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

Learning Objectives

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Overview

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

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

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

Purposes of a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Link to Learning

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

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

Types of Business Plans

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

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

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

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

Full Business Plan

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

Executive Summary

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

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

Business Description

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

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

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

Competitive Analysis

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

Operations and Management Plan

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

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

Marketing Plan

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

Financial Plan

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

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

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

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

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

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

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

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

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

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

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

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

  • 48 Chris Guillebeau. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2012.
  • 49 Jonathan Chan. “What These 4 Startup Case Studies Can Teach You about Failure.” Foundr.com . July 12, 2015. https://foundr.com/4-startup-case-studies-failure/
  • 50 Amy Feldman. “Inventor of the Cut Buddy Paid YouTubers to Spark Sales. He Wasn’t Ready for a Video to Go Viral.” Forbes. February 15, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestreptalks/2017/02/15/inventor-of-the-cut-buddy-paid-youtubers-to-spark-sales-he-wasnt-ready-for-a-video-to-go-viral/#3eb540ce798a
  • 51 Jennifer Post. “National Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs.” Business News Daily . August 30, 2018. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6902-business-plan-competitions-entrepreneurs.html
  • 52 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition . March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf
  • 53 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition. March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf; Based on 2019 RBPC Competition Rules and Format April 4–6, 2019. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2019-RBPC-Competition-Rules%20-Format.pdf
  • 54 Foodstart. http://foodstart.com
  • 55 “Hugh Jackman Journey to Starting a Social Enterprise Coffee Company.” Giving Compass. April 8, 2018. https://givingcompass.org/article/hugh-jackman-journey-to-starting-a-social-enterprise-coffee-company/

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

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What is a business plan?

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

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

Bizee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

create a business plan by applying viable business ideas brainly

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Come Up With a Good Business Idea

Aspiring female entrepreneur thinking of a business idea.

7 min. read

Updated January 5, 2024

Some entrepreneurs have a natural gift for generating ideas—most struggle. But without a good idea, starting a business will be an uphill battle.

Luckily, this is a skill you can improve with the right process and a little practice.

This guide will teach you how to generate hundreds of business ideas and identify what makes a good idea. We even have curated lists of ideas for you to explore. Let’s get started.

How to come up with a good business idea

Coming up with a business idea isn’t a strict process. It’s a series of methods to tap into, explore, and see if something sticks. 

Here are a few tried-and-true ways to generate a business idea:

1. Solve a problem

Your business must solve a real problem . 

The most successful businesses always do. But how do you identify a real-world problem? 

Try one (or all) of the following:

  • Think about issues you’ve encountered in your own life.
  • Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues.
  • Look through Reddit, Quora, and other forums.
  • Run a survey.

These are just a few ways to uncover actual problems. Once you’ve identified a few persistent issues, dream up possible solutions. That may lead you to a highly desired business idea.

2. Talk to family and friends

It’s challenging to think up ideas solo. So, reach out to someone you trust.

Your family and friends can be a great source of inspiration. Discuss your desire to start a business with them and ask for their ideas. 

They may have noticed a gap in the market, have a problem that needs solving, or have a unique perspective for harnessing your skillset. 

This outside input can be the spark you need to find a great idea. Plus, you’ll open the door for additional support—such as funding or partnership.

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3. Make tasks easier

The best and most lucrative businesses are often the most mundane. They help solve basic problems by making them easier or more efficient.

To hone in on these simple issues, walk through your day. What tasks do you dread? What undesired work takes up your time? 

These often overlooked pain points are likely screaming for solutions.

4. Build on an existing product or service

A great business idea doesn’t require reinventing the wheel. 

Instead, take an existing product or service and make it better. Improve the design, add new features, or find a new way to market it. You may even be able to introduce a product or service to an underserved market. 

Start looking at the things around you and ask—how could this be easier? How could it be more intuitive, less stressful, and more pleasant? How could it be more affordable?

You may find that even the slightest change will create something unique.

5. Start with a hobby

Your hobbies and passions can be a great source of business ideas. Whether you love baking, photography, or gardening—there’s likely a way to turn your hobby into a business . 

You just need to determine how to monetize your skills or the products you create. If you’re unsure how take it slow and start with a side hustle . You’ll still need to consider pricing, expenses, and how much time to invest—but you’ll have less risk and more time to adapt your hobby into a business.

6. Jump on a trend

Trends can provide excellent business opportunities. Whether it’s a new technology, a fashion statement, or a change in consumer behavior—spotting and capitalizing on emerging trends can lead to successful business ideas. But, there are potential complications you should be aware of.

A very small or non-existent market for this product or service is likely. You’ll need to showcase the problem to stimulate a need many didn’t know they had. Just be sure it has staying power (like AI tools) and is not just a fad (like fidget spinners).

You should expect multiple competitors to emerge as the trend gains traction. Focus on solidifying your brand and build loyalty early on to stay ahead of imitators. 

7. Innovate

Innovation involves developing something new or finding a novel approach to an existing product or service. This requires creativity and a willingness to take risks. Still, it can lead to unique and successful business ideas.

Remember that this may mean no current market for your product or service exists. But if you believe there will be a problem and can convince others, you may be at the forefront of an untapped movement.

What are the qualities of a good business idea?

There’s no genuinely perfect business idea. However, there are clear signs that an idea is worth pursuing and more likely to succeed. 

Clear market demand

There must be a need for your product or service. Meaning your idea needs to, at a minimum, solve a real-world problem for your target customers . 

That’s just the start. 

Will people pay for a solution? Is there a real opportunity to disrupt pre-existing alternatives? 

It may not be a good idea if the answer is no to either question. 

Scalable and profitable

Scalability and profitability are tied together. 

An idea is scalable if you can:

  • Attract more customers.
  • Accommodate this increased demand.
  • Lower costs as you grow.

An idea is profitable if revenue exceeds expenses. 

Now, your business may take time to be profitable. But it should display the ability to grow and scale to achieve profitability. 

If your business idea can’t bring in more customers or decrease costs—you’ll struggle to be profitable.

Fits your goals

Do you want to monetize your passion? Grow quickly and sell? Create a legacy to pass down to your kids?

You need to know what you hope to get from being an entrepreneur. Because only some business ideas will fit your goals. 

So, make sure the business fits your motivation. If it doesn’t, you’ll find it is far more challenging to keep up long-term. 

  • No business idea? Try these

If you’re struggling to develop a business idea, check out one of our curated guides for inspiration.

Business ideas you can start for free

Is the idea of spending money holding you back from starting a business? Don’t worry, there are plenty of business ideas out there that require little to no upfront investment.

30+ business ideas using skills you already have

Whether you’ve developed skills from a hobby, work experience, or online courses—there’s a good chance you can use them to start your own business.

Online business ideas

Skip setting up a brick-and-mortar storefront and go digital. Here are some low-cost online businesses you can start right now.

Subscription service business ideas

While we may be past the gold rush for this business type—the right subscription service could still capture consumers’ attention.

Business ideas to start during a recession

An economic downturn typically spells trouble for business owners. It also presents an opportunity for new entrants to fill gaps in the market.

How to generate business ideas with LinkedIn

Learn to use your professional connections to explore, develop, and test potential business ideas.

Questions to reveal customer pain points

Learn how to speak with potential customers and understand what challenges could be solved with the right business idea.

Hottest industries to start a business

What industries show the most significant growth potential for new businesses? Check out our regularly updated list for insights on what industries may provide the best opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Coming up with an idea is just the first step

Once you have your business idea, it’s time to validate if it will work . 

You’ll need to chat with potential customers, run tests, and explore the financial implications of starting your chosen business. If that sounds tough, don’t worry, the next section of our startup guide will help you understand if you have a good business idea.

For now, pat yourself on the back for getting this far. 

Sorting through the thousands of potential options and finding something you believe can be turned into a business is a big step. Now, you need to determine if your idea can become a legitimate business .

Resources and tools to find your business idea

Make researching and selecting a business idea easier with these templates and tools.

create a business plan by applying viable business ideas brainly

Business idea validation checklist

Want to find out if your business idea is a winner? Work through this checklist to test it.

Download Tool

create a business plan by applying viable business ideas brainly

One-page business plan template

Document your research, explore the specifics of your idea, and outline how it could work as a business.

Download Template

create a business plan by applying viable business ideas brainly

Explore your business idea with LivePlan

With a library of real-world sample business plans, industry benchmarks, and step-by-step guidance—you can quickly determine if your business idea will work.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Kody Wirth

Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.

Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

  • How to come up with a business idea
  • Qualities of a good business idea
  • Your idea is the first step
  • Resources and tools

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5 Steps to Develop a Viable Business Plan

Small Business

No matter what type of business you run, you need a business plan. A business plan is a description of your business and objectives and the strategies of how you expect to achieve your goals with a management team and financial resources. Contrary to belief, you don’t need a business plan just to obtain financing. You also need a plan to help you guide your company.

Step 1: Define Your Business

Defining your business is the most vital thing that can help your company become successful. By defining your business, you are better able to achieve your goals and sustain superior performance.

Two things that you need to consider when you define your business are your marketing position statement and your unique selling proposition. A marketing position statement is a one- to two-sentence statement that says what you do and for whom you do it to uniquely solve an urgent need or fulfill a desire. A unique selling proposition is a statement that shows the reader how your product or service stands out and is different than other substitutes on the market. Your USP must be strong enough to attract customers and compel them to buy your product or service.

Develop a Viable Business Plan

Surprisingly, not all business owners and managers know the answer to how they define their business. As a result, their businesses can ultimately fail.

The U.S. Small Business Administration highlights a store owner who repairs and sells watches. After analyzing his business operations, the owner came to realize most of its earnings were from repair, even though the company spent most of its resources on selling products. As a result of his analysis, the owner concluded that his business was a repair shop. He shut down the product sales operation and focused on the repair service. This move resulted in dramatic increases in sales and profits.

Step 2: Determine Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is an integral part of business plan success. Although your product or service can appeal to many different types of buyers, a one-size-fits-all marketing and sales approach is not focused enough . The more you know about the audience you target, the better able you are to reach and communicate with them and sell your products and services.

You can get a better idea of your target audience by looking at the demographic and psychographic segments of prospective customers that can benefit from your products and services. Do they fit a specific gender or age range? What income bracket do they mostly share? What problems do they need solved? What common attitudes, opinions, values and behaviors do they share?

The more narrow your target market, the more focused you can be in your marketing. On the other hand, if you are tempted to serve more than one target market it can be costly, and you may not succeed.

Take a look at the dilemma Aviva Weis faced after she hired a new marketing executive . Weiss is the co-founder and lead designer of Fun and Function, a company that makes items for special needs children, such as therapy balls that help children develop fine motor skills. Her company grew more than sevenfold from 2007 to 2010 by targeting the consumer market. However, her new marketing executive–who previously worked for a competitor–wanted Fun and Function to target schools and hospitals. This was NOT a good strategy to serve two target markets because it not only required a huge investment and a change in operations, but it also increased risk to alienate the company’s base of loyal consumer customers.

Step 3: Understand the 5 Forces that impact Your Business

Every business–yours included–is subject to five external forces. These forces include existing competitors, threat of new competitors, substitute products or services, bargaining power of its suppliers, and bargaining power of its customers, according to Michael Porter of Harvard Business School .

By understanding these five forces, you are able to comprehend the environment that impacts your business. If your company is in an industry that requires government approval of its products, such as pharmaceuticals or medical devices, then you operate in an environment that makes it difficult for new competitors to enter your market. Yet, if your company is in an industry that does not require proprietary products, special know-how or high investment, then you may have new competitors as you grow.

It’s not enough to know about your industry from just its products or services. You also need to understand the demand and supply of raw materials, manufacturing and labor. Plus, you need to comprehend political and legal related issues. These factors can affect the bargaining power of suppliers or customers. For example, the nutrition supplement industry has many distributors, fewer manufacturers and even fewer raw material suppliers that dominate and influence costs. If one raw material supplier reduces production, that can cause a shortage of products and raise prices accordingly.

Step 4: Create a Competitive Strategy

To demonstrate the viability of your business, your plan needs to demonstrate how you will sustain a competitive advantage. Porter says there are three unique strategies a business could choose from to sustain competitive advantage, namely cost leadership, differentiation and focus. If you are a small company with limited resources, your best strategy is focus .

Your strategy needs to show how you will capture your target market. What are the marketing strategies and tactics that you will create and execute to generate customers and sales? What advertising message will you create that will resonate with prospective buyers and compel them to buy from you? Who will be on your marketing team? What functions will you perform in house and which will you outsource? These are some of the important questions you need to address in your business plan.

Step 5: Project Your Financial Performance

Your financial performance is a measure of your success. Your business plan must include a projection of how you expect your company to perform based on what you discover developing the first four steps of your plan.

You’ll need to address the price and profitability of your products and services. Your projections include the number of customers you expect you’ll attract. How much will they each buy?

A rule of thumb is to underestimate your expected revenues and overestimate your company expenses. You can never know what types of delays may occur in receiving revenues from the sale of your products or services. Plus, you may be hit with unexpected expenses or hidden costs you don’t yet know about.

Another rule of thumb, especially for start-up and early stage companies, is that cash flow is more important than profits. Cash is what lubricates the flow of business. You can always manipulate profits through various accounting techniques, such as deciding if you record inventory as first in-first out or last in-first out. But you can’t do this with cash flow.

Your projected financial performance is also a factor that can influence investors. Higher operating profit margins can attract more investors. However, the reality of your ability to achieve these projections comes from the quality of your plan and execution.

Now that you’ve become more knowledgeable about the five steps to developing a viable business plan, what’s your next step? If you don’t have a business plan, then get started right away...even if you have a successful company. And if you have a plan, see how you can improve it with some of what you have learned here.

Eric Wagner

Eric Wagner

While Eric now focuses on internet marketing, he also has a background in web development. He loves being among the first to find out about new tech—and better yet, being a part of making that tech succeed. Eric is known to be a good listener, seeking to understand how each individual sees the world. He is a harmonizer in group settings, cultivating unity while constructing the overall goal and strategy. When he’s not busy helping i7 clients dominate the online marketplace, Eric enjoys drone videography (he’s got a UAV pilot’s license), woodworking, community service, and all things outdoors.

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HDD & More from Me

The 20 Minute Business Plan: Business Model Canvas Made Easy

Table of Contents

What’s the Business Model Canvas?

How do you get started, why use the business model canvas, when should you use the business model canvas, how do you use the canvas to facilitate alignment and focus, step 1 (of 10): customer segments, step 2 (of 10): value propositions, step 3 (of 10): channels, step 4 (of 10): customer relationships, step 5 (of 10): revenue streams, step 6 (of 10): key activities, step 7 (of 10): key resources, step 8 (of 10): key partnerships, step 9 (of 10): cost structure, step 10 (of 10): applications, analysis & next steps, example a: enable quiz (startup), example b: hvac in a hurry (enterprise), using the google doc’s/powerpoint template.

If you’re already familiar, you can skip to the next section, ‘ How do I get started ?’.

The Business Model Canvas (BMC) gives you the structure of a business plan without the overhead and the improvisation of a ‘back of the napkin’ sketch without  the fuzziness (and coffee rings).

Business-Model-Canvas-Annoted-760

Together these elements provide a pretty coherent view of a business’ key drivers–

  • Customer Segments : Who are the customers? What do they think? See? Feel? Do?
  • Value Propositions : What’s compelling about the proposition? Why do customers buy, use?
  • Channels : How are these propositions promoted, sold and delivered? Why? Is it working?
  • Customer Relationships : How do you interact with the customer through their ‘journey’?
  • Revenue Streams : How does the business earn revenue from the value propositions?
  • Key Activities : What uniquely strategic things does the business do to deliver its proposition?
  • Key Resources : What unique strategic assets must the business have to compete?
  • Key Partnerships : What can the company not do so it can focus on its Key Activities?
  • Cost Structure : What are the business’ major cost drivers? How are they linked to revenue?

The Canvas is popular with entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs for business model innovation. Fundamentally, it delivers three things:

  • Focus : Stripping away the 40+ pages of ‘stuff’ in a traditional business plan, I’ve seen users of the BMC improve their clarify and focus on what’s driving the business (and what’s non-core and getting in the way).
  • Flexibility : It’s easier to facilitate alignment by tweaking the model and trying things (from a planning perspective) with something that’s sitting on a single page.
  • Transparency: Your team will have a much easier time understanding your business model and be much more likely to buy in to your vision when it’s laid out on a single page.

The first time you engage with the canvas, I recommend printing it out or projecting it on a whiteboard and going to town (see below for a PDF). However, if you’re ready to put together something a little more formal (for distribution, presentation, etc.) here’s a Google App’s template you can copy or download as MSFT PowerPoint:

*Omnigraffle a popular diagramming program for the Mac. It has a fairly easy to use layering environment which you may find handy as you want to tinker with and produce different views of the canvas. You can try Omnigraffle for free (the basic paid version is $99).

The short answer is this: because it’s simple yet focused and that means more of your audience is likely to pay attention to it. Also, it’s highly amenable to change on the margins.

This matters a lot- more than most people think. A company that wants to innovate has to be ready to be wrong . A good VC in early stage investments succeeds with a prevalence of something like a 1/10. If you think you’re doing a lot better than that with substantial new innovation investments (a startup or a new line of business inside an enterprise) you’re probably throwing good money after bad.

Transparency, simplicity, and focus are great facilitators of the ‘creative destruction’ a good innovation program needs, and the Canvas does a nice job of delivering that across lines of business. For a large corporation with multiple lines of business at various levels of maturity, I actually prefer the Corporate Innovation Canvas as a starting point. However, from there, the Business Model Canvas does an excellent job of bringing clarity to the questions of how, for example, a given line of business creates focus and then implements it in an innovation-friendly way with, for example, ‘objectives and key results’ OKR’s . It’s a central element in the ‘innovation stack’ where an enterprise is able to go from priority innovation areas (with the Corporate Innovation Canvas) to testable business model designs (with the Business Model Canvas) to product charters (with an agile team charter ) to individual learning pathways to cultivate the talent they need to execute.

create a business plan by applying viable business ideas brainly

Even more important than the top down cascading of objectives with testable results and KPI’s is the improvement in the feedback in outcomes that helps the overall innovation program learn and adapt quickly. With layer appropriate innovation metrics, it’s much easier for the achievements of individuals to cohere (or not) to the job of teams and in turn from there to lines of business back up to corporate objectives. This helps both help the company’s talent understand where they might benefit from more practice and learning as well as what constitutes success in their individual roles and collaborations.

Anytime you want to have a focused discussion about what matters to a given line of business, the Business Model Canvas is a good place to start. The Canvas has received a lot of attention as a tool for startup entrepreneurship. While this may be one of the ‘sexier’ and more ostensibly simple applications of the Canvas, I actually think it’s one of the least compelling. For a startup, the only thing that matters is product/market fit, which the Canvas represents as a set of relationships between Customer Segments and Value Propositions. The Canvas doesn’t do a bad job of describing this, but it’s kind of overkill- the whole left side of the Canvas which describes the delivery infrastructure is mostly irrelevant for startups that are still finding product market fit, since all that’s provisional about where (and whether) they arrive at product/market fit.

Where the Canvas really shines is describing an existing line of business to answer questions like: a) What does product/market fit mean for this business? b) Where have we focused our company building and is it still relevant to ‘a’? c) What are our key revenue, cost, and profit drivers, and how do we improve those?

Now we’re taking! Whether you’re an ‘intrapreneur’ exploring a new extension to the business or a ‘digital transformation’/IT consultant trying to facilitate a discussion about what ‘strategic IT’ means and how you’ll know if you achieve it, the Canvas is a quick and productive place to anchor such a discussion.

First and foremost, I’d try it out for yourself. Fill out the elements the business you’re working on and then ask yourself ‘Does this make sense?’ ‘What are the most important linkages and components of the model?’

From there, you may just want to use the Canvas you sketch to facilitate alignment on some other topic. However, if you’re working with a team on a new venture or with a client on a new project, you may then want to take it from the top and facilitate a workshop where you facilitate a fresh take on the Canvas, levering your experience thinking through it once. The link below will take you to a related curriculum item that has workshop slides, prep. items, and agenda.

LINK TO WORKSHOP PAGE

Otherwise, the next sections (10 steps) offer a tutorial on how to think through a business model design with the Canvas. The closing sections offer notes on how to use the Google Doc’s/PowerPoint and Omnigraffle templates.

Customer Segments

Output : a list of Personas, organized by Customer Segment if you have more than one segment. I recommend trying to prioritize them- Who would you pitch first if you could only pitch one? Who next? And so forth…

Notes : If you’re spending a lot of time on this first item, that’s OK (and it’s probably good). The Canvas is a tool, not a strategy and not all the nine blocks are equal. The pairing of Customer Segments and Value Propositions is really the ‘independent variable’ that should be driving everything else in your business model. When I use the Canvas in my Venture Design classes, we usually spend all of the first session (plus time for field research) on Customer Segments and Value Propositions.

Value Propositions

For example, at Leonid, an enterprise software company I founded, we thought our largest customers worked with us because of the cost savings we offered and our knowledge about best practices. It turned out that was mostly wrong- reducing their time and risk to get new services to market was the most important. It’s not that the other things weren’t important, but they weren’t the top Value Proposition. That made a difference on how we sold the product and how we focused on operationalizing it for customers.

This mapping says ‘We have 3 personas. Persona 1 cares about VP 1 & 2. Persona 2 cares about VP 2; Persona 3 cares about VP3. (One segment only so segments not noted)’.

Output : a prioritized list of Value Propositions and linkages from each Personas to the VP’s relevant to them.

Notes: Again, this pairing is the key driver for most business models and if you want more on how to describe and discovery what to put in this part of the canvas, I recommend this: Tutorial- Personas .

Maybe you feel like you’re in good shape on understanding the customer’s world but you don’t have any validation on whether the Value Propositions are clicking because this is a new venture? If you’re not sure, that’s OK and good for you for acknowledging the uncertainty! It’s the responsible thing to do. The key is to write down those assumptions, prioritize them, and figure out the quickest and cheapest way to prove or disprove them. That’s what Lean/Startup is about and there are resources here to help you with that, if you’d like- Tutorial: Lean Startup .

Channels

Channels includes entities you use to communicate your proposition to your segments, as well as entities through which you sell product and later service customers (see AIDAOR journey below). For example, if you sell bulbs for light houses and there’s a website all light house attendants purchase equipment, that site is a sales Channel. If you use Google AdWords, that’s a Channel, too (for getting attention). If you use a third party company to service the bulbs when they break, that’s also a Channel.

Output : a list of important Channels, linked to Personas or Segments if they differ substantially. Make notes on what steps are relevant for each- promotion, sales, service, etc. See Note this section for more structure on this.

Notes: Channels and the next item, Customer Relationships, define your interface with the Customer. It’s important to think all the way through the customer ‘journey’ in specific terms. For most businesses, the way they get a customer’s attention is different than the way they onboard them or support them over the long term. For this, I recommend the AIDA.OR framework (attention-interest-desire-action-onboarding-retention) and storyboarding your way through it. Here’s a post explaining all that- Storyboarding AIDA(OR) . If you don’t want to do the storyboards, I recommend at least making notes about your customer journey through the AIDA(OR) steps.

Another consideration is whether your channels will give you enough visibility into the user, including, for example, a way to follow up with users. Not sure? Document your assumptions Lean Startup style and figure out how you’ll quickly prove or disprove them.

Customer Relationships

Output : a description of Customer Relationships, with notes if they differ across Customers (between Segments or among Personas within a Segment) or across the customer journey.

Notes: If you’re a startup, be sure to document and review critical assumptions here. Also, the focal items are in a kind of specific order- you should validate your Segments and their relationship to the Propositions above all else. If this means you provide personal support in the early days (a ‘concierge test’ in Lean Startup terms) to do discovery and validation of Segments and Propositions, that’s OK. You can subsequently test the Customer Relationship models. (Here’s a post on using consulting as a concierge vehicle in B2B if you want more detail: Consulting as B2B Concierge Vehicle ).

Channels

Notes : If you have a startup or are re-engineering the business, this is a time to look at where you’re driving revenue and whether it aligns with the rest of your focal points. Are you charging on value? Perceived value? They say everyone loves their banker; hates their lawyer. Why is that? Is there an actionable analog in your business?

Key Activities

For a product-driven business, this probably includes ongoing learning about users and new techniques to build better product. If you’re focused on doing a bunch of things for a particular set of customers (ex: comprehensive IT for law offices), this probably includes maintaining superior expertise on the segment(s) and creating or acquiring products and services that are a good fit, whatever that entails. For an infrastructure business (ex: electric utility), it probably includes keeping the infrastructure working reliably and making it more efficient.

Outputs : a list of Key Activities linked to your business’ Value Propositions.

Notes : One question this analysis should raise for you is whether or not certain Activities and Resources are actually core, actually focal to your business, something you’ll want to think through .

Key Resources

Outputs : a list of Key Resources linked to your business’ Key Activities.

Notes : Product-driven businesses have a differentiated product of some sort. Rovio, the company that makes the popular app Angry Birds, is such a company. Key Resources in product-driven businesses are typically key talent in critical areas of expertise and accumulated intellectual property related to their offering.

Scope-driven businesses create some synergy around a particular Customer Segment. For example, if you started a business that would take care of all the IT needs for law firms, that would be a scope-driven business. These businesses typically have key knowledge about their segment, a repeatable set of processes, and sometimes infrastructure, like service centers.

Infrastructure-driven businesses achieve economies of scale in a specific, highly repeatable area. Telecommunications is traditionally an infrastructure business. Retailers focused on retail, like Walgreens or Costco, are primarily infrastructure-driven businesses. The Key Resources for this type of business are, you guessed it, various types of physical or virtual infrastructure.

Let’s take a single product category: diapers. The Honest Company or another innovating around compostable or otherwise more environmentally friendly diapers would be a product-driven take on the category. Procter & Gamble which has a cradle-to-grave strategy for providing consumer products is a scope-based take; so are various baby-focused retailers. Kimberly-Clark (wood pulp) or DuPont (chemicals and polymers) are both infrastructure-based takes: diapers is just another way to sell something they produce at scale with relatively little differentiation.

Key partnerships

If there are major cost components that don’t map to a Key Activity, I’d take a closer look at those costs.

Output : a list of Cost Structure elements with notes on their relationship to Key Activities.

Congratulations- you have a working canvas! The section below offers a few analytical ideas and suggestions for next steps.

Core Applications The most core and obvious applications of the Canvas are to ask: – Does it make sense? – Could it be better? – Does the rest of my team understand and agree? Have additional ideas? – (rinse and repeat at least quarterly)

Competitiveness The canvas does a good job of helping you figure out your business, which is a good place to start. You also want to look at the competitive environment and think about if and how you have/maintain a long term competitive advantage.

For this, I like Michael Porter’s Five Forces framework ( Wikipedia Page ; see also Chapter 2 of ‘ Starting a Tech Business ‘). Try walking through the Five Forces for your company and then bounce back to your canvas. How does it all hang together?

Next Steps Every business is a work in progress (sorry, I try to avoid saying things like that but it seemed to fit here). As you go through the canvas, you may encounter areas that give you trouble. The table below summarizes a few of the most common that I see in my work as a mentor and coach:

Want to make innovation an everyday thing?

What is Enable Quiz?

Enable Quiz is a (fictional) startup that’s building a lightweight quizzing application for companies that hire a lot of technical talent (engineers). Their take is:

For hiring managers who need to evaluate technical talent, Enable Quiz is a talent assessment system that allows for quick and easy assessment of topical understanding in key engineering topics. Unlike formal certifications or ad hoc questions, our product allows for lightweight but consistent assessments of technical talent.

Why and how would Enable Quiz use the Business Model Canvas?

They have a small team, but arriving at a clear, shared understanding of what they’re after is still important. That said, it’s important that the way they talk about this is both highly visible and amenable to change. Given that, the Canvas is a good fit.

The Business Model Canvas at Enable Quiz

This page shows Enable Quiz’s current working view of product/market fit:

What is HVAC in a Hurry?

HVAC in a Hurry is a mid-sized enterprise that services commercial HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems. Their take on the business is:

For facilities managers & business owners who need their heating & cooling systems managed and repaired, HVAC in a Hurry is a full service provider that allows for easy and responsible management of a business’ HVAC systems. Unlike smaller firms, our commitment to best practices and training allows customers to worry less and realize superior total cost of ownership for their HVAC systems.

Why and how would HVAC in a Hurry use the Business Model Canvas?

HVAC in a Hurry has a working version of product/market fit. However, their industry is competitive and successful firms increasingly use technology to improve customer experience (CX) and reduce cost (overhead) in their operations. HVAC in a Hurry has a small ‘digital transformation’ team that’s working on digital applications to improve the company’s performance. This team decided to use the Canvas to ‘manage upwards’ in order to facilitate better discussions about where they should focus, how that aligns with the business as a whole, and what success definition makes sense for them.

The Business Model Canvas at HVAC in a Hurry

Here’s their current view of product/market fit:

If you’re not familiar with it, Google Doc’s is a web-based office suite, similar to MS Office. If you have a gmail account, you can access it (no guarantees- that was the case last time I checked).

First, you’ll want to link to the template file: BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS TEMPLATE IN GOOGLE DOC’S .

Once you’re accessed the file, you can make make it your own by going to the File menu and either ‘Make a copy…’, creating a copy in your own Google App’s domain or you can use the ‘Download as…’ option to download it as PowerPoint (and a few other formats).

Screen-Shot-Editing-Master

What’s your experience with the Canvas? How have you used it? What worked? What didn’t? Please consider posting a comment!

Copyright © 2022 Alex Cowan · All rights reserved.

New Business Idea? How to Test It Before Launching

Table of contents.

create a business plan by applying viable business ideas brainly

Do you have an idea for the next big thing? You may think your idea is perfect already, but it’s wise to test it out before you spend too much time and money developing a business or product for which there’s no market. Ensuring your idea is something the world wants before you launch it is vital to business success.

How to test your business idea

Here are eight steps to test your business idea and determine its value proposition.

1. Contemplate your idea.

graphic of a person thinking with a lightbulb above their head

Although you’re no doubt excited about your new business idea, you might want to wait a while before fleshing out a potential company, said Greg Isenberg, CEO of product design agency Late Checkout. 

“After I’ve gone through the process of writing down a bunch of ideas, I don’t like to rush into building a business plan or recruiting the team,” Isenberg said. “I like to wait a few weeks [to] see which ideas really stick with me.”

Isenberg said he only moves forward if he has a burning feeling that the world genuinely needs his idea.

“Once I’m through that, the best way to test a business idea is to build some prototype and show it to people to get some honest and authentic feedback,” he said. 

Business News Daily compiled the best resources and ideas for starting a business .

2. Build a minimum viable product.

The lean startup model provides a great way to develop your business or a specific product before going to market. The most important part of that model is to build a minimum viable product (MVP).

An MVP is “the simplest form of your idea that you can actually sell as a product,” said Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and the author of The Lean Startup . 

Using the principles of Lean Six Sigma, Ries’ book advocates having a version of your product to test and market early in the development process so that you can make any tweaks or changes in response to real feedback from your target audience.

3. Run it by a group of critics.

graphic of a person with a lightbulb in their hand talking to a group of their colleagues

When your first prototype or test service is ready, present it to potential target customers.

“You should talk [to] and/or survey at least 50 potential customers to see if they identify with the problem the same way you do,” said Wayde Gilchrist, a senior technical manager at Amazon. “In other words, you need to find out if this is a real problem for a majority of your target market or just a few.”

However, to truly put your new business idea to the test, select your 50 potential customers or clients carefully.

“Identify people in that target [audience] you know to be skeptical and critical,” said Chip Bell, founder of business consultancy firm The Chip Bell Group. “These people could be irate customers from previous encounters or friends who always take the glass-half-empty perspective.”

Bell advised hand-picking your test group and then asking these people to pick your idea and minimum viable product apart. [Find out how to tell if you have a bad business idea and how to tell if you have a great business idea .]

The ability to give and receive effective feedback is a crucial skill for small business leaders.

4. Tweak it to suit your test market.

When Isenberg tested 5by, an internet video finder app he developed and has since sold, he and his team went to college campuses and showed mock-ups of what the product was going to look like. Feedback from students was invaluable in fine-tuning the original idea.

“We were able to quickly gauge that people … were frustrated that they couldn’t open an app and just be able to find the best internet videos in whatever they were interested in with just a tap of a button,” he said.

Isenberg realized that although his initial business idea and mock-up were a good start, they needed tweaking. Based on the feedback he received, his team made fruitful adjustments.

“We quickly knew we were on to something and then focused on building out the product, raising money, etc.,” he said.

5. Create a test website with social media tie-ins.

graphic of a businessperson next to a screen with a lighbulb on it

Once the word is out about your product or business, your target market needs a place to get more information about it or to show it to their friends. Building a simple website with a landing page specifically for the product and promoting it on social media are great ways to provide information and monitor how many people are interested in what you plan to sell.

Make sure your site features opportunities for interested people to join a mailing list to receive updates about the product launch date or to sign up for preorders.

“You’ll be able to tell if the idea will get traction from the number of click-throughs on the ads and the number of people who fill in your form,” Gilchrist said.

6. Create a marketing plan and use it.

All of your preparatory work means nothing if you can’t get a response from prospective customers. Once you have a viable product, you need to act on the interest in it. But while you may know your target audience at this point, you’re unlikely to know which marketing strategies have the best chance of converting their interest into future sales. For that reason, your initial marketing plan should cast a wide net.

Develop strategies to take advantage of different advertising, marketing and PR channels across mediums. As you execute the strategies and monitor the results over time, you’ll be able to sharpen your marketing plan based on what did and didn’t work. This is also another opportunity to gain feedback on what you’re planning to sell.

7. Adopt an experimentation mindset.

Too many businesses are afraid to fail, so they don’t put themselves in a position to succeed. Often, this manifests in either avoidance of pursuing new ideas or failure to properly test a product idea before launching it.

If you adopt an experimentation mindset, you’ll be more willing to make mistakes and test a variety of ideas. Your business model will unlock more long-term value, as you’ll give more ideas a chance to come to fruition. In this case, failure can also be a success, as it allows you to better understand what works and what doesn’t in the ever-changing business world.

While you want to be able to embrace your mistakes, too many pitfalls can torpedo a business before it really gets going. See the reasons many entrepreneurs fail by their second year.

8. Implement design thinking.

graphic of a person with a lightbulb and gears above their head

Design thinking involves the cognitive, strategic and practical processes of developing new ideas or products. It helps innovators redefine problems and create better, more creative solutions. In other words, it opens the door to more groundbreaking discoveries and inventions. [Read related article: Innovation Is Key to a Successful Business ]

To incorporate this strategy when developing your potential business, follow the five stages of design thinking: empathize (research/understand customers’ needs), define (state your customers’ problems and needs), ideate (brainstorm unique solutions to their problems), prototype (create the solutions) and, most importantly, test (try them out yourself).

The importance of testing your business idea

Testing a business idea is crucial to its success. If you blindly assume an idea will be a big hit, you’ll risk a great deal of time, money and other resources on a leap of faith. 

Entrepreneurs often skip testing because they’re in a rush to launch. The costs of doing so can be significant. Below are a few of the possible drawbacks of forgoing testing.

  • Poor business plan: Entrepreneurs may struggle to create a solid business plan or a viable roadmap to reach profitability.
  • No data: A lack of pre-launch feedback makes catering to your target audience’s needs far more difficult.
  • Misguided marketing: Marketing efforts can fall on deaf ears if they’re misaimed, even if your idea has potential.
  • Product defects: Product flaws may prevent initial customers from becoming repeat clients and spark bad buzz. 
  • Damaged morale: Business partners may become doubtful and want to pull their investment if the product misses the mark.

Testing your business idea is a necessary preliminary step to identify your target market and refine your business idea with their real-world needs in mind. If you don’t test your product or service, you may be setting yourself up to fail.

What to do when your business idea tests poorly

Not every idea is going to wow your inner circle or initial focus groups. Don’t worry — that’s part of the process. Here are two options for what to do if your concept still needs work.

Iterate until you find an idea that tests well.

Business is a process of iteration. You figure out what works and then continually try to make it work better. It’s not supposed to be perfect at first, and it’s important you understand that from the beginning. The point of testing an idea is to make it as good as possible before committing substantial time and resources to it. 

Let’s say you want to start a gardening service that specializes in imported plants. Some of these plants need large amounts of water, while others thrive in dry climates. If you’re based in an area under the threat of drought, you might learn from initial testing and market research that your would-be customers are mainly interested in plants and grasses that don’t require much water. The imported plants that need a lot of water won’t serve your customer base.

By taking into account the feedback you received and adapting your business idea to existing conditions, you can pivot to a business that specializes in the plants sought after in your region. This will then inform your marketing and ordering efforts so you can focus on a specialty that will actually sell. 

This is a great example of taking an idea that won’t work in its original form and adjusting it so it will. In other words, follow the classic mantra: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

Develop something new.

graphic of a person throwing a broken lighbulb into a garbage can

Of course, not every business idea is a winner no matter how much you tweak it. Ideas might not work for any number of reasons. A product or service might be too expensive, face too much competition or not solve a problem customers have. An idea that doesn’t work isn’t a bad reflection on you. Part of being a successful entrepreneur is recognizing what’s not going to work and moving on quickly to something better. It’s part of the process. 

Testing your ideas is the best way to ensure you don’t invest yourself in a concept that won’t succeed. With your newfound knowledge about what doesn’t work, you can use the data you’ve collected to generate a new idea. The time and effort you’ve spent needn’t go to waste if you know how to capitalize on what you’ve already accomplished.

Trial and error

A good idea is an essential part of starting a business, but it’s just the beginning. After that, you need to execute by turning your idea into an actual product . Testing and iterating on your idea is a critical step in the process of creating a viable company. If you’re ready to get started, check out our favorite low-cost business ideas and see if they could work in your market.

Alex Halperin and Marci Martin contributed to this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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How to Write a Business Plan [Complete Guide]

Last Updated on – Aug 8, 2023 @ 3:22 pm

Preparing to write your business plan? You’re already one step ahead of other entrepreneurs who don’t see its value.

A well-thought-out and well-written plan for starting and running your business helps you focus on what you need to do to make your business idea work. It can also boost your chance of getting investments and loans to finance your business .

Did you know that half of small businesses fail in their first four years? Planning is such a crucial step to reducing the risks of managing an enterprise. Turn your business idea from something abstract and uncertain into a successful venture. It starts with drafting a good business plan.

Here’s your definitive guide to writing a business plan that speaks for itself.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a written document that details what a business is, what direction it will take, and how you’ll get it there.

Practically speaking, the business plan evaluates your business’ viability. As the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) puts it , the document allows entrepreneurs to find out whether or not their business idea will bring in more money than how much it costs to start and run it.

More than just a document, the business plan helps business owners to figure out the key aspects of an enterprise, including the following:

  • Business goals and strategies to meet them
  • Competitive edge and how to leverage it
  • Potential problems and how to solve them
  • Funding required to start the business
  • Equipment, facilities, and manpower needed for operations

Who Needs a Business Plan and What Is It Used For?

Every aspiring entrepreneur who will spend a great amount of money, time, and energy to earn a profit needs a business plan.

Business planning is a crucial part of starting an entrepreneurial journey, no matter how small or big a business is. Never skip this step—as they say, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Here are some examples of business types that benefit much from business planning:

Founders of startup businesses seek funds to begin their new venture. Business plans help them persuade investors and lenders to provide the funding they need.

For startups, a business plan explains the nature of the new venture, how it will achieve its goals, and why the founders are the best people to lead the company. The startup business plan should also specify the capital needed to jumpstart the new business.

Related: Fast-Growing Startups in the Philippines

Existing Businesses

Not only do startups gain advantage from a business plan—existing enterprises need it, too.

But business plans for growing businesses serve a different purpose. Usually, a business plan helps a middle-stage business raise funds for additional facilities, equipment, manpower, and others needed for expansion. This document also defines strategies for growth and allocates resources based on strategic priorities.

Growing businesses also use business plans to communicate their vision to various stakeholders such as customers, business partners, potential investors and lenders, employees, and suppliers.

For such needs, a business plan for existing businesses lays out the goals, strategies, metrics to evaluate success, responsibilities, and resource allocation.

Social Enterprises

Social enterprises may not be as profit-driven as other business types, but that doesn’t mean they need business planning any less.

A social enterprise needs to prepare a business plan to achieve its social objectives and keep empowering the communities it’s supporting. This document is what government agencies and donor agencies require and evaluate when approving grants for funding a social project .

A social enterprise business plan determines the social issue that a business idea will solve, its beneficiaries, products or services, target market, and sales projections, among many others.

Non-Profit Organizations/NGOs

Like social enterprises, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can also use business plans to source funds for their campaigns and projects.

A nonprofit business plan discusses the problems an NGO is trying to solve through a certain project, as well as how it will do that and how much resources are needed.

It also helps the organization and its board members to prepare for risks by making projections on how likely the activities will push through and how the current sources of funds will continue to yield a certain level of revenue. Most importantly, the business plan defines the Plan B if the original plan ends up failing.

Business Plan Format and Its Components

How does a business plan exactly look like? There’s no recommended universal format for business plans. Ideally, yours is customized according to the nature of your business and what you’re going to use the plan for.

However, all business plans have sections in common. Here’s a quick walkthrough of the six components that make up a business plan.

1. Executive Summary

Like an abstract of a college thesis or a foreword of a book, the executive summary is meant to provide a brief overview of the document. It presents the highlights of a business plan in a page or two.

The executive summary the first thing that readers see, so keep it short yet engaging and compelling enough to make them want to view more details in your plan.

2. Company Profile

The company profile is your chance to introduce yourself and your business to people outside your company. It’s also called the company summary, company information, business description, and business profile.

This section quickly answers the five Ws and one H of your business: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Think of it as your business calling card. Being the shortest section of the business plan, the company profile provides a quick overview of the business—who the owner and founder is, management team, business goals, business address, product or service, and what makes it unique.

3. Operations Plan

The operations plan explains how you’ll run your business, focusing on the different aspects of manufacturing your product. This section includes the following information, among many others:

  • Type of business (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation , or non-profit)
  • How the product is made or the service completed
  • Necessary materials, equipment, and facilities to manufacture the product or complete the service
  • Any subcontractors needed
  • Quality control system

4. Organizational Plan

Your people should play a major role in your business plan, just as how they’re important to your business success . The organizational plan includes a chart that shows how your company is structured according to key departments or functions such as administration, production/manufacturing, marketing, and finance. This organizational chart not only presents the levels of authority in a company but also clarifies who is responsible for which people and function.

Aside from the organizational chart, the organizational plan also includes these details:

  • Number of employees to hire
  • Responsibilities of each job role
  • Qualifications of workers who will perform each role
  • Salaries and benefits per job assignment

5. Marketing Plan

The marketing plan and the succeeding chapters are the heart and soul of your business plan, explaining the things that will make your business work. This section details how you plan to promote your product or service in the market.

Specifically, the marketing plan covers the following:

  • How the product or service will work and how it will benefit customers
  • Target market and its profile
  • Strategies for packaging, advertising, public relations, and distribution
  • Competitive advantage

6. Financial Plan

A critical section in your business plan, the financial plan helps you assess how much money you’ll need to start or grow your enterprise and identify your funding sources to get your business off the ground and sustain its operations. This is where you’ll provide financial estimates that cover at least one year of running your business.

Investors and lenders specifically look for these financial details in business plans:

  • How much you’re going to borrow, what you’ll use the loan for, and how you’ll pay it back
  • How much profit you’re expecting to make (through an income statement and balance sheet)
  • How you can finance your business operations (through a cash flow statement)
  • Whether to keep the business going or close it down to cut losses (through a break-even analysis)

Related: How to Write a Business Proposal

Should You Use a Business Plan Template?

Business plan templates identify what information to put into each section and how it should be structured.

They provide instructions to guide entrepreneurs through the process. This way, nothing is missed out while writing the plan.

Thus, using a business plan template is a great idea, especially if this is your first time to prepare a plan for starting or growing your enterprise.

Helpful as it as may be, a business plan template doesn’t make business planning 100% effortless. While it provides the outline that makes writing the plan easy and quick, you still need to do your homework.

For example, a template won’t compute the financial projections for you—it’s a task you have to complete either on your own or with the help of a professional.

So before you use a business plan template, manage your expectations first and be prepared to do a lot of math!

8 Free Business Plan Templates

Yes, you read it right—you can download free online business plan templates. Some of these templates are designed for a specific niche, while others offer sample business plans for a wide range of business categories and industries.

Start off by choosing any of these free templates that suit your business planning needs.

1. Business Plan Format by the DTI

DTI has a wealth of useful information for micro, small, and medium businesses in the Philippines. Of course, it’s free to access since it comes from the government.

On the DTI website, simply look for the Business Planning section and download the business plan format in a PDF file. This document not only lists down all the information to be included in every section of a business plan, but it also provides guide questions per section—making business planning easier for first-timers.

If you want a more detailed discussion of what should go into each component of your business plan plus sample scenarios, check the DTI’s Negosyo Center e-book that fleshes out things for small business owners.

2. Simple Business Plan Template by The Balance Small Business 

The Balance is an online resource for small business owners. It has a free business plan template that’s simple and easy to understand for beginners, with instructions on how to use it. Broken down into sections, the simple business plan template tells you what to include in each component of the plan.

Simply copy the free template and paste it into a word document or spreadsheet. From there, you can start drafting your business plan with the template as a guide.

3. Free Sample Business Plans by Bplans

This website features a collection of over 500 free business plan samples for various industries, including restaurants, e-commerce, real estate, services, nonprofit, and manufacturing.

Under each category are links to many sample business plans for specific types of business. Each sample comes with a plan outline, too. For example, under the Services category, you’ll find sample plans for businesses like auto repair shops, advertising agencies, catering companies, health spas, photography studios, and more.

4. Business Plan Samples by LivePlan

More than 500 free sample business plans are available at the LivePlan website, so you’re likely to find one that suits your business best. The samples allow users to know how other businesses structured and worded each component of their business plans. You can copy and paste the sections into your own plan.

To download a full business plan sample, you’ll have to sign up by submitting your name and email address through the website.

5. Business Plan Templates by PandaDoc

PandaDoc offers free business plan templates for NGOs, startups, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, hotels, and salons. These documents can be downloaded in PDF format.

But if you want a customizable template, you can download the PandaDoc template for a 14-day free trial. This template allows you to edit the document, choose a theme that matches your branding, and add pictures and videos.

The website also has free templates for executive summaries and business letters.

6. The One-Page Business Plan by The $100 Startup

If your business has a simple concept, then a one-page business plan template is ideal to use. This downloadable PDF file is a very simple outline made up of a few sections with questions that you have to answer in just a short sentence or two.

7. Business Plans by Microsoft

Microsoft provides a broad selection of templates for its users, including business plan templates in Word, business plan presentations in PowerPoint, and business plan checklists in Excel.

  • Sample business plan template (Word) – Provides the steps in writing a complete business plan
  • Business plan presentation template (PowerPoint) – Consists of slides for different sections of a business plan that highlight the key points for viewers
  • Business plan checklist template (Excel) – Enumerates the important things to do when writing a business plan, using the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) analysis framework

The advantage of using a template from Microsoft is having a professional-looking document, slideshow presentation, or spreadsheet. No need to do the formatting by yourself because the template is already formatted. All you have to do is enter the necessary information into the template to complete your business plan.

8. Social Business Plan Guidelines by the Ateneo de Manila

This free business plan format for social entrepreneurs comes from the Ateneo de Manila University’s John Gokongwei School of Management. In a glimpse, it provides the basic information you need to plan a social enterprise.

It also has more detailed business plan guidelines you can refer to. Simply click the link to the word document at the bottommost part of the page.

Related: 11 Best MBA Programs & Schools in the Philippines

How to Write a Business Plan

An outstanding business plan covers everything your stakeholders need to know about your business. So don’t just wing it—put a lot of thought into this critical document.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of drafting a business plan, whether you’ll use a template or not.

1. Brainstorm about your business idea

You may have a very promising business idea, but it won’t fly unless you develop it into a clear-cut concept.

Brainstorm with your team about everything you can think of about starting and running the business. Then list them all down.

Be as creative as possible. No need to be too critical at this point.

While brainstorming, aim to answer these key questions:

  • Why do you want to start the business? What has inspired you to go for it?
  • What product or service do you plan to sell?
  • Who will be your target customers? What are their problems that you’re hoping to solve through your product or service? How will you promote your offerings to them?
  • What will be your business branding ? How will you position your brand in the industry?
  • What is your competitive advantage? What makes your business unique?
  • Where do you see your business within a year?

2. Validate your business idea

Research on the specifics of your business idea—paying special attention to your product or service, target market, and competitors.

According to entrepreneurship experts, it’s best to spend twice as much time on this step as spending the time to the actual drafting of the business plan.

Here are some ways to validate your business idea:

  • Read studies and research to find information and trends about your industry .
  • Conduct market research to gather insights from industry leaders, potential customers, and suppliers . You can do this through surveys, focus group discussions, and one-on-one interviews with your stakeholders.
  • Collect data about your competitors , especially the product or service they offer and how they reach their customers. Consider buying from them or visiting their store to get a feel of their products and customer experience.

Gather all relevant information and analyze your findings to assess whether the business idea is feasible or not. You may need to tweak your business idea based on your evaluation of its feasibility.

3. Define the purpose of your business plan

It’s extremely difficult to carry out anything if you aren’t sure about why you’re doing it in the first place. Without a clear purpose, you’re like driving a car without knowing where you’re headed to.

When it comes to writing your business plan, you should have its purpose in mind from the get-go. It can be one or more of the following:

  • Create a roadmap to provide the directions the business must take to achieve your goals and overcome challenges. This is ideal for bootstrapping or self-funding startups.
  • Seek investments and loans to finance a business. If this is your purpose for making a business plan, it should be compelling enough to attract investors and lenders.
  • Set your targets, budget, timelines, and milestones. When you put them all in writing, it’s so much easier to evaluate and measure your business’ actual performance versus your goals.
  • Communicate your vision and strategic priorities with the management team. With this purpose, your business plan must establish specific goals for your managers so that they have something to commit to, you can track progress, and get them to follow through on their commitments. Also, having a business plan for this purpose ensures that everybody involved in running your business is on the same page.
  • Minimize risks. Running a business in itself involves a lot of risks, and it gets riskier with a poorly researched business idea. A business plan can help entrepreneurs mitigate them by organizing activities and preparing for contingencies.

4. Create an outline for the executive summary

The first section of any business plan is the executive summary. You don’t have to draft it yet at this point, but it helps to write an outline for it before you proceed with the rest of the sections.

In a sentence or two, describe these key aspects of your business:

  • Product or service
  • Target market
  • Competitors
  • Unique value proposition (how you set your business apart from the competition)
  • Management team
  • Short-term and long-term business goals
  • Possible sources of revenue

5. Describe your business

The next step is to write your company profile. Get your readers to become familiar with your business and realize why they should be interested in it.

If you have no idea what specifically goes into this crucial business plan section, you can check the company profiles of businesses in your industry. Usually, you can find them on their websites at the About Us or About the Company page. Take note of the information included and how they’re written.

Here are the must-haves of a great company profile:

  • Brief history of the company
  • Mission and vision
  • Product or service lineup
  • Target market and audience
  • How the business will address the customers’ pain points
  • What makes the business unique

6. Provide details about your operations and organizational structure

Anyone who will read your business plan needs to know what they should expect when they deal with you. They need to see a solid plan for your operations and the people who make up your team. So give your operations plan and organizational plan a careful thought.

For your operations plan, choose carefully the right legal structure for your business. Will you be a sole proprietor? Or will you partner with someone or form a corporation? Your choice will have an impact not only on your business operations but also on the taxes you’ll pay and your personal liability .  

As for the organizational plan, it’s where you put your organizational chart that shows a glimpse of the hierarchy within your organization. You can easily create this chart in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Also introduce the people who comprise your management team—their relevant experience, qualifications, and expertise . The organizational plan must also include information of the support personnel, as well as who reports to whom and who manages whom.

If you’ll be outsourcing some of your business functions, add them to your organizational plan, too. These may include consultants , accountants , lawyers , logistics specialists, and IT specialists. This way, you’re showing that you’re planning to fill in any expertise and skill gaps in your in-house team.

Also Read: Business Process Outsourcing to the Philippines [Complete Guide]

7. Compose your marketing plan

Make this section of your business plan as comprehensive and detailed as possible. You’d want to prove that you’ll take a strategic and aggressive approach to reach your target customers and promote your brand and product or service to them.

Divide your marketing plan into five subsections: objectives, product/service description, target market profile, competition profile, and promotional activities.

A. Objectives

Zero in on the what and the why of your marketing activities. Under the marketing objectives section, list down all your goals and the strategies you’ll implement to meet them.

Your marketing goals can be any of the following:

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Introduce a new product or service
  • Regain or get more customers for an existing product or service
  • Secure long-term contracts with your ideal clients
  • Increase sales in a certain market, product, or price point
  • Improve product manufacturing or product/service delivery
  • Increase prices without affecting sales

B. Product/Service Description

Describe each product or service you’ll offer, including its features and benefits. You can use storytelling , images, charts, tables, or any visual element that best illustrates how each item will work to the benefit of your target customers.

C. Target Market Profile

Present as much relevant data as you can about your potential customers. Make sure to include the following:

  • Demographic profile: age range, gender, income level, education, interests, etc.
  • Buying behaviors
  • Factors that influence their buying decisions: purchasing power, personal preferences, economic conditions, marketing campaigns, social factors (such as peer pressure and social media influencers ), cultural factors, etc.

D. Competition Profile

Your marketing plan must focus not only on your own business but also those of your competitors. List down the similar products or services that they offer to your target customers.

Also, provide an assessment of your competitors’ performance. Which areas are they doing well? How can you improve on their strengths and weaknesses? How can your business stand out? Is it your more competitive pricing? Better customer service? Superior product quality?

To come up with a good competition profile, take the time to research about your competitors. When interviewing your target customers, ask them about the brands they use or businesses they deal with.

You can also do an online search of your competitors. For example, if you’ll run a pet supplies store in Pasig, search for “pet stores Pasig” on Google. The search engine results page may show you the different stores that sell the same products as the ones you plan to offer. Read customer reviews online to get deeper insights on how these businesses serve their clients.

Consider doing a “secret shopping” in your competitor’s store. This way, you can experience firsthand how they treat their customers and how they market and sell their products or services. You might even be able to get information about their product lineup and pricing.

E. Promotional Activities

The last subsection of your marketing plan must discuss how you’ll promote your brand and products or services and connect with customers. Also, be ready to allocate budget for each marketing activity you identify in your plan.

Create a list of marketing activities you plan to implement. Will you reach your audience through SEO (organic online search), paid advertising, and/or social media? Or will you go the traditional route through print and TV advertising or joining expos, exhibits, and trade shows? The right choice depends on the nature of your business and the type of audience you’re trying to reach.

8. Develop your financial plan

The financial plan is the section where you’ll crunch the numbers. Unless you’re really good at math, it’s best to hire an accountant or business consultant who will work with you to develop a foolproof financial plan.

Put simply, a financial plan explains how a business will spend money and make more money. It also estimates the amount of time it will take for the business to earn a profit.

Here are the specifics of a good financial plan:

  • Total capital requirement
  • Business financing plan and any loan requirement
  • Collateral to put up for a business loan
  • Schedule for loan repayment
  • Financial statements : cash flow statement, income statement/profit and loss statement, and balance sheet
  • Break-even analysis
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Financial analysis

Ultimately, these financial projections answer the question, “Is your business financially feasible?”

9. Back up your business plan with supporting documents

Books and theses have an appendix section at the end that provides additional resources. Your business plan should have one, too. This final section consists of documents, surveys, studies, charts, tables, images, and other elements that provide supporting data.

Depending on the information you’ve presented in the other sections of the plan, your appendix may include these things:

  • Market research data and findings
  • Resumes of the management team
  • Relevant financial documents
  • Lease agreements
  • Bank statements
  • Licenses and permits

10. Review and refine your business plan

Your business plan is almost done at this point. Now all you have to do is go over the document once more to ensure you’ve covered everything and nothing crucial is left out.

Check your final draft and be sure it has the following:

  • Sound business idea – If you’ve done Step 2 properly (validating business idea), you can be confident that you have a sound business idea.
  • Comprehensive and in-depth look into your business in a professional format
  • Thorough understanding of your target customers , their behaviors, interests, and needs
  • Competent management team – The people who make up your team must possess the skills and expertise that complement yours.
  • Business focus or specialization

Aside from yourself, ask a business partner, proofreader, and accountant or financial expert to review your business plan and spot any errors and inconsistencies. You’d want to make sure that it looks professional and is accurate.

11. Write the executive summary

Lastly, get back to the outline you created in Step 4 and write it based on your final draft. Make sure to craft an engaging executive summary that hooks people into reading the rest of the plan.

6 Actionable Tips on Writing a Business Plan

Anyone can write a business plan—but it takes more than great writing skills to create an exceptional one.

Here are some tips to help you prepare an effective business plan that goes beyond the ordinary.

1. Write with your audience in mind

When drafting your business plan, you’re writing not for yourself but for people who will play key roles in starting and running your enterprise. This is why it’s important that you know whom you’re writing for and keep them in mind while preparing your business plan.

If you think you can’t create a plan that caters to all your audience groups, consider having different versions of the document. For example, you can come up with a business plan for investors, another for lenders, one for employees, and so on. But keep the data consistent across all versions.

To write a business plan that suits a particular audience, you have to use the right language, highlight the parts that interest them, and adjust the format accordingly.

A. Use the Right Language

One of the most important rules in business writing: use the language that your target audience easily understands. If you’re writing for engineers, finance people, or lawyers, your language can be technical—meaning you can use jargons and terminologies familiar to them.

However, if you’re writing for investors who barely have technical knowledge, tweak your language in simple terms that are easy to grasp and appreciate.

Likewise, if you’re writing a business plan to communicate internally with managers and employees your company’s direction and strategies, it’s best to use more casual language than you would when writing for high-level, external stakeholders.

B. Appeal to Your Audience’s Interests

It also helps to understand what interests your audience because they will influence how you’ll write your business plan.

Your management team, for instance, will be interested in knowing your business goals and strategies so that they can help you steer the company in the right direction.

Investors and lenders look at the business plan differently—they’ll be more interested in your financial statements to determine your financial health, like if your business is worth investing in or has the ability to pay back a loan.

C. Adopt a Suitable Business Plan Format

There’s no one-size-fits-all format for business plans because it depends mainly on your audience, aside from the nature of your business.

Let’s say you’ll set up a restaurant, and you’re drafting a business plan to apply for a business loan. To convince lenders that your business is viable, details such as your restaurant’s location and possible renovations are crucial.

Meanwhile, if you’re writing the plan for potential big-time investors, you’ll take a different approach. A good restaurant business plan focuses on the business aspects that will lead to growth and profitability (Remember that investors are interested in how they’ll make money from partnering with you).

2. Keep it concise

How long should a business plan be? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , it depends on various factors such as the specific audience it’s written for and the nature of a business. The SBA cites surveys that found the ideal length to be at least 25 to 100 pages.

Sounds a lot? If you have a simple business idea and you’re writing a business plan for busy people who don’t have time to pore over hundreds of pages, then one page up to 20 pages should be fine.

However, you may need to provide more explanation (which will take up more pages in your business plan) if you’re planning to build a new kind of business, and a risky one at that.

The size of your business also affects the length of your business plan. Business plans for small businesses need not exceed 30 pages. Corporate business plans are expected to be longer.

What matters more than length is how concise your business plan is. Meaning, it provides all the necessary information—including solid research and analysis—using the fewest words possible. No place for wordiness here!

3. Document everything related to your business

Support your claims in the business plan with solid facts and proof. Investors, for instance, need an assurance that they won’t lose their investment when they trust you with their money. This is where documenting your business thoroughly plays a crucial role.

What kinds of documentation can you include in your business plan?

  • Industry forecast or projections
  • Licensing agreements
  • Location strategy
  • Prototype of your product or service
  • Survey and FGD results
  • Resumes of your management team

4. Show your passion and dedication to your business

Although business plans have straightforward, matter-of-fact content, you can still establish an emotional connection with your readers through your plan. After all, your readers are humans with feelings and motivations.

No need to be dramatic about it—you can show your passion and dedication while still sounding professional in your business plan. Write about the mistakes you’ve had (like a failed business in the past), what you’ve learned from the experience, the values you hold, and the problems of your customers you want to solve through your product or service.

5. Know your competition and how you’ll stand out

Your business won’t be the single player in your industry. Other businesses in the same niche have started way ahead of you, and some new ones will also compete for business in the future.

Write your business plan in such a way that you know your competitors so well. Identify all of them and what makes your business unique compared with the rest without belittling them.

6. Be realistic and conservative in all your estimates

In any aspect of your business, it’s better to underpromise and overdeliver than the other way around. This also holds true when writing a business plan. You wouldn’t want to set unrealistic expectations that will lead to disappointments and worse, losses, when you fail to deliver on your promise.

There’s no place for too much optimism in your business plan. Your budget allocation, timelines, capital requirements, sales and revenue targets, and financial projections must be reasonable, realistic, and conservative. These will lend credibility to your business plan and yourself as an entrepreneur. Because there are a lot of factors beyond your control, always assume that things will get completed longer and cost more ( consider inflation over time! ).

This is where your research prior to writing the draft comes extremely helpful. You have something solid and factual to benchmark against. For example, if your analysis based on the facts you’ve gathered indicates that you’ll be able to get 40% share off the market in your first year of operations, consider making your estimates a bit more conservative and attainable.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Business Valuation in the Philippines

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Business Plan

Now, let’s explore the mistakes entrepreneurs often commit when writing a business plan. Listing them all down here to let you know what to avoid.

1. Prioritizing Form Over Substance

Spend most of your time and energy on building solid research and facts rather than obsessing about which font type or background color will look best for your document.

2. Overthinking

Many entrepreneurs take too long to complete their business plans because they worry too much about it. Don’t get intimidated by business planning—you don’t have to be an expert or a degree holder in business management or business administration to be able to write an outstanding business plan. Overthinking will just lead to analysis paralysis and get nothing done.

As long as you know your business well and are passionate about it, then writing a business plan won’t be as difficult as you think, especially if you’re using a template.

3. Submitting the Document Without Proofreading It

If your business plan is filled with typos and grammatical errors, readers will get distracted even if you’re presenting substantial information. It may also give your audience an impression that you’re careless—and who wants to deal with a person who isn’t professional and careful enough?

Even if it costs you money, pay a professional proofreader to check your work and correct any errors so that the message you wanted to convey through your business plan will get across.

4. Making Empty Claims

Any statement that isn’t sufficiently supported by solid research or documentation has to go. For example, if you want to claim to be the top player in your industry but you don’t have any evidence to back it up, rethink about including it in your business plan.

5. Writing an Overly Long and Wordy Plan

Make sure that everything you put into your business plan is relevant and serves your purpose. Otherwise, remove unnecessary statements that just add fluff to the document.

Also, don’t waste your readers’ time by using too many words—including highfalutin ones. Remember, your goal is to make your audience understand your business, not to impress them with beautiful or complex prose.

6. Using Too Many Superlatives

Even if you really feel that your business, business idea, or projection is incredible, amazing, the best, great, fantastic, or one of a kind, avoid using these superlatives because they aren’t appropriate for formal documents like a business plan.

7. Doing the Financial Projections on Your Own

Unless you’re an accountant yourself, it’s best that you get a professional to do the job for you. It will save you time and the headache of dealing with numbers and formatting your financial plan properly.

8. Overestimating Your Projections

The business plan is not a place to make impossible promises—while they look good on paper, you might run into trouble fulfilling them. To avoid this mistake, always do your research. Find out how other businesses do it and what the typical timeframes and financial projections are before you come up with your estimates.

9. Long-Term Business Planning

As much as possible, limit your projections to only a year. A lot of things can happen and make your business different from how you initially planned it. Stick with your short-term or one-year targets and estimates, then just tweak your business plan as time goes by.

10. Including Unfounded Rumors About Your Competitors

Not only do rumors make your business plan look unprofessional, but they also distract your readers from your intended message, which is to highlight what makes your business different from the competition. Avoid including details based only on hearsay. Everything in your plan must be backed up by solid, quantifiable facts.

Key Takeaway

A business plan is more than just a document that you prepare once and will never look at again. Rather, it’s a strategic tool that you should use from time to time to guide your business operations, get the buy-in of your stakeholders, and grow your business over time.

Once you’re done with writing your business plan, make the most of it for your business. Use it and modify it as often as needed!

Ready and confident to start writing your business plan? Share your thoughts and questions below!

Other Useful Business Resources from Grit PH:

  • How to Sell a Business in the Philippines

create a business plan by applying viable business ideas brainly

About Venus Zoleta

Venus Zoleta is an experienced writer and editor, specializing in personal finance and digital marketing.

She has been a regular columnist for some of the biggest business & finance publications in the Philippines, such as MoneyMax.ph and Filipiknow.net.

Hoping to retire early, she started investing and bought a home in her early 20s. This crazy cat mom eats ramen like there's no tomorrow.

Education: University of the Philippines (B.A. Journalism) Focus: Personal Finance, Personal Development, and Entrepreneurship

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Hello Ms. Venus, Rise Against Hunger Philippines, N.G.O. , branching out into a new high ways… and i am newly hired as a social enterprise development officer… whose main tasks to launch a product line; an up-cycled tarpaulin bags.. manufactured by a group of community women (skills training’s, coordinated by life coached; aiming w-holistic transformation and sustainability program.. . with such a big tasks, i need a step by step guides, and if possible a coach for i cannot do it alone… thank you, henry reandino chua

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How to Come Up with an Innovative Business Idea

Aspiring female entrepreneur researching innovative business ideas on a laptop

  • 21 Jul 2020

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond currently controlled resources. By definition, entrepreneurs seek to fill a need in a new way.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, however, generating strong, novel business ideas can be challenging.

If you’re interested in being an entrepreneur , brainstorming ways you can satisfy needs and solve problems is a good place to start.

Remember the golden rule of brainstorming: There are no bad ideas. As your thoughts flow, jot them down so you can later prune the list to focus on your strongest concepts.

Here are some thought-starters for coming up with innovative business ideas and examples of how entrepreneurs have used them to build successful companies.

Access your free e-book today.

How to Come Up with a Business Idea

Is there an easier way.

One place to start brainstorming potential business ideas is by asking yourself, “What task can I make easier?”

A common denominator for successful businesses is their ability to fulfill customer needs . In this case, the need is to create a product or service that makes people’s lives easier.

Related: How to Identify an Underserved Need in the Market

The most innovative businesses have flourished from simple ideas. For example, HelloFresh has taught people how to cook and provided tools to prepare meals more efficiently. It started with a need to make meal planning and grocery shopping easier. By preparing meal kits that directly fulfill busy people’s needs, this idea has seen major growth.

Check out our video on how to come up with innovative business ideas below below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more explainer content!

This method of creating a product to fill a need can be viewed through the lens of Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen’s jobs to be done theory , which he presents in the online course Disruptive Strategy .

“A ‘job to be done’ is a problem or opportunity that somebody is trying to solve,” Christensen says. “We call it a ‘job’ because it needs to be done, and we hire people or products to get jobs done.”

Look for these kinds of opportunities in your own life. Every “job” presents an opportunity to create an easier way to get it done.

By centering your business plan on a particular need, you can increase your chances of building a profitable business.

Related: Jobs to Be Done: 4 Real-World Examples

Can I Make This More Accessible?

There are many useful products and services that aren’t readily available to the entire market, creating an opportunity to produce a similar, more accessible product offering.

The founding of Airbnb by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia is an example that HBS Professor William Sahlman uses in the online course Entrepreneurship Essentials .

“Chesky and Gebbia observed how hard it was to find housing during big local events,” Sahlman explains. “They decided to list online three air beds in their apartment for people coming to San Francisco for a design conference.”

From there, they added a third member to their founding team, Nathan Blecharczyk, who built the platform for connecting people with spare rooms to travelers needing a place to stay. They called it AirBed and Breakfast, which later became Airbnb .

Chesky and Gebbia noticed hotel rooms weren’t easy to book during large events, recognized a business opportunity, and devised a solution to fulfill a need for accessible, short-term lodging.

There are countless industries and companies whose offerings are inaccessible to certain market segments or during specific periods. Consider how you might fill those needs.

Related: 10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

What Can I Improve About This?

For every successful product offering, there's a multitude of ways to make it better. Think of companies you admire and imagine how you could improve their products. As you do so, consider the following four factors.

Graphic showing four factors to consider to improve a product: delivery process, location, cost, and customer experience

1. Delivery Process

Your business idea doesn’t have to be entirely new—it just has to fill a need. If you can identify a more convenient way of delivering an existing service, it could be an opportunity for your business.

Uber is used as an example in Entrepreneurship Essentials . Taxis have existed for decades, but Uber delivered its services in a new, innovative way by linking drivers in their own cars to customers via an app.

This example also shows there are no limits to what type of business you can create. Your business’ ability to fulfill a need will matter more than whether it’s a brick-and-mortar or online business.

Related: 3 Effective Methods for Assessing Customer Needs

2. Location

One of the simplest improvements to a product or service is bringing it to a new location.

Returning to the Uber example in Entrepreneurship Essentials , ride-sharing company Didi was founded in China—a location Uber hadn’t yet reached. Didi used a similar platform and model as Uber but filled a location gap Uber had left open.

What products, services, or concepts have you experienced in other places that you’d like to bring to your community?

Entrepreneurship Essentials | Succeed in the startup world | Learn More

One improvement that can make a significant impact is cost. Determining how to make a high-quality equivalent to a leading product and offer it for a fraction of the price has great potential.

Home security brand Wyze was founded using this logic. After four ex-Amazon employees discovered they could produce high-quality security cameras and sell them for one-tenth the cost of leading competitors, they sold one million security cameras in their first year as a company.

It takes testing to ensure product quality isn’t sacrificed for a lower price, but finding a way to reduce the cost of an in-demand item could jumpstart your entrepreneurial journey.

4. Customer Experience

Taking an existing offering and improving the customer experience for all or a segment of the market can be a valuable way to fill a need.

One example of an organization that’s done this well is Wanderful , a platform that, similar to Airbnb, connects travelers to locals who can offer lodging and travel advice—with the provision that all users are women.

Beth Santos, founder and CEO of Wanderful, noticed that female solo travelers made up 11 percent of the travel industry , which failed to take into consideration the safety, gender norm, and cultural concerns of women traveling alone.

She improved this experience by creating a network of women that can be tapped into for lodging, travel advice, or just a friendly face in a new location. Wanderful has since expanded its mission to give female and non-binary travelers voices in the travel industry through conferences, communities, and recognition programs.

If there’s an opportunity to improve the experience of a specific group of people, act on it and see where the opportunity leads.

Related: 6 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business

Is It Time to Pivot?

When starting a business, you may need to pivot from your original idea as new needs arise in the market.

For instance, Jebbit , a tech startup that originally offered a platform to pay students for the advertisements they watched, saw a rising need for privacy and consent in the consumer data space. It pivoted to create a platform for secure, declared customer data.

Another instance in which it makes sense to pivot is during technological evolution.

In Disruptive Strategy , Christensen explains that technological advancements can be either sustaining or disruptive innovations , depending on how they impact your company.

Take Netflix : The service was created to allow people to watch movies without going to the video store and accomplished this by mailing DVDs to customers’ homes with prepaid return envelopes.

When streaming came on the scene in 2007, Netflix implemented the new technology into its business model and has continued to adapt as it’s evolved. Because Netflix was able to adopt new technology to continue serving its customers, streaming was a sustaining innovation.

In the case of video store Blockbuster , streaming was a disruptive innovation that it tried but couldn’t affordably adopt. It ultimately led the business to shut down.

When technological advancements arise, think of how your current business model could shift to use innovation as a sustaining force.

More Examples of Innovative Business Ideas

As you think of ideas for businesses, take inspiration from the world around you. Analyze the foundational needs other businesses have fulfilled for society and how they’ve adapted to what customers want.

Remember: As a future business owner, it’s critical to understand your company’s core mission. Focusing on that can help align your startup ideas and provide a greater chance for success.

To gain even more insight and inspiration, consider the following examples, which show how diverse your business model and mission can be.

Notarize , the first online platform for legally signing and notarizing documents is just one example of an online startup that discovered an overlooked need. For many, it’s a hassle to find a notary public to sign a document in person. This prompted Pat Kinsel, founder and CEO of Notarize, to make this difficult, but necessary, task more convenient.

"It really struck me that notarized documents are often some of the most important things people sign, and yet, we have this system that’s 100 years old," Kinsel said in an interview with Inc .

Kinsel designed the Notarize app to connect people to licensed notary publics via video chat so they can see their documents signed in real time.

This need for notarized documents seemed to be a common, but overlooked, need for many professionals. By thinking outside the box, Notarize seized a business opportunity and brought it to its fullest potential.

The development of Starbucks under former chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is another example that highlights how to efficiently choose locations for your brick-and-mortar.

“Schultz admired the sidewalk coffee shops he’d visited in Italy and decided he would introduce the same basic idea in the United States,” Sahlman says in Entrepreneurship Essentials. “That venture became Starbucks.”

Now, it’s rare to walk a few blocks without seeing a Starbucks on a corner. Strategic locations within high traffic routes created a customer base that’s made Starbucks an essential part of their lives.

Perhaps one of the most well-known companies in the world, Amazon is a prime example of fulfilling people’s need for convenience.

This e-commerce business made it the norm to buy items online—including books, music, movies, housewares, and electronics—and have them quickly and conveniently delivered.

Which HBS Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Think Like an Entrepreneur

Coming up with an innovative business idea isn’t difficult if you’re observant. By asking yourself key brainstorming questions, you can generate a list of business ideas that fill market needs, improve existing products, and make daily life easier and more enjoyable.

Do you want to turn an idea into a viable venture? Explore our four-week Entrepreneurship Essentials course, six-week Disruptive Strategy course, and other online entrepreneurship and innovation courses to discover how you can harness the power of innovation. Download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

This post was updated on September 19, 2022. It was originally published on July 21, 2020.

create a business plan by applying viable business ideas brainly

About the Author

Is Your Brilliant Idea a Viable Business? 6 Ways to Find Out

By: Meredith Wood

Is Your Brilliant Idea a Viable Business

Every great business started out as a great business idea. Maybe you have a thought or two about the kind of company you’d like to start but you’re not sure if your idea has the strength to go from concept to reality.

Read on as we take a look at the steps any budding entrepreneur should take to test their business idea before they make moves towards implementation.

1. Determine If There’s a Market

You might have an idea that is entirely unique but that’s not a guarantee that it will make you any money. You need to be sure that your idea is solving a problem or fulfilling a need for people, and that means you need to do your research. Read up on businesses that already exist or offer a similar product and serve a community that’s similar to yours. What is their revenue like? Who are their competitors? Do they have enough clients to keep them in business?

Understanding how other similar businesses serve the market can provide you with a blueprint for how to realistically structure and run your business.

2. Know Your Differentiating Proposition

Before you make the leap from idea to implementation, it’s critical to understand your potential competitors and know exactly what it is they offer their customers. This will allow you to tailor your business model to fill a void left by those companies. You also want to be aware of how many competitors there are in the market and the percentage of market share each of them has.

If you’re looking to start a business in a location that is saturated with competitors who are all established brands dominating the market share, you might want to rethink your business concept or, at the very least, be clear about how what you’re offering is different and highlight those differences to potential customers.

3. Do a Test Run

Before you fully commit to whatever your idea is, you’ll want to put together a prototype to make sure the concept is viable. This is true whether your idea is a new app or a bakery. If it’s tech, be sure you’re able to build the item or write the code to make it work. If it’s cookies, be sure you have a recipe you can mass produce.

The prototype does not have to be perfect (in fact, it’s often called an MVP or minimum viable product for this reason), but it does have to be close enough to the real thing that it can demonstrate to you and to those you share it with for input that your great idea is one that can realistically be the seed used to grow a bigger business.

4. Run It By Your Mentors

Entrepreneurs often have an idea for a business for a long time before they actually take steps towards creating a company. This means there’s a lot of time to get caught up in your own thoughts or to get too deeply entrenched in lines of thinking that are ultimately unhelpful.

Once you have a basic prototype of your product and a business plan that’s rooted in your industry research, you’ll want to share this with a handful of trusted advisors. How you select your mentors is important; you want people who are knowledgeable, trustworthy, honest, and who you respect enough to actually listen to–even if they’re telling you something you don’t want to hear.

5. Get Input From Your Future Customers

Once you’ve tested your idea out on trusted advisors, taken their feedback and made the appropriate changes, the next step is to reach out to the public. Allow your potential future customers, people who have expressed an interest in similar goods or services in the past, to take your product for a test drive. Ask them for their honest feedback. Do so in a structured way–either through carefully designed questionnaires or through in-person focus groups.

Be clear about the kind of feedback you’re looking for, and be willing to hear these people out. Most importantly, you need to ask a large enough group to serve as an adequate sample of the general population.

6. Evaluate Your Finances

Running your own business can be costly, and there’s typically a fair amount of capital that needs to be invested up front to lay the groundwork for a successful business. While no two businesses are alike, a 2009 study from the Kauffman Foundation indicated that the average cost to start a business is $30,000.

This starting costs calculator from Entrepreneur can help you to get a sense of what your specific costs would be. If you’re falling short on funding, you’ll need to think about seeking out financing from loans or asking friends and family for their support.

Read more on business insurance

If you have an idea for a small business that’s really exciting and compelling to you, it’s understandable that you might want to leap headfirst into building a business around it. But testing the viability of your idea is critical before investing the time, money, and long-term effort. Following the steps above can help you to test the strength of your concept, and give you the tools and information to make it even stronger.

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What Is Business Viability?

What You Need to Know About Business Viability

  • Make Sure Your Business Is Viable

Viability vs. Solvency

Viability vs. liquidity.

Business viability is measured by a business' potential for long-term survival and the ability to sustain profits over a period of time.

Learn more about how to tell if a business is viable.

Business viability means that a business is (or has the potential to be) successful. A viable business is profitable, which means it has more revenue coming in than it's spending on the costs of running the business.

If a business isn't viable, it's difficult to recover. The business would need to increase revenue, cut costs, or both. Viability is closely linked to profit as well as solvency and liquidity. 

How Business Viability Works 

Creating a viable business is a two-part process. First, it means creating a marketing strategy by knowing who you are, who you are selling to, and who else is selling to them. Second, it means having your financial house in order. 

To create a marketing strategy that will make your business viable, you'll need to have this information: 

  • Unique selling proposition : This is a critical factor in having a viable business. Being unique keeps your business out in front of the competition. 
  • Stable customer base : To be viable, you have to know who is going to buy your product or service. That means researching to find out who these people are.
  • Competitive advantage : Even if your product is unique and you know who you're selling to, you must always consider the competition. Find out who your competitors are and keep them in mind as you create your marketing strategy. 

In addition to your marketing strategy, a continuing focus on your business' financial status will help create a viable business. This includes:

  • Cash stability : The most important factor that makes a business viable is that it has enough assets (cash and other reserve funds) for day-to-day operations and to weather the ups and downs that all businesses experience. Getting to cash stability doesn't happen overnight. It means being frugal, not over-spending in anticipation of sales, and not taking too much out of the business. 
  • Continuing attention to your financial status : Having a viable business means always knowing where your business is financially. Get good financial software, input all your business information regularly, and analyze it against your goals for cash stability and other factors. 

Use business check-up ratios to measure the health of your business. 

A general assessment of whether a business is (or will be) successful

Involves multiple aspects of a business, including marketing and financials

An assessment of whether a business has enough money

Often measured using a current ratio

Business viability is often confused with two other terms that are often used for business performance—solvency and liquidity. A business is solvent when it has  enough assets  to cover its liabilities. Solvency is often confused with liquidity, but it's not the same thing.

Solvency is often measured as a  current ratio , which is a business's total current assets divided by its total current liabilities. A business should have a current ratio of 2:1 to be solvent and cover liabilities, which means that it has twice as many current assets as it has current liabilities. You need twice as many assets as liabilities because selling assets to raise cash may result in losses. A business is solvent and not likely to declare  bankruptcy  if its current ratio is over 2:1.

An assessment of the overall business model, not just finances

Looks at both short- and long-term profitability

Short-term measure of financial health

Looks at the ability of a business to quickly turn assets into cash

Liquidity is more of a short-term measure. It refers to the ability of a business to quickly turn  assets into cash without loss. If your business needs money, you may have to sell assets. Unless the asset is cash, the most liquid asset of all, you may lose money by selling. For example, you may not get full value if you sell receivables. If you try to sell equipment, you will probably take a loss because the equipment has most likely depreciated.

If you're liquid, you have enough cash or other easily liquidated assets to ensure you can pay your immediate bills and/or your employees. This is called positive cash flow, and positive cash flow means liquidity. 

Key Takeaways

  • Business viability looks at a business' long-term survival and profitability. 
  • Creating a viable business means having a good marketing strategy and keeping a close eye on your financials.
  • Viability is different from solvency and liquidity.
  • Solvency means having enough assets to cover your liabilities. 
  • Liquidity means having the ability to quickly turn assets into cash.  

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  5. 3 Effective Ways to Plan Your Business

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COMMENTS

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

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

  2. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Download a free one-page plan template to write a useful business plan in as little as 30-minutes. Explore over 500 real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries. Try the business planning and growth tool trusted by over 1-million business owners.

  3. Write your business plan

    If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral you could put against a loan, make sure to list it now. Provide a prospective financial outlook for the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, balance sheets ...

  4. 11.4 The Business Plan

    Although nothing in business is permanent, a business plan typically has components that are more "set in stone" than a business model canvas, which is more commonly used as a first step in the planning process and throughout the early stages of a nascent business.

  5. How To Write A Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    1. Investors Are Short On Time. If your chief goal is using your business plan to secure funding, then it means you intend on getting it in front of an investor. And if there's one thing investors are, it's busy. So keep this in mind throughout writing a business plan.

  6. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    Determine how you can best reach potential customers. Evaluate your competition. Your marketing plan must set you apart from your competition, and you can't stand out unless you know your ...

  7. Business Plan: What it Is, How to Write One

    Steps 2. Describe your company 3. State your business goals 4. Describe your products and services 5. Do your market research 6. Outline your marketing and sales plan 7. Perform a business...

  8. How to Come Up With a Good Business Idea in 7 Steps

    7 min. read Updated January 5, 2024 Download Now: Free 1-Page Business Plan Template Some entrepreneurs have a natural gift for generating ideas—most struggle. But without a good idea, starting a business will be an uphill battle. Luckily, this is a skill you can improve with the right process and a little practice.

  9. 5 Steps to Develop a Viable Business Plan

    Step 4: Create a Competitive Strategy. To demonstrate the viability of your business, your plan needs to demonstrate how you will sustain a competitive advantage. Porter says there are three unique strategies a business could choose from to sustain competitive advantage, namely cost leadership, differentiation and focus.

  10. What Is A Business Plan

    May 19, 2021 By: Emily If you're starting a business, you need a business plan. It's a strategic roadmap that not only helps you but also gives your key stakeholders, investors, lenders, and other business partners an idea of what your business is capable of and where it's headed.

  11. The 20 Minute Business Plan: Business Model Canvas Made Easy

    The Business Model Canvas proposes that there are three core business types: product, scope, and infrastructure. These tend to have similar types of Key Resources. Outputs: a list of Key Resources linked to your business' Key Activities. Notes: Product-driven businesses have a differentiated product of some sort.

  12. How (and Why) to Test Your Business Idea

    2. Build a minimum viable product. The lean startup model provides a great way to develop your business or a specific product before going to market.

  13. How to Write a Business Plan: Tips, Format, & Templates

    2. Validate your business idea. Research on the specifics of your business idea—paying special attention to your product or service, target market, and competitors. According to entrepreneurship experts, it's best to spend twice as much time on this step as spending the time to the actual drafting of the business plan.

  14. How to Come Up with an Innovative Business Idea

    1. Delivery Process. Your business idea doesn't have to be entirely new—it just has to fill a need. If you can identify a more convenient way of delivering an existing service, it could be an opportunity for your business. Uber is used as an example in Entrepreneurship Essentials.

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    26.05.2021 Technology and Home Economics Elementary School Create a business plan by applying viable business ideas. Please I need answer noww please help me thx. Faithhh22 is waiting for your help. Add your answer and earn points. New questions in Technology and Home Economics A Learning Task No. 4: Choose the letter of the correct answer.

  16. Is Your Brilliant Idea a Viable Business? 6 Ways to Find Out

    3. Do a Test Run. Before you fully commit to whatever your idea is, you'll want to put together a prototype to make sure the concept is viable. This is true whether your idea is a new app or a bakery. If it's tech, be sure you're able to build the item or write the code to make it work. If it's cookies, be sure you have a recipe you can ...

  17. What Is Business Viability?

    Business viability looks at a business' long-term survival and profitability. Creating a viable business means having a good marketing strategy and keeping a close eye on your financials. Viability is different from solvency and liquidity. Solvency means having enough assets to cover your liabilities.

  18. DEFINE VIABLE BUSINESS IDEA

    A viable business idea is an idea about a business that can be established, be profitable, and can grow into a bigger profitable business. Everybody has a business idea. However, not all business ideas are viable. Before a business can be established, the idea of the business must first be analyzed if it is viable or not.

  19. "SIMPLE BUSINESS PLAN"Directions: Think of a simple ...

    answer answered "SIMPLE BUSINESS PLAN" Directions: Think of a simple business you want to engage in. Fill in the following questions below based on your business idea: A. NATURE OF THE BUSINESS 1. NAME OF BUSINESS: Prepared by: Date: 2. MY BUSINESS IDEA IS: (Describe the Purpose of Your Business in one or two sentence) 3.

  20. example of business plan

    Create your own business plan 1.1 Objectives Bride's Entourage has the following objectives: To be the primary one-stop-shop for the female members of a bridal party once the bride has purchased her gown (i.e. mother of the bride, mother of the groom, bridesmaids, flower girls, footwear, and accessories).

  21. Ice-candy business is viable and feasible business ideas?

    Final answer: Ice-candy business can be a viable and feasible business idea. To start an ice-candy business, you need to research the market, create a business plan, obtain licenses, find suppliers, set up a production facility, and market your business effectively. Explanation: Ice-candy business can be a viable and feasible business idea.