Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of business
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)
  • Financial projections

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

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24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

Clifford Chi

Published: February 06, 2024

Free Business Plan Template

example of business plan rationale

The essential document for starting a business -- custom built for your needs.

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I believe that reading sample business plans is essential when writing your own.

sample business plans and examples

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As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, it’s easier for you to learn how to write a good one.

But what does a good business plan look like? And how do you write one that’s both viable and convincing. I’ll walk you through the ideal business plan format along with some examples to help you get started.

Table of Contents

Business Plan Format

Business plan types, sample business plan templates, top business plan examples.

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. To me, the same logic applies to business.

If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, I’m sure you’re wondering where to begin.

example of business plan rationale

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

First, you’ll want to nail down your formatting. Most business plans include the following sections.

1. Executive Summary

I’d say the executive summary is the most important section of the entire business plan. 

Why? Essentially, it's the overview or introduction, written in a way to grab readers' attention and guide them through the rest of the business plan. This is important, because a business plan can be dozens or hundreds of pages long.

There are two main elements I’d recommend including in your executive summary:

Company Description

This is the perfect space to highlight your company’s mission statement and goals, a brief overview of your history and leadership, and your top accomplishments as a business.

Tell potential investors who you are and why what you do matters. Naturally, they’re going to want to know who they’re getting into business with up front, and this is a great opportunity to showcase your impact.

Need some extra help firming up those business goals? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free course to help you set goals that matter — I’d highly recommend it

Products and Services

To piggyback off of the company description, be sure to incorporate an overview of your offerings. This doesn’t have to be extensive — just another chance to introduce your industry and overall purpose as a business.

In addition to the items above, I recommend including some information about your financial projections and competitive advantage here too.:

Keep in mind you'll cover many of these topics in more detail later on in the business plan. So, keep the executive summary clear and brief, and only include the most important takeaways.

Executive Summary Business Plan Examples

This example was created with HubSpot’s business plan template:

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example

This executive summary is so good to me because it tells potential investors a short story while still covering all of the most important details.

Business plans examples: Executive Summary

Image Source

Tips for Writing Your Executive Summary

  • Start with a strong introduction of your company, showcase your mission and impact, and outline the products and services you provide.
  • Clearly define a problem, and explain how your product solves that problem, and show why the market needs your business.
  • Be sure to highlight your value proposition, market opportunity, and growth potential.
  • Keep it concise and support ideas with data.
  • Customize your summary to your audience. For example, emphasize finances and return on investment for venture capitalists.

Check out our tips for writing an effective executive summary for more guidance.

2. Market Opportunity

This is where you'll detail the opportunity in the market.

The main question I’d ask myself here is this: Where is the gap in the current industry, and how will my product fill that gap?

More specifically, here’s what I’d include in this section:

  • The size of the market
  • Current or potential market share
  • Trends in the industry and consumer behavior
  • Where the gap is
  • What caused the gap
  • How you intend to fill it

To get a thorough understanding of the market opportunity, you'll want to conduct a TAM, SAM, and SOM analysis and perform market research on your industry.

You may also benefit from creating a SWOT analysis to get some of the insights for this section.

Market Opportunity Business Plan Example

I like this example because it uses critical data to underline the size of the potential market and what part of that market this service hopes to capture.

Business plans examples: Market Opportunity

Tips for Writing Your Market Opportunity Section

  • Focus on demand and potential for growth.
  • Use market research, surveys, and industry trend data to support your market forecast and projections.
  • Add a review of regulation shifts, tech advances, and consumer behavior changes.
  • Refer to reliable sources.
  • Showcase how your business can make the most of this opportunity.

3. Competitive Landscape

Since we’re already speaking of market share, you'll also need to create a section that shares details on who the top competitors are.

After all, your customers likely have more than one brand to choose from, and you'll want to understand exactly why they might choose one over another.

My favorite part of performing a competitive analysis is that it can help you uncover:

  • Industry trends that other brands may not be utilizing
  • Strengths in your competition that may be obstacles to handle
  • Weaknesses in your competition that may help you develop selling points
  • The unique proposition you bring to the market that may resonate with customers

Competitive Landscape Business Plan Example

I like how the competitive landscape section of this business plan below shows a clear outline of who the top competitors are.

Business plans examples: Competitive Landscape

It also highlights specific industry knowledge and the importance of location, which shows useful experience in this specific industry. 

This can help build trust in your ability to execute your business plan.

Tips for Writing Your Competitive Landscape

  • Complete in-depth research, then emphasize your most important findings.
  • Compare your unique selling proposition (USP) to your direct and indirect competitors.
  • Show a clear and realistic plan for product and brand differentiation.
  • Look for specific advantages and barriers in the competitive landscape. Then, highlight how that information could impact your business.
  • Outline growth opportunities from a competitive perspective.
  • Add customer feedback and insights to support your competitive analysis.

4. Target Audience

Use this section to describe who your customer segments are in detail. What is the demographic and psychographic information of your audience?

If your immediate answer is "everyone," you'll need to dig deeper. Here are some questions I’d ask myself here:

  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

I’d also recommend building a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be clear on why you're targeting them.

Target Audience Business Plan Example

I like the example below because it uses in-depth research to draw conclusions about audience priorities. It also analyzes how to create the right content for this audience.

Business plans examples: Target Audience

Tips for Writing Your Target Audience Section

  • Include details on the size and growth potential of your target audience.
  • Figure out and refine the pain points for your target audience , then show why your product is a useful solution.
  • Describe your targeted customer acquisition strategy in detail.
  • Share anticipated challenges your business may face in acquiring customers and how you plan to address them.
  • Add case studies, testimonials, and other data to support your target audience ideas.
  • Remember to consider niche audiences and segments of your target audience in your business plan.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. I’d suggest including information:

  • Your brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use

I think it’s helpful to have a marketing plan built out in advance to make this part of your business plan easier.

Marketing Strategy Business Plan Example

This business plan example includes the marketing strategy for the town of Gawler.

In my opinion, it really works because it offers a comprehensive picture of how they plan to use digital marketing to promote the community.

Business plans examples: Marketing Strategy

Tips for Writing Your Marketing Strategy

  • Include a section about how you believe your brand vision will appeal to customers.
  • Add the budget and resources you'll need to put your plan in place.
  • Outline strategies for specific marketing segments.
  • Connect strategies to earlier sections like target audience and competitive analysis.
  • Review how your marketing strategy will scale with the growth of your business.
  • Cover a range of channels and tactics to highlight your ability to adapt your plan in the face of change.

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll need to review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services.

Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use. It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

Key Features and Benefits Business Plan Example

In my opinion, the example below does a great job outlining products and services for this business, along with why these qualities will attract the audience.

Business plans examples: Key Features and Benefits

Tips for Writing Your Key Features and Benefits

  • Emphasize why and how your product or service offers value to customers.
  • Use metrics and testimonials to support the ideas in this section.
  • Talk about how your products and services have the potential to scale.
  • Think about including a product roadmap.
  • Focus on customer needs, and how the features and benefits you are sharing meet those needs.
  • Offer proof of concept for your ideas, like case studies or pilot program feedback.
  • Proofread this section carefully, and remove any jargon or complex language.

7. Pricing and Revenue

This is where you'll discuss your cost structure and various revenue streams. Your pricing strategy must be solid enough to turn a profit while staying competitive in the industry. 

For this reason, here’s what I’d might outline in this section:

  • The specific pricing breakdowns per product or service
  • Why your pricing is higher or lower than your competition's
  • (If higher) Why customers would be willing to pay more
  • (If lower) How you're able to offer your products or services at a lower cost
  • When you expect to break even, what margins do you expect, etc?

Pricing and Revenue Business Plan Example

I like how this business plan example begins with an overview of the business revenue model, then shows proposed pricing for key products.

Business plans examples: Pricing and Revenue

Tips for Writing Your Pricing and Revenue Section

  • Get specific about your pricing strategy. Specifically, how you connect that strategy to customer needs and product value.
  • If you are asking a premium price, share unique features or innovations that justify that price point.
  • Show how you plan to communicate pricing to customers.
  • Create an overview of every revenue stream for your business and how each stream adds to your business model as a whole.
  • Share plans to develop new revenue streams in the future.
  • Show how and whether pricing will vary by customer segment and how pricing aligns with marketing strategies.
  • Restate your value proposition and explain how it aligns with your revenue model.

8. Financials

To me, this section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to figure out funding strategies, investment opportunities, and more.

 According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

  • Profit/Loss Statement - This answers the question of whether your business is currently profitable.
  • Cash Flow Statement - This details exactly how much cash is incoming and outgoing to give insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details I’d include in this section.

Financials Business Plan Example

This balance sheet is a great example of level of detail you’ll need to include in the financials section of your business plan.

Business plans examples: Financials

Tips for Writing Your Financials Section

  • Growth potential is important in this section too. Using your data, create a forecast of financial performance in the next three to five years.
  • Include any data that supports your projections to assure investors of the credibility of your proposal.
  • Add a break-even analysis to show that your business plan is financially practical. This information can also help you pivot quickly as your business grows.
  • Consider adding a section that reviews potential risks and how sensitive your plan is to changes in the market.
  • Triple-check all financial information in your plan for accuracy.
  • Show how any proposed funding needs align with your plans for growth.

As you create your business plan, keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others could be charts or graphs.

The formats above apply to most types of business plans. That said, the format and structure of your plan will vary by your goals for that plan. 

So, I’ve added a quick review of different business plan types. For a more detailed overview, check out this post .

1. Startups

Startup business plans are for proposing new business ideas.

If you’re planning to start a small business, preparing a business plan is crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business.

You can check out this guide for more detailed business plan inspiration .

2. Feasibility Studies

Feasibility business plans focus on that business's product or service. Feasibility plans are sometimes added to startup business plans. They can also be a new business plan for an already thriving organization.

3. Internal Use

You can use internal business plans to share goals, strategies, or performance updates with stakeholders. In my opinion, internal business plans are useful for alignment and building support for ambitious goals.

4. Strategic Initiatives

Another business plan that's often for sharing internally is a strategic business plan. This plan covers long-term business objectives that might not have been included in the startup business plan.

5. Business Acquisition or Repositioning

When a business is moving forward with an acquisition or repositioning, it may need extra structure and support. These types of business plans expand on a company's acquisition or repositioning strategy.

Growth sometimes just happens as a business continues operations. But more often, a business needs to create a structure with specific targets to meet set goals for expansion. This business plan type can help a business focus on short-term growth goals and align resources with those goals.

Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some of my favorite templates.

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Download a free, editable one-page business plan template..

The business plan linked above was created here at HubSpot and is perfect for businesses of any size — no matter how many strategies we still have to develop.

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline give this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow.

Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why I Like It

This one-page business plan is a fantastic choice for the new business owner who doesn’t have the time or resources to draft a full-blown business plan. It includes all the essential sections in an accessible, bullet-point-friendly format. That way, you can get the broad strokes down before honing in on the details.

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

We also created a business plan template for entrepreneurs.

The template is designed as a guide and checklist for starting your own business. You’ll learn what to include in each section of your business plan and how to do it.

There’s also a list for you to check off when you finish each section of your business plan.

Strong game plans help coaches win games and help businesses rocket to the top of their industries. So if you dedicate the time and effort required to write a workable and convincing business plan, you’ll boost your chances of success and even dominance in your market.

This business plan kit is essential for the budding entrepreneur who needs a more extensive document to share with investors and other stakeholders.

It not only includes sections for your executive summary, product line, market analysis, marketing plan, and sales plan, but it also offers hands-on guidance for filling out those sections.

3. LiveFlow’s Financial Planning Template with built-in automation

Sample Business Plan: LiveFLow

This free template from LiveFlow aims to make it easy for businesses to create a financial plan and track their progress on a monthly basis.

The P&L Budget versus Actual format allows users to track their revenue, cost of sales, operating expenses, operating profit margin, net profit, and more.

The summary dashboard aggregates all of the data put into the financial plan sheet and will automatically update when changes are made.

Instead of wasting hours manually importing your data to your spreadsheet, LiveFlow can also help you to automatically connect your accounting and banking data directly to your spreadsheet, so your numbers are always up-to-date.

With the dashboard, you can view your runway, cash balance, burn rate, gross margins, and other metrics. Having a simple way to track everything in one place will make it easier to complete the financials section of your business plan.

This is a fantastic template to track performance and alignment internally and to create a dependable process for documenting financial information across the business. It’s highly versatile and beginner-friendly.

It’s especially useful if you don’t have an accountant on the team. (I always recommend you do, but for new businesses, having one might not be possible.)

4. ThoughtCo’s Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: ThoughtCo.

One of the more financially oriented sample business plans in this list, BPlan’s free business plan template dedicates many of its pages to your business’s financial plan and financial statements.

After filling this business plan out, your company will truly understand its financial health and the steps you need to take to maintain or improve it.

I absolutely love this business plan template because of its ease-of-use and hands-on instructions (in addition to its finance-centric components). If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing an entire business plan, consider using this template to help you with the process.

6. Harvard Business Review’s "How to Write a Winning Business Plan"

Most sample business plans teach you what to include in your business plan, but this Harvard Business Review article will take your business plan to the next level — it teaches you the why and how behind writing a business plan.

With the guidance of Stanley Rich and Richard Gumpert, co-authors of " Business Plans That Win: Lessons From the MIT Enterprise Forum ", you'll learn how to write a convincing business plan that emphasizes the market demand for your product or service.

You’ll also learn the financial benefits investors can reap from putting money into your venture rather than trying to sell them on how great your product or service is.

This business plan guide focuses less on the individual parts of a business plan, and more on the overarching goal of writing one. For that reason, it’s one of my favorites to supplement any template you choose to use. Harvard Business Review’s guide is instrumental for both new and seasoned business owners.

7. HubSpot’s Complete Guide to Starting a Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know writing a business plan is one of the most challenging first steps to starting a business.

Fortunately, with HubSpot's comprehensive guide to starting a business, you'll learn how to map out all the details by understanding what to include in your business plan and why it’s important to include them. The guide also fleshes out an entire sample business plan for you.

If you need further guidance on starting a business, HubSpot's guide can teach you how to make your business legal, choose and register your business name, and fund your business. It will also give small business tax information and includes marketing, sales, and service tips.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of starting a business, in addition to writing your business plan, with a high level of exactitude and detail. So if you’re in the midst of starting your business, this is an excellent guide for you.

It also offers other resources you might need, such as market analysis templates.

8. Panda Doc’s Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Panda Doc

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

Once you fill it out, you’ll fully understand your business’ nitty-gritty details and how all of its moving parts should work together to contribute to its success.

This template has two things I love: comprehensiveness and in-depth instructions. Plus, it’s synced with PandaDoc’s e-signature software so that you and other stakeholders can sign it with ease. For that reason, I especially love it for those starting a business with a partner or with a board of directors.

9. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

sample business plan: Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several free business plan templates that can be used to inspire your own plan.

Before you get started, you can decide what type of business plan you need — a traditional or lean start-up plan.

Then, you can review the format for both of those plans and view examples of what they might look like.

We love both of the SBA’s templates because of their versatility. You can choose between two options and use the existing content in the templates to flesh out your own plan. Plus, if needed, you can get a free business counselor to help you along the way.

I’ve compiled some completed business plan samples to help you get an idea of how to customize a plan for your business.

I chose different types of business plan ideas to expand your imagination. Some are extensive, while others are fairly simple.

Let’s take a look.

1. LiveFlow

business plan example: liveflow

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue.

I included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

Fintech startup, LiveFlow, allows users to sync real-time data from its accounting services, payment platforms, and banks into custom reports. This eliminates the task of pulling reports together manually, saving teams time and helping automate workflows.

"Using this framework over a traditional marketing plan will help you set a profitable marketing strategy taking things like CAC, LTV, Payback period, and P&L into consideration," explains LiveFlow co-founder, Lasse Kalkar .

When it came to including marketing strategy in its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives.

This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact. Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

Sometimes all you need is a solid mission statement and core values to guide you on how to go about everything. You do this by creating a business plan revolving around how to fulfill your statement best.

For example, Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so their plan discusses how to make the best environmentally friendly products without causing harm.

A good mission statement  should not only resonate with consumers but should also serve as a core value compass for employees as well.

Patagonia has one of the most compelling mission statements I’ve seen:

"Together, let’s prioritise purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home."

It reels you in from the start, and the environmentally friendly theme continues throughout the rest of the statement.

This mission goes on to explain that they are out to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to protect nature."

Their mission statement is compelling and detailed, with each section outlining how they will accomplish their goal.

4. Vesta Home Automation

business plan example: Vesta executive summary

This executive summary for a smart home device startup is part of a business plan created by students at Mount Royal University .

While it lacks some of the sleek visuals of the templates above, its executive summary does a great job of demonstrating how invested they are in the business.

Right away, they mention they’ve invested $200,000 into the company already, which shows investors they have skin in the game and aren’t just looking for someone else to foot the bill.

This is the kind of business plan you need when applying for business funds. It clearly illustrates the expected future of the company and how the business has been coming along over the years.

5. NALB Creative Center

business plan examples: nalb creative center

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more.

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. 

This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

It’s essential to keep this information up-to-date as your market and target buyer changes. For that reason, you should carry out market research as often as possible to ensure that you’re targeting the correct audience and sharing accurate information with your investors.

Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. 

Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission.

The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

It’s essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your "Why?" and this example does just that. In other words, why do you do what you do, and why should stakeholders care? This is an important section to include if you feel that your mission will drive interest in the business and its offerings.

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

Culina's sample business plan is an excellent example of how to lay out your business plan so that it flows naturally, engages readers, and provides the critical information investors and stakeholders need. 

You can use this template as a guide while you're gathering important information for your own business plan. You'll have a better understanding of the data and research you need to do since Culina’s plan outlines these details so flawlessly for inspiration.

8. Plum Sample Business Plan

Sample business plan: Plum

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Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration. Go even further with LivePlan , which harnesses AI-assisted writing features and SBA-approved plan examples to get you funded.

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Example business plan format

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

Executive summary

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

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

Products & services

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

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

Market analysis

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

Competition

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

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

Marketing & sales

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

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

Milestones & metrics

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

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

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

Company & team

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

Financial projections

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

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

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

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

Business model canvas

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

The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.

By starting with a one-page plan , you give yourself a minimal document to build from. You'll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences making it much easier to elaborate or expand sections into a longer-form business plan.

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.

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

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

Download a free sample business plan template

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

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

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

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

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

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

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

Use a business plan example as a guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare to pitch your business

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

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

With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.

Get LivePlan in your classroom

Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.

With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .

Ready to get started?

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

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

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example of business plan rationale

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

  • 3 years ago

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

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

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

Get a Business Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conduct Market Analysis

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

Product and Service Demand

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

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

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

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

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

Identify Demographics of Target Market

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

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan

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

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

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

SWOT Analysis

  • Competitor Data
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Marketing Expenses Strategy 

Pricing Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike told us,

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

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

It consists of three basic parts:

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

Example of an informal executive summary 

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

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

What should I include in an executive summary for investors?

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

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

Successful business plan examples

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

Here’s the interview with the owner of Urbanity:

When to write an executive summary?

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

What mistakes do people make when writing an executive summary?

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 4. Company Description

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

  • Mission statement
  • Philosophy and vision
  • Company goals

Target market

  • Legal structure

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

Mission Statement

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

Company Philosophy and Vision

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

What makes your company different?

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

Examples of core values

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

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

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

What is a vision statement?

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

Example vision statements

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

A world without Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia.

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

Business Goals

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

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

How far in advance should a business plan?

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

Example of great business goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industry resources

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

  • Trade Associations
  • Federal Reserve
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics

Legal Structure

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

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

Partnerships

Corporations.

  • Franchises.

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

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

Sole Proprietorship

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

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

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions to answer about your products and services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SWOT Examples

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

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

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

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

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

Include Competitor Data in Your Business Plan

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

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

Advertising Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some common pricing strategies are:

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

HubSpot has a great calculator and blog on pricing strategies.

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

Distribution Plan

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

Supply Chain Examples

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

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

Examples of Supply Chains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quality Control

  • Legal environment

Let’s look at each for some insight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step 8. Financial Statements 

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

Provide All Financial Income from an Existing Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial Projections For A Startup Business Plan

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

Mike gave the following advice in his interview:

Financial Forecasting Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ways to get funding for a small business

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

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

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

How funding will be used

When asking for business financing make sure to include:

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Resources

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

  • Sample plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon Boushy

Brandon Boushy lives to improve people’s lives by helping them become successful entrepreneurs. His journey started nearly 30 years ago. He consistently excelled at everything he did, but preferred to make the rules rather than follow him. His exploration of self and knowledge has helped him to get an engineering degree, MBA, and countless certifications. When freelancing and rideshare came onto the scene, he recognized the opportunity to play by his own rules. Since 2017, he has helped businesses across all industries achieve more with his research, writing, and marketing strategies. Since 2021, he has been the Lead Writer for UpFlip where he has published over 170 articles on small business success.

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  • August 3, 2022

Free Business Plan Template (With Examples)

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Examples of Project Rationale

  • Small Business
  • Accounting & Bookkeeping
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What Is Differential Cash Flow?

How to calculate arr, strategic management & project selection.

  • What Is a Strategic Project?
  • How to Conduct Strategic Planning for a Project

A business project presented to your company's leadership can range from an evaluation of the financial viability of multiple projects or a plan for international expansion. Within a larger project proposal or business case, the project rationale is included. It is a brief description of why a specific project should receive funding and management approval, and it can be used in both for-profit and on-profit businesses.

Return on Investment

The rationale for a project could be the financial evaluation of multiple projects. For example, a company may have to decide whether to fund research and development into a new product, acquire a competitor with a similar product or form a joint venture with another company.

Common evaluation tools include net present value and payback period. The net present value is a project's future cash flow discounted back to the present. The payback period is the time required to recover a project investment. Projects with a positive or high net present value and a short payback period are generally preferable over projects with low or negative present value and a long payback period.

Competing Technology Evaluation

A project rationale could be the evaluation of competing technology solutions. For example, a small business could be selecting a hardware or software platform for its next generation of products. Senior management might establish a project team to evaluate the various alternatives. The rationale for this project could be to select the technology option that represents the best long-term growth potential for the company.

A medium or large company, when considering the implementation of an enterprise software solution for process improvements, could set up a project team to evaluate competing solutions from SAP, Oracle and other vendors. The rationale for this project could be to determine the most cost-effective and technologically superior solution.

Exploring a Business Expansion

Companies are always looking for revenue growth opportunities. For a small business, this growth may come from developing new products, increasing the sales of existing products and exploring new markets. The company could fund projects to evaluate each one of these strategic alternatives. For example, one project rationale could be to determine which international market offers the best growth opportunity over the medium- to long-term.

Other Types of Project Rationales

Other examples of project rationales include assessing different marketing strategies, constructing new facilities and moving products from research into full-scale production. Each one of these projects represents benefits, such as future cash flows, and risks, such as high initial cash outlays and the failure to gain market acceptance.

  • FundsforNGOs LLC: Writing Problem Statement/Project Rationale in a Proposal
  • Rochester Institute of Technology: Writing a Successful Proposal

Based in Ottawa, Canada, Chirantan Basu has been writing since 1995. His work has appeared in various publications and he has performed financial editing at a Wall Street firm. Basu holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Ottawa and holds the Canadian Investment Manager designation from the Canadian Securities Institute.

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  • 1 Advantages & Disadvantages of Payback Capital Budgeting Method
  • 2 How to Convert Boardmaker to PDF
  • 3 Steps to a Project Appraisal
  • 4 Definition of "Capital Budgeting Practices"
  • 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 in 2023 [Examples Included]

example of business plan rationale

Table of contents

So you have come up with a business idea that will turn your company into a Forbes 500 enterprise? Sounds great!

However, you are going to need much more than an idea. You will need to do some comprehensive research, create operational standpoints, describe your product, define your goals, and pave out a road map for future growth.

In other words, you are going to need a business plan.

A business plan is a document that precisely explains how you are going to make your startup a success. Without it, your chances of attracting funding and investments significantly decrease.

Do you want to learn how to create a winning business plan that will take your company to the next level? We created a guide that will help you do just that.

Let’s dive in.

What Is a Business Plan?

Why and when do you need a business plan, types of business plans (what to include in each).

  • How Do You Write a Business Plan?

Best Practices for Writing a Winning Business Plan

Business plan examples.

  • Monitor the Performance of Your Business with Databox

marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_databox

A business plan is a comprehensive document that defines how a business will achieve its goals. It is essentially a road map for growth that includes operational standpoints from all the key departments such as marketing, financial, HR, and others.

Startups use business plans to describe who they are, what they plan to do, and how they plan to achieve it. This is an extremely valuable document for attracting investors.

However, they are valuable for the company members as well. A good business plan keeps executive teams on the same page regarding the strategies they should implement to achieve their set objectives.

Related : Reporting to Investors: 6 Best Practices to Help Increase Funding

While business plans are especially useful for startups, each business should include them. In the best-case scenario, this plan will be updated from time to time and reviewed whether the goals of the company have been met.

The main things that investors want to check out in the business plan are:

  • Product-market fit – Have you researched the market demand for your products and services?
  • Team efficiency – Does your startup have devoted professionals that will work on achieving your goals?
  • Scalability – How probable is growth in sales volumes without proportional growth or fixed costs?

An organized business plan is essentially a blueprint of your goals and it showcases your abilities as an entrepreneur.

Related : Business Report: What is it & How to Write a Great One? (With Examples)

If you want to persuade venture capitalists and banking institutions to invest in your startup, you won’t be able to do it without a solid business plan.

A business plan is helpful in two ways – it allows you to focus on the specific goals you set for the future and it provides external parties with evidence that you have done your research in advance.

But don’t just take our word for it – here are some of the things that researchers from Bplans found out when they were analyzing the benefits of business plans with the University of Oregon.

  • Companies that use business plans have recorded a 30% faster growth compared to those that didn’t use them.
  • Getting investments and loans is twice as likely to happen with the help of business plans.
  • There is a 129% increased chance for entrepreneurs to go past the ‘startup’ phase through business plans.

You should create a business plan before you decide to quit your regular job. It can help you realize whether you are ready or not.

Also, creating a business plan is helpful when:

  • You want to attract investments or funding from external parties
  • You want to find a new partner or co-founder
  • You want to attract talented professionals to join your startup
  • You need to change things up due to the slow growth

While creating a business plan is an important step, you first have to know how to differentiate all the different types. This will help you choose the one that is most suitable for your business.

Here are the most common types of business plans and what you should include in each.

One-Pager Business Plan

Startup business plan, internal business plan, strategic business plan, feasibility business plan.

The one-pager is a business plan that only includes the most important aspects of your business. It is essentially a simplified version of a traditional business plan.

When creating the one-pager business plan, your primary focus should be on making it easily understandable.

Since this business plan is rather short, you should avoid using lengthy paragraphs. Each section should be around 1-2 sentences long.

The things you should include in a one-pager business plan are:

  • The problem – Describe a certain problem your customers have and support the claim with relevant data.
  • The solution – How your products/services can solve the issue.
  • Business model – Your plan on how to make money. Include production costs, selling costs, and the price of the product.
  • Target market – Describe your ideal customer persona. Start with a broad audience and narrow it down by using TAM, SAM, and SOM models. This lets investors in on your thought process. To understand these models better, check out, for example, the importance of proper TAM evaluation for B2B startups .
  • Competitive advantage – How are you different from your competitors?
  • Management team – Include your business’s management structure.
  • Financial summary – This part should revolve around the most significant financial metrics (profit, loss, cash flow, balance sheet, and sales forecast).
  • Required funding – Define how much money you need to make your project a success.

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Like most marketers and marketing managers, you want to know how well your efforts are translating into results each month. How much traffic and new contact conversions do you get? How many new contacts do you get from organic sessions? How are your email campaigns performing? How well are your landing pages converting? You might have to scramble to put all of this together in a single report, but now you can have it all at your fingertips in a single Databox dashboard.

Our Marketing Overview Dashboard includes data from Google Analytics 4 and HubSpot Marketing with key performance metrics like:

  • Sessions . The number of sessions can tell you how many times people are returning to your website. Obviously, the higher the better.
  • New Contacts from Sessions . How well is your campaign driving new contacts and customers?
  • Marketing Performance KPIs . Tracking the number of MQLs, SQLs, New Contacts and similar will help you identify how your marketing efforts contribute to sales.
  • Email Performance . Measure the success of your email campaigns from HubSpot. Keep an eye on your most important email marketing metrics such as number of sent emails, number of opened emails, open rate, email click-through rate, and more.
  • Blog Posts and Landing Pages . How many people have viewed your blog recently? How well are your landing pages performing?

Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring your leads. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!

marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_preview

You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.

To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Get the template 

Step 2: Connect your HubSpot and Google Analytics 4 accounts with Databox. 

Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.

Related : Check out our comprehensive guide on writing a marketing plan report .

New businesses use startup business plans to outline their launching ideas and strategies to attract funding and investment opportunities. When creating startup business plans, you should primarily focus on the financial aspect and provide evidence that supports it (e.g. market research).

These are some of the main things that should be included:

  • Vision statement – Explain your vision for the company and include the overall business goals you will try to achieve.
  • Executive summary – A quick overview of what your company is about and what will make it successful. Make sure to include your products/services, basic leadership information, employees, and location.
  • Company description – A detailed overview of your company. Talk about the problems you will solve and be specific about customers, organizations, and growth plans. This is the place where you should state your business’s main advantages.
  • Market Analysis – Show investors that you have a good understanding of your industry and target market by providing a detailed market analysis. Try to point out certain trends, themes, or patterns that support your objective.
  • Organization and management – This section explains the structure and the management hierarchy. Also, describe the legal structure of your business.
  • Service or product line – Go into detail about the products and services you are going to sell. Explain the benefits they bring and share your intellectual property plans.
  • Marketing and sales – Talk about your marketing strategy and describe how you plan to attract new customers.
  • Financial projections – This section should be about convincing your readers why the business will be a financial success. Create a prospective financial outlook for the next few years and it includes forecasts.

An internal business plan is a document that specifically focuses on the activities within your company. While external business plans focus on attracting investors, internal business plans keep your team aligned on achieving goals.

Related : Internal vs. External Reporting: What Are the Differences?

This business plan can differentiate based on how specific you want it to be. For example, you can focus on a specific part of the business (e.g. financial department) or on the overall goals of the whole company.

Nonetheless, here are some things that should universally be included in all internal business plans:

  • Mission statement – Focus on the practical, day-to-day activities that your employees can undertake to achieve overall objectives.
  • Objectives – Provide specific goals that you want your company to achieve. Make the objectives clear and explain in which way they can be reached. Focus more on short-term objectives and set reasonable deadlines.
  • Strategies – Talk about the general activities that will help your team reach the set objectives. Provide research that will describe how these strategies will be useful in the long term.
  • Action plans – These plans revolve around particular activities from your strategy. For example, you could include a new product that you want to create or a more efficient marketing plan.
  • Sustainability – This refers to the general probability of achieving the goals you set in the internal report. Sometimes, plans may seem overly ambitious and you are going to have to make amends with certain things.

A strategic business plan is the best way to gain a comprehensive outlook of your business. In this document, forecasts are examined even further and growth goals tend to be higher.

By creating a strategic business plan, you will have an easier time aligning your key stakeholders around the company’s priorities.

Here is a quick overview of what a strategic business plan should include:

  • Executive summary – Since strategic business plans are generally lengthy, not all executives will have time to go through it. This is why you should include a quick overview of the plan through an executive summary, you can also create an executive summary template to make the step easily repeatable.
  • Vision statement – Describe what you wish to achieve in the long term.
  • Company overview – This refers to past achievements, current products/services, recent sales performances, and important KPIs.
  • Core values – This section should provide an explanation of what drives the business to do what it does.
  • Strategic analysis of internal and external environments – Talk about the current organizational structure, mission statements, and department challenges.
  • Strategic objectives – Go into detail about the short-term objectives your team should reach in a specific period. Make sure the objectives are clear and understandable.
  • Overall goals – This section should include operational goals, marketing goals, and financial goals.

A feasibility business plan is also known as a feasibility study. It essentially provides a foundation for what would be a full and comprehensive business plan. The primary focus of a feasibility plan is research.

The things you should include in a feasibility plan are:

  • Product demand – Is there a high demand for your product? Would customers be interested in buying it?
  • Market conditions – Determine the customer persona that would be interested in buying your products. Include demographic factors.
  • Pricing – Compare your desired price with the current pricing of similar products. Which price would make your service profitable?
  • Risks – Determine the risks of launching this new business.
  • Success profitability – Is there a good way to overcome the risks and make your company profitable?

How Do You Write a Business Plan Report?

As we explained in the previous heading, there are a few different types of business plan. Depending on the audience you are referring to, the language you use in the plan should be adjusted accordingly.

Nonetheless, there are certain key elements that should be included in all business plans, the only thing that will vary is how detailed the sections will be.

Include these elements in your business plan.

Executive summary

Company description, market opportunity and analysis, competitive landscape, target audience, describe your product or service, develop a marketing and sales strategy, develop a logistics and operations plan, financial projections, explain your funding request, compile an appendix for official documents.

An executive summary is a quick overview of the document as a whole that allows investors and key stakeholders to quickly understand all the pain points from the report.

It is the best way to layout all the vital information about your business to bank officials and key stakeholders who don’t have the time to go through the whole business plan.

If you summarize the sections well, the potential investors will jump into the sections they are most interested in to acquire more details.

You should write the executive summary last since you will then have a better idea of what should be included.

A good executive summary answers these questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you sell?
  • How profitable is it?
  • How much money do you need?

This section of the business plan aims to introduce your company as a whole. The things you include in the company description can vary depending on if you are only starting a business or you already have a developed company.

The elements included in this section are:

  • Structure and ownership – Talk about who the key shareholders in your company are and provide a full list of names. Also, mention details such as where the company is registered and what the legal structure looks like. In most countries, this is a legal requirement for AML regulations.
  • History – This segment is if you already have an existing company. Use this section to show your credibility. Include company milestones, past difficulties, and a precise date for how long your company has been operating.
  • Objectives – Describe the overall objectives of your company and how you plan to reach them.

Market analysis refers to creating your ideal customer persona and explaining why they would be interested in buying your products.

Market opportunities are the gaps that you found in the current industries and creating a way for your product to fill those gaps.

The most important step in this section is to create a target market (persona) through demographic factors such as location, income, gender, education, age, profession, and hobbies.

Make sure that your target market isn’t too broad since it can put off potential investors.

A good idea is to also include a detailed analysis of your competitors – talk about their products, strengths, and weaknesses.

Related : 12 Best Tools Marketers Use for Market Research

Although you may include a competitive analysis in the market analysis section, this segment should provide a more detailed overview.

Identify other companies that sell similar products to yours and create a list of their advantages and disadvantages. Learning about your competitors may seem overwhelming, but it’s an indispensable part of a good business plan.

Include a comparison landscape as well that defines the things that set you apart from the competitors. Describe the strengths of your product and show which problems it could solve.

Related : How to Do an SEO Competitive Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Use the target audience section to fully describe the details of your ideal customer persona. Include both demographic and psychographic factors.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the demographic characteristics of the people who will buy my product?
  • What are their desires?
  • What makes my product valuable to them?

Make sure to answer all of these questions to get in the mindset of your customers.

If you need more details on how to identify your target audience , check our full expert guide.

When talking about your products and services, be as precise as possible. Mention your target audience and the marketing channels you use for targeting this audience.

This section should reveal the benefits, life cycle, and production process of your products/services. Also, it is a good idea to include some pictures of your products if possible.

When describing your products, you should highlight:

  • Unique features
  • Intellectual property rights
  • What makes the product beneficial

Marketing is the blood flow to your business’s body. Without a good marketing and sales strategy, the chances of your product succeeding are very slim.

It’s always best to already have a marketing plan in place before launching your business. By identifying the best marketing channels, you will show your investors that you researched this topic in detail.

Some of the things you should include are:

  • Reach – Explain why a specific channel will be able to reach your target market
  • Cost – Is the marketing strategy going to be cost-effective? How much money do you plan on spending on the strategy?
  • Competition – Are your competitors already using this channel? If so, what will make your product stand out?
  • Implementation – Who will be taking care of the implementation process? Is it a marketing expert? Which suppliers did you reach out to?

Related : 14 Reasons Sales And Marketing Alignment Is Crucial for Skyrocketing Company Growth

This section should explain the details of how exactly your company is going to operate.

These are the things you should include:

  • Personnel plan – Define how many people you plan to employ and their roles. Also, if you plan on increasing your staff, you should explain what would be the cause of that.
  • Key assets – This refers to assets that will be crucial for your company’s operation.
  • Suppliers – Mention who your suppliers will be and what kind of relationship you have with them. Your investors will be interested in this part of the section since they want to be reassured that you are cooperating with respectable counterparties.

The financial projections section is one of the most important parts of your business plan. It includes a detailed overview of expected sales, revenue, profit, expenses, and all the other important financial metrics .

You should show your investors that your business will be profitable, stable, and that it has huge potential for cash generation.

Monthly numbers for the first year are crucial since this will be the most critical year of your company.

At the very least, you should provide:

  • Funding needs
  • Profit-and-loss statement forecast
  • Balance sheet forecast
  • Cash-flow statement forecast

Related : How to Write a Great Financial Report? Tips and Best Practices

When providing the funding request, be realistic. Explain why you need that exact amount of money and where it will be allocated.

Also, create both a best-case and worst-case scenario. New companies don’t have a history of generating profits which is why you will probably have to sell equity in the early years to raise enough capital.

This will be the final section of your business plan. Include any material or piece of information that investors can use to analyze the data in your report. 

Things that could be helpful are:

  • Local permits
  • Legal documents
  • Certifications that boost credibility
  • Intellectual properties or patents
  • Purchase orders and customer contracts

After reading the previous heading, you should have a clear idea of how to write a compelling business plan.

But, just to be sure, we prepared some additional information that can be very helpful.

Here are some of the best practices you should implement in your business plan according to the most successful companies.

Keep it brief

Make it understandable, be meticulous about money, design is important.

Generally, business plans will be around 10-20 pages long. Your main focus should be to cover the essentials that we talked about, but you don’t want to overdo it by including unnecessary and overwhelming information.

In business plan, less is more.

Create a good organizational outline of your sections. This will allow investors to easily navigate to the parts they are most interested in reading.

Avoid using jargon – everyone should be able to easily understand your business plan without having to Google certain terms. 

Make a list of all the expenses your business incurs. Financial information should be maximally precise since it will directly impact the investor’s decision to fund your business idea.

After you wrap up your business plan, take a day off and read it again. Fix any typos or grammatical errors that you overlooked the first time.

Make sure to use a professional layout, printing, and branding of your business plan. This is an important first impression for the readers of the document.

Now you know what a business plan is, how you can write it, and some of the best practices you can use to make it even better.

But, if you are still having certain difficulties coming up with a great business plan, here are a few examples that may be helpful.

HubSpot’s One-Page Business Plan

Bplan’s free business plan template, small business administration free business plan template.

This One-Page Business Plan was created by HubSpot and it can be a great way to start off your business plan journey on the right foot.

You already have fields such as Implementation Timeline, Required Funding, and Company Description created so you will just need to provide your specific information.

HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

This free business plan template highlights the financial points of the startup. If your primary focus will be your business’ financial plan and financial statements, you can use this template to save up some time.

It can also be useful for making sure everyone in your company understands the current financial health and what they can do to improve it.

BPlan’s Free Business Plan Template

If you need additional inspiration to kick start your own business plan, you can check out this free template by small business administration .

You just have to decide which type of plan you want to create and then review the format of how it should look like.

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Monitor and Report on the Performance of Your Business with Databox

Tracking your company’s performance is an indispensable part of quality decision-making. It is crucial that you know how your business strategy is performing and whether it needs to be optimized in certain areas.

However, doing this manually will undoubtedly take a hefty amount of your valuable time. You will have to log into all of the different tools, copy-paste the data into your reports, and then analyze it. And this isn’t a one-time thing – you have to do it at least once a month.

Luckily, Databox can lend a helping hand.

By using customizable dashboards from Databox, you will be able to connect data from all your different tools into one comprehensive report. Not only that, but you can also visualize the most important metrics to make your presentation to shareholders immensely more impactful.

Did you spend a lot of time cutting and pasting? Say ‘no more’ to that. You will be able to use that time to better analyze your business performances and monitor any significant changes that occur.

Leave the grueling business reporting process in the past and sign up for a free trial with Databox.

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Home » Employer Resources » Startup Center » The Ultimate Guide to Creating Investor-Friendly Business Plans [Format Guide]

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Investor-Friendly Business Plans [Format Guide]

Business Plan Format

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur wondering what a business plan should look like and how to create one? A well-structured business plan is an essential part of any successful venture. But it may seem challenging to give shape to your business idea and not miss out on any important details.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the key elements of a business plan and provide you with a useful business plan format with sample statements to help you on your way.

Table of Contents

Business Plan: An Overview

A business plan is a detailed document that outlines the objectives, strategies, and tactics of a business. It is typically used to secure investments, financing, and other forms of support from stakeholders. The document should include information such as descriptions of the company, its products and services, its customers, its marketing and financial plans, and its operational plans. Having a business plan is crucial for any business. It can ensure that everything is taken into account and that the business is well-prepared to succeed.

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Business Plan Format with Sample Templates

Writing a business proposal can be tricky. Whether it is a small or large business, there are a few key elements you should consider when discussing a business strategy to enhance your business plan. This section provides sample templates that can help you streamline your unique business proposal.

1. Give an Executive Summary

An executive summary in a business plan is a brief overview that outlines the major points of the plan. It should be concise and engaging so that it captures the attention of potential investors or lenders. The summary should be in paragraphs with comprehensible headings and points. To write an executive summary, you should briefly answer the following questions (not necessarily all):

  • What is the mission of your business or your company/organization?
  • How did the idea of business come up?
  • Who has the highest leadership?
  • Which industry does the business belong to?
  • What is going to be the employee base?
  • What are the business’s products and services?
  • What are the competitive advantages of the business in the already existing market/industry?
  • What marketing strategy will be used?
  • How many different operational teams are going to form?
  • What is going to be the location?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • How will you fund the business?
  • How much money is required to set up the business?
  • What are its future financial targets?

Here is an example of an executive summary of an organic food product start-up.

“[Company Name] is a start-up business venture that specializes in the production and distribution of organic health food products. It was founded by two entrepreneurs who have 10 years of combined experience in the health food industry. The company is located in a major metropolitan area.

Our goal is to become the top provider of organic health food products in our market. We plan to do this by providing high-quality products and services and excellent customer service. We have identified some key competitive advantages that will help us succeed, including our experienced management team, our strong network of suppliers, and our commitment to innovation.”

2. Talk About the Business’s Key Products and Services

In this section, talk about the key products and services that your business plans to offer, along with their value proposition. Here, the term value proposition means why a person will care to buy your product or service. It also uncovers unexplored and potentially marketable opportunities.

Here’s a business proposal example that includes details of key products and services for an organic healthy food product start-up:

“Our business offers organic foods that are healthier and more sustainable. Our value proposition is that our customers can enjoy healthy, farm-fresh foods while feeling good about contributing to the environment. We strive to offer a wide range of products, from organic produce to organic sauces, fruit bars, and snacks.

As dietary habits have evolved, there are a significant number of people who prefer or require gluten-free products due to their health issues. We strive to produce gluten-tolerance-tested, authentic, and trustworthy gluten-free products with delivery and online ordering to make purchasing easier for our customers.”

3. Insight on Competitive Market Analysis

Business planners need to possess comprehensive knowledge of their target industry and market. Having great business analysis skills can help a business planner get a clear understanding of how to compete effectively and gain a foothold in the market. This section should cover the following information:

  • Market Size: Describe the size of the industry, the expected growth rate, and the potential earnings it offers.
  • Target Audience: Who are the perfect customers for your business? Include details like their age, where they live, and their preferences.
  • Competitors: Write about your key competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and how you plan to counter them.
  • USP (Unique Selling Point): Cite what distinguishes your product or service from the competition. What’s your marketing plan to set yourself apart from the competition?
  • Price and Profit: Share what pricing scheme your business will follow and the estimated profit margin.
  • Rules and Regulations: Specify any special rules or laws you must follow in your industry.

An example to describe the market analysis in the business proposal template for an organic healthy food product’s start-up will be like this:

“The health food industry in India is rapidly expanding, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20% and an expected CAGR of 16% by 2026, equivalent to $30 billion. This growth is attributed to the increasing number of health-conscious individuals, who are expected to grow from 100 million to 176 million by 2026. Healthy snacking categories like cookies, fruit snacks, snack bars, and trail mixes are expected to experience significant growth.

Our products and services stand out due to our commitment to quality and reasonable prices. Our experienced management team, strong supplier network, and innovation are key competitive advantages. We aim to market our products to health-conscious consumers seeking organic alternatives to conventional foods, aiming to become the leading organic food supplier.”

4. Target Audience Selection

A business’s success is incomplete without fostering and developing its customer base. “You must know your customers and the customers must know you” – this should be the motto for your business.

After in-depth research on target customers, you can form the right marketing and sales strategies. The best way to identify customers is to understand their problems and needs. Simply put, your business’s products and services must solve their problems and fulfill their wants. Here’s an example to share about the target audience selection for an organic, healthy food product start-up:

“Our target audience is adults aged 18-40 who are health-conscious and interested in organic options. We will focus our marketing and sales efforts on this demographic, as they are likely to be more open to trying new products and more likely to embrace organic alternatives. Our goal is to become the leading organic food supplier for this demographic.”

5. Structure of the Company’s Management and Team

This section of the business plan template will discuss the teams and departments that will make the business run. Briefly outline the roles and responsibilities of a position and create a job posting to hire the right employee.

Here is one way to briefly mention your company’s management team structure:

We will have a CEO, COO, CFO, and other executive positions to manage the company’s operations. Several teams will be involved in running the business, including a customer service team, administration, human resources, sales and marketing team, finance team, operations team, and product development team. Each team would have its own set of roles and responsibilities.”

6. Marketing and Promotional Strategies

This is one of the most crucial parts of your business plan. The right marketing and promotional plans help spread the word about your product or service, increase overall brand awareness, capture market share, and thereby, increase the customer base, sales, and profits. Here is a brief overview of marketing and promotional strategies in your business proposal:

“Our marketing strategy is centered around a multi-faceted approach to engaging with our customers. We will create interesting and relevant content for social media platforms, optimize our website for search engines, collaborate with influencers, run targeted online ads, and send out email campaigns.

Our promotional efforts will include limited-time discounts, loyalty programs, and exclusive events to connect with our customers on a personal level. We plan to expand our outreach through partnerships with complementary businesses and attending industry events. To measure the effectiveness of our strategies, we will leverage analytics tools and gather customer feedback to make necessary adjustments. Our ultimate aim is to build trust and credibility in our brand.”

7. Details of Developing Sales Funnel

The growth strategy of a business depends heavily on its sales funnel strategy. This is because successful sales will lead to revenue growth and business expansion. An example to mention about the sales funnel in the business plan model is:

“Our sales funnel is designed to help our business generate more leads and close more sales. We will start by optimizing our online presence to increase visibility and attract potential customers. From there, we will create content and campaigns to nurture leads and build valuable customer relationships. We will then use analytics and other data-driven tactics to identify qualified prospects and target them with effective messaging and emails. Finally, we plan to use automated tools to manage the sales process from start to finish.”

8. Lay Out Your Financial Plan and Budget

This point of your business proposal will include details of the budget, balance sheet, revenue generation, cost reduction strategies, and other expenses. It should talk about the costs required to cover all business operations, management, and estimated future revenue projections. Here is a template of a business budget.

Business Budget Template

9. Add Appendix to Provide Additional Details

The appendix to a business proposal template includes extra documents that give more information about the proposal. You can put in any part that needs evidence, facts, or reports. Normally, the appendix can have these documents:

  • Market research with charts and data from other sources.
  • Licenses, contracts, certificates, or patent papers.
  • Maps and plans for expanding the business facility.
  • Contact details for team members, board members, and current investors.
  • Reports and statements from quality-check experts.
  • Financial documents like the balance sheet and the company’s account statements.

Every business needs a one-of-a-kind business plan format. It should contain all the necessary information and documents to give the reader, investors, and stakeholders a comprehensive overview of the proposed business. By taking the time to structure and create a detailed business plan, entrepreneurs, business planners, and analysts can create a clear and concise guide to help them achieve their goals. Executing a successful business plan, therefore, requires skilled professionals. If you are interested in the field of business management and helping businesses make valuable decisions, then look for work from home accounts jobs to contribute.

Have you ever drafted a business plan? Tell us in the comments below!

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example of business plan rationale

Sandipta Banerjee has completed her Master's in English Literature and Language. She has been working in the field of editing and writing for the past five years. She started her writing journey at a very young age with her poems which have now evolved into a poetry blog. She was working as Editorial Head in a US-based publishing house before joining Internshala.

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Writing a rationale

How to write a rationale.

What is a rationale?

A rationale is when you are asked to give the reasoning or justification for an action or a choice you make.

There is a focus on the ‘ why ’ in a rationale: why you chose to do something, study or focus on something. It is a set of statements of purpose and significance and often addresses a gap or a need.

A rationale in Australian academic writing is rarely a whole task by itself.  It is often a part of a bigger task. For example, a part of a lesson plan might be to provide a rationale for why you chose to teach particular content or use a certain resource or activity, or you may be asked to provide a rationale as to why you chose a particular theory to apply or a concept to support.

You may be called upon to provide a rationale:

prior to an action or decision; why you plan to do something and how, or

  • after you have acted or decided something; reflecting, looking back, why you did something and how it worked or not.

You can use language to signal you are clearly providing a rationale in your writing. You can link your rationale to learning outcomes or aims for a lesson, activity or assessment task.

A model: problem-solution-rationale

A rationale can be provided by offering longer essay-based support for why it is important to do something in a certain way – in that sense, a whole paper can be a rationale.

However, a more specific or focused way of thinking about a rationale is how we can overtly show we are justifying our choices with the language we use.

One way of doing this is to consider the problem or issue requiring attention, the solution and then the rationale or justification for the solution (the ‘why’). This sets the rationale (the reason) within a context.

A diagnostic assessment determined that the students required more attention to addition and subtraction of mixed fractions. This activity intends to address this problem by having the children engage with the task with blocks before it is done with figures. The reason I chose to do this is because students have higher comprehension levels when presented with visual or tangible representations of abstract problems (Benson, 2016). I also did this as I wanted to allow the children to ‘play’ with maths, to see that it can be a fun activity and in doing so, to breakdown some of the ‘anti-mathematics prejudices’ that Gaines (2017, p. 4) talks about.

The important thing here is the language used to signal the rationale , in this case:

The reason I chose to do this is because … and I also did this as …

Another problem / solution / rationale example:

Scaffolding is the support provided by the teacher or a significant other, such as a classmate, which helps students in learning (Gibbons, 2015). Some students were having difficulty with the language at entry while others, particularly those who had completed the pre-tasks, had few problems. Therefore, in order to address this disparity in level and understanding, mixed-ability pairs were created where the more competent student helped the other. On reflection, this was an effective way to run the activity for two reasons : it allowed peer-to-peer teaching which solidified both students’ understanding; and it scaffolded the support in a way that allowed me to roam the room lending advice to pairs as needed.

The language used to signal our rationale in this example:

in order to and for two reasons …

Language to signal rationale

in order to

the reason this was done/chosen …

for the following reason(s) …

for two/three reasons …

Language for further justification - showing importance

This was important / significant because …

This meant that I could…

This enabled me to …

… which enabled / allowed me to…

… which pointed to / highlighted that / showed me that …

The key thing to remember about rationale writing is to stand back from the writing, look at it in a big picture sense and ask yourself, ‘ Have I explained why? ’ If that is clearly articulated, you have provided a rationale.

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1.4: Chapter 3 Business Rationale

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  • Ryan Buckley
  • Diablo Valley College

alt

Business Rationale

THE PERSONAL BENEFITS I DESCRIBED could apply to having just one additional income stream. But I’m arguing for more than that. Let’s consider why it’s best not to stop at just one. Entrepreneurs and solo founders these days should have several.

You might already be thinking, “Wait a second, I’m supposed to focus on one, maybe two things, and get those to work before doing anything else. And one of those things is my day job.”

Sure, a day job and some stocks is a fine way to do things. You can focus on investing and you may get rich, but it won’t happen very quickly and your gains could get wiped out during a down market. You could also work hard every day, toiling away for a promotion while you build someone else’s generational wealth and you get what’s left over.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. In fact that’s how most people do it. But there is another way.

Instead of tying your wagon to someone else’s company (via the stock market and your day job) you can invest in yourself (via new skills) and get equity in your own business at the same time.

Instead of hoping that your first idea turns out to be the best idea, you can test multiple ideas at once, build them, launch them, and even run them for a while. I’ll describe this process in much greater detail in the second half of the book.

Instead of banking on one business replacing your day job salary and falling short, you can stack the revenues of multiple businesses until in aggregate you’re making more than your old paycheck.

This is ultimately why you should run multiple side businesses at once. It increases the likelihood of success and each new business you add takes less additional time than the last one.

Why Growth Plateaus Happen in SaaS

There is a natural limit on how much money you can make as a solo founder without outside capital.

Given that there is a cap on the income stream from any one business, in order to continue your growth, you’ll need to start more businesses. If you can’t grow up, you have to grow out.

I’ve found this to be especially true in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry. There are growth plateaus that you hit along the way and they are notoriously difficult to break out of. In fact, you may never break out of them. You may hit one and be stuck there for months or even years.

When that happens you have two options: sell the business or keep it and start a new one.

This has happened to me several times throughout my career in SaaS, both with Scripted and Toofr. In fact, I’m experiencing it right now. Toofr’s revenue has plateaued for the last several months and I’m actively working to break through it. It gets harder and harder.

The logic behind why this happens goes like this.

Your subscription software business grows when the increase in new revenue exceeds the decrease in churned revenue. New revenue is just what it sounds like: a new customer signing up for a monthly subscription of your product. They’re coming in and paying you for the first time. Churned revenue is the opposite. It’s an existing customer cancelling their subscription.

There are also the forces of upgrades and downgrades, but for most businesses those movements are a fraction of the volume, 15% at most, of new and churned revenue amounts. So let’s just focus on acquisition and churn.

If you get $1,000 of new subscriptions and lose $250 of existing subscriptions, then you grow $750 in monthly recurring revenue. I’m intentionally not saying how many customers those revenue numbers represent. It could be four customers paying you $250 each or 1,000 customers each paying you $1. For the purposes of sheer revenue growth, it doesn’t matter. (I’d argue it’s safer to have more customers paying a smaller amount, but let’s table that for later.)

The problem every SaaS business eventually runs into is when churn catches up to acquisition. If you keep acquiring $1,000 of new revenue each month, then inevitably, and I do mean inevitably , churn will reach $1,000. And there you’ll sit, in limbo land, not growing, not shrinking, until you can do something to reduce that churn (better customer support, fewer bugs) or acquire more revenue (advertisements and promotions, new features).

The reason every business eventually hits this plateau can be explained with basic math. Churn is a relatively constant percentage of revenue. It’s very difficult to dramatically change your churn rate and it is influenced by two main factors: the industry you’re in (e.g. marketing vs healthcare) and the average customer size (e.g. small business vs enterprise).

Most B2B entrepreneurs will sell to small businesses. Both of my companies sold primarily to small businesses. The nice thing is there are literally millions of them in the United States alone, and millions more worldwide. The bad thing is they churn pretty fast and prefer to be on monthly rather than annual contracts. When you charge someone every month instead of every twelve months, your customer gets twelve more opportunities to churn. Therefore, monthly contracts will always churn at higher rates than annual contracts.

So why not just do annual contracts? Because annual deals have longer sales cycles and involve more paperwork. Your customers will want more diligence, they’ll want to try before they buy, and they’ll want to customize your contract every time. As solopreneurs, we don’t have time for all of that.

That’s why I take the higher churn and a faster sale every time.

Here’s what higher churn looks like. This chart represents the net monthly growth of a business that adds $1,000 of new revenue every month and churns 10% of existing revenue every month. You can see the drop-off in net new revenue. Within twelve months it falls 75% and drops at the same rate after that.

Within two years if you’re still just adding $1,000 of new customers your churn, still at 10% of existing revenue, is $920. You’re working harder to get that $1,000 of new revenue (because it always gets harder to acquire new revenue over time) and keeping less than 10% of it.

Ouch. It hurts.

alt

On the bottom line revenue side, here’s what it looks like. This is what we call a plateau. You’re capping out at $10,000 of monthly recurring revenue (MRR). In fact, there’s a pretty simple formula you can use to quickly get at this revenue cap:

New revenue / Churn rate = MRR. In this example, that’s $1,000 / 10% = $10,000.

alt

So $10K per month is your upper bound on how much money you’ll make with this business. Not bad, but not great. If you want to break past a $120K salary you’ll need to think outside the box and either lower your churn or increase revenue.

You have two choices: Go from good to great, which I’ll discuss shortly, or build another new box and stack your plateaus.

Stacking Your Plateaus

Parallel entrepreneurship means stacking your plateaus on top of each other. It’s admitting that SaaS businesses have an upper bound in MRR and to break out of it you need to hire more people, which may mean taking on debt or equity financing and spending more money on marketing.

You may decide not to do that.

Doubling down on your business means greater risk for an unknown reward. I would assume that at the plateau you’re not working very hard. The business is humming along, it’s just not really going anywhere. Like I said, not growing, but not shrinking. You’re making $10,000 per month and doing very little work.

That’s great, congrats! Why mess with that? You have an ATM machine spitting out $330 every day into your pockets. Don’t risk losing it. Leave it be. If you want more money, start another business and stack the plateaus.

If you followed this advice and started your second business one year after your first one and it had the same growth parameters of $1,000/mo of new revenue and 10% churn, your combined MRR chart will look like this:

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Whether that base plateau is your own business or the salary from your day job, the stacking plateaus concept still applies. That’s the business rationale for parallel entrepreneurship.

From Good to Great

If you can get your business up to $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR), then that’s really good. Most entrepreneurs never get there.

It’s good but not great .

Jonathan Siegel gave me advice that I’ll never forget. I use this bit of wisdom to fire up my drive. He says, “Any $10,000 per month business can be a $100,000 per month business.” These are crumbs, he says, compared to what the larger companies are earning. The hard growth steps, he argues, happen beyond that first $100,000 per month. Less than that is just discipline and some creativity.

He also argues that if your monthly churn is 3% and your net monthly growth is 4% then you will have a phenomenal business. This Rule of 34 (I’ll name this rule on his behalf) is what we should all strive for. You may only get there once in your entrepreneurial career, so to increase the likelihood of doing this, you have multiple businesses running at once.

Finally, a great business has what’s known as “net negative churn.” This is the holy grail of SaaS businesses, when revenue growth from your retained customer base consistently offsets the revenue lost from cancellations.

To make this point clearer, let’s look at this table.

alt

Let’s say you’re adding $1,000 of new customers every month. You’re also getting another $1,000 from upgrades and $500 reactivations (customers who canceled and then came back). That’s bringing $2,000 of new monthly revenue into your business.

On the flipside, let’s say you’re losing $500 from cancellations and downgrades each month. This means on net you’re adding $1,500 of revenue to your business each month.

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Net negative churn is when, setting new customer revenue aside, you’re still adding revenue every month. In this case, you would be making $1,500 from upgrades and reactivations and losing $1,000 from cancellations and downgrades. You’re adding $500 each month from existing customers.

If you’re able to grow a business before you’ve added a single new customer then you’re in great shape. You can stop reading now, shut your other businesses down, and focus on that one.

I haven’t experienced this yet myself, but I’m working on it. It’s why I still have multiple businesses running today.

Exploiting Synergies

Nobody can run a pizza parlor, a nail salon, and a grocery store at the same time. Even the most ambitious local businessperson couldn’t do that.

But can you open more than one restaurant? Sure, it happens all the time. I think of Tyler Florence and his restaurants El Paseo in Mill Valley and Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco. Same chef, two different restaurants within a few miles of each other.

Can you open multiple cafes? Absolutely. Look no further than the dominance of Philz Coffee, which began in San Francisco’s Mission District and spread throughout the city and then to every corner of the San Francisco Bay Area. (By the way, here’s a fun fact: Phil Jaber spent seven years perfecting his first blend, Tesora, which means “treasure” in Italian.)

I was delighted when a Philz popped up within walking distance of my house in the suburbs 20 miles outside of the city. It’s a perfect example of parallel entrepreneurship applied to brick and mortar businesses.

So what’s the difference between running a chain of cafes and running a slough of disparate shops?

It’s this word: synergy.

Synergy is one of those cliche business terms that gets mocked because it shows up on corporate HR posters and is said around the table in boardrooms. I think it gets an unfair rap. Synergy is a critical concept to embrace if you’re going to be a successful parallel entrepreneur.

As Andrej Danko, VP of product at an artificial intelligence studio that builds and runs multiple companies at once told me, “Doing completely mutually exclusive businesses is very hard. There are no economies of scale. You can’t leverage IP or operational skills across businesses.”

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When you have a busy cafe, some name recognition, and a cult following like the founder of Philz Coffee did, opening the second cafe is a lot easier than opening the first one. Let’s take a high-level look at what’s required to open a new Philz cafe:

Financial needs

  • Point of sale terminal
  • Cash transfers and security
  • Accountant and bookkeeping

Product needs

  • Coffee supply and storage
  • Coffee brewing devices
  • Milk, sugar, honey, and other condiments
  • Baked goods supply

Personnel needs

  • Hiring and training resources

Marketing needs

  • Grand opening
  • Ongoing local outreach

Looking at the above list, there are both direct and indirect synergies with the existing cafes. The direct synergies are financial. Phil can use the same point of sale and accounting team. If the second cafe is in the same city then he can also use the same bank for cash deposits.

Product needs are the same. Since Phliz doesn’t bake its own muffins, he’ll need a new supplier unless they’ll distribute out of the city. Same with the coffee roasting. Philz wants only the best, freshest coffee beans (they grind their proprietary blends on the spot) so some supply chain logistics may also be required for coffee beans if the second cafe is too far away.

Indirect synergies are personnel, marketing, and facility needs. Although they won’t be exactly the same (they’ll need a new location, obviously, and new people) the playbook is the same. If it’s not written down then it can be transferred by Phil or one of his first employees at the Mission District cafe.

Let’s imagine, for a second, that Phil decided instead to open a pizza parlor. What synergies would he have then?

It would be incredibly difficult if not impossible to launch and run a pizza parlor while simultaneously running a cafe. That kind of parallel entrepreneurship is destined to fail.

When you have a profitable and growing SaaS business, it’s like having one cafe. The nice thing about cafes is they can get more revenue simply by replicating themselves in another location. But you can’t do that on the web. You can’t clone a SaaS business in another location (by giving it a new domain name) and expect to double your revenue. That’s just not how the internet works.

The internet equivalent to opening that second cafe is to start another SaaS business that is separate from the first profitable one but still benefits from synergies.

Sheel Mohnot is another parallel entrepreneur par excellence . After selling his online payments business to Groupon, he started Thistle, a food company that delivers sustainable plant-based meals to homes in major cities throughout California. He also runs a podcast, an auction platform, and a financial technology fund within 500 Startups, a prestigious startup incubator with offices around the world.

He does this all in parallel because he’s found ways to exploit synergies across his projects, delegate his way out of daily management, and turn his cost centers into profit centers.

Let’s dive into Thistle to really see what I mean.

Thistle competes in a very difficult market. Blue Apron, the market leader, went public in June 2017 and its stock price has had a precipitous 70% decline since the public offering. Another major competitor, Plated, sold to Albertsons for $200 million. Other meal delivery services including Sprig, which raised $59 million and was valued at over $150 million, had to shut down.

So what did Sheel do differently? How has Thistle thrived while his well-heeled competitors failed or exited? He successfully approached the problem like a parallel entrepreneur.

First of all, he only raised $1 million for Thistle. He forced his business to run lean, operating profitably from the beginning. Even if you’re small, you won’t be forced to shut down while you’re minting money.

This profitability constraint in turn forced Sheel to be creative. Meal delivery is a complex business, and arguably the hardest part is packaging and delivering meals on time. This cost is often higher than the cost of the food itself. To keep costs down, Sheel found a commercial kitchen that someone else was paying $20,000 per month to use. He negotiated a deal to sublease the kitchen from 9pm to 5am for just $5,000 per month.

Startups that raise gobs of money usually don’t make smart decisions like this. Thistle now serves tens of thousands of customers each week and is profitable with 220 employees.

For Sheel personally, he is a co-founder of Thistle but is not the CEO. That gives him the flexibility to run his auction business, a fund in 500 Startups, and other personal investments that generate meaningful monthly revenue streams.

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How to Write a Business Case (Template Included)

ProjectManager

Table of Contents

What is a business case, how to write a business case, business case template, watch our business case training video, key elements of a business case, how projectmanager helps with your business case.

A business case is a project management document that explains how the benefits of a project overweigh its costs and why it should be executed. Business cases are prepared during the project initiation phase and their purpose is to include all the project’s objectives, costs and benefits to convince stakeholders of its value.

A business case is an important project document to prove to your client, customer or stakeholder that the project proposal you’re pitching is a sound investment. Below, we illustrate the steps to writing one that will sway them.

The need for a business case is that it collects the financial appraisal, proposal, strategy and marketing plan in one document and offers a full look at how the project will benefit the organization. Once your business case is approved by the project stakeholders, you can begin the project planning phase.

Projects fail without having a solid business case to rest on, as this project document is the base for the project charter and project plan. But if a project business case is not anchored to reality, and doesn’t address a need that aligns with the larger business objectives of the organization, then it is irrelevant.

example of business plan rationale

Get your free

Use this free Business Case Template for Word to manage your projects better.

The research you’ll need to create a strong business case is the why, what, how and who of your project. This must be clearly communicated. The elements of your business case will address the why but in greater detail. Think of the business case as a document that is created during the project initiation phase but will be used as a reference throughout the project life cycle.

Whether you’re starting a new project or mid-way through one, take time to write up a business case to justify the project expenditure by identifying the business benefits your project will deliver and that your stakeholders are most interested in reaping from the work. The following four steps will show you how to write a business case.

Step 1: Identify the Business Problem

Projects aren’t created for projects’ sake. They should always be aligned with business goals . Usually, they’re initiated to solve a specific business problem or create a business opportunity.

You should “Lead with the need.” Your first job is to figure out what that problem or opportunity is, describe it, find out where it comes from and then address the time frame needed to deal with it.

This can be a simple statement but is best articulated with some research into the economic climate and the competitive landscape to justify the timing of the project.

Step 2: Identify the Alternative Solutions

How do you know whether the project you’re undertaking is the best possible solution to the problem defined above? Naturally, prioritizing projects is hard, and the path to success is not paved with unfounded assumptions.

One way to narrow down the focus to make the right solution clear is to follow these six steps (after the relevant research, of course):

  • Note the alternative solutions.
  • For each solution, quantify its benefits.
  • Also, forecast the costs involved in each solution.
  • Then figure out its feasibility .
  • Discern the risks and issues associated with each solution.
  • Finally, document all this in your business case.

Step 3: Recommend a Preferred Solution

You’ll next need to rank the solutions, but before doing that it’s best to set up criteria, maybe have a scoring mechanism such as a decision matrix to help you prioritize the solutions to best choose the right one.

Some methodologies you can apply include:

  • Depending on the solution’s cost and benefit , give it a score of 1-10.
  • Base your score on what’s important to you.
  • Add more complexity to your ranking to cover all bases.

Regardless of your approach, once you’ve added up your numbers, the best solution to your problem will become evident. Again, you’ll want to have this process also documented in your business case.

Step 4: Describe the Implementation Approach

So, you’ve identified your business problem or opportunity and how to reach it, now you have to convince your stakeholders that you’re right and have the best way to implement a process to achieve your goals. That’s why documentation is so important; it offers a practical path to solve the core problem you identified.

Now, it’s not just an exercise to appease senior leadership. Who knows what you might uncover in the research you put into exploring the underlying problem and determining alternative solutions? You might save the organization millions with an alternate solution than the one initially proposed. When you put in the work on a strong business case, you’re able to get your sponsors or organizational leadership on board with you and have a clear vision as to how to ensure the delivery of the business benefits they expect.

Our business case template for Word is the perfect tool to start writing a business case. It has 9 key business case areas you can customize as needed. Download the template for free and follow the steps below to create a great business case for all your projects.

Free Business Case Template for Word

One of the key steps to starting a business case is to have a business case checklist. The following is a detailed outline to follow when developing your business case. You can choose which of these elements are the most relevant to your project stakeholders and add them to our business case template. Then once your business case is approved, start managing your projects with a robust project management software such as ProjectManager.

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is a short version of each section of your business case. It’s used to give stakeholders a quick overview of your project.

2. Project Definition

This section is meant to provide general information about your projects, such as the business objectives that will be achieved and the project plan outline.

3. Vision, Goals and Objectives

First, you have to figure out what you’re trying to do and what is the problem you want to solve. You’ll need to define your project vision, goals and objectives. This will help you shape your project scope and identify project deliverables.

4. Project Scope

The project scope determines all the tasks and deliverables that will be executed in your project to reach your business objectives.

5. Background Information

Here you can provide a context for your project, explaining the problem that it’s meant to solve, and how it aligns with your organization’s vision and strategic plan.

6. Success Criteria and Stakeholder Requirements

Depending on what kind of project you’re working on, the quality requirements will differ, but they are critical to the project’s success. Collect all of them, figure out what determines if you’ve successfully met them and report on the results .

7. Project Plan

It’s time to create the project plan. Figure out the tasks you’ll have to take to get the project done. You can use a work breakdown structure template  to make sure you are through. Once you have all the tasks collected, estimate how long it will take to complete each one.

Project management software makes creating a project plan significantly easier. ProjectManager can upload your work breakdown structure template and all your tasks are populated in our tool. You can organize them according to your production cycle with our kanban board view, or use our Gantt chart view to create a project schedule.

kanban card moving into next column on the board

8. Project Budget

Your budget is an estimate of everything in your project plan and what it will cost to complete the project over the scheduled time allotted.

9. Project Schedule

Make a timeline for the project by estimating how long it will take to get each task completed. For a more impactful project schedule , use a tool to make a Gantt chart, and print it out. This will provide that extra flourish of data visualization and skill that Excel sheets lack.

10. Project Governance

Project governance refers to all the project management rules and procedures that apply to your project. For example, it defines the roles and responsibilities of the project team members and the framework for decision-making.

11. Communication Plan

Have milestones for check-ins and status updates, as well as determine how stakeholders will stay aware of the progress over the project life cycle.

12. Progress Reports

Have a plan in place to monitor and track your progress during the project to compare planned to actual progress. There are project tracking tools that can help you monitor progress and performance.

Again, using a project management tool improves your ability to see what’s happening in your project. ProjectManager has tracking tools like dashboards and status reports that give you a high-level view and more detail, respectively. Unlike light-weight apps that make you set up a dashboard, ours is embedded in the tool. Better still, our cloud-based software gives you real-time data for more insightful decision-making. Also, get reports on more than just status updates, but timesheets, workload, portfolio status and much more, all with just one click. Then filter the reports and share them with stakeholders to keep them updated.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

13. Financial Appraisal

This is a very important section of your business case because this is where you explain how the financial benefits outweigh the project costs . Compare the financial costs and benefits of your project. You can do this by doing a sensitivity analysis and a cost-benefit analysis.

14. Market Assessment

Research your market, competitors and industry, to find opportunities and threats

15. Competitor Analysis

Identify direct and indirect competitors and do an assessment of their products, strengths, competitive advantages and their business strategy.

16. SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis helps you identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses are internal, while the opportunities and threats are external.

17. Marketing Strategy

Describe your product, distribution channels, pricing, target customers among other aspects of your marketing plan or strategy.

18. Risk Assessment

There are many risk categories that can impact your project. The first step to mitigating them is to identify and analyze the risks associated with your project activities.

ProjectManager , an award-winning project management software, can collect and assemble all the various data you’ll be collecting, and then easily share it both with your team and project sponsors.

Once you have a spreadsheet with all your tasks listed, you can import it into our software. Then it’s instantly populated into a Gantt chart . Simply set the duration for each of the tasks, add any dependencies, and your project is now spread across a timeline. You can set milestones, but there is so much more you can do.

Gantt chart from ProjectManager

You have a project plan now, and from the online Gantt chart, you can assign team members to tasks. Then they can comment directly on the tasks they’re working on, adding as many documents and images as needed, fostering a collaborative environment. You can track their progress and change task durations as needed by dragging and dropping the start and end dates.

But that’s only a taste of what ProjectManager offers. We have kanban boards that visualize your workflow and a real-time dashboard that tracks six project metrics for the most accurate view of your project possible.

Try ProjectManager and see for yourself with this 30-day free trial .

If you want more business case advice, take a moment to watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, in this short training video. She explains the steps you have to take in order to write a good business case.

Here’s a screenshot for your reference.

how writing a business case for your project is good business strategy

Transcription:

Today we’re talking about how to write a business case. Well, over the past few years, we’ve seen the market, or maybe organizations, companies or even projects, move away from doing business cases. But, these days, companies, organizations, and those same projects are scrutinizing the investments and they’re really seeking a rate of return.

So now, think of the business case as your opportunity to package your project, your idea, your opportunity, and show what it means and what the benefits are and how other people can benefit.

We want to take a look today to see what’s in the business case and how to write one. I want to be clear that when you look for information on a business case, it’s not a briefcase.

Someone called the other day and they were confused because they were looking for something, and they kept pulling up briefcases. That’s not what we’re talking about today. What we’re talking about are business cases, and they include information about your strategies, about your goals. It is your business proposal. It has your business outline, your business strategy, and even your marketing plan.

Why Do You Need a Business Case?

And so, why is that so important today? Again, companies are seeking not only their project managers but their team members to have a better understanding of business and more of an idea business acumen. So this business case provides the justification for the proposed business change or plan. It outlines the allocation of capital that you may be seeking and the resources required to implement it. Then, it can be an action plan . It may just serve as a unified vision. And then it also provides the decision-makers with different options.

So let’s look more at the steps required to put these business cases together. There are four main steps. One, you want to research your market. Really look at what’s out there, where are the needs, where are the gaps that you can serve? Look at your competition. How are they approaching this, and how can you maybe provide some other alternatives?

You want to compare and finalize different approaches that you can use to go to market. Then you compile that data and you present strategies, your goals and other options to be considered.

And then you literally document it.

So what does the document look like? Well, there are templates out there today. The components vary, but these are the common ones. And then these are what I consider essential. So there’s the executive summary. This is just a summary of your company, what your management team may look like, a summary of your product and service and your market.

The business description gives a little bit more history about your company and the mission statement and really what your company is about and how this product or service fits in.

Then, you outline the details of the product or service that you’re looking to either expand or roll out or implement. You may even include in their patents may be that you have pending or other trademarks.

Then, you want to identify and lay out your marketing strategy. Like, how are you gonna take this to your customers? Are you going to have a brick-and-mortar store? Are you gonna do this online? And, what are your plans to take it to market?

You also want to include detailed information about your competitor analysis. How are they doing things? And, how are you planning on, I guess, beating your competition?

You also want to look at and identify your SWOT. And the SWOT is your strength. What are the strengths that you have in going to market? And where are the weaknesses? Maybe some of your gaps. And further, where are your opportunities and maybe threats that you need to plan for? Then the overview of the operation includes operational information like your production, even human resources, information about the day-to-day operations of your company.

And then, your financial plan includes your profit statement, your profit and loss, any of your financials, any collateral that you may have, and any kind of investments that you may be seeking.

So these are the components of your business case. This is why it’s so important. And if you need a tool that can help you manage and track this process, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager .

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

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Blog Business

How to Write Winning Business Proposal: Examples & Free Templates (2024)

By Aditya Sheth , Jan 25, 2024

How to Write Winning Business Proposals

The great Mark Cuban once said, “Sales cure all.” If a business doesn’t sell, it doesn’t make money and by extension the business fails. That’s why you need to write business proposals .

A well-written business proposal can often mean the difference between winning or losing a prospective client.

In this in-depth guide to creating business proposals, we show you how to close more deals, make more sales and crush your business goals — all by using easy-to-edit professional business proposal templates .

Here’s what this guide will cover (click to jump ahead):

What is a business proposal.

  • How to write a business proposal step by step

What should you include in a business proposal?

What are the types of business proposals, more business proposal examples + writing and design tips.

  • FAQs about business proposals

Looking for a shortcut? Watch this quick video for an overview of everything to include in your business proposal:

An effective business proposal is a document used by a B2B or business-facing company (this may not always be the case, but most B2B SaaS companies do so) where a seller aims to persuade a prospective buyer into buying their goods or services.

A business proposal outlines what your business does and what you can do for your client . It can be general like this business proposal example:

general business proposal template

Or it can be more specific, like this business proposal template which focuses on proposing a project for the Newton Center Rail:

simple business proposal project proposal template

Or this business proposal sample, which presents a plan for a social media strategy and campaign:

social media marketing business proposal template

To design a business proposal that holds the client’s attention, identify their pain points . Then provide your buyer with the right solution to alleviate those frustrations.

Working on a new project? These project proposal examples might come in handy for you.

How to write a business proposal step by step

Before you start creating your business proposal template, you need to understand the business proposal format. At a high level, your effective business proposal should include the following:

Table of contents

Executive summary, the problem statement, the proposed solution, qualifications, the timeline, pricing, billing, and legal, terms and conditions, the acceptance.

Below, you can see business proposal examples that demonstrate how to include these 10 sections.

Business proposal title

A compelling title could mean the difference between someone reading your proposal or ignoring it in favor of a competitor’s . 

What makes a good title page? Here are the essential elements to include: 

  • Your name along with your company’s name
  • The name of the prospect (or their business) 
  • The date you’re submitting the proposal

Gray Business Consulting Proposal Template Cover Page_Venngage

The gray business consulting proposal template above contains all the details a prospect would want to know. The title also offers a strong tangible benefit to the prospective buyer. Honestly, “Who doesn’t want to grow their business?”

The table of contents is a fundamental part of every winning business proposal template. It makes your proposal scannable and easy to read.

The people you will be pitching to are usually C-level executives. These are busy people who don’t have time to read your entire proposal in one go.

That’s why most of the business proposal examples in this list include a table of contents.

Adding a table of contents to your document makes it easy for them to go through it at their own pace. They can also skim through parts of the proposal that they deem more important. You can see how this abstract business proposal template uses the table of contents:

Creative Social Media Business Proposal Template Table of Contents

You can also make your business proposal template easier to navigate by adding hyperlinks to the document, particularly in the table of contents. This way your clients can jump to specific sections without having to scroll through the entire document. 

It’s easy to add hyperlinks in the Venngage editor. Select the text you’d like to turn into a link, then click the link icon in the top bar. From there, select the page you want to link to! Then download your completed design as an Interactive PDF .

Proposal-ToC-Example

The executive summary is a staple in all kinds of annual reports , leadership development plan , project plans and even marketing plans . It is a concise summary of the entire contents of your document. In other words, write a business proposal outline that is easy to glance over and that highlights your value proposition.

The goals of your executive summary are:

  • Introduce your company to your buyer
  • Provide an overview of your company goals
  • Showcase your company’s milestones, overall vision and future plans
  • Include any other relevant details

This gray business proposal example has a detailed yet short executive summary including some social proof in the form of clients they’ve worked with:

Gray Business Consulting Proposal Template About Us

Take note of how precise this business proposal example is. You want to keep your executive summary concise and clear from the get-go. This sets the right tone for the rest of your proposal. It also gives your buyer a reason to continue reading your proposal.

Pro Tip: Try to write an executive summary such that, even if your prospective client doesn’t read the entire proposal (with a good executive summary, they most likely will), they should have a clear idea about what your company does and how you can help them.

The point of writing a business proposal is to solve a buyer’s problem. Your goal is to outline the problem statement as clearly as possible. This develops a sense of urgency in your prospect. They will want to find a solution to the problem. And you have that solution.

 A well-defined problem statement does two things: 

  • It shows the prospect you have done your homework instead of sending a generic pitch
  • It creates an opportunity for you to point out a problem your prospect might not be aware they had in the first place. 

Texture Business Proposal Template

This bold business proposal template above clearly outlines the problem at hand and also offers a ray of hope i.e. how you can solve your prospect’s problem. This brings me to… 

The good stuff. In the proposed solution section, you show how you can alleviate your prospective buyer’s pain points. This can fit onto the problem statement section but if you have a comprehensive solution or prefer to elaborate on the details, a separate section is a good idea.

Spare no details regarding the solution you will provide. When you write a business proposal, explain how you plan to deliver the solution. Include an estimated timeline of when they can expect your solution and other relevant details.

For inspiration, look at how this business proposal template quickly and succinctly outlines the project plan, deliverables and metrics :

Sales Plan Proposal Table Template_Venngage

At this point, the prospect you’re pitching your solution to likes what they’re reading. But they may not trust you to deliver on your promises. Why is this?

It’s because they don’t know you. Your job is to convince them that you can fix their problem. This section is important because it acts as social proof. You can highlight what your company does best and how qualified your team is when you write a business proposal for a potential client.

business proposal qualifications section

This free business proposal template showcases the company’s accolades, client testimonials, relevant case studies, and industry awards. You can also include other forms of social proof to establish yourself as a credible business. This makes it that much more likely that they will say yes!

Pro Tip: Attaching in-depth case studies of your work is a great way to build trust with a potential client by showcasing how you’ve solved similar problems for other clients in the past. Our case study examples post can show you how to do just that.

To further demonstrate just how prepared you are, it’s important to outline the next steps you will take should your buyer decide to work with you.

Provide a timeline of how and when you will complete all your deliverables. You can do this by designing a  flow chart . Or add a  roadmap  with deadlines. Pitching a long-term project? A timeline infographic would be a better fit.

If you look at this abstract business proposal template below, even something as simple as a table can do the trick.

Abstract Business Consulting Proposal Template Timeline_Venngage

The timeline is not always set in stone, rather it’s an estimation. The goal is to clarify any questions your potential client might have about how you will deliver for the underlying B2B sales process.

On this page, you can outline your fees, payment schedule, invoice payment terms , as well as legal aspects involved in this deal. You can even use the  Excel Invoice Template  to create professional-looking invoices (including brand logo and other elements) and add them to this page.

The key to good pricing is to provide your buyer with options. A  pricing comparison table can help with this. You want to give your client some room to work with. Make sure you’re not scaring off your client with a high price, nor undervaluing yourself. 

Breaking up your pricing in stages is another great way to make sure your potential client knows what he’s paying for. Look at how this simple business proposal template does this:

Bold Business Proposal Template Pricing Page_Venngage

The legal aspects can slot right into the terms and conditions section. Alternatively, you can add them to the signature section of the proposal to keep things simple.

Summarize everything you have promised to deliver so far. Include what you expect from your prospective buyer in return.  Add the overall project timeline from start to end, as well as payment methods and payment schedule. This way, both of you will be clear on what is being agreed on.

This step is very important as it outlines all the legal aspects of the deal. That is why the terms and conditions section of your proposal needs to be as clear as possible.

Modern Business Proposal

I recommend consulting a lawyer or your legal team when working on this section of the business proposal. If you’re a business veteran and understand the legalities of your business, you can use the same terms and conditions across all your proposals.

The final step of this whole process. Your client has read your business proposal and they want to buy what you have to offer.

Add a small section at the end of your proposal to get the necessary signatures. This way, you and your client can sign the proposal and the partnership becomes official.

Be sure to also include your contact information in your business proposal template. It acts as a gentle prompt to your client to contact you in case they have any questions. A professional way of doig that would be to include an e-business card with your contact details, email i.d and any other social links you want to share. You can go through this article for the best digital business cards .

Orange-Simple-Project-Proposal-Template

A business proposal usually aims to answer the following questions: 

  • Who you are and what your company does
  • The problem your buyer is facing
  • The solution your company offers to alleviate the problem
  • How your company will implement this solution effectively
  • An estimate of resources (time, money, etc) required to implement the solution

You can see how this sample business proposal template covers the above points.

business project proposal template

Notice how this proposal template addresses the same project like in one of the previous templates, but uses a completely different design style (more retro, while the previous business proposal template is more modern and minimalistic).

Generally, there are three types of business proposals:

1. Formally solicited 

A formally solicited business proposal is made when you respond to an official request to write a business proposal.

In this scenario, you know all the requirements and have more (if not all) information about a prospective buyer. You simply need to write the business proposal for your buyer to evaluate so you can begin the sales process .

2. Informally solicited 

Informally solicited business proposals are written when there isn’t an official request for a proposal. A prospective buyer is interested in your services and asks for a proposal so they can evaluate it.

An informally solicited proposal requires a lot more research from your end. These types of proposals are usually created out of informal conversations. They are not based on official requests which often contain more detail.

3. Unsolicited 

Think of this as a marketing brochure or a cold email . Unsolicited business proposals will often take a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to business proposals. Unsolicited proposals lack any understanding of the buyer or their requirements.

But with additional  market research , personalization and identifying customer pain points , you can propose a customized solution based on your buyer’s needs. This can be a very persuasive approach, such as in this business proposal example:

corporate business proposal example

Now that you know how to write a business proposal, let’s look at how you can optimize your proposal to deliver results!

Below you’ll find some winning business proposal templates and examples to get you started. I’ve also included some design tips to keep in mind when you’re creating your next business proposal: 

1. Know your audience 

If you have some clarity on who your ideal buyer is — their pain points, their budget, deadlines, among other things — you’ve already won half the battle.

If you are a business that helps clients with everything from running giveaways or helping grow their blog , identify which customers to pitch. This is a sure-shot way to close the deal.

Mapping user personas  for your ideal buyer can help bring some clarity. It will also help you position your business proposal correctly. This improves the chance of your buyer moving your business proposal to the “Yes!” pile.

2. Put your brand front and center

If your company follows certain brand guidelines, incorporate them in your business proposal templates. Consider how business proposal examples like the one below highlight brand identity :

content marketing plan business proposal example

From the color palettes to the company logos , everything follows their brand guidelines. The result: a business proposal that’s consistent across the board.

Pro Tip: Switching this template to match your brand assets is actually pretty easy. Venngage’s My Brand Kit feature allows you to import your color palettes, logos as well as font choices. Any Venngage template can now be your template.

You can also consider this sample business proposal template:

Example of a Business Proposal

Design companies sure do know their design. They did a phenomenal job keeping their brand colors consistent while opting for a black design. This unique color scheme also makes their white logo prominent throughout the proposal.

3. Try less text, more visuals

Have you ever read a proposal and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is all text and has no images, I love it!”? Yeah, me neither.

The free business proposal template below is a perfect example of the “less is more” principle. It does a phenomenal job of communicating what it needs to. By substituting some of the text with icons and visuals, you get a clean business proposal that’s much more scannable.

Social Media Plan Proposal Template

Want to keep things strictly professional? Instead of icons, you can always add your team’s headshots. This shows your buyer exactly who they’ll be working with.  

Check out this formal business proposal format for some inspiration:

Red Human Resources Consulting Proposal Template Team

4. Switch up your business proposal designs

It doesn’t hurt to go above and beyond once in a while. Jazz up your business proposal template with some extra colors. This helps make your business proposal more engaging. It also helps your buyers retain information faster.

Simple Business Proposal Example

The business proposal example alternates between black, white and grey backgrounds. It still manages to maintain consistency in its branding . Just switching up your backgrounds once in a while can also bring in some variety to an otherwise standard business proposal.

This SEO business proposal sample proves that it’s possible to switch up the colors in every other page. But it still maintains the same color scheme across the entire proposal just like a professionally designed website : 

SEO Marketing Proposal

Pro Tip: Not a color expert? Our guide on picking colors can help you pick the right color scheme for your proposals.

FAQ about business proposals

What is the purpose of a business proposal.

A business proposal aims to streamline the B2B sales process (which is often complex ) between you as a seller and a buyer.

It does this by serving the dual purpose of acting as a source of information. The proposal also acts as a sales pitch aimed at convincing your buyer why they should buy what you have to offer.

What are the best practices for business proposal design?

  • Do a thorough spell-check. The goal of your business proposal is to convince your buyer why you’re the perfect person for the job. A proposal with typos or grammatical errors communicates the opposite. A thorough spell-check before you send your proposal is a must.
  • Keep things clear and readable: Clarity is an important aspect that you have to ensure in your business proposal. If you want your proposal to hit home and make an impact on the buyer, you have to write it in an understandable way. To keep things clear and readable, there are a couple of things that you can do. You can, for one, take care to use easy wording and segmented sentences from the get-go. You can also try paraphrasing the hard parts of your proposal once you are done writing it.
  • Let your brand shine. As discussed before, writing a business proposal is all about knowing your ideal buyer and focusing on their pain points. But that doesn’t mean your business proposal template has to be boring. Demonstrate how different you are compared to other companies. You can do this through your brand guidelines , by using more visuals, switching up your proposal design or showing off your personality in your writing . 
  • Create a business proposal PDF. Downloading your business proposal in PDF format allows you to attach other collaterals with your business proposal. These can include a company explainer video or case studies showcasing the work done with past clients. Also, who doesn’t love saving paper?

How long should your business proposal be? 

The length depends on the scope of the work as well as the complexity of the project. Here is a one-page business proposal template:

one page business proposal template

Can your business proposal template really be one page? Yes, as long as you understand who your buyer is and their pain points. You should also have the ability to communicate everything your ideal buyer needs to know about your business in a succinct manner.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous how about just two pages? Often, clients prefer if you go straight to the point and avoid all the fluff.

For example, this green modern marketing proposal template wastes no time in getting down to brass tacks:

Project Business Proposal

Need more inspiration? Check out this blog on the 5 marketing proposal examples that’ll help elevate your business.

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to deciding how many pages you should include in your business proposal template. And at the end of the day, “the only rules are the ones you set for yourself”.

At the end of the day, writing winning business proposals that sell is all about you understanding your buyer, their potential pain points and positioning yourself as someone who can alleviate those pain points. 

Now that you know how to write compelling business proposals, what are you waiting for?

Take action and start creating your own business proposals to close more deals and grow your business today!

More business communications templates + writing tips you might be interested in…

  • 31 Consulting Proposal Templates to Close Deals
  • 20+ Professional Business Letterhead Templates + Branding Tips
  • How to Write a White Paper [Tips & Templates]

How To Write the Perfect Business Case

How to write a business case

Why do too many projects fail to deliver their objectives even though project management best practices appear to be used? Project management is naturally complicated, but it can be disastrous if you don’t have sufficient buy-in from the right parties. Writing a strong and complete business case can make all the difference.

https://main--bacom-blog--adobecom.hlx.page/blog/fragments/workfront-product-tour

In this how-to guide you will discover,

  • What is a business case?

Why you need a business case

  • Is the project worth doing?

When to use a business case

How to write a business case, the business case template, a business case example, 1. the executive summary, 2. the finance section, 3. the project definition, 4. project organization, managing the business case, making the case, frequently asked questions, what is a business case.

A business case is developed during the early stages of a project and outlines the why, what, how, and who necessary to decide if it is worthwhile continuing a project. One of the first things you need to know when starting a new project are the benefits of the proposed business change and how to communicate those benefits to the business.

While the project proposal focuses on why you want a project, it will only contain an outline of the project:

  • business vision
  • business need
  • expected benefits
  • strategic fit
  • products produced
  • broad estimates of time and cost
  • and impact on the organization

In contrast, the business case, which is first developed during the project initiation phase , contains much more detail. It should be reviewed by the project sponsor and key stakeholders before being accepted, rejected, canceled, deferred, or revised.

Depending on the scale of the business change, the business case may need further development as part of a detailed investigation. Therefore, it should be developed incrementally so that time and resources aren’t unnecessarily wasted on the impractical.

Preparing the business case involves an assessment of:

  • Business problem or opportunity
  • Costs including investment appraisal
  • Technical solutions
  • Impact on operations
  • Organizational capability to deliver the project outcomes

These project issues are an important part of the business case. They express the problems with the current situation and demonstrate the benefits of the new business vision.

The business case brings together the benefits, disadvantages, costs , and risks of the current situation and future vision so that executive management can decide if the project should go ahead.

Many projects start life as a walk in the fog, which is fine in itself, but never see the light of day or stumble along aimlessly for too long because the clarity of scope , time-scale, cost, and benefits are not defined adequately during the first stages of the project.

Is the project worth doing

Why are you starting a project? Chances are you’re doing it because you need to solve a problem.

Usually, the problem is something that gets in the way of achieving your goals . So, it seems a project is about achieving goals and your goals won’t be realized unless you deal with the problem (or opportunity or circumstance.)

If a project is worth doing you need to answer 4 simple questions:

  • What is your goal?
  • What’s stopping you from reaching the goal?
  • How much change is needed to overcome the problem?
  • Are you certain this will solve the problem?

Can you answer these questions quickly? Do you have evidence to support or refute your assumptions?

If not, it may not be worth starting a project.

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The business case is needed when resources or expenditure on a project has to be justified. Approval is usually sought from the project sponsor and other interested parties. For instance, the finance function may authorize funds and the IT department provide resources.

The purpose of the business case is communication. Therefore, each section should be written in the parlance of the intended audience.

Moreover, it should only contain enough information to help decision making. When writing a business case keep the following in mind:

  • Be brief and convey only the essentials.
  • Make it interesting, clear, and concise.
  • Eliminate conjecture and minimize jargon.
  • Describe your vision of the future.
  • Demonstrate the value and benefits the project brings to the business.
  • Ensure consistent style and readability.

The project sponsor is responsible for preparing the business case. However, all appropriate team members should contribute to its development. Likewise, subject matter experts from other functions ― finance, HR, IT, service delivery, and so on ― can provide specialist information.

Those writing the business case should have a thorough understanding of the project’s aims and be able to merge the varied and potentially complex plans into one document using the following business case template.

What follows are the four steps to writing a business case template for your project. It includes the following four sections:

  • Executive Summary
  • Project Definition
  • Project Organization

This example of a business case is a simplified version for a small company with few staff. The bigger the project, the bigger the risk, which means the more detail you will need to provide for your investors and stakeholders.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In 2021, retail e-Commerce revenue reached 768 billion US dollars. People are expecting more digital experiences and want to interact and purchase what they need online.

Our current website is just a static page with no interaction available to possible customers. With a website upgrade to incorporate an e-Commerce store, we can entice users to purchase all their training online, in return increasing productivity and efficiency within the office. An estimated $25,000 could be saved a year through this upgrade.

1.1 Financial Appraisal

The expected cost of the new website is $15,000 with a $500 annual maintenance fee.

The training costs of the staff is estimated at $2,000, but the reduction of administration and manual handling of orders is estimated to save $25,000 annually.

1.2 Sensitivity Analysis

The alternatives include:

  • Maintaining the current system, which costs $25,000 annually to maintain and run.
  • Upgrading the website, but not including an e-Commerce store. This would cost $6,000, but the cost of processing the orders is still $25,000.
  • Outsourcing the training purchases to a third-party site, which would cost between $49.99 - $100 per month. In the long run this would cost more and offer less development scope.

2. PROJECT DEFINITION

2.1 Background information

The World is digitizing and we, as a business, must keep up with consumer demand if we are to remain one of the most sought-after training providers.

Since 2020 and the outbreak of Covid-19, many more people have been working remotely and wish to access their training requirements online. We need to update our systems to provide our customers with a purely online system that can provide them with their required training courses in a virtual environment, from purchase through to attendance. This new e-Commerce website is the first step in this process.

2.2 Business Objective

The goal is to provide an online platform where customers can purchase their training requirements.

The solution is to build an e-Commerce website.

This syncs with the business strategy, as it will increase efficiency and profits.

2.3 Benefits and Limitations

The benefits of this project far out-weigh the negatives. They include:

  • Improvement in the quality of customer service and user journey
  • Increased conversion rate through streamlined processes
  • Cost savings through efficiencies
  • Reduced working capital
  • Increase in revenue generated
  • Remain competitive in a digital world.

The limitations of this project remain with staffing, as we do not have a web designer or developer within our company, meaning this will still have to be outsourced if anything arises at a future date.

2.4 Option Identification & Selection

Options for the e-Commerce site include the following:

  • WordPress website with WooCommerce store
  • All-in-one website hosted on e-Commerce platform such as Shopify
  • Use of third-party payment system, such as Stripe, PayPal, or Worldpay
  • Ability to take payments directly through the website and acting as controller and processor of user’s sensitive data
  • Inclusion of a blog
  • Integration of CRM platform.

2.5 Scope, Impact, and interdependencies

The website will be built independently from the current site, so will not affect any current processes or user experience.

2.6 Outline Plan

The website will be built by an external agency and will take around 6 months to complete and push live.

One month before going live the staff will undertake essential training.

2.7 Market Assessment

Since retail e-Commerce has risen to $768 billion US Dollars, it’s time we also made the move to online sales.

2.8 Risk Assessment

The project will be completed out of house.

2.9 Project Approach

The project will be managed out of house.

2.10 Purchasing Strategy

We will enter a contractual agreement with the creative agency. Attached is a copy of the proposed contract.

3. PROJECT ORGANIZATION

3.1 Project Governance

Project will be managed by the agency and in-house by the Centre Executive.

3.2 Progress Reporting

The agency will report to the Centre Executive.

Depending on the length of the business case you may want to include a high-level summary of the project.

The executive summary is the first section of the business case and the last written. It is a short summary of the entire business case. It succinctly conveys vital information about the project and communicates the entire story to the reader.

First impressions are important. Get this right!

The finance section of an effective business case is primarily for those who approve funding. The finance function will be interested in this plus the first half of the project definition.

Financial appraisal.

When you prepare the financial appraisal seek advice on content and presentation from the finance function. In the case of capital developments, consult subject matter experts.

The purpose of a financial appraisal is to:

  • Identify the financial implications for the project
  • Compare project costs against the forecast benefits
  • Ensure the project is affordable
  • Assess value for money
  • Predict cash flow.

Sensitivity analysis.

Sensitivity analysis concerns project risk and looks at alternative futures by measuring the impact on project outcomes or assumptions of changing values in which there is uncertainty.

In effect, sensitivity analysis lets the project accountant experiment with possible scenarios.

This is the largest part of the business case and is for the project sponsor, stakeholders, and project team. It answers most of the why, what, and how questions about your project.

Background information.

The purpose of this section is to give a clear introduction to the business case and project. It should contain a brief overview of the reasons why the project or business change has come about: the problem, opportunity, or change of circumstances.

If necessary, refer to related programs, projects, studies, or business plans.

Business objective.

This part describes why you are doing the project. The business objective answers the following questions:

  • What is needed to overcome the problem?
  • How will the project support the business strategy?

Benefits and limitations.

The benefits and limitations section describes the financial and non-financial benefits in turn. The purpose is to explain why you need a project.

For instance, to:

  • Improve quality
  • Save costs through efficiencies
  • Reduce working capital
  • Generate revenue
  • Remain competitive
  • Improve customer service
  • Align to corporate strategy

The business case should also include any limitations since these present potential risk to the project.

Option identification and selection.

Identify the potential solutions to the problem and describe them in enough detail for the reader to understand.

For instance, if the business case and proposed solution makes use of technology, make sure to explain how the technology is used and define the terms used in a glossary. Since most problems have multiple solutions an option appraisal is often needed. This will explore the potential solutions and recommend the best option.

When writing the initial business case, the option appraisal is likely to contain a long list of options and will cover many possibilities. As the project continues a few options will be rejected. The final business case may contain three to five options ― the short list ― that includes a do nothing or benchmark option.

Scope, impact, and interdependencies.

This section of the business case template describes the work needed to deliver the business objective and identifies those business functions affected by the project.

Moreover, the project scope, impact, and interdependencies section should state the project’s scope and boundaries. It describes what is included and what is excluded plus the key interdependencies with other projects. It is important for the business case to consider the failure of other interrelated projects and show how such dependencies make impact benefits.

Outline plan.

The outline plan provides a summary of the main activities and overall timescale ― project schedule ― for the project.

A project should be divided into stages with the decisions to make preceding each stage. Use this section to answer the following questions:

  • What is required?
  • How is it done?
  • Who does what?
  • When will things happen?

This outline plan lists the major deliverables and includes a brief project description plus accountabilities for each activity.

Market assessment.

It is important that the business case provides its readers with a thorough assessment of the business context ― the market assessment. In other words, make the underlying business interests explicit.

Therefore, the market assessment should show a complete understanding of the marketplace in which your business operates.

A good starting point is the inclusions of a PESTLE ― political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental ― analysis.

Risk assessment.

The risk assessment summarizes the significant project risks and opportunities and how they are managed. Include any risks that could arise from your project, as well as the organization’s ability to deliver change.

This section answers the following questions:

  • What risks are involved?
  • What are the consequences of a risk happening?
  • What opportunities may emerge?
  • What plans are in place to deal with the risks?
  • Every project should include a risk log

When writing a business case, make sure this is included as it explains how risk and opportunity are managed.

Project approach.

The project approach describes how the project is tackled. That is, the way in which work is done to deliver the project.

For instance, a project with much of the work contracted out is likely to take a different approach to a project that develops an in-house solution.

Purchasing strategy.

This section describes how a project is to be financed and whether a decision to buy, lease, or outsource should be taken by the organization before purchasing.

Moreover, the purchasing strategy should describe the purchasing process used. A formal procurement process may save time and money and reduce project risk.

The last section of the business case template is of most interest to the project manager, project team, and managers responsible for delivering work to the project. This project organization section describes how the project is set up.

Project governance.

This section of the business case template shows the reader how the project is structured and the different levels of decision-making. Usually, a business will already have implemented a project governance framework that will support the project through each stage.

If your organization does not use a structured project management process framework use this section to include:

  • Roles and responsibilities (RACI Chart)
  • Project tolerances
  • Project standards
  • Review points
  • How decisions are made.

Progress reporting.

Finally, the business case should define how project progress is recorded and the project board updated on project performance. Usually, the project manager does this by preparing a concise progress report or highlight report at regular intervals.

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The completed business case provides structure for the project and project organization throughout the project lifecycle . Therefore, it should be used routinely for reference and not consigned to the shelf.

Accordingly, the project sponsor and project board should review and update the business case at key stages to check that the project remains viable and the reasons for doing it are still valid. Ideally, the review should take place before starting a new stage to avoid unnecessary investment in time and money.

In this article we showed you how to write a business case. We covered a lot of ground and may give the impression that the resulting business case is a large and unwieldy document.

This is not the case.

A business case should be concise and to the point. For small projects it may run to a few pages. For larger projects and complex business change endeavors the document will be large.

Therefore, be sure to keep the intended audience in mind when preparing each section and include supporting information in an appendix.

For instance, the option appraisal section may summarize each option with the details contained elsewhere for reference.

To conclude, the purpose of a business case is to outline the business rationale for undertaking a project and to provide a means to continually assess and evaluate project progress.

What is the difference between a business case and a business plan?

The focus of the business case is an action, which is usually the purchase of capital equipment or a service. In comparison, the focus of the business plan is to outline the future of a business proposal, it’s margins, revenue growth over several years and what the business goals and strategies will encompass.

What should be included in a business case?

Writing a business case can seem like a daunting task, which is why we have provided you with a business case template and example to help you make a start.

The four sections include:

What is a business case template?

A business case template provides you with a structure and format to present your case to relevant stakeholders and investors. It’s essential that this document communicate the essence of your project’s goals and benefits, while aligning with the company’s strategies and objectives.

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Rationale Business Plans Samples For Students

6 samples of this type

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Free Tows Analysis Business Plan Example

Implementation plan: preoperative clipping instead of shaving business plan examples.

Evidence-based practice (EBP) entails the application of research findings showing the merits of a new intervention or process. To accomplish this, studies have to be collected and appraised before a decision to adopt the new practice is made. The PICOT method facilitates the process of EBP by providing a problem-solving approach that starts with a question, delimits the target population, defines the intervention’s place in time, and enables comparison between conventional and alternative practices. The following implementation plan is based on the results of a PICOT question comparing preoperative clipping with shaving when hair needs to be removed for surgery.

Description of the Problem

Example of company description and swot analysis business plan, create your revised nab company name and explain its significance..

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Good Business Plan On Spring 2016 Final Exam

Free applicable financial reporting framework business plan sample.

Business Plan - Construction Plan

Introduction

Example of business plan on chart 1: the three target market segments of cbs broadcasting inc, analysis targeting about cbs broadcasting inc.

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IMAGES

  1. Rationalisation

    example of business plan rationale

  2. Example Of Business Plan Introduction Pdf

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  3. PROJECT PROPOSAL FORMAT I. Title : II. Rationale III. Objectives

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  4. Business rationale

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  5. Coffee Shop Business Plan Template Sample Pages

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  6. theories, concepts, and rationale of strategic planning

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VIDEO

  1. 1.2 Why create a business plan?

  2. The Business Plan for Happiness [Rationale]

  3. Business plan example

  4. 4/21 Rationale Overview

  5. Business Planning

  6. Expert Opinions

COMMENTS

  1. 6 Examples of a Rationale

    A design rationale documents the reasons for design decisions. This explains why a design was selected from alternatives and how it achieves design goals. For example, the architect for a public school that creates a rationale based on the project's requirements and constraints. The dense urban location of the school and small size of its land ...

  2. 7 Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own (2024)

    7 business plan examples: section by section. The business plan examples in this article follow this example template: Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business. Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists. Market analysis.

  3. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks: Product goals and deadlines for each month. Monthly financials for the first two years. Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years. Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years. Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create ...

  4. 24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

    8. Panda Doc's Free Business Plan Template. PandaDoc's free business plan template is one of the more detailed and fleshed-out sample business plans on this list. It describes what you should include in each section, so you don't have to come up with everything from scratch.

  5. Write your business plan

    Executive summary. Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company's leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

  6. 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 ...

  7. PDF HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN

    Start with a cogent and concise one sentence statement of the business idea. A sentence that is so clear and appealing that the reader can immediately visualise or 'see' the business. You can then go on to describe: The market at which you are aiming. The specific benefits offered by your product or service.

  8. 550+ Sample Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own

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

  9. Business Plan Example and Template

    A business plan should be structured in a way that it contains all the important information that investors are looking for. Here are the main sections of a business plan: 1. Title Page. The title page captures the legal information of the business, which includes the registered business name, physical address, phone number, email address, date ...

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

    How to Write a Business Plan Step 1. Create a Cover Page. The first thing investors will see is the cover page for your business plan. Make sure it looks professional. A great cover page shows that you think about first impressions. A good business plan should have the following elements on a cover page:

  11. Simple Business Plan Template (2024)

    This section of your simple business plan template explores how to structure and operate your business. Details include the type of business organization your startup will take, roles and ...

  12. Examples of Project Rationale

    Other Types of Project Rationales. Other examples of project rationales include assessing different marketing strategies, constructing new facilities and moving products from research into full ...

  13. 11.4 The Business Plan

    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 ...

  14. How to Write a Business Plan in 2023 [Examples Included]

    Vision statement - Explain your vision for the company and include the overall business goals you will try to achieve. Executive summary - A quick overview of what your company is about and what will make it successful. Make sure to include your products/services, basic leadership information, employees, and location.

  15. 9 Business Plan with Examples and Format (2023)

    Business Plan Format with Sample Templates. Writing a business proposal can be tricky. Whether it is a small or large business, there are a few key elements you should consider when discussing a business strategy to enhance your business plan. This section provides sample templates that can help you streamline your unique business proposal. 1.

  16. Writing a rationale

    prior to an action or decision; why you plan to do something and how, or. after you have acted or decided something; reflecting, looking back, why you did something and how it worked or not. You can use language to signal you are clearly providing a rationale in your writing. You can link your rationale to learning outcomes or aims for a lesson ...

  17. 1.4: Chapter 3 Business Rationale

    Whether that base plateau is your own business or the salary from your day job, the stacking plateaus concept still applies. That's the business rationale for parallel entrepreneurship. From Good to Great. If you can get your business up to $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR), then that's really good. Most entrepreneurs never get there.

  18. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan: Complete Guide

    Use this template to create a complete, clear and solid business plan that get you funded. Let's dive in! 1. Restaurant Executive Summary. The executive summary of a business plan gives a sneak peek of the information about your business plan to lenders and/or investors. If the information you provide here is not concise, informative, and ...

  19. How to Write a Business Case (Template Included)

    Visualize your project plan on the board view from ProjectManager Learn more 8. Project Budget. Your budget is an estimate of everything in your project plan and what it will cost to complete the project over the scheduled time allotted.. 9. Project Schedule. Make a timeline for the project by estimating how long it will take to get each task completed.

  20. Guide to Business Plan Introductions (With Example)

    Here is an example business plan introduction to help you write your own: Company description Rajn is a brand new shoe reselling e-commerce platform designed for shoe enthusiasts and collectors. Rajn seeks to sell new and used footwear through an online store and app. The goal of this plan is to outline Rajn's fiscal goals, build a stronger ...

  21. How to Write a Business Proposal (+ Examples & FREE Templates)

    Here are the essential elements to include: Your name along with your company's name. The name of the prospect (or their business) The date you're submitting the proposal. CREATE THIS PROPOSAL TEMPLATE. The gray business consulting proposal template above contains all the details a prospect would want to know.

  22. How to Write a Business Case: Template & Examples

    Don't be afraid to get creative. 1. The Executive Summary. Depending on the length of the business case you may want to include a high-level summary of the project. The executive summary is the first section of the business case and the last written. It is a short summary of the entire business case.

  23. Rationale Business Plan Examples That Really Inspire

    Free Tows Analysis Business Plan Example. Spirit Aero systems Company is best known as the largest aerostructures manufacturer across the globe. The company is the leading distributor of structural aircraft equipment such as the wing system, propulsion system, and fuselages. Lloyd Stearman established it in 1927 and the headquarters are based ...