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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

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

1. Write an executive summary

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

A business plan is a document that outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business’s next three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.

Bizee

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your business plan.

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

This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

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

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

Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

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

short plan in business

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

Your sales strategy.

Your distribution strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

You may also include metrics such as:

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

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

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

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

» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.

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

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

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How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needing to write a business plan to get there.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated February 2, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

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
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: How to collaborate with AI on your business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information you need to cover in a business plan sometimes isn’t quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

Kickstart your business plan writing with one of our free business plan templates or recommended tools.

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Explore over 500 real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries.

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. 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 when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

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.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of 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, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

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

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

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

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

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Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

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How to Easily Write a Business Plan in 30-Minutes

Posted november 2, 2022 by noah parsons.

Learn how to write a business plan in under an hour with lean planning.

Writing a business plan can be intimidating. You know that you need to put a plan together to start a successful business, but you find yourself staring at a blank Word or Google doc wondering what to do next.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re willing to give up your preconceptions that a plan has to be a lengthy document that you spend a lot of time and energy on once and then file away—you’ll discover that there are better (and faster) ways to plan.

Introducing the 30-minute plan

A traditional business plan can take hours, days, or even weeks to put together. 

We recommend a simpler process that you can complete in under an hour. Sounds too good to be true? We successfully used this process ourselves to build LivePlan , and it’s a major reason why LivePlan is so successful. With a one-page business plan, we were able to quickly figure out our strategic goals and what it would take to grow the business. 

You can do this, even if you’ve never written a business plan before. The key is to focus on creating a business plan that fits on one page. By focusing on a single page, you skip all the formatting, complete sentences, and paragraphs of text that most people skip anyways. Instead, you’ll prioritize outlining your actual business strategy, the business model you’ll use to make money, and the marketing and sales strategies you’ll use to grow.

How to write a business plan in just 11 steps

When putting together your one-page business plan , think in bullet points and short sentences. The goal is to keep each section as short as possible. Here is what you need to include, along with an example of a bike shop business plan I put together in just 27 minutes.

1. Value proposition

This section answers the question, “What does your business do?” Your goal is to communicate the value you are providing to your customers in a way that is as simple and direct as possible. Think of it like this—if you’re at a party and someone asks you what your business does, can you describe it in a single sentence? 

Struggling to define your value? Check out this simple formula to create your unique value proposition .

short plan in business

2. Market need

What’s the problem you solve for your customers? Why would they go out shopping for a solution? Why does your business need to exist? Why would they choose you over other alternatives? 

If you’re not sure, try talking to your potential customers and ask them what they might like about your products or services. 

For your one-page business plan, one or two short sentences will do here. Keep things short and direct.

3. Your solution

Describe your product or service and why it’s better than the alternatives. Essentially, if someone asked you what you sell, what would your answer be? Your solution should be the answer to the market need that you described in the previous section that delivers the value you described in your value proposition.

short plan in business

4. Target market

Describe your ideal customer . Who are they? Be as specific as possible—age, gender, shopping habits, and so on. If you target different types of people, create market segments for each group. If you are targeting different market segments, list each segment and its approximate size. 

For example, if you are targeting “young families” in addition to “older parents”, try and figure out how many people are in each group. For your initial plan, you don’t need to get too specific – you can always add more detail later as flesh out your plan.

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5. Competition

Every business has competition . Who do your customers buy from if they aren’t going to buy from you? What makes your business and products better than the alternatives that are out there?

short plan in business

6. Funding needs

Nearly every business needs some money to get off the ground. Think about how much money you’ll need and how you plan on using it. Even if you’re starting your business with your own savings or using credit card debt, it’s a good idea to plan on how you will use the funds until you start making sales.

short plan in business

7. Sales channels

These are the places where you will sell your products. If you’re selling online, your online store is a sales channel. If you also have a physical store, that’s another sales channel.

8. Marketing activities

What will you do to market your business ? If you plan on buying advertising, list the types of advertising you plan on doing here. Remember, different target markets might need different types of marketing activities to get your product in front of them.

short plan in business

9. Budget and sales goals

How much is it going to cost to run your business? What sales goals do you need to reach for your business to be a success? Don’t sweat the details to start and just think in broad strokes to get a rough idea of how your business will work financially . 

You can start by just listing your primary revenue streams and your major expenses. As you learn more about the details, you can start to add estimates for how much sales you’ll bring in and what your actual expenses will be. Eventually, you’ll expand these broad estimates into a more detailed forecast, but initially just stick to high-level estimates.

short plan in business

10. Milestones

What are the major tasks you need to accomplish to get your business up and running? This will help you stay on track and meet your goals. For most businesses, you should focus on the near term and highlight what you want to accomplish in the next few months. 

Shorter-term milestones might include signing a lease on an office or designing your first prototype. Other businesses may have very long research and development cycles and should map out key milestones for the next 12-24 months. These businesses might have milestones related to getting regulatory approval or entering clinical trials.  

Regardless of the timeframe of your milestones, make sure to assign milestones to people on your team so you have real responsibility and accountability.

short plan in business

Even if you’re starting out with just yourself as the only employee of your business, write a few quick bullets about why you’re the right person to run this business. If you need to hire key people in the future, list those positions as well, even if you don’t know who specifically will fill those positions right now.

short plan in business

This one-page plan looks pretty good—one of its strong points is that it’s built to help you visualize your plan and easily share it with others. While I used LivePlan to put this plan together, you can start by downloading this free Word doc template. 

Need additional guidance? Check out this article for more detailed instructions to successfully build your one-page plan .

What to do after completing your simple business plan

Now that you’ve saved all that time writing your business plan, what should you do next? 

With an initial plan in place, you’re primed to use a process known as growth planning that helps both startups and existing businesses grow more quickly and nimbly than their competitors. 

Here are the initial steps you can take to put your new plan into action and start growth planning:

Test your idea and revise your plan

It’s rare to get a business idea right the first time. Almost every business makes changes to their initial idea to become a successful, growing company. That’s why it’s important to test your idea early and make adjustments before you sink too much money into your business. 

There are plenty of ideas in the article linked above, but the core concept of validating your business idea is to go out and talk to potential customers and gather feedback. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a tech company or a cookie business. Get your app design or your cookie samples into potential customers’ hands and hear what they have to say.

Once you have feedback, revise your plan. Your marketing or sales strategy might change, or perhaps you decide to change your overall value proposition. Either way, revise your plan and test again until you have a business model that works.

Expand into a more detailed business plan

The one-page plan is simple and effective, but there may be a time when you need to expand your plan and create a more detailed business plan . Lenders and investors may want to see a more detailed business plan if only to prove that you’ve taken time to think through all the details of getting your business up and running. 

Or, maybe you just want to add more details to your plan, and expanding beyond the single page makes sense for you. This may be more robust market research, expanded financial forecasts, or other details that make your plan more useful.

Luckily, by starting with a simple business plan format, you can easily expand on the necessary sections without having to start over. And, the real value in detailed planning is the process that you go through to create the plan. 

You’ll be forced to answer questions about your business that you might have been tempted to gloss over or ignore completely if you skip the planning process. If a detailed business plan sounds like it will be a useful tool for you, check out this detailed step-by-step guide , as well as a free template you can download .

Review and revise

Revising your initial business plan isn’t just for new businesses that are just figuring out their path to success. Businesses that are up and running also benefit from regularly going back and revising their plan as things change. Your sales goals might need to be adjusted or you might need to adjust your expense budget. Perhaps you’ll decide to sell to a different kind of customer. Your one-page plan is a great place to document those changes and will help you track your progress toward your goals .

When you update your plan, you’re setting new goals to strive for. You’re also ensuring that your business strategy is documented and ready to share with new business partners, investors, and employees. I’ve found that sharing my company’s plan with employees improves transparency and gives everyone the big picture of what we’re trying to do. It ensures that everyone is moving the company in the same direction.

Download our one-page business plan template

Your simple one-page business plan is your guide to building the business you want and your key to finding success. And, thankfully, it’s so much easier and faster than traditional business planning. 

If you want to get started on your plan right away, you can download our free one-page plan template . With that, you will be well on your way to a better business strategy, without all the time and hassle of drafting a lengthy business plan.

If you want to elevate your ability to build a healthy, growing business, you may want to explore the growth planning process and learn how it can help you build a sustainable, profitable business. You should also consider LivePlan.

It’s a product that makes growth planning easy and features step-by-step guidance that ensures you cover everything necessary while reducing the time spent on formatting and presenting. You’ll also gain access to financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results.

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How to Write a Professional Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

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Home » Blog » How to Write a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

During financial uncertainty, many of us press pause on our entrepreneurial aspirations.

Wondering if now’s the right time to start our business . Doubting our ideas and worrying about the what-ifs and maybes! 

A business plan removes the uncertainty and what-ifs from the equation. It validates our business ideas, confirms our marketing strategies, and identifies potential problems before they arise.  

Replacing our doubts with positivity, ensuring we see the complete picture, and increasing our chances of success.

Because you could be starting and running your own business . But you’ll only know for sure it’s the right move for you when you write your business plan.

Here’s everything you need to know to create the perfect business plan.

What is a business plan?

What is a business plan

A well-written business plan contains the recipe for your new business’s growth and development. 

It’s your compass. 

It describes your goals and how you’ll achieve them by infusing the ingredients you need to turn your dream into a reality. 

  • Your business description- Tells readers about your idea, why it'll succeed, and how you'll make it happen.
  • A market analysis- That backs up your company description.
  • Your management and organization plan- Includes employees or contractors because even a one-person show may need a team's help on a contract basis, like bookkeeping services, graphic design, research, and if your business grows, with time, also full-time employees.
  • Your products or services descriptions- Explaining how they work, where you'll get them, and how much they`ll cost.
  • A target audience analysis- So, you know exactly who you`re selling to and what makes them buy what you`re offering.
  • Your marketing and sales plan- Proving your chosen niche is profitable and how you'll reach your customers.
  • A financial funding request/projections - What you need and how you'll get it.

Your business plan is like a GPS, guiding your business to its destination for the next 3 to 5 years. 

Why is a business plan important?

Here’s the short answer.

A business plan enables you to convey your vision to those who can help you make it a reality.  

It does it in 2 ways:

  • It empowers you to evaluate your goals and confirm their viability before entering a marketplace.
  • And equips you with the information, using a proven outline, that convinces others to help you achieve them.

A business plan does it by explaining who you are, what you are going to do, and how you’ll do it. It clarifies your strategies, identifies future roadblocks, and determines your immediate and future financial and resource needs.

Let’s look at what that means and why each part is important.

A business plan helps you evaluate your ideas

Do you have over one business idea or a range of products or services you believe you could bring to a single marketplace? 

If so, a business plan helps determine which is worth focusing on and where to apply your energy and resources by evaluating your idea’s possible market share and profitability before investing.

Clarifies your costs

Your chosen market determines your initial investment and future revenue. And it would be best if you knew those before you invest a dollar in your business idea.

With your chosen idea, your business plan can help you understand your set-up and running costs, the resources you’ll need, and the time it’ll take to get started.

It’s also where you’ll calculate your future sales and revenue goals to ensure they fit your budget and required breakeven point.  

And those are essential because every business needs a consistent cash flow to stay afloat!

Steers your business in the right direction

Your business plan guides you through every stage of starting and running your business . 

It acts as your GPS, giving you a course to steer. Ensuring your business stays on track, helping you achieve your goals every step of the way.  

Acts as your financial guide

As your new business grows, you might need to expand. 

But with expansion come big spending decisions, such as purchasing expensive equipment, leasing a new location, or hiring your first employees.

Your business plan’s financial forecast gives you a solid foundation to build on by clarifying when you’re ready to make those investments, ensuring you don’t overreach.

And when you are ready to employ staff, it helps you with that too!

Helps recruit the people you need

Your business is often only as good as its employees. A business plan helps you communicate your vision and pitch your dream to the best candidates. Building their confidence in your venture and encouraging them to join you.

It's essential if seeking a loan or investment

Do you need a loan from a bank or a venture capitalist/angel investor?

If so, you’ll need a business plan that shows your past and future financial trajectory so potential investors can evaluate your business’ feasibility to determine whether you’re worth the risk.

It's an asset if you want to sell your business

Owners of legal entities, such as LLCs, can sell all or part of their business to raise funds for other business ventures or expand their existing ones.

A solid business plan with proven financial recordings and realistic forecasts based on current performance can make your business more attractive to potential investors. 

And it makes sense because when buyers understand your business model and its potential growth, they’ll see the value in it for them.  

All great reasons to write a business plan, don`t you agree?

Okay, here’s how you do it: 

The steps for creating a business plan

The steps for a creating a business plan

Most business plan templates are similar, containing several steps for writing a conclusive plan. If you’re interested in a very short plan, we prepared a lean (one-page) version, including a template . 

The perfect business plan isn’t one or the other; it’s the plan that meets your business needs.

That said, every business plan should contain crucial elements and essential details . And a rhythm to your outline that encourages action, growth, and investors to read it from start to finish. Our step-by-step guide, along with our template, will help you achieve both. 

But first, you must choose the style that works for you:

Pick a business plan format that works for you

You can tackle creating a business plan in different ways; one could be a long-form, more traditional approach or a one-page business plan that acts as a summarized road map.

Traditional business plans use a standard, industry-expected structure, with each section written in great detail. They require a lot of research because businesses often use them to gain investment, and they can be anywhere from 10 to 50 pages long. 

A one-page business plan uses a similar structure but summarizes each step by highlighting the key points. 

You can write a one-page plan in an hour and use it as a personal blueprint for running your business or as a guide to writing a future traditional plan.

Here are the core component that create a great business plan:

1.  An executive summary

2.  Your company’s description

3. Market analysis

4. management and organization outline, 5. products and service description, 6. target audience analysis, 7. marketing and sales plan.

8. Financial funding request 

9. Financial projections

10. an appendix, 1. an executive summary.

The first section of your business plan’s an executive summary that tells anyone reading in simple terms what your business is and why you believe it’ll be successful.

It’s the most crucial part of your plan because anyone reviewing it often decides whether to continue reading based on what’s in your executive summary.

Your executive should contain your mission statement (why you’re starting your business). A product/service description. Your leadership team and financial information.

Even though the first thing people read is your executive summary, it’s the last section you write. 

The next step is about you:

2. Your company's description

Here you sell yourself and your business by telling readers why you’re starting your business and know it’ll succeed.

You must be realistic, business-like, and detailed.  

Begin by explaining who you are, what you plan on doing, and how you’ll do it. Describe your future market, your target audience, and why they need your product/service. 

Elaborate on your unique selling point (USP) and how your competitive advantage will ensure your success. 

Describe your team, highlight their skills and technical expertise, and if you`re a brick-and-mortar business, discuss your location and why it’s right for your target audience or logistics. 

Now your market:

A great business idea is only as good as its future marketplace. Enter a declining market with an insufficient or uninterested audience, and you’ll be toast.

Choose one on an upward trajectory with people you understand and need your product, and you’ll be in business. 

That makes your market analysis a crucial step in your business plan outline. Here’s where you identify your target audience, competitors’ performance, strengths and weaknesses, and whether the market can sustain your business needs.

Your market analysis should include the following:

  • Your market description and outlook- Provide a detailed outline defining your market, including its size, trends, growth rate, and outlook.
  • Target Market- Describe your ideal customers, including their demographics such as age, gender, employment status, income level, and lifestyle preferences. Also, include your market size, what motivates your ideal clients, and how you'll reach them.
  • Competitive Analysis- Identify your main competitors and list their strengths and weaknesses. Also, highlight any potential roadblocks that might prevent you from entering your chosen marketplace.

Step 4 is where you tell readers how you’ll construct your business and who’ll run it.  

Describe your business’s legal structure, whether you’re a sole proprietor intending to form an LLC or a limited/general partnership with dreams of incorporating an S or C corps. 

Include your registered business name and any DBA brand name you have. And any member’s percentage ownership and managerial duties per your operating agreement.

And consider using a chart to show who runs what section of the business. Explain how each employee, manager, or owner’s experience and expertise will contribute to your venture’s success. And if you have them, include your team’s resumes and CVs.

Now you must get technical about what you plan to offer.

List your products or services and explain how they work. If in the development stage, describe the process and when you’ll be market ready.

Include the following product/service information:

  • Describe how your product/service will benefit your target audience.
  • Provide a breakdown of costs per unit made/sold, life cycle, and expected profit margins.
  • Explain your supply chain, order fulfillment, and sales strategy.
  • Include your plans for intellectual property, like trademarks and patents.

Your product and service description brings you to those who matter most. Your target audience:

The target audience section of your business plan is the most important one to get right. After all, your customers are your business. And the better you know them, the easier it’ll be to sell to them. 

To gain a clear picture of your ideal clients, learn about their demographics and create a client persona.

Those include: 

  • Their location
  • Education level
  • Employment status
  • Where they work
  • How much they earn
  • How they communicate
  • Preferred social media platforms
  • Common behavior patterns
  • Free time interests
  • And what their values and beliefs are

You need your target audience’s demographics to create a branding style that resonates with them. To build marketing strategies that engage their interest. And to identify where to spend your advertising dollars.

Target market’s persona in place, your next step is to describe how you’ll reach and sell to them:

Your marketing plan outlines your strategies to connect with and convert your ideal clients. 

Here’s where you explain how you’ll reach your audience, describe your sales funnel, and develop customer loyalty to keep customers.

Your business plan doesn’t require your complete marketing/sales plan but should answer basic questions like:

  • Who's your target market?
  • Which channels will you use to reach them? (Social media, email, website, traditional marketing, etc.)
  • What sales strategies will you use?
  • Which resources do you need to implement those strategies?
  • Do you have the resources, and if not, where will you get them?
  • What are the potential marketing obstacles, and how you'll overcome them?
  • What's your initial marketing campaign timeline and budget?
  • What your success metrics are, and how you'll measure them?

8. Financial funding request

This step applies if you require funding to start or grow your business.

Similar to the marketing plan step, including your entire financial plan is unnecessary. However, you’ll need to answer specific questions to explain how much investment you require and how you’ll use it.

The following financial funding outline will suffice:

  • Your current capital balance and how much future capital you'll need.
  • Specify whether you want equity or debt.
  • The terms and conditions you need and the duration of any loan repayments.
  • Provide a detailed description of why you need investment, IE., to pay salaries, buy equipment or stock, and what percentage will go where.

Start-ups that need investment must rely on something other than past sales and balance sheets. Here, you’ll need to use financial projections to persuade lenders you’ll generate enough profit to repay their loans. And that investors will get a worthwhile return. 

Your goal is to convince potential lenders or investors that your business will make enough profit to repay any loans or fulfill your equity promises.

Depending on your loan requirements and market, these projections can vary from 3 to 5 years. 

Financial projections aren’t an exact science; you’re forecasting the future! However, accuracy is essential (meaning your projected numbers must add up correctly). And while your goals should be positive, they must also be realistic.

What to include in your financial forecast:

  • Forecasted income statements.
  • Capital expenditures, fixed and variable.
  • Quarterly and annual balance sheets.
  • Projected cash flow statements.

Be specific with your projections and ensure they match your funding requests. And if you have collateral to put against a loan, include it at the end of your financial projections to improve your chances of approval. 

Also, consider using charts and graphs to tell your financial story, as visuals are great for conveying your message.

Use your appendix to list and provide supporting information, documents, or additional materials you couldn’t fit in elsewhere.

If the appendix is lengthy, start it with a table of contents.

What to include:

  • Key employee resumes.
  • Letters of reference.
  • Licenses and permits.
  • Intellectual property - patents or trademarks.
  • Legal documents.
  • Any current contracts.
  • Product pictures and information.
  • Bank statements/credit history.

Conclusion

Financial uncertainty shouldn`t stop you from following your dreams. In fact, recessions are often the best time to start a business . 

And your business plan is one of the main things that can help you make your dream of owning a business a reality.

Take it one step at a time, do your research, and use your business plan to remove the uncertainty of the unknown. 

Because then you’ll know if the time is right to start your business.

This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.

business plan

How to Write a Business Plan in 2023: The Ultimate Guide for Every Entrepreneur

Are you starting a new business or trying to get a loan for your existing venture? If so, you’re going to need to know how to write a business plan. Business plans give entrepreneurs the opportunity to formally analyze and define every aspect of their business idea .

In this post, you’ll learn how to put together a business plan and find the best resources to help you along the way.

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What is a Business Plan? 

A business plan is a formal document that outlines your business’s goals and how you will achieve those goals. Entrepreneurs who start out with business plans are 16 percent more likely to build successful companies , according to the Harvard Business Review.  Developing a business plan ensures sustainable success, guiding you as you grow your business, legitimizing your venture, and helping you secure funding (among countless other benefits). 

What Are the Main Purposes of a Business Plan?

Most financial institutions and service providers require you to submit a detailed business plan to obtain funding for your business. Online businesses will likely have a low overhead to start, so they may not need funding and therefore may not feel the need to write a business plan. That said, writing a business plan is still a good idea as it can help you secure a drastic increase limit on your credit card as your business grows or open a business account. This varies per bank.

If you’re growing your business, use it to help you raise expansion capital, create a growth strategy, find opportunities, and mitigate risks.Palo Alto software found that companies who make business plans are twice as likely to secure funding . .

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If you’re just starting your business, making a business plan can help you  identify your strengths and weaknesses, communicate your vision to others, and develop accurate forecasts.

business plan format

How to Make a Business Plan: The Prerequisites 

Here are the prerequisites to creating a solid business plan:

  • Establish goals
  • Understand your audience
  • Determine your business plan format
  • Get to writing! 

Establish Goals

There are two key questions to ask here: 

  • What are you hoping to accomplish with your business?
  • What are you hoping to accomplish with your business plan?

Approaching your business plan through that lens will help you focus on the end goal throughout the writing process. These also provide metrics to measure success against. 

Before writing your business plan, gather the content and data needed to inform what goes in it. This includes researching your market and industry – spanning everything from customer research to legalities you’ll need to consider. It’s a lot easier to start with the information already in front of you instead of researching each section individually as you go. 

Turn to guides, samples, and small business plan templates to help. Many countries have an official administration or service dedicated to providing information, resources, and tools to help entrepreneurs and store owners plan, launch, manage, and grow their businesses. 

The following will take you to online business plan guides and templates for specific countries.

  • United States Small Business Administration (SBA) – The “write your business plan page” includes traditional and lean startup business plan formats, three downloadable sample business plans, a template, and a step-by-step build a business plan tool.
  • Australian Government – The “business plan template” page includes a downloadable template, guide, and business plan creation app.
  • UK Government Business and Self-Employed – The “write a business plan” page includes links to a downloadable business plan template and resources from trusted UK businesses. .
  • Canada Business Network – The “writing your business plan” page includes a detailed guide to writing your business plan and links to business plan templates from Canadian business development organizations and banks.

These business resource sites also offer a wealth of valuable information for entrepreneurs including local and regional regulations, structuring, tax obligations, funding programs, market research data, and much more. Visit the sites above or do the following Google searches to find official local business resources in your area:

  • your country government business services
  • your state/province government business services
  • your city government business services

Some Chamber of Commerce websites offer resources for business owners, including business plan guides and templates. Check your local chapter to see if they have any.

Banks that offer business funding also often have a resource section for entrepreneurs. Do a Google search to find banks that offer business funding as well as business plan advice to see the business plans that get funding. If your bank doesn’t offer any advice, search for the largest banks in your area:

  • business plan guide bank name
  • business plan samples bank name
  • business plan template bank name

If you’re looking for more sample business plans, Bplans has over 500 free business plan samples organized by business type as well as a business plan template. Their collection includes 116 business plans for retail and online stores. Shopify also offers business plan templates intended to help small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs identify functional areas of a business they may not have considered.

short plan in business

Understand Your Audience

Because business plans serve different purposes, you’re not always presenting it to the same audience. It’s important to understand who’s going to be reading your business plan, what you’re trying to convince them to do, and what hesitations they might have. 

That way, you can adapt your business plan accordingly. As such, your audience also determines which type of business plan format you use. Which brings us to our next point…

Which Business Plan Format Should You Use? 

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) presents two business plan formats: 

  • The traditional business plan format is for entrepreneurs who want to create a detailed plan for themselves or for business funding. 
  • The lean startup business plan format, on the other hand, is for business owners that want to create a condensed, single-page business plan.

If the business plan is just for you and internal folks, draft a lean startup business plan or a customized version of the traditional business plan with only the sections you need. If you need it for business funding or other official purposes, choose the formal business plan and thoroughly complete the required sections while paying extra attention to financial projections.

If your business operates outside the U.S., clarify the preferred format with your bank.

How to Create a Business Plan: Questions to Ask Yourself

As you write a business plan, take time to not only analyze your business idea, but yourself as well. Ask the following questions to help you analyze your business idea along the way:

  • Why do I want to start or expand my business?
  • Do my goals (personal and professional) and values align with my business idea?
  • What income do I need to generate for myself?
  • What education, experience, and skills do I bring to my business?

short plan in business

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

According to the business plan template created by SCORE, Deluxe, and the SBA , a traditional business plan encompasses the following sections. 

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Products & services
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing & sales
  • Management & organization
  • Funding request
  • Financial projections
  • SWOT analysis

Since not everyone is aware of the key details to include in each section, we’ve listed information you can copy to fill in your business plan outline. Here’s how to build a business plan step by step.  

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is the first part of your business plan, so this is where you need to hook readers in. Every business plan starts this way — even a simple business plan template should kick off with the Executive Summary. Summarize your entire business plan in a single page, highlighting details about your business that will excite potential investors and lenders. 

Explain what your business has to offer, your target market , what separates you from the competition, a little bit about yourself and the core people behind your business, and realistic projections about your business’ success.

While this is the first section of your business plan, write it after you’ve completed the rest of your business plan. It’s a lot easier because you can pull from the sections you’ve already written, and it’s easier to identify the best parts of your business plan to include on the first page.

Company Description

In the Company Description, share 411 about your business. Include basic details like: 

  • Legal structure (sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, etc.)
  • Business and tax ID numbers
  • When the business started
  • Ownership information
  • Number of employees

Your mission statement , philosophy and values, vision, short- and long-term goals, and milestones along with a brief overview of your industry, market, outlook, and competitors should also be in the Company Description.

Pro tip: These are the details you’ll use each time you create a business profile, whether that's on social media, business directories, or other networks. Keep your information consistent to reduce confusion and instill more confidence in potential customers. 

Products & Services

The Products & Services section details what you plan to sell to customers. For a dropshipping business , this section should explain which trending products you’re going to sell, the pain points your products solve for customers, how you’ll price your products compared to your competitors, expected profit margin, and production and delivery details.

Remember to include any unique selling points for specific products or product groupings, such as low overhead, exclusive agreements with vendors, the ability to obtain products that are in short supply / high demand based on your connections, personalized customer service, or other advantages.

For dropshipping businesses selling hundreds or even thousands of products, detail the main categories of products and the number of products you plan to offer within each category. By doing this, it’s easier to visualize your business offerings as a whole to determine if you need more products in one category to fully flesh out your online store.

Market Analysis

The Market Analysis section of your business plan allows you to share the research you have done to learn about your target audience — the potential buyers of your products. People requesting a business plan will want to know that you have a solid understanding of your industry, the competitive landscape, who’s most likely to become your customers. It’s important to demonstrate that  there’s a large enough market for your product to make it profitable and/or to make a strong return on investment .

To complete the Market Analysis component of your business plan, check out the following resources for industry, market, and local economic research:

  • U.S. Embassy websites in most countries have a business section with information for people who want to sell abroad. Business sections include a basic “getting started” guide, links to economic and data reports, trade events, and additional useful business links for a particular region.
  • IBISWorld is a provider of free and paid industry research and procurement research reports for the United States , United Kingdom , Australia , and New Zealand .  
  • Statista offers free and paid statistics and studies from over 18,000 sources including industry reports, country reports, market studies, outlook reports, and consumer market reports.   

Use these websites and others to learn about the projected growth of your industry and your potential profitability. You can also use social media tools like Facebook Audience Insights to estimate the size of your target market on the largest social network

Another way to research your market and products is through Google Trends . This free tool will allow you to see how often people search for the products your business offers over time. Be sure to explain how your business plans to capitalize on increasing and decreasing search trends accordingly.

Marketing & Sales

Knowing your target market is half the battle. In the Marketing & Sales section, share how you plan to reach and sell products to your target market. Outline the marketing and advertising strategies you intend to use to market your product to potential customers – search marketing , social media marketing , email marketing , and influencer marketing methods .

If you’re unsure how to market your business’ products, analyze your competitors for some inspiration. Discovering your competition’s marketing tactics will help you customize your own strategy for building a customer base and ultimately taking your business to the next level. 

Do a Google search for your competitor’s business name to find the websites, social accounts, and content they’ve created to market their products. Look at the ways your competitor uses each online entity to drive new customers to their website and product pages.

Then come up with a plan to convert a similar audience with your marketing and advertising messages. For dropshipping businesses, conversions will typically take place on your website as people purchase your products and/or by phone if you take orders over the phone. 

Management & Organization

In the Management & Organization piece of your business plan, describe the structure of your business. In terms of legal structure and incorporation, most businesses are classified as sole proprietorships (one owner), partnerships (two or more owners), corporations, or S corporations.

Draft a condensed resume for each of the key members of your business. If you’re a solopreneur , include how your past education and work experience will help you run each aspect of your business. If you have one or more partner(s) and employee(s), include their relevant education and experience as well.

Think of this as a great way to evaluate the strengths of each individual running your business. When self-evaluating, you’ll be able to identify the aspects of your business that’ll be easier to manage and which ones to delegate to freelancers, contractors, employees, and third-party services. This also makes it easier to find the best way to utilize their strengths for business growth.

Funding Request

Chances are, you don’t have a funding request for a startup dropshipping business since the appeal to dropshipping is the low upfront investment . If you’re looking for a loan, however, this would be the section where you outline the dollar amount you need, what you plan to invest in, and how you see the return on your investment.

Another way to use this section is to analyze the investment you have or plan to make when starting or growing your business. This should include everything from the computer you use to run your website to the monthly fee for business services.

Financial Projections

In Financial Projections, share your projected revenue and expenses for the first or next five years of your business. The idea here is to demonstrate that the revenue you’re anticipating will easily lead to a return on any investment, whether from your personal finances or a capital lending service.

short plan in business

If you’re looking for funding, you’ll need to go into detail with projected income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets. If you aren’t looking for funding, it won’t hurt to create these types of financial projections so you can realistically plan for the future of your business.

The Appendix of your business plan includes any supplemental documents needed throughout the sections of your business plan. These may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Credit histories
  • Product brochures
  • Legal forms
  • Supplier contracts

If you’re submitting your business plan for funding, contact the lender to see what documentation they want included with your funding request.

SWOT Analysis

In addition to the above sections, some business plans also include a SWOT Analysis. This is a one-page summary of your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The strengths and weaknesses you include will be internal, whereas opportunities and threats you include will be external. 

Depending on the revelations of this section, you may or may not want to make a SWOT analysis when submitting your business plan formally unless it is requested.

short plan in business

Summary: How to Create a Business Plan

As you can see, creating a business plan for your dropshipping business is a great way to validate your business idea , discover your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and make a blueprint for your business's future.

In summary, here are the sections you will need to write for your business plan, step by step:

  • SWOT analysis (Optional)

If you haven’t already, take the time to create a business plan to launch or grow your business in 2023!

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How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

When written effectively, a business plan can help raise capital, inform decisions, and draw new talent.

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Writing a business plan is often the first step in transforming your business from an idea into something tangible . As you write, your thoughts begin to solidify into strategy, and a path forward starts to emerge. But a business plan is not only the realm of startups; established companies can also benefit from revisiting and rewriting theirs. In any case, the formal documentation can provide the clarity needed to motivate staff , woo investors, or inform future decisions.  

No matter your industry or the size of your team, the task of writing a business plan—a document filled with so much detail and documentation—can feel daunting. Don’t let that stop you, however; there are easy steps to getting started. 

What is a business plan and why does it matter? 

A business plan is a formal document outlining the goals, direction, finances, team, and future planning of your business. It can be geared toward investors, in a bid to raise capital, or used as an internal document to align teams and provide direction. It typically includes extensive market research, competitor analysis, financial documentation, and an overview of your business and marketing strategy. When written effectively, a business plan can help prescribe action and keep business owners on track to meeting business goals. 

Who needs a business plan?

A business plan can be particularly helpful during a company’s initial growth and serve as a guiding force amid the uncertainty, distractions, and at-times rapid developments involved in starting a business . For enterprise companies, a business plan should be a living, breathing document that guides decision-making and facilitates intentional growth.

“You should have a game plan for every major commitment you’ll have, from early-stage founder agreements to onboarding legal professionals,” says Colin Keogh, CEO of the Rapid Foundation—a company that brings technology and training to communities in need—and a WeWork Labs mentor in the UK . “You can’t go out on funding rounds or take part in accelerators without any planning.”

How to make a business plan and seven components every plan needs

While there is no set format for writing a business plan, there are several elements that are typically included. Here’s what’s important to consider when writing your business plan. 

1. Executive summary 

No longer than half a page, the executive summary should briefly introduce your business and describe the purpose of the business plan. Are you writing the plan to attract capital? If so, specify how much money you hope to raise, and how you’re going to repay the loan. If you’re writing the plan to align your team and provide direction, explain at a high level what you hope to achieve with this alignment, as well as the size and state of your existing team.

The executive summary should explain what your business does, and provide an introductory overview of your financial health and major achievements to date.  

2. Company description 

To properly introduce your company, it’s important to also describe the wider industry. What is the financial worth of your market? Are there market trends that will affect the success of your company? What is the state of the industry and its future potential? Use data to support your claims and be sure to include the full gamut of information—both positive and negative—to provide investors and your employees a complete and accurate portrayal of your company’s milieu. 

Go on to describe your company and what it provides your customers. Are you a sole proprietor , LLC, partnership, or corporation? Are you an established company or a budding startup? What does your leadership team look like and how many employees do you have? This section should provide both historical and future context around your business, including its founding story, mission statement , and vision for the future. 

It’s essential to showcase your point of difference in your company description, as well as any advantages you may have in terms of expert talent or leading technology. This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written.

3. Market analysis and opportunity

Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider market is essential for the success of your business, and these considerations should be described here. 

In addition to this, it’s important to include research into the target demographic of your product or service. This might be in the form of fictional customer personas, or a broader overview of the income, location, age, gender, and buying habits of your existing and potential customers. 

Though the research should be objective, the analysis in this section is a good place to reiterate your point of difference and the ways you plan to capture the market and surpass your competition.

4. Competitive analysis 

Beyond explaining the elements that differentiate you from your competition, it’s important to provide an in-depth analysis of your competitors themselves.

This research should delve into the operations, financials, history, leadership, and distribution channels of your direct and indirect competitors. It should explore the value propositions of these competitors, and explain the ways you can compete with, or exploit, their strengths and weaknesses. 

5. Execution plan: operations, development, management 

This segment provides details around how you’re going to do the work necessary to fulfill this plan. It should include information about your organizational structure and the everyday operations of your team, contractors, and physical and digital assets.

Consider including your company’s organizational chart, as well as more in-depth information on the leadership team: Who are they? What are their backgrounds? What do they bring to the table? Potentially include the résumés of key people on your team. 

For startups, your execution plan should include how long it will take to begin operations, and then how much longer to reach profitability. For established companies, it’s a good idea to outline how long it will take to execute your plan, and the ways in which you will change existing operations.

If applicable, it’s also beneficial to include your strategy for hiring new team members and scaling into different markets. 

6. Marketing plan 

It’s essential to have a comprehensive marketing plan in place as you scale operations or kick off a new strategy—and this should be shared with your stakeholders and employees. This segment of your business plan should show how you’re going to promote your business, attract customers, and retain existing clients.

Include brand messaging, marketing assets, and the timeline and budget for engaging consumers across different channels. Potentially include a marketing SWOT analysis into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Evaluate the way your competitors market themselves, and how your target audience responds—or doesn’t respond—to these messages.

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7. Financial history and projections  

It’s essential to disclose all finances involved in running your company within your business plan. This is so your shareholders properly understand how you’re projected to perform going forward, and the progress you’ve made so far. 

You should include your income statement, which outlines annual net profits or losses; a cash flow statement, which shows how much money you need to launch or scale operations; and a balance sheet that shows financial liabilities and assets. 

“An income statement is the measure of your financial results for a certain period and the most accurate report of business activities during that time, [whereas a balance sheet] presents your assets, liabilities, and equity,” Amit Perry, a corporate finance expert, explained at a WeWork Labs educational session in Israel.

It’s crucial to understand the terms correctly so you know how to present your finances when you’re speaking to investors. Amit Perry, CEO and founder of Perryllion Ltd.

In addition, if you’re asking for funding, you will need to outline exactly how much money you need as well as where this money will go and how you plan to pay it back. 

12 quick tips for writing a business plan 

Now that you know what components are traditionally included in a business plan, it’s time to consider how you’ll actually construct the document.

Here are 12 key factors to keep in mind when writing a business plan. These overarching principles will help you write a business plan that serves its purpose (whatever that may be) and becomes an easy reference in the years ahead. 

1. Don’t be long-winded

Use clear, concise language and avoid jargon. When business plans are too long-winded, they’re less likely to be used as intended and more likely to be forgotten or glazed over by stakeholders. 

2. Show why you care

Let your passion for your business shine through; show employees and investors why you care (and why they should too). 

3. Provide supporting documents

Don’t be afraid to have an extensive list of appendices, including the CVs of team members, built-out customer personas, product demonstrations, and examples of internal or external messaging. 

4. Reference data

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

5. Research, research, research

The research that goes into your business plan should take you longer than the writing itself. Consider tracking your research as supporting documentation. 

6. Clearly demonstrate your points of difference

At every opportunity, it’s important to drive home the way your product or service differentiates you from your competition and helps solve a problem for your target audience. Don’t shy away from reiterating these differentiating factors throughout the plan. 

7. Be objective in your research

As important as it is to showcase your company and the benefits you provide your customers, it’s also important to be objective in the data and research you reference. Showcase the good and the bad when it comes to market research and your financials; you want your shareholders to know you’ve thought through every possible contingency. 

8. Know the purpose of your plan

It’s important you understand the purpose of your plan before you begin researching and writing. Be clear about whether you’re writing this plan to attract investment, align teams, or provide direction. 

9. Identify your audience

The same way your business plan must have a clearly defined purpose, you must have a clearly defined audience. To whom are you writing? New investors? Current employees? Potential collaborators? Existing shareholders? 

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10. Avoid jargon

Avoid using industry-specific jargon, unless completely unavoidable, and try making your business plan as easy to understand as possible—for all potential stakeholders. 

11. Don’t be afraid to change it

Your business plan should evolve with your company’s growth, which means your business plan document should evolve as well. Revisit and rework your business plan as needed, and remember the most important factor: having a plan in place, even if it changes.

A business plan shouldn’t just be a line on your to-do list; it should be referenced and used as intended going forward. Keep your business plan close, and use it to inform decisions and guide your team in the years ahead. 

Creating a business plan is an important step in growing your company 

Whether you’re just starting out or running an existing operation, writing an effective business plan can be a key predictor of future success. It can be a foundational document from which you grow and thrive . It can serve as a constant reminder to employees and clients about what you stand for, and the direction in which you’re moving. Or, it can prove to investors that your business, team, and vision are worth their investment. 

No matter the size or stage of your business, WeWork can help you fulfill the objectives outlined in your business plan—and WeWork’s coworking spaces can be a hotbed for finding talent and investors, too. The benefits of coworking spaces include intentionally designed lounges, conference rooms, and private offices that foster connection and bolster creativity, while a global network of professionals allows you to expand your reach and meet new collaborators. 

Using these steps to write a business plan will put you in good stead to not only create a document that fulfills a purpose but one that also helps to more clearly understand your market, competition, point of difference, and plan for the future. 

For more tips on growing teams and building a business, check out all our articles on  Ideas by WeWork.

Caitlin Bishop is a writer for WeWork’s  Ideas by WeWork , based in New York City. Previously, she was a journalist and editor at  Mamamia  in Sydney, Australia, and a contributing reporter at  Gotham Gazette .

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What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

short plan in business

A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

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Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

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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

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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.

short plan in business

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

You're all set!

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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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Examples of Effective Short-Term, Mid-Term, and Long-Term Business Goals

By Kate Eby | September 7, 2023

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Setting effective goals is vital to your business’s success. Good goals help organizations move forward and keep employees on track. We’ve talked with experts and gathered examples of solid short-term, mid-term, and long-term business goals.

Included on this page, you’ll find examples of long-term , mid-term , and short-term business goals and how they work together. Plus, check out an easy-to-read chart on which framework is best for setting time-based goals and a free, downloadable goal-setting worksheet that can help your team create your goals.

Common Time Ranges for Different Business Goals

Companies set large overarching goals to achieve in two to five years. To attain long-term goals, set goals with shorter time frames that work toward the long-term objective. Depending on the type of goal, some experts might refer to it as a strategy or an objective . However, there is a difference between a goal, an objective , and a strategy. 

Examples of Long-Term Business Goals

Long-term goals focus on the big-picture vision for the future of the organization, generally covering two years or longer. They typically don’t cover more than five years, since the business and technology environment can change drastically after that time frame.

short plan in business

Long-term goals are more aspirational and might not have the specificity of short-term and mid-term goals. “These goals ought to be aligned with the overall vision of the company,” says Izzy Galicia, President and CEO of global professional services firm the Incito Consulting Group and an expert in Lean enterprise transformation.

The long-term goals also must be realistic. “We know from the literature and practical experience that you want goals that are challenging, but they're also achievable. You don't want to have a goal that people don't buy into at all, or it's just so outrageous that you can't possibly achieve it,” explains Lee Frederiksen, managing partner of Virginia-based Hinge Marketing and former Director for Strategy and Organizational Development at Ernst & Young.

Here are four examples of long-term business goals:

  • Increase Sales: A common long-term goal is to increase sales significantly. A company might establish a long-term goal of increasing total sales by 40 percent in three years.
  • Become Niche Leader: Another company might have its sights on becoming dominant in its industry. It would set a long-term goal of becoming the leader in its market niche in four years.
  • Expand Company Locations: Adding storefronts over the next few years is also a common long-term goal. A company with that aim would set a long-term goal of expanding its one restaurant location to four locations in four years.
  • Create and Develop a Non-Profit Entity: An organization or group of people can also establish a long-term goal of establishing a successful nonprofit organization focused on environmental conservation.

Examples of Mid-Term Business Goals

Mid-term goals help an organization meet a long-term goal. They can take an organization six months to two years or so to reach. 

Here are examples of mid-term goals that will help a company reach a specific long-term goal: 

A company’s long-term goal is to open three more restaurants in the next four years. These examples are some of the mid-term goals they would need to achieve first:

  • Systematize Standard Operating Procedures for Running the Restaurant: The mid-term goal would be to document and systematize its standard operating procedures to efficiently operate its original restaurant within a year.
  • Develop a Hiring Process That Attracts Talented Employees: The company sets a goal of developing and implementing a hiring process to attract committed employees in the next 14 months. 
  • Research and Evaluate the Best Locations to Open the New Restaurants: The company would set a goal of continually scouting and evaluating possible locations for new restaurants over the next two years.

A group of people have the goal of creating a successful nonprofit organization in five years. Here are some examples of mid-term goals they would set and meet first:

  • Establish Partnerships with Local Environmental Organizations: The group of people would like to start a nonprofit focused on environmental conservation. A mid-term goal would be to develop and establish partnerships with key local environmental organizations within the next two years.
  • Develop and Implement a Solid Fundraising Strategy: The nonprofit needs funding to be successful. The organization would set a mid-term goal of developing an effective fundraising strategy within the next 18 months.
  • Build a Dedicated Team of Volunteers: To help it reach its long-term goal of establishing a successful nonprofit focused on environmental conservation, the organization would set a goal of building a system to attract and retain volunteers for the organization within the next year.

Examples of Short-Term Business Goals

Short-term business goals encompass work that helps an organization reach its mid-term goals. These goals are often meant to be reached in a month or a quarter. Some might take six months or so to accomplish. Only one department — or even only one worker — might work on some short-term goals.

Some experts call short-term goals objectives. They might call the shortest short-term goals tactics . (Learn more about the differences between business goals vs. business objectives and strategies vs. tactics.)

Keith Speers

“If one of my goals is to develop a content strategy — so that more people are aware of my company — I can't jump into Year Three and say, ‘I have a content strategy,’” shares Keith Speers, CEO of Consulting Without Limits , which provides business consulting, leadership coaching, fractional leadership, and other consulting services. “Part of that one- to three-year plan is developing my audience, curating them, creating content, and establishing myself as someone who's a thought leader in a specific field. All of that requires establishing short-term goals or objectives.”

The short-term goals or objectives are “more about the measurable steps or actions to take in order to reach that (mid- or long-term) goal,” states Marco Scanu, a business coach and CEO of Miami-based Visa Business Plans , a consulting firm providing attorneys and investors with business planning services.

Marco Scanu

Here are examples of short-term goals to build toward achieving the mid-term goals associated with expanding a company’s restaurant count from one to four: 

  • Assemble a Team to Develop a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Document for Current and Future Locations: To help reach the goal of systematizing its SOP for running its original restaurant, the company would set a short-term goal of developing a SOP document for the company’s original and future locations by the end of the next quarter.
  • Work With an HR Consultant to Attract and Retain Qualified Staff: To reach the mid-term goal of developing a hiring process that attracts talented workers who will stay with the company, the business would set a goal of hiring and working with a human resources consultant to find ways to attract and retain employees within the next month.
  • Create an Internal Team to Improve Compensation and Increase Retention: To reach the goal of developing a prosperous hiring process, the company would set a short-term goal of forming an internal team to assess ways to improve employee compensation and retention within the next two months.
  • Research Demographic/Economic Trends in the Metro Area: To achieve the goal of researching and evaluating the best locations for new restaurants, the company would set a short-term goal of researching demographic and economic trends within neighborhoods where they want to add new restaurants.
  • Work With a Real Estate Agency to Find Potential Buildings: To complete the mid-term goal of researching and evaluating the best locations for new restaurants, the company would set a goal of hiring and working with a real estate agency within the next two weeks. The real estate agent would continually search for good locations for possible new restaurants.

Here are examples of short-term goals necessary for a group of people to create a successful environmental conservation nonprofit:

  • Research and Identify Potential Partner Organizations and Establish Connections: To reach the mid-term goal of establishing partnerships with local environmental organizations, the founding group would set a goal of identifying specific organizations that might be good partners and connecting with their representatives in the next six weeks.
  • Research Grant Applications, Methods for Individual Donations, and Fundraising Events: To reach the goal of developing a solid fundraising strategy, the organization would set a short-term goal of researching the elements of  a fundraising plan that includes grant applications, individual donations, and fundraising events.
  • Identify and Collect Contact Details of Potential Volunteers: To build a dedicated team of volunteers, the organization would set a goal of meeting and collecting contact details of potential volunteers over the next four months.

Examples of Short- and Mid-Term Business Goals Contributing to Long-Term Goals

These examples break down how to strategically set short- and mid-term goals to achieve a company’s long-term more visionary goals. “I think of short-term and mid-term goals as stepping stones to your long-term goals, things you have to accomplish to be able to get to the next goal,” Frederiksen explains.

  • Short-Term Goal: Use customer relationship management (CRM) software to gather better information about potential and existing customers.
  • Short-Term Goal: Increase production of website content.
  • Short-Term Goal: Create and implement a new Google ad strategy.
  • Short-Term Goal: Establish an engineering and product team to tweak product features.
  • Short-Term Goal: Hire a new vice president of sales. 
  • Short-Term Goal: Add three new members to the overseas sales team.
  • Short-Term Goal: Hire a rebranding consultant.
  • Short-Term Goal: Hire a contractor to lead the website redesign.
  • Short-Term Goal: Find more opportunities for the new CEO to speak at industry events.
  • Short-Term Goal: Become a key sponsor of an annual industry conference.
  • Short-Term Goal: Empower the marketing vice president to pursue other sponsorship opportunities.

Business Goal-Setting Frameworks

When setting goals, it helps to use an established framework. Experts point out that, in setting business goals, people most often use one of five goal frameworks . Those frameworks are SMART, management by objectives (MBO), objectives and key results (OKR), key results areas (KRA) , or big hairy audacious goals (BHAG). Here are details on each of these business goal-setting frameworks and which goal length they work best for:

Which Business Goal-Setting Framework to Use

Learn more about goal-setting frameworks and use goal-setting and goal-tracking templates to get started working on your goals.

Business Goals Worksheet Template for Excel

Business Goals Worksheet Template

Download the Business Goals Worksheet Template for Excel

Use this free template to guide your team in setting long-, mid-, and short-term business goals. Identify long-term goals, and then the mid-term and short-term goals that serve them. You have room to add any tasks and actions that must be completed to reach those goals. The downloadable worksheet is fully customizable.

Improve Your Goal-Setting With Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

BUSINESS STRATEGIES

7 types of business plans every entrepreneur should know

  • Amanda Bellucco Chatham
  • Aug 3, 2023

representation of a business plan for a beverage brand

What’s the difference between a small business that achieves breakthrough growth and one that fizzles quickly after launch? Oftentimes, it’s having a solid business plan.

Business plans provide you with a roadmap that will take you from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur. It will guide nearly every decision you make, from the people you hire and the products or services you offer, to the look and feel of the business website you create.

But did you know that there are many different types of business plans? Some types are best for new businesses looking to attract funding. Others help to define the way your company will operate day-to-day. You can even create a plan that prepares your business for the unexpected.

Read on to learn the seven most common types of business plans and determine which one fits your immediate needs.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a written document that defines your company’s goals and explains how you will achieve them. Putting this information down on paper brings valuable benefits. It gives you insight into your competitors, helps you develop a unique value proposition and lets you set metrics that will guide you to profitability. It’s also a necessity to obtain funding through banks or investors.

Keep in mind that a business plan isn’t a one-and-done exercise. It’s a living document that you should update regularly as your company evolves. But which type of plan is right for your business?

7 common types of business plans

Startup business plan

Feasibility business plan

One-page business plan

What-if business plan

Growth business plan

Operations business plan

Strategic business plan

7 types of business plans listed out

01. Startup business plan

The startup business plan is a comprehensive document that will set the foundation for your company’s success. It covers all aspects of a business, including a situation analysis, detailed financial information and a strategic marketing plan.

Startup plans serve two purposes: internally, they provide a step-by-step guide that you and your team can use to start a business and generate results on day one. Externally, they prove the validity of your business concept to banks and investors, whose capital you’ll likely need to make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

Elements of a startup business plan should include the following steps:

Executive summary : Write a brief synopsis of your company’s concept, potential audience, product or services, and the amount of funding required.

Company overview: Go into detail about your company’s location and its business goals. Be sure to include your company’s mission statement , which explains the “why” behind your business idea.

Products or services: Explain exactly what your business will offer to its customers. Include detailed descriptions and pricing.

Situation analysis: Use market research to explain the competitive landscape, key demographics and the current status of your industry.

Marketing plan: Discuss the strategies you’ll use to build awareness for your business and attract new customers or clients.

Management bios: Introduce the people who will lead your company. Include bios that detail their industry-specific background.

Financial projections: Be transparent about startup costs, cash flow projections and profit expectations.

Don’t be afraid to go into too much detail—a startup business plan can often run multiple pages long. Investors will expect and appreciate your thoroughness. However, if you have a hot new product idea and need to move fast, you can consider a lean business plan. It’s a popular type of business plan in the tech industry that focuses on creating a minimum viable product first, then scaling the business from there.

02. Feasibility business plan

Let’s say you started a boat rental company five years ago. You’ve steadily grown your business. Now, you want to explore expanding your inventory by renting out jet skis, kayaks and other water sports equipment. Will it be profitable? A feasibility business plan will let you know.

Often called a decision-making plan, a feasibility business plan will help you understand the viability of offering a new product or launching into a new market. These business plans are typically internal and focus on answering two questions: Does the market exist, and will you make a profit from it? You might use a feasibility plan externally, too, if you need funding to support your new product or service.

Because you don’t need to include high-level, strategic information about your company, your feasibility business plan will be much shorter and more focused than a startup business plan. Feasibility plans typically include:

A description of the new product or service you wish to launch

A market analysis using third-party data

The target market , or your ideal customer profile

Any additional technology or personnel needs required

Required capital or funding sources

Predicted return on investment

Standards to objectively measure feasibility

A conclusion that includes recommendations on whether or not to move forward

03. One-page business plan

Imagine you’re a software developer looking to launch a tech startup around an app that you created from scratch. You’ve already written a detailed business plan, but you’re not sure if your strategy is 100% right. How can you get feedback from potential partners, customers or friends without making them slog through all 32 pages of the complete plan?

That’s where a one-page business plan comes in handy. It compresses your full business plan into a brief summary. Think of it as a cross between a business plan and an elevator pitch—an ideal format if you’re still fine-tuning your business plan. It’s also a great way to test whether investors will embrace your company, its mission or its goals.

Ideally, a one-page business plan should give someone a snapshot of your company in just a few minutes. But while brevity is important, your plan should still hit all the high points from your startup business plan. To accomplish this, structure a one-page plan similar to an outline. Consider including:

A short situation analysis that shows the need for your product or service

Your unique value proposition

Your mission statement and vision statement

Your target market

Your management team

The funding you’ll need

Financial projections

Expected results

Because a one-page plan is primarily used to gather feedback, make sure the format you choose is easy to update. That way, you can keep it fresh for new audiences.

04. What-if business plan

Pretend that you’re an accountant who started their own financial consulting business. You’re rapidly signing clients and growing your business when, 18 months into your new venture, you’re given the opportunity to buy another established firm in a nearby town. Is it a risk worth taking?

The what-if business plan will help you find an answer. It’s perfect for entrepreneurs who are looking to take big risks, such as acquiring or merging with another company, testing a new pricing model or adding an influx of new staff.

A what-if plan is additionally a great way to test out a worst-case scenario. For example, if you’re in the restaurant business, you can create a plan that explores the potential business repercussions of a public health emergency (like the COVID-19 pandemic), and then develop strategies to mitigate its effects.

You can share your what-if plan internally to prepare your leadership team and staff. You can also share it externally with bankers and partners so that they know your business is built to withstand any hard times. Include in your plan:

A detailed description of the business risk or other scenario

The impact it will have on your business

Specific actions you’ll take in a worst-case scenario

Risk management strategies you’ll employ

05. Growth business plan

Let’s say you’re operating a hair salon (see how to create a hair salon business plan ). You see an opportunity to expand your business and make it a full-fledged beauty bar by adding skin care, massage and other sought-after services. By creating a growth business plan, you’ll have a blueprint that will take you from your current state to your future state.

Sometimes called an expansion plan, a growth business plan is something like a crystal ball. It will help you see one to two years into the future. Creating a growth plan lets you see how far—and how fast—you can scale your business. It lets you know what you’ll need to get there, whether it’s funding, materials, people or property.

The audience for your growth plan will depend on your expected sources of capital. If you’re funding your expansion from within, then the audience is internal. If you need to attract the attention of outside investors, then the audience is external.

Much like a startup plan, your growth business plan should be rather comprehensive, especially if the people reviewing it aren’t familiar with your company. Include items specific to your potential new venture, including:

A brief assessment of your business’s current state

Information about your management team

A thorough analysis of the growth opportunity you’re seeking

The target audience for your new venture

The current competitive landscape

Resources you’ll need to achieve growth

Detailed financial forecasts

A funding request

Specific action steps your company will take

A timeline for completing those action steps

Another helpful thing to include in a growth business plan is a SWOT analysis . SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis will help you evaluate your performance, and that of your competitors. Including this type of in-depth review will show your investors that you’re making an objective, data-driven decision to expand your business, helping to build confidence and trust.

06. Operations business plan

You’ve always had a knack for accessories and have chosen to start your own online jewelry store. Even better, you already have your eCommerce business plan written. Now, it’s time to create a plan for how your company will implement its business model on a day-to-day basis.

An operations business plan will help you do just that. This internal-focused document will explain how your leadership team and your employees will propel your company forward. It should include specific responsibilities for each department, such as human resources, finance and marketing.

When you sit down to write an operations plan, you should use your company’s overall goals as your guide. Then, consider how each area of your business will contribute to those goals. Be sure to include:

A high-level overview of your business and its goals

A clear layout of key employees, departments and reporting lines

Processes you’ll use (i.e., how you’ll source products and fulfill orders)

Facilities and equipment you’ll need to conduct business effectively

Departmental budgets required

Risk management strategies that will ensure business continuity

Compliance and legal considerations

Clear metrics for each department to achieve

Timelines to help you reach those metrics

A measurement process to keep your teams on track

07. Strategic business plan

Say you open a coffee shop, but you know that one store is just the start. Eventually, you want to open multiple locations throughout your region. A strategic business plan will serve as your guide, helping define your company’s direction and decision-making over the next three to five years.

You should use a strategic business plan to align all of your internal stakeholders and employees around your company’s mission, vision and future goals. Your strategic plan should be high-level enough to create a clear vision of future success, yet also detailed enough to ensure you reach your eventual destination.

Be sure to include:

An executive summary

A company overview

Your mission and vision statements

Market research

A SWOT analysis

Specific, measurable goals you wish to achieve

Strategies to meet those goals

Financial projections based on those goals

Timelines for goal attainment

Related Posts

What is a target market and how to define yours

21 powerful mission statement examples that stand out

Free business plan template for small businesses

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Short-term vs. long-term business goals: comparison + examples

short plan in business

Monika Gudova

Content Writer and Editor

short plan in business

Table of contents

Not unlike the recipe for your mum’s famous chocolate cake, the recipe for business success calls for various ingredients and steps plus time and patience. It requires short-term work (baking) to yield long-term results (happy tummies). 

In business, short- and long-term goals are used tactically to help a business move forward. But what are they? And how are they set? We’ll define and compare short-term and long-term goals and show you 15 examples of what they look like in business.

What is a long-term business goal?

It’s all in the name — long-term outcomes are what your company wants to achieve in the long term. They’re high-level goals or strategies you want to accomplish in the coming years, driving you closer to your vision. Good long-term goals should be adaptable to technological, political and other environmental changes.

No exact period defines long-term goals, but most organisations think of them as goals you aim to achieve in the next one to ten years. While ambitious, they inform short-term goals and day-to-day business flow and vice versa. Knowing a general direction is essential, but keeping a bottom-up approach that supports adaptability, creativity and more input into decision-making is still crucial.

What is a short-term business goal?

The term ‘short’ is key in describing short-term goals. They define business goals you want to achieve in the near future, which can span from a week to a year, depending on the project and organisational preferences. They focus on the present, promoting productivity and good time management.

Short-term goals are clear, easily actionable and geared toward individual or team efforts rather than overall strategy. That being said, short-term goals should still be set with long-term strategy in mind — to set short-term goals, you need to know generally where your business is heading. In simpler terms, short-term goals are the steps you need to take to get where you want to be and a tool to check you’re heading in the right direction.

Short-term vs long-term goals

Short-term and long-term goals may differ, but it’s not quite David and Goliath. Below we’ve listed three key factors that set short- and long-term goals apart.

The biggest difference between short-term goals and long-term goals is their purpose. Long-term goals are strategic — they’re a plan for the future of the business. Short-term goals contribute to business success but have more to do with your current performance.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to defining what’s considered short-term or long-term, but generally speaking, short-term goals are more likely to be measured by weeks or months and long-term goals by years. Long-term business strategies require many short-term goals to meet.

Flexibility

Short-term goals and long-term organisational goals are also different in adaptability. Short-term goals are typically more clearly defined and actionable, whereas long-term goals are flexible to changes in strategy.

Examples of both short- and long-term goals in business

Looking for some real-world examples to help you write business goals? Using the SMART methodology — which requires goals to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound — we’ve compiled some examples of long- and short-term business goals that are easily adaptable.

Short-term vs long-term marketing goal examples

A long-term marketing goal might sound like this:

  • Drive more traffic to the shop tab on the website

And the short-term goals that support this long-term strategy might look like this:

  • Develop a social media strategy that boosts posting from 3 times a week to daily
  • Plan an email campaign that achieves an average click rate of 10% before new product launch 

Short-term vs long-term finance goal examples

The following might be a long-term finance goal:

  •  Reduce operating costs 

And to support the long-term strategy, short-term finance goals may look like this:

  • Automate 50% of payroll duties by adopting accounting software by June 30
  • Reduce cost of goods sold (COGS) expenses by 20% this quarter

Short-term vs long-term HR goal examples

Long-term HR goals would include:

  • Improve employee retention rate

Whereas the short-term HR goals for the long-term strategy may look like this:

  • Allocate 10% of HR budget to personal development training
  • Implement one feedback form a month for more visibility across company issues

Short-term vs long-term sales goal examples

A typical goal for long-term sales growth may look like this:

  • Increase total sales revenue 

In contrast, the short-term goals for sales might be as follows:

  • Generate 50% of sales from clients X and Y by the end of June
  • Make $30,000 in new deals by the end of the quarter

Short-term vs long-term customer service goal examples

An example of a long-term customer service goal might be:

  • Increase customer satisfaction

Whereas customer service short-term goals are more likely to be specific:

  • Increase the first-contact resolution rate by 10% by the end of quarter
  • Improve first reply time by 5% overall by the end of the month

How to set short- and long-term goals with OKRs

Whether you’re 20 years into trading or in the early stages of business, getting past the ‘vision’ part of goal setting is not always easy. You may know where you want to be, but getting there is the hard part.

A goal-setting framework like Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) bridges the gap between vision and strategy. It uses short-term targets to support medium- and long-term goals. 

If your long-term vision is to grow revenue, your quarterly OKRs may look like this:

Objective: Improve monthly sales revenue

  • KR1: Increase number of cold calls from 10 to 20 a day
  • KR2: Increase average purchase amount from $300 to $500 per person
  • KR3: Reduce customer churn from 40% to 15%

The process to turn goals into OKRs is simple:

  • Write down your goal
  • Pick up the best metrics and/or KPIs that have a high correlation to success
  • Set a target for improvements

Of course, there's a bit more subtleties to master, but there are some guides that can help you turn a vision into a simple set of OKRs .

How to track short and long term goals

short plan in business

Benefits of tracking your goals

Setting goals is only the first step you take to achieve success. Without goals, it's difficult to determine what you want to accomplish and how to reach your destination.

But, tracking your progress towards your goals is equally important. This is what helps you stay focused and motivated. By tracking your short-term and long-term goals, you can keep yourself accountable and on track towards achieving your objectives.

Short-term goals help you maintain a sense of urgency and motivation while working towards a larger long-term objective. Long-term goals, on the other hand, help you maintain a clear vision and a sense of direction. Tracking both short and long-term goals helps you maintain a healthy balance between the two.

Limitations of spreadsheets for goal-tracking

Using spreadsheets to track progress can be limiting, as they do not provide a comprehensive view of your progress. Spreadsheets are static and require manual updating, making them prone to human error. It can also be difficult to extract meaningful insights from spreadsheets as they don't provide data visualization tools that can help you identify trends and patterns. Spreadsheets also have limited functionality, which makes them unsuitable for complex tracking needs.

Why should use a proper goal-tracking software

A good goal-tracking platform provide a more structured and organized approach to setting and tracking goals. It allows users to define specific objectives and key results, assign ownership, and track progress against each goal. This structured approach ensures that goals are aligned with business priorities and that progress is measured against specific metrics.

A good platform will allows users to track progress against key results, see trends and patterns, and get real-time updates on progress. This level of visibility enables users to make informed decisions and take corrective action when needed. This, in turn, can help organizations improve performance, foster a culture of transparency and accountability, and achieve their business objectives.

Simplify goal setting with Tability

Set, share and track goals without a hitch using user-friendly software like Tability . Tability's easy-to-use tools and check-in emails support team buy-in, making it easy for your business to adopt it. Give it a go with a free trial today.

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5 common business plan shortcomings every leader must overlook in 2020.

Business Leader not to make these Mistakes

You need a solid strategic plan if you’re looking to start an organization. Not only can it allow you to ensure that you have explored any potential perspective or issue & provide you with a plan to move forward, but it will also allow you to obtain significant support from prospective investors. 

It’s not always easy to compile a concrete business proposal. However, to help you get started on drafting a business plan, we shall look at 5 of the most common errors where business leaders come across while laying out their dream business plan. Read below to understand how to steer clear from those on the road. 

#1 Impractical Financial Projections

Don’t build your whole marketing model on a certain amount of the market being identified. Your buyers will think you’re far too ambitious, and just one question will derail your hopes of raising capital; what if you don’t hit the market share? Show your clients that you have been thinking about this by describing precisely how your market share will rise and presents comprehensive timelines and forecasts.

Action step:  You can still be ambitious, optimistic, and practical forecasts of your financial and operating strategies to provide a well-rounded look at your business, and provide a contingency plan if things are not working as expected.

#2 Forgetting Target Audience

There’s a corporate world’s saying: “You can’t please everyone all the time,” and it is entirely accurate. There isn’t a business plan that works for everybody. You have to specify who you are trying to sell to precisely. You must identify your target audience to be competitive in business. You need to define and explain how you come to this conclusion and describe how you’re trying to meet those.

Action step:

  • Start  looking online for research that others have performed on your target market/audience.
  • Look for posts and reviews in publications that refer to or about your audience.
  • Check for blogs and sites where people share thoughts on your target market.
  • Look for the results of surveys or try doing your survey.
  • Ask for input from the existing clients.

#3 Not Focused on your Competition

Even if you feel that you have a ‘great’ business plan and are confident that there is no other business like yours, verify and double verify. There is no such thing as no competition exists. Especially if your company is one of its sorts, it comes down to the dollar; if your company didn’t exist, but there was always a need for consumers, where would they spend their money? Equally, if the competition is emphasized too much, the customer would fear that the enterprise will not succeed. 

Action step:  Focus on your specialty, what separates you from the rest, how you plan to succeed in the marketplace, and paint a precise picture of what the business is like today and where you see it moving in the future.

#4 Failing to Convey your Goals

You have to provide customers with a justification to invest if you’re looking for buyers. In your marketing strategy, make it clear how long it will take for the lender to get their cashback.

Action step:  It’s a smart idea to have a goal in your marketing strategy, even though you’re not finding investment. Do you want the organization to expand and eventually sell? Do you want to expand the organization and provide others with franchise options? Do you build a “lifestyle business”? It’s easier to evaluate success if you know what you expect out of your business.

#5 A Plan with Too Many Details

It needs to be concrete, just as you need to make sure your business strategy is accurate. A business strategy is not a chance to show off your talents in creative writing. It’s about conveying as merely as possible accurate facts. Be simple and straightforward. A busy investor juggling multiple businesses for funds doesn’t have enough time or interest to try to identify the gaps in your business plan to see if your plan could work or not. So make it easy for investors and others to identify your idea’s potential by providing them the right information.

Action step:  It’s a smart idea to use a professional, free template if you’re not an experienced writer of business plans to make sure you fill up every segment correctly using the template’s help. Your strategy will look unworkable if you lose out on details.

It’s a grueling job to develop a business plan as sometimes people spend a year or more to write the proposal. Business strategy tools can be handy in the early drafting stages. However, the challenging part is creating a cohesive business image that makes sense, appeals to others, and offers a realistic vision for the future. If you are a small business or seeking to grow your company, ONPASSIVE is here to help you with every business requirement you might need to plan out the right business strategy to launch your enterprise to the sky. Visit our website now!

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In 2024, most chief economists surveyed by the Forum believe generative AI will increase productivity and innovation in high-income countries. But for low-income countries, just over a third think this will be the case.

Productivity boosts are expected in knowledge-heavy industries, including IT and digital communications, financial and professional services, medical and healthcare services, retail, manufacturing, engineering and construction, energy and logistics.

These potential benefits are in "sharp contrast with concerns about the risks of automation, job displacement and degradation", says the report.

Almost three-quarters (73%) of chief economists surveyed "do not foresee a net positive impact on employment in low-income economies".

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2. Digital jobs keep growing

By 2030, the number of global digital jobs is expected to rise to around 92 million. These are generally higher-paid roles, according to the Forum's white paper, The Rise of Digital Jobs .

Digital jobs could help to balance skill shortages in higher-income countries, while boosting opportunities for younger workers in lower-income countries: "If managed well, global digital jobs present an opportunity to utilize talent around the world, widening the talent pool available to employers and providing economic growth pathways to countries across the income spectrum."

3. Unemployment levels could rise

The labour market showed resilience in 2023, with employment remaining high, said Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), in the Davos session ' What to Expect From Labour Markets '.

But he said ILO projections in early January suggested the global unemployment rate could rise from 5.1% to 5.2% in 2024, with an extra two million workers expected to be looking for jobs.

In the US, the jobs market remained stronger than expected for the first month of the year, with more than 350,000 new jobs added. The unemployment rate for January was 3.7%, close to a 50-year low, according to The Guardian .

Houngbo said ILO data shows inequalities persist between low- and high-income countries, while young people are 3.5 times more at risk of being unemployed than the rest of the adult population and "many workers are struggling to pay bills, which is very worrisome".

The impact of AI on jobs was not going to be "an employment apocalypse", but that reskilling, upskilling and lifelong learning would be key to managing the transition to augmentation, he stressed.

4. More pop-up offices

LinkedIn has seen a drop in the number of fully remote job postings, from a peak of 20% in April 2022, to just 8% in December 2023, said co-founder Allen Blue, speaking in a Davos session ' The Role of the Office is Still TBC ' .

But employee interest in taking remote or hybrid jobs remains high, at around 46% of applications.

"The office is going to be in competition with working from home ... that’s a good thing for the office," he said, as management would need to innovate and create a workplace environment that "emphasizes dynamic human interaction".

Young people taking their first job want human connection, so they're more interested in hybrid than remote roles.

Martin Kocher, Austria's Federal Minister of Labour and Economy, said that some Austrian villages are actually paying for pop-up community office spaces, because people don’t want to work from home, and they can make use of other amenities close by.

He predicted the development of more pop-up office spaces away from company headquarters.

Have you read?

  • Davos 2024: 6 innovative ideas on reskilling, upskilling and building a future-ready workforce
  • From hierarchy to partnership: rethinking the employee/employer relationship in 2024

5. Skills will become even more important

With 23% of jobs expected to change in the next five years, according to the Future of Jobs Report, millions of people will need to move between declining and growing jobs.

Coursera CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda and Denis Machuel, CEO of Adecco Group AG, joined the Davos session ' The Race to Reskill ' to discuss the transferability of skills, and the potential of AI to help with personalized learning and productivity, which also levels the playing field for job opportunities globally.

But the key is in learning how to use AI and digital technologies, as Code.org Founder and CEO, Hadi Partovi, pointed out in the session ' Education Meets AI '.

When people think about job losses due to AI, he said, the risk isn't people losing their jobs to AI: "It's losing their job to somebody else who knows how to use AI. That is going to be a much greater displacement.

"It's not that the worker gets replaced by just a robot or a machine in most cases, especially for desk jobs, it's that some better or more educated worker can do that job because they can be twice as productive or three times as productive.

“The imperative is to teach how AI tools work to every citizen, and especially to our young people."

6. More women enter the workforce

In 2020, the World Bank found that potential gains from closing economic gender gaps could unlock a “gender dividend” of $172 trillion for the global economy.

But the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023 found that the Economic Participation and Opportunity gap has only closed by just over 60%.

Several sessions at Davos looked at how inclusion could benefit the economy , particularly by helping mothers return to the workforce, which could close skills gaps.

“There are 606 million women of working age in the world who are not working because of their unpaid care responsibilities, compared to 40 million men," Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Moms First, explained in a session on the ‘ Workforce Behind the Workforce ’.

“At Moms First, we're working with over 130 companies in every sector, who are saying, ‘I don't have enough workers’. We are working with them to redesign their childcare packages and increase their subsidies.

“Childcare pays for itself. When you offer childcare to employees, you get higher worker productivity and lower rates of attrition, and greater rates of retention. We have to look at care as an economic issue that world leaders must actually do something about.”

short plan in business

Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

In Word, you can create a form that others can fill out and save or print.  To do this, you will start with baseline content in a document, potentially via a form template.  Then you can add content controls for elements such as check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Optionally, these content controls can be linked to database information.  Following are the recommended action steps in sequence.  

Show the Developer tab

In Word, be sure you have the Developer tab displayed in the ribbon.  (See how here:  Show the developer tab .)

Open a template or a blank document on which to base the form

You can start with a template or just start from scratch with a blank document.

Start with a form template

Go to File > New .

In the  Search for online templates  field, type  Forms or the kind of form you want. Then press Enter .

In the displayed results, right-click any item, then select  Create. 

Start with a blank document 

Select Blank document .

Add content to the form

Go to the  Developer  tab Controls section where you can choose controls to add to your document or form. Hover over any icon therein to see what control type it represents. The various control types are described below. You can set properties on a control once it has been inserted.

To delete a content control, right-click it, then select Remove content control  in the pop-up menu. 

Note:  You can print a form that was created via content controls. However, the boxes around the content controls will not print.

Insert a text control

The rich text content control enables users to format text (e.g., bold, italic) and type multiple paragraphs. To limit these capabilities, use the plain text content control . 

Click or tap where you want to insert the control.

Rich text control button

To learn about setting specific properties on these controls, see Set or change properties for content controls .

Insert a picture control

A picture control is most often used for templates, but you can also add a picture control to a form.

Picture control button

Insert a building block control

Use a building block control  when you want users to choose a specific block of text. These are helpful when you need to add different boilerplate text depending on the document's specific purpose. You can create rich text content controls for each version of the boilerplate text, and then use a building block control as the container for the rich text content controls.

building block gallery control

Select Developer and content controls for the building block.

Developer tab showing content controls

Insert a combo box or a drop-down list

In a combo box, users can select from a list of choices that you provide or they can type in their own information. In a drop-down list, users can only select from the list of choices.

combo box button

Select the content control, and then select Properties .

To create a list of choices, select Add under Drop-Down List Properties .

Type a choice in Display Name , such as Yes , No , or Maybe .

Repeat this step until all of the choices are in the drop-down list.

Fill in any other properties that you want.

Note:  If you select the Contents cannot be edited check box, users won’t be able to click a choice.

Insert a date picker

Click or tap where you want to insert the date picker control.

Date picker button

Insert a check box

Click or tap where you want to insert the check box control.

Check box button

Use the legacy form controls

Legacy form controls are for compatibility with older versions of Word and consist of legacy form and Active X controls.

Click or tap where you want to insert a legacy control.

Legacy control button

Select the Legacy Form control or Active X Control that you want to include.

Set or change properties for content controls

Each content control has properties that you can set or change. For example, the Date Picker control offers options for the format you want to use to display the date.

Select the content control that you want to change.

Go to Developer > Properties .

Controls Properties  button

Change the properties that you want.

Add protection to a form

If you want to limit how much others can edit or format a form, use the Restrict Editing command:

Open the form that you want to lock or protect.

Select Developer > Restrict Editing .

Restrict editing button

After selecting restrictions, select Yes, Start Enforcing Protection .

Restrict editing panel

Advanced Tip:

If you want to protect only parts of the document, separate the document into sections and only protect the sections you want.

To do this, choose Select Sections in the Restrict Editing panel. For more info on sections, see Insert a section break .

Sections selector on Resrict sections panel

If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab .

Open a template or use a blank document

To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls. Content controls include things like check boxes, text boxes, and drop-down lists. If you’re familiar with databases, these content controls can even be linked to data.

Go to File > New from Template .

New from template option

In Search, type form .

Double-click the template you want to use.

Select File > Save As , and pick a location to save the form.

In Save As , type a file name and then select Save .

Start with a blank document

Go to File > New Document .

New document option

Go to File > Save As .

Go to Developer , and then choose the controls that you want to add to the document or form. To remove a content control, select the control and press Delete. You can set Options on controls once inserted. From Options, you can add entry and exit macros to run when users interact with the controls, as well as list items for combo boxes, .

Adding content controls to your form

In the document, click or tap where you want to add a content control.

On Developer , select Text Box , Check Box , or Combo Box .

Developer tab with content controls

To set specific properties for the control, select Options , and set .

Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each control that you want to add.

Set options

Options let you set common settings, as well as control specific settings. Select a control and then select Options to set up or make changes.

Set common properties.

Select Macro to Run on lets you choose a recorded or custom macro to run on Entry or Exit from the field.

Bookmark Set a unique name or bookmark for each control.

Calculate on exit This forces Word to run or refresh any calculations, such as total price when the user exits the field.

Add Help Text Give hints or instructions for each field.

OK Saves settings and exits the panel.

Cancel Forgets changes and exits the panel.

Set specific properties for a Text box

Type Select form Regular text, Number, Date, Current Date, Current Time, or Calculation.

Default text sets optional instructional text that's displayed in the text box before the user types in the field. Set Text box enabled to allow the user to enter text into the field.

Maximum length sets the length of text that a user can enter. The default is Unlimited .

Text format can set whether text automatically formats to Uppercase , Lowercase , First capital, or Title case .

Text box enabled Lets the user enter text into a field. If there is default text, user text replaces it.

Set specific properties for a Check box .

Default Value Choose between Not checked or checked as default.

Checkbox size Set a size Exactly or Auto to change size as needed.

Check box enabled Lets the user check or clear the text box.

Set specific properties for a Combo box

Drop-down item Type in strings for the list box items. Press + or Enter to add an item to the list.

Items in drop-down list Shows your current list. Select an item and use the up or down arrows to change the order, Press - to remove a selected item.

Drop-down enabled Lets the user open the combo box and make selections.

Protect the form

Go to Developer > Protect Form .

Protect form button on the Developer tab

Note:  To unprotect the form and continue editing, select Protect Form again.

Save and close the form.

Test the form (optional)

If you want, you can test the form before you distribute it.

Protect the form.

Reopen the form, fill it out as the user would, and then save a copy.

Creating fillable forms isn’t available in Word for the web.

You can create the form with the desktop version of Word with the instructions in Create a fillable form .

When you save the document and reopen it in Word for the web, you’ll see the changes you made.

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Mayor Karen Bass’ plan for rebuilding the size of the LAPD has fallen short so far

LAPD Chief Michel Moore, left, walks alongside Mayor Karen Bass at the Police Academy in December.

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When Mayor Karen Bass laid out her budget proposal for the Los Angeles Police Department last year, she had big plans for rebuilding the size of that agency’s workforce.

The mayor’s budget called for the LAPD to end the 2023-24 budget year with about 9,500 police officers — a target that would require the hiring of nearly 1,000 officers over a 12-month period.

Now, a new assessment from City Administrative Officer Matt Szabo — the city’s top budget analyst — shows the department is falling well short of its staffing goal. By June 30, the end of the fiscal year, the department is expected to have 8,908 officers, according to Szabo’s projections.

That would leave the LAPD with its lowest sworn staffing levels in over two decades.

Szabo’s report, issued Tuesday, is likely to fuel calls for the council to scale back the LAPD’s hiring goal. Even before it was released, some at City Hall had begun arguing that the annual budget calls for hundreds of officer positions that have little to no chance of being filled.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 7, 2024: Dominic H. Choi has been named new LAPD interim chief at City Hall on February 7, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. Mayor Karen Bass is on the left.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Dominic Choi picked as interim LAPD chief to replace departing Moore

The Los Angeles Police Commission named a department insider as interim chief to replace Michel Moore, who will step down at the end of the month.

Feb. 7, 2024

“I do not think 9,500 is realistic,” Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez said Wednesday. “We can’t be in denial about this. It is not realistic. And the reason it’s not realistic is because ... people who are entering the workforce do not want to be police officers.”

Soto-Martínez has long argued for the idea of shifting certain duties out of the LAPD and into agencies with unarmed responders. He asked for the LAPD’s 12-month hiring projections last month, just as the council began the process of cutting an as-yet-unknown number of civilian city positions — part of a larger effort at reining in a budget shortfall.

Meanwhile, police staffing is continuing its year-to-year slide.

The LAPD had about 10,000 officers in 2019, the last full year before COVID-19. In June 2020, not long after the murder of George Floyd, the City Council voted to scale back the deployment to about 9,750.

Bass took office in 2022. By the time her first budget went into effect, the number of officers had fallen to 9,027. In an attempt to reverse those trends, she negotiated a four-year package of pay increases and higher starting salaries.

That deal, approved in August, is now a major contributor to the city’s budget shortfall, which could reach as much as $400 million in the coming fiscal year.

De’Marcus Finnell, a spokesperson for Bass, said Wednesday that the salary agreement with the police officers’ union is producing results, helping to spur recruitment and lower attrition.

“According to conversations with LAPD, retirement rates could’ve been much higher if we hadn’t taken the action we did,” Finnell said in an email.

Councilmember Nithya Raman, who voted against the salary agreement last year, has been offering a different assessment, calling the police contract financially irresponsible. Raman, now running for reelection with support from the mayor, has repeatedly warned that the police raises will leave the city with insufficient funds for other government programs.

“I thought that the size of the raise would be so much that it would create significant budget deficits going forward,” she told an audience last month, adding: “So far, the data has proven me correct.”

Others on the council say they still support the police raises.

Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky, in an interview, said attrition has “slowed significantly” at the LAPD since the contract was approved. The contract, she said, is “doing what we needed it to do.”

Bass, as part of her budget, had been hoping to hire 780 new officers during the current fiscal year. She also had been looking to bring 200 retirees back to the department.

So far, only 15 retirees have come back, Szabo said.

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The decrease in LAPD staffing is producing at least one benefit — cutting costs in the city budget.

The city’s financial analysts are currently projecting an $82-million shortfall in the LAPD’s sworn salary account this year. Had the department been successful in reaching the mayor’s hiring goals, that number would have grown to more than $118 million, Szabo said in his report.

Meanwhile, some categories of crime continue to fall.

Homicides have decreased by nearly 6% compared with the prior year, according to LAPD figures covering the period ending Jan. 27. Burglaries decreased by nearly 7% over the same time frame.

Other types of crime are on the rise. Assaults have gone up by 12% compared to the same period last year, according to LAPD figures. The number of shooting victims is up 29% so far this year.

More to Read

Los Angeles, CA - Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, right, and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore hold a press conference at L.A. City Hall on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, to announce the chief's retirement, pending a replacement. (photographer} / Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Bass has been quietly steering needed change in LAPD leadership

Feb. 18, 2024

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 7, 2024:New LAPD interim Chief Dominic H. Choi shakes hands with Mayor Karen Bass after being named to the position at City Hall on February 7, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Mayor Bass faces choice for next LAPD chief: Hire from within or bring in an outsider

Feb. 16, 2024

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 7, 2024: New LAPD interim Chief Dominic H. Choi stands with with Mayor Karen Bass after being named to the position at City Hall on February 7, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Opinion: Before Los Angeles gets a new police chief, here’s what we need to know

Feb. 15, 2024

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short plan in business

David Zahniser covers Los Angeles City Hall for the Los Angeles Times.

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From left, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Diego Cruz Padilla, Karen Waters and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., greet President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

Biden arrives in Los Angeles today for fundraiser at Israel supporter’s home

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