details. After looking at this sample, you'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do for your own business plan.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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business plan for buy and sell

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Plan to sell

Selling your products or services is the key to creating a successful business, but don't assume that clients will automatically approach you, even if you own a store.

It is important to see selling as a process where the actual financial transaction is the last in a series of steps you need to take to reach that point. You can use your marketing strategy to raise awareness and even drive customer response, but this will not replace the need to proactively look for customers and sell to them.

This guide covers the first steps you should take to get your sales process underway, and is particularly relevant for those who sell to other businesses. It will give you tips on how to generate sales leads and convert them into appointments.

There is also information on retail and website selling and how to adjust the process to maximise customer traffic.

Lead generation

Making sales appointments, using presentation technology, building sales confidence, retail and website sales.

Ensuring that your business has a constant source of potential new customers is one of the most important aspects of selling. Even if you have a full order book at the moment, this can soon change if you don't devote sufficient time to generating sales leads.

How do leads turn into sales?

Achieving a sale often works on the basis of percentages. If you call 20 potential new clients, you might expect to arrange four sales appointments, go back with two firm sales proposals and finally secure one order for your goods or services. This is called the 'funnel effect' and indicates how many new leads you might need to keep your order book full.

Mapping your territory

Before you start sourcing leads, decide on where you are going to base your search, and in which sectors. If your product or service could be widely used, start locally and target particular geographical areas. If you have a niche product or service, switch your focus to particular companies nationally or internationally.

Tips for finding new sales leads

There are many ways of finding new leads, such as:

  • referrals from existing clients
  • searching the Internet
  • reading trade publications, newspaper articles and business advertising
  • attending networking and conference events
  • using your local library
  • driving around your local area to see which businesses are based there

When you are sourcing new leads, get as much information as possible, including:

  • geographical address and phone number
  • website address
  • name of the key contact, e.g. owner, purchasing manager
  • business sector

Using databases

Storing information on a database allows you to keep track of who you have already contacted and spot patterns where you have been successful in selling to certain business sectors.

You can also buy a database of business leads from a variety of suppliers. These can be expensive, and you may need to employ staff, depending on the size of the list.

Once you have collected a number of sales leads, you need to decide on the best way to contact them - e.g. face to face, on the phone, by letter or email.

Group your list of prospects into similar business sectors, conduct research into their industry and decide how your product or service can help with their particular business needs. If you contact prospects in a particular sector in succession, you can spot any similarities in their objections, and adjust your approach accordingly.

Cold calling

If you decide to source new leads by calling in to business premises or phoning them, you will need to deliver a confident introduction, take control of the conversation and be able to deal with any initial objections.

Prepare a mini-commercial , a 30-second statement that promotes your goods or services by outlining the benefits to the client, tailored to their industry sector.

It is unlikely that the person you really need to speak to will be the first person in an organisation that you come across. Therefore, you will need to get past the gatekeeper, who may have been told to reject sales calls. This can be done by:

  • asking for the key contact by name in the first place
  • developing a rapport with the gatekeeper
  • presenting the prospect of a lost opportunity if they don't assist you

Introduce yourself to the key contact and use your mini-commercial. If they have any objections, suggest a meeting to formally answer the queries they have. Ensure you outline the potential benefits and mention any customers you already have in their industry sector.

Avoid entering into a sales negotiation, but try to secure a date and time for a meeting and ask who will be attending, especially any person who could potentially sign an order.

Using emails and letters

An email or letter may get past the gatekeeper, but follow up this method (after an appropriate period) with a phone call to check if the right contact has received it.

Keep the email or letter short. Include a client testimonial if possible. For emails, make the subject line interesting so that the recipient will open the email. In a letter, use a bold heading at the top to summarise why the recipient should read on.

Preparing for the sales appointment

Thorough preparation before a sales call is critical to achieving a good conversion rate of potential clients into firm orders. In the sales meeting, if you struggle to answer any objections or queries you will almost certainly lose any potential sale.

Research the client, check their website and any advertising (including recruitment) that they are currently using. Look at other businesses in their industry and who their customers are - knowing about your potential client's customers is vital for understanding what the client's needs and issues might be.

Be aware of your competitors and what they offer - this helps you to decide how to make your business stand out. See our guide on how to understand your competitors .

Prepare a list of questions to ask your potential client, based on your research. This can expose any potential issues they have that your product or service could solve. You can use this list of questions as a template for your future sales calls.

Set out your objectives for the meeting. Do you want to:

  • Secure an order?
  • Raise awareness for the future?
  • Set up another meeting with other key stakeholders?

The sales presentation

Depending on the type of meeting, number of attendees and facilities available, your presentation could be an informal meeting or more formal and technology-based. See the page in this guide on using presentation technology.

You should focus on:

  • introducing your business and its products or services
  • outlining the key benefits of using your business
  • addressing any potential objections you think the client might have

Your presentation should provide the potential client with an overriding set of reasons to buy your product or services. Passion and commitment to your business - conviction-selling - can be more effective than relying on logical arguments.

If you can achieve all this then closing the sale afterwards will be much easier. See our guide on closing and following up the sale .

Presentation technology such as PowerPoint is now widely used by businesses, but there are some ways to make your presentation stand out.

  • Arrive in time to set up equipment and to solve any technical problems.
  • Rehearse the presentation so you're comfortable with the material and you can make eye contact with the audience, rather than constantly having to refer to notes.
  • Check that your presentation can be read from a distance and limit the use of font types, colours and excessive wording. Make sure there is lots of clear space.
  • Have hardcopy printouts, in case of technology failure.
  • Include testimonials from other clients in the handouts - pick out key elements for the presentation.
  • Use a friendly approach but use humour with caution.
  • Dress smartly - the audience will judge your appearance as well as the presentation.

Make the presentation as interactive as possible, e.g. by posing questions to the audience on key points, to encourage a dialogue, rather than a lecture.

  • Make it too long - get to the point quickly and explain why it is relevant to the audience.
  • Talk to the screen and turn your back on your audience - what you say is more important than what is on the screen.
  • Use long sentences and multiple bullet points on a screen. Phrases and keywords are much more likely to be remembered.
  • Use too many colours or combinations which are difficult to distinguish between, e.g. red on black or green on brown.
  • Use serif fonts such as Times New Roman, which are not suitable for display purposes. It is better to use sans-serif fonts such as Arial.
  • Use outdated tools such as Clip Art. Use colour photographs instead - but beware of copyright issues and use them only where relevant.
  • Use animation, e.g. words flying in from the side of the screen - it is distracting and can make your presentation look amateurish.
  • Use diagrams or charts that are overly complex - keep these for the handouts.
  • Forget to double-check your presentation for mistakes. Your credibility will be damaged if you have failed to pay attention to detail.

Making a presentation or a sales call can be a big challenge. Proficiency in this area only comes through preparation and practice. The more experience you have, the less nervous you are likely to feel.

It is normal to have a degree of nerves and it can even be useful to keep you focused. Someone who is over-confident can come across as arrogant and possibly even insincere.


Rehearse your presentation several times - ideally ask colleagues for feedback. The more confidently you deliver it, the more likely the client will be inclined to believe in you and your business.

Tailor your presentation once you have covered your list of questions in the meeting itself, so don't just learn it in parrot-fashion. Be prepared to miss out elements or cover issues the client mentions at the last minute.

Speak slowly. Nerves may mean that you speed up. Time your presentation during rehearsal and keep an eye on your watch on the day. Keep a glass of water close by and take a few deep breaths before starting to speak.

If you might shake, avoid holding pieces of paper, which will display your nerves to the audience.

Phone calls

Standing up and smiling can help you feel - and sound - more confident, positive and in control.

Focus on the key reasons for and desired outcomes of making the phone call, not your performance.

Not everyone will want your product or service and some people may appear rude. Don't take comments personally and compose yourself before moving on to the next call - they could be your next potential client.

Improving low confidence levels

You may find that you lose confidence if you repeatedly endure rejections. As well as adjusting your cold calling and sales meeting techniques, you could also remind yourself of:

  • our objectives for going into business
  • the need to generate sales
  • why your product or service is better than others on the market
  • the feedback from satisfied customers.

If you sell in a retail or online environment you will need to adjust your approach to sales - your customers may be members of the public as well as other businesses.

Retail selling

There are various sales techniques that you should use if you own a store, including:

  • Window dressing - make sure your shop window is attractive and sets the scene for what the customer can expect inside. Change the display regularly to keep customers interested.
  • Layout - put accessories next to matching clothes or place common products at different ends of a store to encourage impulse purchases.
  • In-store promotions - put banners and captions around the shop pushing special offers and new products.
  • Loss leaders , e.g. 'three for the price of two' - these heavily discounted items are often found next to more expensive ones, encouraging customers to buy something else because they have a good deal.

Focus on providing a retail 'experience' to customers - setting the right atmosphere through the store environment and friendly staff will encourage customers to buy and to return in the future.

Getting retailers to stock your product

If you sell through somebody else's store you need to think about how you can persuade the retailers to stock your products - and display them prominently. It may help if you provide point-of-purchase promotional material.

It's worth carrying out research to identify the needs of a particular store and its target market. You're then in a better position to tell the retailer how they will benefit from stocking your product and how your product differs from what they already offer.

Retailers are unlikely just to be interested in how well your product sells. Other concerns may include how the product complements an existing range and how quickly you can provide more stock on demand. You can also increase their margin of profit by cutting yours, if this might persuade them to position your product more favourably in the store.

Website selling

As with retail sales, you need to create an attractive home page (or store window), then provide an interesting and easily navigable customer experience once they start to look around the website (layout).

However, there are certain differences you need to bear in mind:

  • You don't have the benefit of friendly staff, so the design and layout of your site is critical - make the site friendly and intuitive to use.
  • Customers won't be able to touch your products - ensure that you use lots of high quality photos.
  • Comparison of your products with those of your competitors is quicker and easier - pricing is therefore a major factor so you may have to accept lower margins.
  • Online transactions can sometimes be seen as insecure - reassure customers about security and ensure that your site provides a quick and easy-to-use system.

Original document, Planning to sell , © Crown copyright 2009 Source: Business Link UK [now GOV.UK/Business ) Adapted for Québec by Info entrepreneurs

Our information is provided free of charge and is intended to be helpful to a large range of UK-based ( and Québec-based ( businesses. Because of its general nature the information cannot be taken as comprehensive and should never be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice. We cannot guarantee that the information applies to the individual circumstances of your business. Despite our best efforts it is possible that some information may be out of date.

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  • Any reliance you place on our information or linked to on other websites will be at your own risk. You should consider seeking the advice of independent advisors, and should always check your decisions against your normal business methods and best practice in your field of business.
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business plan for buy and sell

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business plan for buy and sell

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The sales and marketing section of your business plan is especially crucial because it determines how you’ll plan on generating profit and describes how you intend to create exposure to best sell your product. It’s in this area of your business plan that you’ll hone the key elements of your marketing strategy. The actual implementation of your sales and marketing initiatives actually occurs before you launch, when you’ve set your go-to-market date so strategize the components of your sales and marketing plan early on.

Here’s a quick guide on what your key sales and marketing considerations should be:

This section should contain the following elements and should be no more than four pages.

Unique Value Proposition

Pricing strategy.

  • Sales/Distribution Plan

Marketing Plan

Your unique value proposition is the market need you’re planning to solve. Think of it as your secret ingredient – your “special sauce.” This may be a combination of factors including customer service, technology, a twist on a product or service, etc. Create the case for why your product deserves to have a sustainable business built around it.

Determine your pricing scheme. First, check what your competition is charging. This should give you an indication of what customers are willing to spend. Then, determine how you can add value. Until you get your product out there, it’s hard to know for sure how much your added benefit is worth in the customer’s mind. The keyword here is “reasonable.” You can charge any price you want to, but for every product or service, there’s a limit to how much the consumer is willing to pay.

Remember, even if you’re trying to be the lowest-cost provider, give a higher perceived value to your ideal customer to stand apart from the competition. Competitors can slash their prices to meet or beat yours, so be very careful if you decide to compete on cost.

Sales & Distribution Plan

This section describes how you intend to get your product to customers and how you’ll measure the effectiveness of those methods. For example, once you figure out where you’ll be selling your product – online, at a retail outlet, door-to-door – determine the type of sales team you’ll need and how you’ll compensate them.

In terms of distribution, think about how you’ll actually get the product or service into the hands of the customer. Ultimately, you’ll want to sell your product or service in as many ways that make sense for your company: online, at a retail outlet, via house parties or mail order, or through other companies. Initially, however, focus on selling through just one of these channels so you can build your business before comfortably extending to others.

You’re going to need customers to buy your product. How do you plan to get them? There are many free or low-cost strategies such as referrals, word-of-mouth, public relations, and marketing partners to help cross-promote or sell your product, so I would avoid any expensive print, TV, or radio advertising campaigns at these early stages.

Create your strategy for attracting customers. Before you start actually executing your marketing strategy, however, think about “branding.” This is the look and feel of your business, what customers experience when interacting with it, from the fonts, colors, and text of the website and your business cards to the overall image you portray in the product itself. This branding will be reflected in the execution of your marketing strategy.

Describe how you want customers to experience your product or service. Take a look at products or companies that you really like, and think about why you like them. What makes you feel good about them? Do these characteristics permeate all aspects of the product, from website to packaging to letterhead?

After you document the marketing plan activities, calculate the costs that you expect to incur. For example, if referrals are part of the strategy, then calculate how much you’re willing to pay a referral partner for each new customer they bring your way. Will it be $1, $20, $50, or more? Let’s say, for example, you expect a referral partner to refer 100 clients to you, and each of those referred clients spends $10, giving you a total of $1,000. You’ve agreed to pay this partner $1 for each referral, so you’ll spend $100 on referrals for your marketing strategy. In this example, your cost of acquisition – the cost you pay for each new customer – is $1. You’ll need to know this number, especially when you draft your financial plan.

Business Plan Template for a Startup Business To increase your odds of a successful business startup, download this step-by-step business plan template you can use to plan for your new business.

Every Business Deserves Planning Don’t make the common mistake of dismissing the value of planning. Every well-run business needs to manage strategy, metrics and essential business numbers.

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

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



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How to Write a Winning Business Plan

  • Stanley R. Rich
  • David E. Gumpert

The business plan admits the entrepreneur to the investment process. Without a plan furnished in advance, many investor groups won’t even grant an interview. And the plan must be outstanding if it is to win investment funds. Too many entrepreneurs, though, continue to believe that if they build a better mousetrap, the world will beat […]

The Idea in Brief

You’ve got a great idea for a new product or service—how can you persuade investors to support it? Flashy PowerPoint slides aren’t enough; you need a winning business plan. A compelling plan accurately reflects the viewpoints of your three key constituencies: the market , potential investors , and the producer (the entrepreneur or inventor of the new offering).

But too many plans are written solely from the perspective of the producer. The problem is that, unless you’ve got your own capital to finance your venture, the only way you’ll get the funding you need is to satisfy the market’s and investors’ needs.

Here’s how to grab their attention.

The Idea in Practice

Emphasize Market Needs

To make a convincing case that a substantial market exists, establish market interest and document your claims.

Establish market interest. Provide evidence that customers are intrigued by your claims about the benefits of the new product or service:

  • Let some customers use a product prototype; then get written evaluations.
  • Offer the product to a few potential customers at a deep discount if they pay part of the production cost. This lets you determine whether potential buyers even exist.
  • Use “reference installations”—statements from initial users, sales reps, distributors, and would-be customers who have seen the product demonstrated.

Document your claims. You’ve established market interest. Now use data to support your assertions about potential growth rates of sales and profits.

  • Specify the number of potential customers, the size of their businesses, and the size that is most appropriate to your offering. Remember: Bigger isn’t necessarily better; e.g., saving $10,000 per year in chemical use may mean a lot to a modest company but not to a Du Pont.
  • Show the nature of the industry; e.g., franchised weight-loss clinics might grow fast, but they can decline rapidly when competition stiffens. State how you will continually innovate to survive.
  • Project realistic growth rates at which customers will accept—and buy—your offering. From there, assemble a credible sales plan and project plant and staffing needs.

Address Investor Needs

Cashing out. Show when and how investors may liquidate their holdings. Venture capital firms usually want to cash out in three to seven years; professional investors look for a large capital appreciation.

Making sound projections. Give realistic, five-year forecasts of profitability. Don’t skimp on the numbers, get overly optimistic about them, or blanket your plan with a smog of figures covering every possible variation.

The price. To figure out how much to invest in your offering, investors calculate your company’s value on the basis of results expected five years after they invest. They’ll want a 35 to 40% return for mature companies—up to 60% for less mature ventures. To make a convincing case for a rich return, get a product in the hands of representative customers—and demonstrate substantial market interest.

A comprehensive, carefully thought-out business plan is essential to the success of entrepreneurs and corporate managers. Whether you are starting up a new business, seeking additional capital for existing product lines, or proposing a new activity in a corporate division, you will never face a more challenging writing assignment than the preparation of a business plan.

business plan for buy and sell

  • SR Mr. Rich has helped found seven technologically based businesses, the most recent being Advanced Energy Dynamics Inc. of Natick, Massachusetts. He is also a cofounder and has been chairman of the MIT Enterprise forum, which assists emerging growth companies.
  • DG Mr. Gumpert is an associate editor of HBR, where he specializes in small business and marketing. He has written several HBR articles, the most recent of which was “The Heart of Entrepreneurship,” coauthored by Howard. H. Stevenson (March–April 1985). This article is adapted from Business Plans That Win $$$ : Lessons from the MIT Enterprise Forum, by Messrs. Rich and Gumpert (Harper & Row, 1985). The authors are also founders of Venture Resource Associates of Grantham, New Hampshire, which provides planning and strategic services to growing enterprises.

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