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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.

what does a business plan have

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.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

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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what does a business plan have

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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 .

What is a business plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

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

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

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

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

what does a business plan have

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

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

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

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

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

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

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

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

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

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

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

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

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

AJ Beltis

Published: June 07, 2023

In an era where more than 20% of small enterprises fail in their first year, having a clear, defined, and well-thought-out business plan is a crucial first step for setting up a business for long-term success.

Business plan graphic with business owner, lightbulb, and pens to symbolize coming up with ideas and writing a business plan.

Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan?

businessplan_0

In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement. Key staff who are responsible for achieving the goals may also be included in the business plan along with a timeline.

The business plan is an undeniably critical component to getting any company off the ground. It's key to securing financing, documenting your business model, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.

What is a business plan used for?

The purpose of a business plan is three-fold: It summarizes the organization’s strategy in order to execute it long term, secures financing from investors, and helps forecast future business demands.

Business Plan Template [ Download Now ]

businessplan_2

Working on your business plan? Try using our Business Plan Template . Pre-filled with the sections a great business plan needs, the template will give aspiring entrepreneurs a feel for what a business plan is, what should be in it, and how it can be used to establish and grow a business from the ground up.

Purposes of a Business Plan

Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons:

1. Securing financing from investors.

Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. This document is an entrepreneur's way of showing potential investors or lenders how their capital will be put to work and how it will help the business thrive.

All banks, investors, and venture capital firms will want to see a business plan before handing over their money, and investors typically expect a 10% ROI or more from the capital they invest in a business.

Therefore, these investors need to know if — and when — they'll be making their money back (and then some). Additionally, they'll want to read about the process and strategy for how the business will reach those financial goals, which is where the context provided by sales, marketing, and operations plans come into play.

2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals.

A business plan should leave no stone unturned.

Business plans can span dozens or even hundreds of pages, affording their drafters the opportunity to explain what a business' goals are and how the business will achieve them.

To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies — from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.

These explanations should ultimately lead to a business' break-even point supported by a sales forecast and financial projections, with the business plan writer being able to speak to the why behind anything outlined in the plan.

what does a business plan have

Free Business Plan Template

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

  • Outline your idea.
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You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Free Business Plan [Template]

Fill out the form to access your free business plan., 3. legitimizing a business idea..

Everyone's got a great idea for a company — until they put pen to paper and realize that it's not exactly feasible.

A business plan is an aspiring entrepreneur's way to prove that a business idea is actually worth pursuing.

As entrepreneurs document their go-to-market process, capital needs, and expected return on investment, entrepreneurs likely come across a few hiccups that will make them second guess their strategies and metrics — and that's exactly what the business plan is for.

It ensures an entrepreneur's ducks are in a row before bringing their business idea to the world and reassures the readers that whoever wrote the plan is serious about the idea, having put hours into thinking of the business idea, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.

4. Getting an A in your business class.

Speaking from personal experience, there's a chance you're here to get business plan ideas for your Business 101 class project.

If that's the case, might we suggest checking out this post on How to Write a Business Plan — providing a section-by-section guide on creating your plan?

What does a business plan need to include?

  • Business Plan Subtitle
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • The Business Opportunity
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Target Market
  • Marketing Plan
  • Financial Summary
  • Funding Requirements

1. Business Plan Subtitle

Every great business plan starts with a captivating title and subtitle. You’ll want to make it clear that the document is, in fact, a business plan, but the subtitle can help tell the story of your business in just a short sentence.

2. Executive Summary

Although this is the last part of the business plan that you’ll write, it’s the first section (and maybe the only section) that stakeholders will read. The executive summary of a business plan sets the stage for the rest of the document. It includes your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.

3. Company Description

This brief part of your business plan will detail your business name, years in operation, key offerings, and positioning statement. You might even add core values or a short history of the company. The company description’s role in a business plan is to introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way.

4. The Business Opportunity

The business opportunity should convince investors that your organization meets the needs of the market in a way that no other company can. This section explains the specific problem your business solves within the marketplace and how it solves them. It will include your value proposition as well as some high-level information about your target market.

businessplan_9

5. Competitive Analysis

Just about every industry has more than one player in the market. Even if your business owns the majority of the market share in your industry or your business concept is the first of its kind, you still have competition. In the competitive analysis section, you’ll take an objective look at the industry landscape to determine where your business fits. A SWOT analysis is an organized way to format this section.

6. Target Market

Who are the core customers of your business and why? The target market portion of your business plan outlines this in detail. The target market should explain the demographics, psychographics, behavioristics, and geographics of the ideal customer.

7. Marketing Plan

Marketing is expansive, and it’ll be tempting to cover every type of marketing possible, but a brief overview of how you’ll market your unique value proposition to your target audience, followed by a tactical plan will suffice.

Think broadly and narrow down from there: Will you focus on a slow-and-steady play where you make an upfront investment in organic customer acquisition? Or will you generate lots of quick customers using a pay-to-play advertising strategy? This kind of information should guide the marketing plan section of your business plan.

8. Financial Summary

Money doesn’t grow on trees and even the most digital, sustainable businesses have expenses. Outlining a financial summary of where your business is currently and where you’d like it to be in the future will substantiate this section. Consider including any monetary information that will give potential investors a glimpse into the financial health of your business. Assets, liabilities, expenses, debt, investments, revenue, and more are all useful adds here.

So, you’ve outlined some great goals, the business opportunity is valid, and the industry is ready for what you have to offer. Who’s responsible for turning all this high-level talk into results? The "team" section of your business plan answers that question by providing an overview of the roles responsible for each goal. Don’t worry if you don’t have every team member on board yet, knowing what roles to hire for is helpful as you seek funding from investors.

10. Funding Requirements

Remember that one of the goals of a business plan is to secure funding from investors, so you’ll need to include funding requirements you’d like them to fulfill. The amount your business needs, for what reasons, and for how long will meet the requirement for this section.

Types of Business Plans

  • Startup Business Plan
  • Feasibility Business Plan
  • Internal Business Plan
  • Strategic Business Plan
  • Business Acquisition Plan
  • Business Repositioning Plan
  • Expansion or Growth Business Plan

There’s no one size fits all business plan as there are several types of businesses in the market today. From startups with just one founder to historic household names that need to stay competitive, every type of business needs a business plan that’s tailored to its needs. Below are a few of the most common types of business plans.

For even more examples, check out these sample business plans to help you write your own .

1. Startup Business Plan

businessplan_7

As one of the most common types of business plans, a startup business plan is for new business ideas. This plan lays the foundation for the eventual success of a business.

The biggest challenge with the startup business plan is that it’s written completely from scratch. Startup business plans often reference existing industry data. They also explain unique business strategies and go-to-market plans.

Because startup business plans expand on an original idea, the contents will vary by the top priority goals.

For example, say a startup is looking for funding. If capital is a priority, this business plan might focus more on financial projections than marketing or company culture.

2. Feasibility Business Plan

businessplan_4

This type of business plan focuses on a single essential aspect of the business — the product or service. It may be part of a startup business plan or a standalone plan for an existing organization. This comprehensive plan may include:

  • A detailed product description
  • Market analysis
  • Technology needs
  • Production needs
  • Financial sources
  • Production operations

According to CBInsights research, 35% of startups fail because of a lack of market need. Another 10% fail because of mistimed products.

Some businesses will complete a feasibility study to explore ideas and narrow product plans to the best choice. They conduct these studies before completing the feasibility business plan. Then the feasibility plan centers on that one product or service.

3. Internal Business Plan

businessplan_5

Internal business plans help leaders communicate company goals, strategy, and performance. This helps the business align and work toward objectives more effectively.

Besides the typical elements in a startup business plan, an internal business plan may also include:

  • Department-specific budgets
  • Target demographic analysis
  • Market size and share of voice analysis
  • Action plans
  • Sustainability plans

Most external-facing business plans focus on raising capital and support for a business. But an internal business plan helps keep the business mission consistent in the face of change.

4. Strategic Business Plan

businessplan_8

Strategic business plans focus on long-term objectives for your business. They usually cover the first three to five years of operations. This is different from the typical startup business plan which focuses on the first one to three years. The audience for this plan is also primarily internal stakeholders.

These types of business plans may include:

  • Relevant data and analysis
  • Assessments of company resources
  • Vision and mission statements

It's important to remember that, while many businesses create a strategic plan before launching, some business owners just jump in. So, this business plan can add value by outlining how your business plans to reach specific goals. This type of planning can also help a business anticipate future challenges.

5. Business Acquisition Plan

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Investors use business plans to acquire existing businesses, too — not just new businesses.

A business acquisition plan may include costs, schedules, or management requirements. This data will come from an acquisition strategy.

A business plan for an existing company will explain:

  • How an acquisition will change its operating model
  • What will stay the same under new ownership
  • Why things will change or stay the same
  • Acquisition planning documentation
  • Timelines for acquisition

Additionally, the business plan should speak to the current state of the business and why it's up for sale.

For example, if someone is purchasing a failing business, the business plan should explain why the business is being purchased. It should also include:

  • What the new owner will do to turn the business around
  • Historic business metrics
  • Sales projections after the acquisition
  • Justification for those projections

6. Business Repositioning Plan

businessplan_6 (1)

When a business wants to avoid acquisition, reposition its brand, or try something new, CEOs or owners will develop a business repositioning plan.

This plan will:

  • Acknowledge the current state of the company.
  • State a vision for the future of the company.
  • Explain why the business needs to reposition itself.
  • Outline a process for how the company will adjust.

Companies planning for a business reposition often do so — proactively or retroactively — due to a shift in market trends and customer needs.

For example, shoe brand AllBirds plans to refocus its brand on core customers and shift its go-to-market strategy. These decisions are a reaction to lackluster sales following product changes and other missteps.

7. Expansion or Growth Business Plan

When your business is ready to expand, a growth business plan creates a useful structure for reaching specific targets.

For example, a successful business expanding into another location can use a growth business plan. This is because it may also mean the business needs to focus on a new target market or generate more capital.

This type of plan usually covers the next year or two of growth. It often references current sales, revenue, and successes. It may also include:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Growth opportunity studies
  • Financial goals and plans
  • Marketing plans
  • Capability planning

These types of business plans will vary by business, but they can help businesses quickly rally around new priorities to drive growth.

Getting Started With Your Business Plan

At the end of the day, a business plan is simply an explanation of a business idea and why it will be successful. The more detail and thought you put into it, the more successful your plan — and the business it outlines — will be.

When writing your business plan, you’ll benefit from extensive research, feedback from your team or board of directors, and a solid template to organize your thoughts. If you need one of these, download HubSpot's Free Business Plan Template below to get started.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

Streamline Your Business Planning Activities 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.

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What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Planning Essentials Explained

Posted february 21, 2022 by kody wirth.

what does a business plan have

What is a business plan? It’s the roadmap for your business. The outline of your goals, objectives, and the steps you’ll take to get there. It describes the structure of your organization, how it operates, as well as the financial expectations and actual performance. 

A business plan can help you explore ideas, successfully start a business, manage operations, and pursue growth. In short, a business plan is a lot of different things. It’s more than just a stack of paper and can be one of your most effective tools as a business owner. 

Let’s explore the basics of business planning, the structure of a traditional plan, your planning options, and how you can use your plan to succeed. 

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document that explains how your business operates. It summarizes your business structure, objectives, milestones, and financial performance. Again, it’s a guide that helps you, and anyone else, better understand how your business will succeed.  

Why do you need a business plan?

The primary purpose of a business plan is to help you understand the direction of your business and the steps it will take to get there. Having a solid business plan can help you grow up to 30% faster and according to our own 2021 Small Business research working on a business plan increases confidence regarding business health—even in the midst of a crisis. 

These benefits are directly connected to how writing a business plan makes you more informed and better prepares you for entrepreneurship. It helps you reduce risk and avoid pursuing potentially poor ideas. You’ll also be able to more easily uncover your business’s potential. By regularly returning to your plan you can understand what parts of your strategy are working and those that are not.

That just scratches the surface for why having a plan is valuable. Check out our full write-up for fifteen more reasons why you need a business plan .  

What can you do with your plan?

So what can you do with a business plan once you’ve created it? It can be all too easy to write a plan and just let it be. Here are just a few ways you can leverage your plan to benefit your business.

Test an idea

Writing a plan isn’t just for those that are ready to start a business. It’s just as valuable for those that have an idea and want to determine if it’s actually possible or not. By writing a plan to explore the validity of an idea, you are working through the process of understanding what it would take to be successful. 

The market and competitive research alone can tell you a lot about your idea. Is the marketplace too crowded? Is the solution you have in mind not really needed? Add in the exploration of milestones, potential expenses, and the sales needed to attain profitability and you can paint a pretty clear picture of the potential of your business.

Document your strategy and goals

For those starting or managing a business understanding where you’re going and how you’re going to get there are vital. Writing your plan helps you do that. It ensures that you are considering all aspects of your business, know what milestones you need to hit, and can effectively make adjustments if that doesn’t happen. 

With a plan in place, you’ll have an idea of where you want your business to go as well as how you’ve performed in the past. This alone better prepares you to take on challenges, review what you’ve done before, and make the right adjustments.

Pursue funding

Even if you do not intend to pursue funding right away, having a business plan will prepare you for it. It will ensure that you have all of the information necessary to submit a loan application and pitch to investors. So, rather than scrambling to gather documentation and write a cohesive plan once it’s relevant, you can instead keep your plan up-to-date and attempt to attain funding. Just add a use of funds report to your financial plan and you’ll be ready to go.

The benefits of having a plan don’t stop there. You can then use your business plan to help you manage the funding you receive. You’ll not only be able to easily track and forecast how you’ll use your funds but easily report on how it’s been used. 

Better manage your business

A solid business plan isn’t meant to be something you do once and forget about. Instead, it should be a useful tool that you can regularly use to analyze performance, make strategic decisions, and anticipate future scenarios. It’s a document that you should regularly update and adjust as you go to better fit the actual state of your business.

Doing so makes it easier to understand what’s working and what’s not. It helps you understand if you’re truly reaching your goals or if you need to make further adjustments. Having your plan in place makes that process quicker, more informative, and leaves you with far more time to actually spend running your business.

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What should your business plan include?

The content and structure of your business plan should include anything that will help you use it effectively. That being said, there are some key elements that you should cover and that investors will expect to see. 

Executive summary

The executive summary is a simple overview of your business and your overall plan. It should serve as a standalone document that provides enough detail for anyone—including yourself, team members, or investors—to fully understand your business strategy. Make sure to cover the problem you’re solving, a description of your product or service, your target market, organizational structure, a financial summary, and any necessary funding requirements.

This will be the first part of your plan but it’s easiest to write it after you’ve created your full plan.

Products & Services

When describing your products or services, you need to start by outlining the problem you’re solving and why what you offer is valuable. This is where you’ll also address current competition in the market and any competitive advantages your products or services bring to the table. Lastly, be sure to outline the steps or milestones that you’ll need to hit to successfully launch your business. If you’ve already hit some initial milestones, like taking pre-orders or early funding, be sure to include it here to further prove the validity of your business. 

Market analysis

A market analysis is a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the current market you’re entering or competing in. It helps you understand the overall state and potential of the industry, who your ideal customers are, the positioning of your competition, and how you intend to position your own business. This helps you better explore the long-term trends of the market, what challenges to expect, and how you will need to initially introduce and even price your products or services.

Check out our full guide for how to conduct a market analysis in just four easy steps .  

Marketing & sales

Here you detail how you intend to reach your target market. This includes your sales activities, general pricing plan, and the beginnings of your marketing strategy. If you have any branding elements, sample marketing campaigns, or messaging available—this is the place to add it. 

Additionally, it may be wise to include a SWOT analysis that demonstrates your business or specific product/service position. This will showcase how you intend to leverage sales and marketing channels to deal with competitive threats and take advantage of any opportunities.

Check out our full write-up to learn how to create a cohesive marketing strategy for your business. 

Organization & management

This section addresses the legal structure of your business, your current team, and any gaps that need to be filled. Depending on your business type and longevity, you’ll also need to include your location, ownership information, and business history. Basically, add any information that helps explain your organizational structure and how you operate. This section is particularly important for pitching to investors but should be included even if attempted funding is not in your immediate future.

Financial projections

Possibly the most important piece of your plan, your financials section is vital for showcasing the viability of your business. It also helps you establish a baseline to measure against and makes it easier to make ongoing strategic decisions as your business grows. This may seem complex on the surface, but it can be far easier than you think. 

Focus on building solid forecasts, keep your categories simple, and lean on assumptions. You can always return to this section to add more details and refine your financial statements as you operate. 

Here are the statements you should include in your financial plan:

  • Sales and revenue projections
  • Profit and loss statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet

The appendix is where you add additional detail, documentation, or extended notes that support the other sections of your plan. Don’t worry about adding this section at first and only add documentation that you think will be beneficial for anyone reading your plan.

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

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. We recommend only starting with this business plan format if you plan to immediately pursue funding and already have a solid handle on your business information. 

Business model canvas

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

The structure ditches a linear structure in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It’s faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations. This is really best for those exploring their business idea for the first time, but keep in mind that it can be difficult to actually validate your idea this way as well as adapt it into a full plan.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan. This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. It basically serves as a beefed-up pitch document and can be finished as quickly as the business model canvas.

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

Now, the option that we here at LivePlan recommend is the Lean Plan . This 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 holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27-minutes . However, it’s even easier to convert into a full plan thanks to how heavily it’s tied to your financials. The overall goal of Lean Planning isn’t to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the Lean Planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and stable through times of crisis.

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

Try the LivePlan Method for Lean Business Planning

Now that you know the basics of business planning, it’s time to get started. Again we recommend leveraging a Lean Plan for a faster, easier, and far more useful planning process. 

To get familiar with the Lean Plan format, you can download our free Lean Plan template . However, if you want to elevate your ability to create and use your lean plan even further, you may want to explore LivePlan. 

It 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. 

Check out how LivePlan streamlines Lean Planning by downloading our Kickstart Your Business ebook .

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Kody Wirth

Posted in Business Plan Writing

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What to Include in Your Business Plan Here's what your business plan should contain, how long it should be and what it should look like.

By The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. • Dec 9, 2014

In their book Write Your Business Plan , the staff of Entrepreneur Media offer an in-depth understanding of what's essential to any business plan, what's appropriate for your venture, and what it takes to ensure success. In this edited excerpt, the authors briefly describe just what your business plan should contain, how long it should be and how to know if it's time to write it.

A business plan is a written description of the future of your business. It's a document that tells the story of what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you've written a plan, or at least the germ of a plan.

But there are some generally accepted conventions about what a full-blown business plan should include and how it should be presented. A plan should cover all the important matters that will contribute to making your business a success. These include the following:

1. Your basic business concept. This is where you discuss the industry, your business structure, your particular product or service, and how you plan to make your business a success.

2. Your strategy and the specific actions you plan to take to implement it. What goals do you have for your business? When and how will you reach your goals?

3. Your products and services and their competitive advantages. Here's your chance to dazzle the readers with good, solid information about your products or services and why customers will want to purchase your products and services and not those of your competitors.

4. The markets you'll pursue. Now you have to lay out your marketing plan. Who will your customers be? What is your demographic audience? How will you attract and retain enough customers to make a profit? What methods will you use to capture your audience? What sets your business apart from the competition?

5. The background of your management team and key employees. Having information about key personnel is an important but often misrepresented portion of a business plan. It's not a long and detailed biography of each person involved but an accurate account of what they've done and what they bring to the table for this specific business opportunity.

6. Your financing needs. These will be based on your projected financial statements. These statements provide a model of how your ideas about the company, its markets and its strategies will play out.

As you write your business plan, stick to facts instead of feelings, projections instead of hopes, and realistic expectations of profit instead of unrealistic dreams of wealth. Facts—checkable, demonstrable facts—will invest your plan with the most important component of all: credibility.

How long should your plan be?

A useful business plan can be any length, from that scrawl on the back of an envelope to more than 100 pages for an especially detailed plan describing a complex enterprise. A typical business plan runs 15 to 25 pages.

Miniplans of five to 10 pages are the popular concise models that may stand on their own for smaller businesses. Larger businesses seeking major funding will often have miniplans as well, but the full business plan will be waiting in the wings. It's to your advantage to run long when creating your plan, then narrow it down for presentation purposes.

The size of the plan will also depend on the nature of your business and your reason for writing it. If you have a simple concept, you may be able to express it in very few words. On the other hand, if you're proposing a new kind of business or even a new industry, it may require quite a bit of explanation to get the message across.

The purpose of your plan also determines its length. If you're looking for millions of dollars in seed capital to start a risky venture, you'll usually (although not always) have to do a lot of explaining and convincing. If you already have relationships with potential investors, they may simply want a miniplan. If you're just going to use your plan for internal purposes to manage an ongoing business, a much more abbreviated version may suffice.

Many business plan presentations are made with PowerPoint decks, using 10 to 12 slides to tell your story. That's a great starting point, but you should have at least a miniplan available, especially if you're seeking millions of dollars.

When should you write it?

Still not sure if it's time to write a business plan? Here are a few clues that it's time to start writing:

  • A business plan is a good way to explore the feasibility of a new business without actually having to start it and run it. A good plan can help you see serious flaws in your business concept. You may uncover tough competition when researching the market section, or you may find that your financial projections simply aren't realistic.
  • Any venture that faces major changes (and that means almost all businesses) needs a business plan. If the demographics of your market are rapidly changing, strong new competitive products challenge your profitability, you expect your business to grow or shrink dramatically, or the economic climate is improving or slipping rapidly, you'll need a business plan. This will allow you to make changes accordingly.
  • If you're contemplating buying or selling a business, your business plan can provide you with a handy tool to establish a value—and to support that value if challenged.
  • You'll need a business plan if you're seeking financing. Your business plan is the backbone of your financing proposal. Bankers, venture capitalists and other financiers rarely provide money without seeing a plan. Less sophisticated investors or friends and family may not require a business plan, but they deserve one. Even if you're funding the business with your own savings, you owe it to yourself to plan how you'll expend the resources you're committing.

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What Should a Business Plan Include?

A business plan serves as a roadmap to successfully launch a business. It helps you overcome the challenges you might experience in your industry. Learn how to create and use a business plan for your startup.

One of the most fatal mistakes that aspiring entrepreneurs make in launching a startup is forgetting a business plan . You wouldn’t launch a ship at sea without establishing its routes and the direction you’ll steer it to. Without proper planning, your ship will end up adrift or worst, dramatically sink when the tides hit. And in a volatile commercial industry, the tides are constantly changing.

Avoid common startup mistakes by creating a business plan. A business plan not only strengthens your foundation but also helps you navigate the ever-changing field of business. Chances are your customers’ preferences will change over time and you have to keep up with them. Hence, a business plan also changes accordingly.

But how exactly do you create a business plan? Is there a template to follow? Should you enlist the help of other experts to write it? Today, we’ll look into what should be included in your business plan and how it should be written. The first step is by understanding what it is and what it is for.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is an official company document that breaks down all the goals of a business and how to achieve them. It basically lays out the groundwork for your idea to come alive. It’s often referred to as the “blueprint of the business”, summarizing your goals.

Although there are many ways to write it, its key point usually discusses the financial, marketing, and operational strategies of the business.   

What is it for?

A business plan serves as a guide for a growing company. It’s a consistent reference for business owners and stakeholders to base critical decisions on. It’s especially useful for early-stage startups to attract investors. When a company doesn’t have a proven track record, it can lay out its full potential instead.

Not only is the business plan useful for the initial launching of a business, but it also helps with pivotal changes. Since the market is perpetually changing, it’s crucial that your plan also evolves with it. Hence, the goals and methods of achieving will be updated. In some cases, a whole new plan is created if the company wants to drastically move in a new direction.   

What’s included in a Business Plan

Although there’s no fixed formula for writing a business plan, there are some identifiable key points. These are generally the items factored in its creation:

1.     Executive Summary

The executive summary outlines the whole plan. You start with a clear introduction of who you are, what you sell, and what your ambitions are as a business. This section includes your mission statement, product description, and the basic overview of your company’s structure. It should also include your financial plans.   

2.     Business Description

The business description provides detailed information about your industry. It must describe its current outlook as well as its profit potential. You will go into detail about your target market and other organizations or businesses you cater to. Also, this section briefly discusses what problem the business is trying to solve.  

3.     Market Analysis

A business must have a firm understanding of its target market and should be able to prove its sustainability. The market analysis provides trends and studies about the target consumers—their size, demographics, buying power, and frequent activities. This section also touches briefly on the competitors.

4.     Product Development

Investors need a clear idea of how you would create and maintain your product. The development plan section contains the details of the product’s design; its production methods, lifecycle, marketing, and development budget. This includes the overall strategy of how it will be sold in the market.

5.     Marketing Strategies

The product is only as good as how much it will sell. Therefore, this section describes how you will present your products and services to the market. This will discuss your marketing campaigns, distribution channels, and types of media you’ll tap into. You will summarize how you intend to reach your customers and pitch your products to them.

6.     Operations and Management

Your investors need an overview of how the business functions. The operations plan highlights the logistics of the company such as team responsibilities, division tasks, and operational expenses. This helps track down who is responsible for certain areas of the business.  

7.     Financial Plans

Money mobilizes the idea. Hence, it’s important to keep an accurate record of where it’s going. This section shows the company’s monetary plans and its future projections. This includes financial statements, balance sheets, and third-party business transactions. For startups, it will mostly contain the target profit and estimates of expenses.    

Tips on Writing a Business Plan

Now that we have an idea of the business plan template , it’s time to learn how to write it effectively. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re writing one for your business.

  • Keep it concise. It serve as a guide for the company and the investors. It needs to be easy to understand and direct to the point. You can’t afford to waste a reader’s time by creating a 100-page business plan. Instead, aim for a summarized version of your plan, only highlighting the important points and outlining the rest.
  • Avoid jargon. Ensure that everyone, especially investors, can understand your business plan. Do not include complex jargon in your content. Save the technicalities for the experts and simplify the terms in explaining your ideas.
  • Keep it up-to-date. As previously mentioned, business plans are not static. Over time, a lot of things in the industry will change and might make your original plans obsolete. Frequently update your business plan according to what’s new in the field and with new methods you’re employing. Remember, a business plan is only useful if it’s still relevant.  

Build your Business

Business plans are important when you’re starting your business from scratch. However, the success of your business still heavily relies on their execution. A lot of startups fail because they can’t push through with what was proposed in the business plans.

More than just articulating your ideas, you need to do a lot more to make them come to life. For one, you’ll need the capital to kick things off and make everything operational. Second, you’ll need to hire the best people to run your operations. Lastly, you have to find investors to sustain your business.

One way to ensure that your business plan is properly executed is by enlisting the help of business experts. Full Scale is an offshore software development company that specializes in helping startups.

We can provide the talent and resources needed to begin your operations. Whether you need project managers, marketing specialists, or technical experts; we’ve got them all. We’ll take care of all the processes of recruitment and management so you can focus on your core competencies.

Ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey? Get your FREE consultation today!

Learn More about Offshore Development

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What Is a Business Plan, and Why Is It Important?

What Is a Business Plan, and Why Is It Important?

If you’re planning to launch a business, the first thing you’ll need to do is develop a business plan. This can be a daunting task, especially if you’re launching your first business. 

But with a few important things in mind, writing a business plan can become much easier–in this article, we’ll discuss what a business plan is, why you need one, the components that make up a comprehensive plan, and how you can use it to grow your business. Let’s begin!

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that outlines your business goals, strategies, and activities. It’s often used to attract investors or secure loans from banks. Even if you’re not looking for outside funding, a business plan can still be a helpful tool. It can help you develop a road map for your business and keep you on track as you grow.

When it comes to developing a business plan, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The length and structure of your plan will vary depending on the type of business you’re starting, the market you’re entering, your own goals and objectives, and the business plan writer you hire. 

However, there are some key components that should be included in every business plan:

  • The executive summary : This is a brief overview of your business plan. It should include your company’s mission statement, a description of your products or services, an overview of your market analysis, and your financial goals. 

This is the most important part of your plan because it helps investors decide if they will continue reading your document, so be sure to learn how to write a good executive summary for your business plan .  

  • The company description : This section should provide more detail about your company, including its history, ownership structure, and location.
  • The product or service : In this section, you should describe the products or services your company will offer. You’ll also want to discuss your target market, how you plan to sell your product or service, and who your competition is.
  • The marketing strategy : Here, you’ll include details about how you plan to promote your business. This may include social media marketing efforts, public relations, advertising, and partnerships with other businesses.
  • The financials : This is where you’ll include information about your business’ finances, including sales forecasts, cash flow statements, and profit and loss reports.

As you can see, a business plan is more than just numbers and words on paper–it consists of everything that you stand for as an entrepreneur, including important details about your company, your goals, and the strategies you’ll use to achieve those goals. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your business plan is as thorough as possible.

Why Is a Business Plan Important?

There are many benefits of developing a business plan, including:

  • It helps you to clarify your goals and objectives.
  • It can help you identify any potential challenges or risks you’ll face as you grow your business.
  • It serves as a roadmap for your business, helping you stay on track as you develop new products, enter new markets, and hire more employees.
  • It gives potential investors or lenders an idea of what your business is all about and how you plan to achieve your goals.
  • It can help you stay organized and focused on your business, even when things get busy and hectic.
  • It can help you determine whether your new product or service is viable and how to best position it in the market.

How to Use Your Business Plan to Grow Your Business

Once you’ve written your business plan, it’s important to put it into action and use it as a tool to help you grow your business. It should be a living document that grows and changes with your business–as you gain new insights or identify new opportunities, be sure to update your plan so it always reflects your current business goals. 

Remember, your plan will serve as a map for you to navigate through the business world. If you start neglecting it because you’re making progress, your success will be short-lived and you’ll soon lose your way.

Additionally, if you’re looking for funding from investors or lenders, your business plan will be a key part of your pitch. Be sure to review your plan carefully before you meet with potential investors, as they’ll likely have questions about your business and your plans for growth, so be sure to have clear and detailed answers in mind.

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How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

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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

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10 Qualities of a Good Business Plan Explained

Two female entrepreneurs standing in the backroom of their shop looking at their business plan on a computer.

Eleanor Hecks

9 min. read

Updated October 27, 2023

According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are approximately 32.5 million small businesses at the moment. The number fluctuates from year to year with businesses coming and going. If you want to remain profitable and thrive, you must have a plan to move forward. 

A business plan does far more than help secure venture capital when you’re starting out. You’ll use a strong business plan throughout the life of a company. Use it to refocus your goals, refresh your memory on growth plans, and fulfill marketing goals. Share your plan with employees, shareholders, and investors, and refer back to it to see if you need to make adjustments along the way.

Having a solid business plan can help you successfully start, manage, and grow your business. But what are the qualities that make a business plan more than a document? What does it take to write a strong business plan?

  • What are the characteristics of a great business plan?

An excellent plan works for your company and keeps everyone on the same page. There isn’t a lot of ambiguity in it, and all things are listed in an orderly fashion that’s easy to absorb.

The format of the business plan may be almost as important as the words within it, so use bullet points, headers, bold print, and other tricks to keep the reader engaged.

Whether you already have a business plan written and want to edit it to perfection or you need to start from scratch , there are six characteristics every strong plan has.

1. Clear language

It might be tempting to throw in a bunch of industry jargon to show your knowledge of your niche. Unfortunately, most lenders won’t know what you mean. It’s much better to stick to language anyone can understand. You never know who you’ll need to share your business plan with.

Read over the plan several times for typos and clarity. Read out loud so you can “hear” the words. You’ll catch awkward phrasing by speaking the words. You can never have too many eyes on the plan. One person might catch a particular spelling error while another sees the grammatical errors.

Get feedback from your employees, family, mentor, and friends. You don’t have to follow every suggestion, but you should consider what everyone says and choose the things that make the most sense for your business model.

Look at the business plan through the eyes of someone outside the industry. Does everything make sense? Are there any phrases someone might have to stop and look up? You don’t want the reader to be thrown out of the flow of the text.

2. Employee recognition

Your business plan should include a layout for employee recognition. Developing a strong workplace culture benefits your brand in numerous ways, such as creating staff loyalty and retaining your best people. It’s difficult for a company to thrive and grow without focusing on its workers.

When employees receive recognition for their accomplishments, they are 82% happier in their jobs . They’ll outperform workers in a company without the plan for an excellent culture. If you aren’t quite sure what your company culture should be yet, just make some notes on the things you’ve loved about your favorite places to work.

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

3. realistic goals.

While you might love to run a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, most small businesses stay relatively small. That isn’t to say you can’t find great success as a small business owner, but make sure your goals are achievable .

As you work through the potential revenue numbers, pay attention to what others in your industry make in a year. You might be able to exceed that by 10%, but thinking you’ll make four times what your nearest competitor does may not be very realistic.

Making your goals too lofty may hurt your chances of securing financing, too. Those considering investing in your business may feel you don’t fully understand the typical earnings of your industry.

4. Great mission statement

The best business plans outline the purpose of your company. Why did you start the business in the first place, and how will you leave your mark with the brand?

For example, a small landscaping company called Massey Services shares its mission statement on its website. Their overall goal is total customer satisfaction . Everything else in their statement on their webpage ties into that philosophy. They also want to build long-term relationships, they want people to trust them, and they value truth and integrity.

When you have a strong mission statement , it drives everything else you do. If your focus is on building relationships, you’ll develop a company culture based on interactions with employees. Your mission statement might arguably be the thing about your company that never changes.

5. Methodology for results

Make sure your business plan has a way to track results over time. Lay out the methodology of any facts and figures used to estimate revenue or what your costs will be. Then, check against those assumptions from time to time to make sure you’re hitting the right beats.

For example, if you plan to hit a certain level of revenue by the end of the first year, how can you break that down into quarters, months, and weeks? What is the best way to make sure you achieve your goals?

You can’t fix mistakes or make adjustments if you don’t know where you are in the journey. Pay attention to how quickly the brand moves toward objectives and make adjustments as needed.

6. Foundation for marketing strategies

How do you plan to get the word out about your brand? You must have a marketing strategy that makes sense for your budget and your philosophies as a brand. Perhaps you plan to work exclusively with online influencers. How much will you allocate to the budget for influencer marketing?

Take time to study who your target audience is and create buyer personas representing the average person who’ll buy from you. While you might need to tweak your personas from time to time, a solid plan, in the beginning, gets things off on the right foot and helps you bring in new customers.

Figure out how much you’ll spend online and offline on marketing efforts. Where can you reach your average customer? Do they mainly hang out on Facebook? If so, much of your budget can go to Facebook ads. On the other hand, if they use TikTok and rarely visit Facebook, you might want to put more time, energy, and finances into building an audience on the newer platform.

7. It fits the need of your business

The best business plan for your company takes into account why you need a business plan in the first place. Are you going for funding, using the information to improve internal operations, pitching your concept to investors, or perhaps communicating your goals to employees?

There are many different reasons you’ll utilize a business plan. They aren’t one-size-fits-all . You may even find you need addendums or additional plans to match the needs of your business at any given time.

If you intend to use your plan in-house to motivate employees or stick to your goals, a one-page plan may be all you need. You can also use a shorter version to test ideas you have and see how they might match the goals of your company.

On the other hand, a traditional full-length plan works best if you need funding from a bank or want to pitch a concept to an outside investor. You can also use a longer plan to get feedback from a mentor or business coach.

8. Your strategy is realistic

In a recent Gartner Execution Gap Survey, approximately 40% of leaders said their enterprise accountability and leadership were not aligned on an execution strategy. If your business plan doesn’t lay out how the business operates, there may be too much room for interpretation that causes dissent within the company and makes people work against one another instead of as a cohesive unit.

Start by ensuring different operational milestones within your plan are attainable. For example, if you share a financial forecast, is it realistic? Based on current revenue, can you realistically achieve your goals? If you’ve brought in $200,000 per year in revenue for the last few years, don’t expect to jump to $400,000 in the next quarter. Make a plan for increasing revenue – but in increments that make sense and are achievable.

You don’t need an unrealistic plan. Company leaders and employees will only grow frustrated and discouraged if they’re unable to hit any target goals laid out in the plan.

9. Clearly identifies assumptions

When you’re writing out a business plan, you may not have all the answers. At best, some of the information is an assumption based on outside data, past performance, and any testing you’ve completed. There will be times when you make a mistake in your estimates.

Be upfront about what your assumptions are when writing out your plan. Did you assume the company will increase 10% in productivity this year because it did in the last few years? Share your thoughts on why you think this is achievable based on past factors, but also make it clear it’s a guess. In reality, the company may over-or-underperform on those expectations.

Show what is an assumption also point to what might need to be updated or refined after a few months. Consider these areas to revisit frequently for updates or to set new goals.

10. Easy to communicate with the right people

Who is your audience? Knowing who will look at your business plans allows you to create it in a format you can share with the right people. Consider factors such as how easily scannable the text is and what it looks like in different formats, such as a document or PDF file.

Who are you sharing it with, and how will they use it? For example, if you include any links, will the person be able to click on them and go directly to the page you want them to go to? Is the viewer likely to read the plan on a mobile device? How well does the format adapt?

Consider who you’re sharing it with and how they’ll need to use it to make sure you offer it in the best format for viewing by that individual. You may even want to save your business plan in a variety of different formats.

  • Keep your plan updated

Your business plan isn’t something you write once and then forget. To truly make yours work for your business model, you must refer back to it and see where you are with your predictions and goals. As you hit high notes, add new objectives and plan them out with measurable goals.

Over time, your business plan won’t look much like the one you used the day you opened your company’s doors. However, the mission statement will likely stay the same, and elements such as company culture won’t change much.

What will change is your knowledge of the industry and how well you can adapt to the challenges faced by all small business owners. With a plan for handling different situations, you’re certain to be one of the small businesses finding success past the 10-year mark.

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Content Author: Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine . She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.

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What Trump is promising supporters he’d do in a second term

At a Donald Trump rally, it is often an off-the-cuff one-liner that ends up driving headlines.

In between, in speech after speech, the former president is laying out an aggressive and ambitious policy agenda for a second term — one that makes elements of his first term in the White House look mild in comparison.

Most of the agenda items aren’t brand new — on immigration and other issues, Trump is making a lot of the same promises he did during his 2016 campaign that never came to fruition due to a lack of congressional support or limitations on his executive authority. But there are some unique areas Trump is focused on now that telegraph a more hard-line approach if he returns to office.

Trump makes many consequential pronouncements suddenly, like his recent statement about letting Russia attack a NATO ally that wasn’t paying enough for defense . But here are some of the campaign promises Trump is repeating most often from the campaign trail.

‘Record-setting’ deportations

Immigration was perhaps the biggest driving force, policywise, behind Trump’s 2016 campaign. Now, he has unofficially deemed it the top priority of his 2024 White House bid, speaking in depth about it during every campaign speech he has given.

“On my first day back in the White House, I will terminate every open borders policy of the Biden administration, stop the invasion on our southern border and begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history,” Trump said at an Iowa campaign event in December.

Trump made similar promises back in 2016 that he wasn’t able to keep, deporting fewer people than President Barack Obama did in each of his two terms, according to federal government data. If anything, Republican voters might be more animated by border and immigration policy now, and NBC News’ latest poll showed Trump’s biggest policy advantage over President Joe Biden was on the subject of securing the border .

Trump has also promised not only to reinstate his travel ban targeting certain Muslim-majority countries but to expand the ban to include Gazan refugees and institute certain “ideological screenings” for all immigrants.

“I banned refugees from Syria, I banned refugees from Somalia — very dangerous places — and from all of the most dangerous places all over the world, I banned them,” Trump said at an Iowa rally in October. “In my second term, we’re going to expand each and every one of those bans,” he added.

In 2016, Trump repeatedly promised to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall that was 1,000 miles long. What ended up coming together was 453 miles of border wall, the vast majority of which was reinforcement of existing walls. Trump also vowed that Mexico would cover the cost, which it did not. This time around, in a similarly ambitious fashion, Trump promises to finish what he started.

A hard-line approach on global affairs — including a big import tax

The former president has projected a my-way-or-the-highway approach to international dealings, floating the idea of a universal 10% tax on all goods coming from countries outside the U.S., in an attempt to prioritize domestic production.

On the campaign trail, Trump often generalizes his economic approach as “America first,” threatening big tariffs on goods from companies that choose to outsource labor and production from the U.S.

Economists on both sides of the aisle have cautioned against Trump’s universal proposal. A center-right think tank, American Action Forum, said Trump’s proposed policy would “distort global trade, discourage economic activity, and have general negative consequences on the American economy.” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, meanwhile, said the plan would “raise the cost of a wide variety of goods that American businesses and consumers rely on.”

Trump’s recent comments about Russia and NATO also drew a rebuke from the head of NATO, who said it could put at risk the lives of American and European soldiers.

A military crackdown on crime

Trump has suggested using the National Guard to address crime, which he argues is worse than it’s ever been.

The former president often alludes to expanding the military domestically to address crime in cities. Referring to Washington, D.C., and Chicago as “crime dens,” Trump has vowed to intervene with military force without gaining the necessary permission from local leaders.

“One of the things I’ll do — you’re supposed to not be involved in that, you just have to be asked by the governor or the mayor to come in — the next time, I’m not waiting,” Trump said.

There has traditionally been a bright dividing line between the military and domestic law enforcement. But figures on the right have argued for a more aggressive use of the Insurrection Act by Trump to deploy the military domestically during a second term.

Trump has also upped his harsh rhetoric on crime: For certain low-level crimes, Trump has suggested the punishment of death.

“Very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store, shot,” Trump said to a rowdy California GOP convention crowd in September.

Trump also routinely insists that the death penalty should be instituted for drug dealers, depending on the severity of their offenses.

Eliminating the Department of Education — and using federal dollars to fight local mandates

Trump intends to slash the federal department entirely, a 4,400-person operation with a $68 billion budget . Trump claims this would give full educational authority back to the states, even though an elimination of the department wouldn’t directly transfer over any new state power.

While Trump talks about returning power to states and localities, another promise met with roaring applause at each rally is to cut the funding of any public school system that has a mask mandate for child safety, an increasingly rare authorization.

The former president floated eliminating the Department of Education when running in 2016. While in office, he attempted an unsuccessful merger of the Education and Labor departments into one entity. Trump also attempted to cut billions from the department’s budget that would have ended subsidized student loans and the public service loan forgiveness program.

Political retaliation against Biden

One of Trump’s most consistent talking points on the trail centers on his intention to prosecute Biden if he regains executive power.

“I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of America, Joe Biden, and go after the Biden crime family,” Trump said in June at his Bedminster, New Jersey, residence, just hours after being arraigned at a federal courthouse in Miami on charges alleging willful retention of classified documents.

Trump often points to the 91 felony counts he is facing as evidence of a “two-tiered” system of “weaponized” justice that he says has opened “Pandora’s box.”

During a South Carolina rally last week, Trump seemed to sardonically shift that messaging around, saying he no longer wanted to seek revenge on Biden because he was too incompetent. When Trump asked the crowd in a tongue-in-cheek manner if they agreed with not taking revenge on Biden, shouts of no and ardent boos filled the arena.

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AT&T says cell service fully restored after major outage disrupts its mobile network

Customer reports of at&t wireless outages peaked at over 73,000 around 8:15 a.m. texas cities were particularly hard hit..

The cellular outage hit all carriers, but especially Dallas-based AT&T.

By Lana Ferguson , Maria Halkias and Irving Mejia-Hilario

7:09 AM on Feb 22, 2024 CST — Updated at 8:50 AM on Feb 22, 2024 CST

Sitting outside AT&T’s Dallas headquarters in the company’s signature Discovery District, small business owner Roxie Reese had a moment to reflect on the disruptive morning she and thousands of other wireless customers nationwide awoke to Thursday.

Reese had a morning appointment and grabbed her cellphone in a rush.

“I didn’t realize until after I left my house that I had no service,” said Reese, owner and founder of DFW Lash University. “I made it to my destination but I didn’t know where I was going. So it made me run behind. It’s a reminder that phones are a resource I take for granted because when it’s not available, it definitely makes life harder.”

Shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, AT&T said it had fully restored wireless service to all customers, including the critical FirstNet network used by emergency services nationally. The FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security were reported to be investigating why wireless subscribers lost service.

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“Keeping our customers connected remains our top priority, and we are taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future,” the telecommunications giant said in a statement to The Dallas Morning News .

Reports of outages to AT&T’s mobile service started around 2 a.m. and meant many Americans were unable to place calls, send texts or access the internet when they awoke. By 8:15 a.m. Dallas time, over 73,000 AT&T customers in major cities like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago had reported cellular outages to Downdetector.com , a website that tracks service problems by users.

In all, AT&T customers filed over 1.5 million outage reports on Downdetector.

The problem even cascaded to other cellular carriers whose customers were believed to be trying to reach AT&T users.

Lea en español: Caída de la red de AT&T; también hay afectados con Verizon, T-Mobile y Cricket

AT&T did not provide a reason for the system failure.

At the White House, national security spokesman John Kirby played down the possibility of a cyberattack.

”Right now, we’re being told that AT&T has no reason to think that this was a cybersecurity incident,” he told reporters at midday. “But … we won’t know until an investigation has been completed. It’s good that the vast majority of customers have had their service restored. Obviously, we’ve got to do spade work to figure out what happened.”

Bloomberg reported the federal government is investigating whether the outage was caused by a cyberattack, citing two anonymous U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

Related: Is your phone in SOS mode? Here’s what we know and how you’re impacted

Kristen Hanich, director of research at Addison-based research firm Parks Associates, said any number of potential issues could have been the cause.

“It could be anything from authentication issues to hardware failure or cloud configuration errors or cyber or other reasons,” she said. “Time will tell, and we are closely monitoring the story.”

Texas cities appeared to be particularly hard hit.

AT&T is the dominant wireless carrier in Texas, with 34% of the market, according to Parks Associates. Nationally, AT&T ranks third behind Verizon and T-Mobile with a 22% market share. It has about 87 million wireless subscribers.

Besides the consumer impact, AT&T’s emergency response network, FirstNet, also suffered disruptions. CNN reported AT&T’s network had seen sporadic outages over the previous few days, including a temporary 911 outage in some parts of the southeastern U.S. Several local governments around the U.S. said Thursday’s outage disrupted services.

San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management said in a statement on X , Thursday morning its 911 center remained operational but that many AT&T customers were unable to reach the emergency line because of the outages. It suggested people call from a landline or find someone with a rival’s service to dial 911.

Related: What to know about AT&T’s cellular network outage

The outage didn’t have a major impact on North Texas police departments.

“The Dallas Police Department is aware of the reported outage and is monitoring the situation,” the department said in a statement. “The department has not been impacted by the reported outage.”

The department’s 911 communications and other systems were functional, the statement said.

Fort Worth police said on X that its 911 call center also wasn’t affected

We are aware that there is a cellular outage affecting AT&T and some other mobile customers. However, this outage has not affected the 911 Call Center. We are still available for your emergency needs. — Fort Worth Police (@fortworthpd) February 22, 2024

“We are still available for your emergency needs,” its post said.

Frisco police advised residents that even if a cellphone is showing SOS, it should still be able to call 911.

A nationwide service outage affecting multiple cell phone providers appears to be slowly resolving. Those with phones still showing SOS should be able to reach 9-1-1 if needed. Calls to our non-emergency number (972-292-6010) can be made using Wi-Fi (if available). pic.twitter.com/ifGf57ykmE — Frisco Police (@FriscoPD) February 22, 2024

Matt Zavadsky, a spokesperson with MedStar, which provides emergency medical services to Fort Worth and surrounding areas, said the organization’s FirstNet system “became intermittent/non-functional” about 2:30 a.m. That caused MedStar to lose the ability to see its units on its computer system and it couldn’t use automated navigation to calls.

During that time, MedStar used radio dispatching and map books in the ambulances instead.

Other major entities in North Texas and across the state reported normal operations Thursday. ERCOT spokeswoman Trudi Webster said the state’s electric grid was operating normally.

DFW International Airport and Dallas Love Field also saw no impact. Autonomous trucking companies Aurora and Kodiak and public hospital system, Parkland Health, reported no disruptions as well.

Some retailers seemingly anticipated such a problem.

H-E-B spokeswoman Mabrie Jackson said the popular grocery store’s point of sales systems don’t depend on WiFi, but store employees were sent outside to curbside pickup spaces to help customers whose cell phones were inoperable.

Other carriers besides AT&T were affected. Cricket Wireless had over 11,000 outages, Downdetector.com reported. Verizon had about 3,000 outages and T-Mobile more than 1,000. Boost Mobile had about 450 outages.

Verizon and T-Mobile both reported their users encountered difficulties trying to connect with customers on affected networks.

“We did not experience an outage,” T-Mobile said in a statement. “Our network is operating normally.”

User reports on Downdetector about a T-Mobile outage, the company added, “is likely reflecting challenges our customers were having attempting to connect to users on other networks.”

Verizon said it also was unaffected.

“Verizon’s network is operating normally,” Verizon told CNN in a statement. “Some customers experienced issues this morning when calling or texting with customers served by another carrier. We are continuing to monitor the situation.”

Previous outages

It’s not the first time AT&T has suffered a widespread outage. In 2008, the company dealt with an extensive wireless internet failure in the U.S. Northeast. In that incident, a glitch in the way the company’s network was routing traffic was identified as the culprit and the service failure was relatively short-lived.

In 2020, AT&T internet and phone service was knocked out in Nashville by an explosion in the city’s downtown area.

T-Mobile also has been hit with widespread outages, including one last February and one in 2020 that prompted the FCC to launch an investigation.

“In my experience, this type of outage can negatively impact financial results in the quarter in which it occurs and cause short-term lost goodwill with customers,” David Heger, an analyst at Edward D. Jones & Co., said in an email. “However, it does not have a longer term impact on the business.”

Bloomberg Intelligence analysts John Butler and Hunter Sacco wrote in a note that AT&T could take a reputational hit from the outage. “... Network reliability likely plays a big role in customers’ choice of a provider,” they wrote.

Wire reports and staff writers Alexandra Skores, Marin Wolf, Amber Gaudet and editor Chuck Lindell contributed to this report.

A lunar lander made by a Houston company set down on the moon Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024,...

Lana Ferguson , Breaking News Reporter . Lana Ferguson joined The Dallas Morning News after reporting in South Carolina's Lowcountry for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette newspapers. She graduated from the University of Mississippi where she studied journalism and Southern studies. She's a Virginia native but her work has taken her all over the U.S., southern Africa, and Sri Lanka.

Maria Halkias

Maria Halkias , Staff writer . Maria Halkias has covered the retail scene for The Dallas Morning News since 1993. She has chronicled the stark changes in grocery, malls, e-commerce, major bankruptcies and local retail entrepreneurs.

Irving Mejia-Hilario

Irving Mejia-Hilario . Irving is a business writer for the Dallas Morning News. He's previously served as an environmental reporter for Bridge Michigan, a writer for Automotive News, and the sports and managing editor for the South End. He graduated from Wayne State University in 2023 with a degree in print and online journalism and psychology minor.

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What is firstnet and why did at&t’s wireless outage affect it, maple terrace redo snags office space for h.i.g. capital, fort worth developer starts rental project south of downtown, southwest airlines ground workers reach deal for average 18% pay bump, developer hines headed to frisco and garland for new high-end self-storage projects.

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AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating

By Aditi Sangal and Catherine Thorbecke , CNN

AT&T says it has restored wireless service

A cell tower in Los Angeles is pictured on February 22.

AT&T said in a statement that it has now resolved the day's massive service outage.

"We have restored wireless service to all our affected customers. We sincerely apologize to them. Keeping our customers connected remains our top priority, and we are taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future," the company statement said.

No indication of malicious cyber activity so far, US cyber official says

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

A US cyber official tracking the AT&T outage told CNN there has so far been no indication that the outage was caused by malicious cyber activity, but the investigation is ongoing.

Fewer than 5,000 AT&T customers still reporting outages

From CNN's Catherine Thorbecke

As of approximately 2 pm ET, fewer than 5,000 AT&T customers were still reporting outages, according to self-reported data tracked by DownDetector.

The FCC says it is investigating the outage

The Federal Communications Commission confirmed Thursday afternoon that it is investigating the AT&T outage.

“We are aware of the reported wireless outages, and our Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is actively investigating,” the FCC said in a statement Thursday afternoon that was posted on X.

“We are in touch with AT&T and public safety authorities, including FirstNet, as well as other providers," the agency added.

WH: Federal agencies still working to get to bottom of AT&T outages

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

National Security spokesperson John Kirby attends a news briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on February 15.

The White House says federal agencies are in touch with AT&T about network outages Thursday but that it doesn't have all the answers yet on what exactly transpired that led to the interruptions.

National Security spokesman John Kirby said the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI were looking into the matter and working with partners in the tech industry to "see what we can do from a federal perspective to lend a hand to their investigative efforts to figure out what happened here."

Kirby said that work was still ongoing.

"The bottom line is we don't have all the answers to that. I mean, this just happened earlier today. And so we're working very hard to see if we can get to the ground truth of exactly what happened," he said.

Tens of thousands of AT&T customers still say they have no service

As of approximately 12:30 pm ET, some 25,000 AT&T customers were still reporting outages, per data compiled by tracking site DownDetector . (DownDetector, notably, only tracks self-reported outages).

Still, the latest figure is a steep fall from the peak of some 74,000 AT&T customers reporting outages at around 9 am ET.

The DownDetector data indicates the widespread outage began around 4 am ET.

Telecom experts tell CNN that outages typically happen for mundane reasons

From CNN's Brian Fung

A "No Service" message is seen on an iPhone in Atlanta during an AT&T outage on February 22.

While Thursday's AT&T outage grabbed national headlines, outages do happen and usually for mundane reasons, several telecom experts told CNN. 

Common causes include construction-related digging that punctures fiber optic cables and software misconfigurations that can lead to interruptions, said TJ Kennedy, a public safety communications expert. 

 "I can't think of every incident in the last few years, but I can think of things related to routers, things related to backhaul, things related to software," Kennedy said. "This has happened across all major carriers, multiple times in the past few years alone."

Thursday's outage could have been caused by human errors in AT&T's cloud-based networking system, said Lee McKnight, an associate professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. 

"The dirty secret of telecom networks these days is they are just a bunch of wires and towers connected to the cloud ,"  McKnight said. "Someone making a mistake, and others on their team — and their automated tools — not catching it, is quite common in cloud computing."

The FCC will almost certainly investigate the outage, experts tell CNN

The Federal Communications Commission will almost certainly investigate this week's incident, multiple experts said. The FCC requires carriers to report information linked to network disruptions.

"The carriers are required to report their outage numbers over time, and the commission can track the number of consumers and cell sites down and things like that," said a former FCC official.

Telecom carriers have every reason to fix any outages quickly, said the former FCC official, "because it creates black eyes for the brand."

"Everybody's incentives are aligned," the former official said. "The FCC is going to want to know what caused it so that lessons can be learned. And if they find malfeasance or bad actions or, just poor quality of oversight of the network, they have the latitude to act."

Gov. Ron DeSantis: "Think about the implications if something like that happened on a much grander scale"

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on February 22.

Florida Governor and former GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis opened an unrelated press conference on Thursday with comments regarding the ongoing AT&T network outage, affecting thousands of customers.

The governor said his office had been in touch with AT&T, who told them they were working to put customers back online, but were focusing on restoring emergency services. DeSantis said AT&T did not speak about what had caused the outage.

“You think about just your daily life, like having cell phones, honestly, it's like, imagine if we had like an EMP attack or something like that would end up happening this country,” DeSantis said. “It’s not necessarily a good thought, because you think you're just so naturally reliant on having cell service (…) so it's a little bit jarring and think about the implications if something like that happened on much grander scale.”

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AT&T Says Service Is Restored After Widespread Cellular Outage

White House officials said the incident was under investigation, but it did not appear to be a cyberattack. Verizon and T-Mobile said their networks were operating normally.

The AT&T logo.

By Jenny Gross and David McCabe

Jenny Gross reported from London and David McCabe reported from Washington.

AT&T said on Thursday that it had fully restored service to its wireless network after a widespread outage temporarily cut off connections for users across the United States for many hours, the cause of which was still under investigation.

The outage, which affected people in cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York, was first reported around 3:30 a.m. Eastern time, according to Downdetector.com , which tracks user reports of telecommunication and internet disruptions. At its peak, the site listed around 70,000 reports of disrupted service for the wireless carrier.

Multiple government agencies said they were looking into the incident, although the Biden administration told reporters that AT&T said there was no reason to think it was a cyberattack.

AT&T did not disclose the scope of the outage, nor the reason for it. When the outage first began on Thursday morning, the company listed the cause as “maintenance activity.”

Jim Greer, an AT&T spokesman, apologized in a statement confirming service was restored and said the company was “taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future.”

The outage underscored the importance of connectivity to daily life as individuals and businesses were cut off from communications and the ability to use mobile apps. AT&T advised consumers they could make calls over Wi-Fi and sought to respond to angry customers online. Many phones showed an “SOS” symbol on their screen, signaling they could only make emergency calls, while local governments offered alternate ways to reach 911.

Reports of outages on Downdetector began to fall midmorning, and at one point AT&T’s website showed that outages were limited to users in California , though users in other states were still reporting issues. Cricket, which is owned by AT&T, also reported that its users were experiencing wireless service interruptions and said it was working to restore service.

Reports also surfaced early Thursday that FirstNet, the network AT&T maintains for emergency services personnel, had experienced outages, but AT&T said around 10:30 a.m. that the network was fully operational.

Verizon experienced 3,000 reports of outages at one point on Thursday and T-Mobile about half that. Both companies said in statements that their networks were operating normally.

“Some customers experienced issues this morning when calling or texting with customers served by another carrier,” Verizon said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation.”

In an email, T-Mobile said that it did not experience an outage. “Downdetector is likely reflecting challenges our customers were having attempting to connect to users on other networks.”

Officials in Washington said they were working to understand the cause of the outage. A spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission said its inquiry was being handled by its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, which was in touch with AT&T as well as other providers.

John Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, said on a call with reporters on Thursday that the Biden administration was told “that AT&T has no reason to think this was a cybersecurity incident,” although he added that they would not be certain until an investigation had been completed.

Mr. Kirby said that, in addition to the F.C.C., the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. were collaborating with technology companies to investigate the outage.

The F.B.I. said in a statement it was in touch with AT&T and would respond accordingly if any malicious activity was found.

Throughout the day, cities urged residents to find alternate ways of reaching emergency or municipal services, like landlines or phones connected to Wi-Fi. The City of Upper Arlington, Ohio , said the fire department might not be notified of fire alarms because of the outage. It urged that any fire alarm be followed up with a 911 call.

The San Francisco Fire Department said on social media that it was aware of an issue affecting AT&T users who were trying to call 911. “We are actively engaged and monitoring this,” the fire department said. “If you are an AT&T customer and cannot get through to 911, then please try calling from a landline.”

The Massachusetts State Police said on social media on Thursday morning that 911 call centers across the state had been flooded with calls from people checking to see if the emergency service worked from their phones. “Please do not do this,” the police said. “If you can successfully place a non-emergency call to another number via your cell service then your 911 service will also work.”

Even in less extreme circumstances, the outage complicated the many elements of life that have come to rely on a reliable connection to the internet.

Staff at the First Watch restaurant in Dania Beach, Fla., had to turn away breakfast customers for a time while the outage prevented them from processing payments.

Debra Maddow, who lives in southwest Houston, said that she first noticed something was off after 7 a.m., when she went to check traffic and Google Maps was offline. Later, she visited a Starbucks to make an urgent call through its free Wi-Fi, she said.

“I’m really frustrated that they’re not telling us anything,” Ms. Maddow said in a phone interview over Wi-Fi. She said she tried to call AT&T for an update, but after a long time on hold, the call was dropped.

Victor Mather , John Keefe , Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Adam Goldman contributed reporting.

Jenny Gross is a reporter for The Times in London covering breaking news and other topics. More about Jenny Gross

David McCabe covers tech policy. He joined The Times from Axios in 2019. More about David McCabe

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The Trump fraud trial verdict goes well beyond ordering the ex-president to pay $355 million. Here's what the ruling means.

  • Trump, his eldest sons, and the Trump Organization must repay $364 million from a decade of fraud.
  • Friday's verdict also bars Trump from running a New York business for three years.
  • Judge Arthur Engoron wrote that Trump's frauds "leap off the page and shock the conscience."

Insider Today

In a scathing verdict that punishes a decade of deceit, the judge in Donald Trump's New York civil-fraud case on Friday slammed the GOP frontrunner, his two eldest sons, and his company with a nearly $364 million cash penalty.

"The frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience," the verdict by the New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron , who has presided over the case for more than three years, said.

While Trump is personally on the hook for almost $355 million of that penalty, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump must pay $4 million each, and the former Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg must pay $1 million.

But the verdict hits way beyond just Trump's wallet. It targets his real-estate and golf-resort empire, the Trump Organization, in two ways that Trump has pushed against for years.

First, the verdict wrests control of the company further from the former president and his two eldest sons, leaving major company decisions to a yet-named "independent director of compliance" who'll operate under Trump's court-appointed monitor's continuing watch .

Second, it sets a three-year ban on Trump running the Trump Organization or any other business in the city and state where he made his name — and where he first seized a national spotlight as a brash real-estate mogul. For Trump, it's the commercial equivalent of being run out of town on a rail.

Significantly — and this is a big silver lining for Trump — the verdict reverses the most unfriendly elements of the judge's pre-trial " corporate death penalty " judgment from September.

He no longer has to surrender all of the Trump Organization's New York operating licenses, and the verdict does not mention the forced sale of any Trump properties.

The verdict caps a five-year effort by the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James .

On Friday afternoon, James issued a statement celebrating the verdict.

She said that Trump has engaged in fraud for years to enrich his own family and company.

Now, he and his codefendants will have to pay more than $450 million, including interest.

"While he may have authored the 'Art of the Deal,' our case revealed that his business was based on the art of the steal," she said.

Trump is expected to immediately appeal, likely putting these and other punishments from the 92-page verdict on ice well past the November election.

But in the coming weeks, Trump will still have to spend millions on a surety bond — a bond guaranteeing performance of a contract or obligation — to guarantee he can pay whatever dollar figure, plus interest, an appellate court ultimately upholds.

Interest also applies to the penalties, potentially adding millions more to his ultimate verdict price tag.

"When confronted at trial with the statements, defendants' fact and expert witnesses simply denied reality, and defendants failed to accept responsibility or to impose internal controls to prevent future recurrences," Engoron wrote Friday.

The verdict holds Trump civilly liable, based on Engoron's three-month Manhattan bench trial, for leading a conspiracy to commit business and insurance fraud with help from his two eldest sons and a pair of long-standing Trump Organization executives.

"Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological," Engoron wrote.

"They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money," the verdict said.

"The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin," he added. "Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways."

In a statement, a Trump Organization spokesperson decried the verdict as a "gross miscarriage of justice."

"Every member of the New York business community, no matter the industry, should be gravely concerned with this gross overreach and brazen attempt by the Attorney General to exert limitless power where no private or public harm has been established," the spokesperson said in the statement. "If allowed to stand, this ruling will only further expedite the continuing exodus of companies from New York."

Read Friday's verdict here .

"Today, justice has been served. This is a tremendous victory for this state, this nation, and for everyone who believes that we all must play by the same rules — even former presidents," James said in her statement Friday. 

" When powerful people cheat to get better loans, it comes at the expense of honest and hardworking people," James continued. "Everyday Americans cannot lie to a bank to get a mortgage to buy a home, and if they did, our government would throw the book at them. There simply cannot be different rules for different people .

Some lesser penalties

The verdict also bans Trump and the Trump Organization from borrowing from New York banks or purchasing real estate in the state for three years. James had asked for a five-year ban on such buying and borrowing in her lawsuit.

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are banned from running a New York business for two years. James had asked for five-year bans for the brothers.

And it bans the two former executives, the ex-CFO Weisselberg and the former Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney, from controlling another New York company's finances.

what does a business plan have

Watch: Trump fights back as fraud trial begins

what does a business plan have

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After student loan forgiveness, the Education Dept. is sending some borrowers refunds. What to know

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  • The Biden administration has forgiven student debt for millions of people.
  • Some borrowers have also received large refunds. Here's what to know.

When Marlon Fox , a chiropractor in North Charleston, South Carolina, got his student debt forgiven last year , he was thrilled. His $119,500 balance was  reset to zero .

But the good news didn't end there. Just two months later, the U.S. Department of Education also refunded him $56,801.

The government is reviewing the accounts of borrowers who have been making payments on their federal student loans for a decade or more, in an effort to identify those eligible for forgiveness. The Education Department has a number of programs that lead to loan cancellation , but many borrowers have missed out on the relief because of confusing rules and lender mismanagement , advocates say.

So far, almost 3.9 million borrowers have gotten their education debt erased, totaling $138 billion in relief . As many as 300,000 people may be eligible for refunds, too, according to an estimate by higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.

Here's what to know.

Why are borrowers getting refunds?

Under the U.S. Department of Education's  income-driven repayment plans , student loan borrowers are entitled to get any of their remaining debt forgiven after 20 or 25 years. Yet  many are stuck making payments long after that period.

"This is due, in part, to strong financial disincentives for student loan servicers to inform consumers about the program and their ability to qualify for it," said  Nadine Chabrier , a senior policy and litigation counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending.

The Education Department contracts with different companies to service its federal student loans, including  Mohela, Nelnet and Edfinancial , and pays them more than  $1 billion a year to do so . The companies earn a fee per borrower per month, which advocates say discourages transparency around loan forgiveness opportunities.

The service providers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More from Personal Finance: New student loan payment plan may help borrowers become homeowners Renters are most exposed to climate hazards in these two states If you win a Super Bowl bet, the IRS is a 'silent partner,' expert says

Even when borrowers are enrolled in these plans, servicers sometimes fail to keep a record of their qualifying payments, experts say.

"Loan servicers were not tracking the number of qualifying payments, and the automatic forgiveness was not occurring," Kantrowitz said. "As a result, some borrowers have been making payments for years, or even decades, beyond the point at which they should have received forgiveness."

By the time Fox's debt was canceled, he'd been in repayment for 35 years.

Scott Buchanan , executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, a trade group for federal student loan servicers, denied that the companies benefit by veering from the government's orders.

"We are incentivized to meet the requirements that the government sets, which includes giving borrowers the benefits that the law provides," Buchanan said. "We are audited, and get business or lose it based on meeting those standards."

As the Biden administration reviews the number of payments borrowers have made under income-driven repayment plans, it is canceling the debt of those who've been in repayment for 20 or 25 years, said  Persis Yu , deputy executive director at the Student Borrower Protection Center. (The timeline to forgiveness varies by plan.)

And it is also refunding borrowers for payments they made beyond when they were eligible for cancellation.

President Biden's ambitious new plan to help student loan borrowers, explained

In some cases, borrowers who've pursued the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program are also receiving refunds after their debt cancellation.

PSLF, signed into law by then-President George W. Bush in 2007, allows nonprofit and government employees to have their federal student loans canceled after 10 years, or 120 payments. The program has been plagued by problems, however, making people who actually get the relief  a rarity .

In 2021, Karen Tongson , a professor at the University of Southern California, got her debt forgiven and was refunded $20,000 by the Education Department.

By then, she had been paying her student loans for 16 years.

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IMAGES

  1. 9 Key Elements of an Effective Business Plan

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  2. One-Page Business Plan: The Step-By-Step Guide

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  3. Creating a Business Plan: Why it Matters and Where to Start

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  5. How to Create a Business Plan in 1 Day [Updated 2022]

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  6. Ultimate Guide To What Is A Business Plan

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  2. BUSINESS PLAN PRESENTATION //Business plan presentation discussion //How to make business plan

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

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  12. What to Include in Your Business Plan

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  13. Business Plan

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    Include the following to have a comprehensive company description: Your company's legal structure (corporation, dual proprietorship) A short history of your company. A short overview of your company's business operations. The demands your company meets for customers. A list of your company's products, services, current customers and suppliers.

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  17. What Should a Business Plan Include?

    1. Executive Summary. The executive summary outlines the whole plan. You start with a clear introduction of who you are, what you sell, and what your ambitions are as a business. This section includes your mission statement, product description, and the basic overview of your company's structure. It should also include your financial plans.

  18. What Is a Business Plan, and Why Is It Important?

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  21. 10 Important Components of an Effective Business Plan

    Effective business plans contain several key components that cover various aspects of a company's goals. The most important parts of a business plan include: 1. Executive summary. The executive summary is the first and one of the most critical parts of a business plan. This summary provides an overview of the business plan as a whole and ...

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  28. What to know: Education Dept.'s refunds to student loan borrowers

    In 2021, Karen Tongson, a professor at the University of Southern California, got her debt forgiven and was refunded $20,000 by the Education Dept. By then, she had been paying her student loans ...