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

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

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated March 18, 2024

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

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

  • The basics of business planning

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

You understand that planning helps you: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

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

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

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

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

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

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

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

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

Market analysis

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

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

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

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

Related: Target market examples

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

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

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

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing and sales plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business operations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key milestones and metrics

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

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

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

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

Possible milestones might be:

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

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

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

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

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

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

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

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

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

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

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

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

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

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

Financial plan

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

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

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

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

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

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

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

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

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

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

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

Your cover page should be simple and include:

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

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

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

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

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

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

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

Learn more: 10 AI prompts you need to write a business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

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

Determine why you are writing a business plan

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

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

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

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

Keep things concise

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

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

Have someone review your business plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use your business plan to manage your business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

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How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

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

What are the benefits of a business plan?

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

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

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

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

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

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

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

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

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

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

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

How long should a business plan be?

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

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

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

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

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

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

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

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

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

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

Content Author: Noah Parsons

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

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Table of Contents

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

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The 7 Best Business Plan Examples (2024)

As an aspiring entrepreneur gearing up to start your own business , you likely know the importance of drafting a business plan. However, you might not be entirely sure where to begin or what specific details to include. That’s where examining business plan examples can be beneficial. Sample business plans serve as real-world templates to help you craft your own plan with confidence. They also provide insight into the key sections that make up a business plan, as well as demonstrate how to structure and present your ideas effectively.

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Example business plan

To understand how to write a business plan, let’s study an example structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick overview of those parts:

  • Executive summary: A quick overview of your business and the contents of your business plan.
  • Company description: More info about your company, its goals and mission, and why you started it in the first place.
  • Market analysis: Research about the market and industry your business will operate in, including a competitive analysis about the companies you’ll be up against.
  • Products and services: A detailed description of what you’ll be selling to your customers.
  • Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market.
  • Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background.
  • Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even long-term) financial goals and the costs to run the business. If you’re looking for funding, this is the place to discuss your request and needs.

7 business plan examples (section by section)

In this section, you’ll find hypothetical and real-world examples of each aspect of a business plan to show you how the whole thing comes together. 

  • Executive summary

Your executive summary offers a high-level overview of the rest of your business plan. You’ll want to include a brief description of your company, market research, competitor analysis, and financial information. 

In this free business plan template, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:

  • Company description

You might go more in-depth with your company description and include the following sections:

  • Nature of the business. Mention the general category of business you fall under. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of your products?
  • Background information. Talk about your past experiences and skills, and how you’ve combined them to fill in the market. 
  • Business structure. This section outlines how you registered your company —as a corporation, sole proprietorship, LLC, or other business type.
  • Industry. Which business sector do you operate in? The answer might be technology, merchandising, or another industry.
  • Team. Whether you’re the sole full-time employee of your business or you have contractors to support your daily workflow, this is your chance to put them under the spotlight.

You can also repurpose your company description elsewhere, like on your About page, Instagram page, or other properties that ask for a boilerplate description of your business. Hair extensions brand Luxy Hair has a blurb on it’s About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan. 

company description business plan

  • Market analysis

Market analysis comprises research on product supply and demand, your target market, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. You might do a SWOT analysis to learn where you stand and identify market gaps that you could exploit to establish your footing. Here’s an example of a SWOT analysis for a hypothetical ecommerce business: 

marketing swot example

You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component of your business plan. This will show you who you’re up against and give you ideas on how to gain an edge over the competition. 

  • Products and services

This part of your business plan describes your product or service, how it will be priced, and the ways it will compete against similar offerings in the market. Don’t go into too much detail here—a few lines are enough to introduce your item to the reader.

  • Marketing plan

Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. So it’s essential to build a marketing plan that highlights the promotion and customer acquisition strategies you’re planning to adopt. 

Most marketing plans focus on the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. However, it’s easier when you break it down by the different marketing channels . Mention how you intend to promote your business using blogs, email, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing. 

Here’s an example of a hypothetical marketing plan for a real estate website:

marketing section template for business plan

Logistics and operations

This section of your business plan provides information about your production, facilities, equipment, shipping and fulfillment, and inventory.

Financial plan

The financial plan (a.k.a. financial statement) offers a breakdown of your sales, revenue, expenses, profit, and other financial metrics. You’ll want to include all the numbers and concrete data to project your current and projected financial state.

In this business plan example, the financial statement for ecommerce brand Nature’s Candy includes forecasted revenue, expenses, and net profit in graphs.

financial plan example

It then goes deeper into the financials, citing:

  • Funding needs
  • Project cash-flow statement
  • Project profit-and-loss statement
  • Projected balance sheet

You can use Shopify’s financial plan template to create your own income statement, cash-flow statement, and balance sheet. 

Types of business plans (and what to write for each)

A one-page business plan is a pared down version of a standard business plan that’s easy for potential investors and partners to understand. You’ll want to include all of these sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized:

  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financials 

A startup business plan is meant to secure outside funding for a new business. Typically, there’s a big focus on the financials, as well as other sections that help determine the viability of your business idea—market analysis, for example. Shopify has a great business plan template for startups that include all the below points:

  • Market research: in depth
  • Financials: in depth

Internal 

Your internal business plan acts as the enforcer of your company’s vision. It reminds your team of the long-term objective and keeps them strategically aligned toward the same goal. Be sure to include:

  • Market research

Feasibility 

A feasibility business plan is essentially a feasibility study that helps you evaluate whether your product or idea is worthy of a full business plan. Include the following sections:

A strategic (or growth) business plan lays out your long-term vision and goals. This means your predictions stretch further into the future, and you aim for greater growth and revenue. While crafting this document, you use all the parts of a usual business plan but add more to each one:

  • Products and services: for launch and expansion
  • Market analysis: detailed analysis
  • Marketing plan: detailed strategy
  • Logistics and operations plan: detailed plan
  • Financials: detailed projections

Free business plan templates

Now that you’re familiar with what’s included and how to format a business plan, let’s go over a few templates you can fill out or draw inspiration from.

Bplans’ free business plan template

business plan examples for entrepreneur

Bplans’ free business plan template focuses a lot on the financial side of running a business. It has many pages just for your financial plan and statements. Once you fill it out, you’ll see exactly where your business stands financially and what you need to do to keep it on track or make it better.

PandaDoc’s free business plan template

business plan examples for entrepreneur

PandaDoc’s free business plan template is detailed and guides you through every section, so you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Filling it out, you’ll grasp the ins and outs of your business and how each part fits together. It’s also handy because it connects to PandaDoc’s e-signature for easy signing, ideal for businesses with partners or a board.

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template

Miro's business model canvas template

Miro’s Business Model Canvas Template helps you map out the essentials of your business, like partnerships, core activities, and what makes you different. It’s a collaborative tool for you and your team to learn how everything in your business is linked.

Better business planning equals better business outcomes

Building a business plan is key to establishing a clear direction and strategy for your venture. With a solid plan in hand, you’ll know what steps to take for achieving each of your business goals. Kickstart your business planning and set yourself up for success with a defined roadmap—utilizing the sample business plans above to inform your approach.

Business plan FAQ

What are the 3 main points of a business plan.

  • Concept. Explain what your business does and the main idea behind it. This is where you tell people what you plan to achieve with your business.
  • Contents. Explain what you’re selling or offering. Point out who you’re selling to and who else is selling something similar. This part concerns your products or services, who will buy them, and who you’re up against.
  • Cash flow. Explain how money will move in and out of your business. Discuss the money you need to start and keep the business going, the costs of running your business, and how much money you expect to make.

How do I write a simple business plan?

To create a simple business plan, start with an executive summary that details your business vision and objectives. Follow this with a concise description of your company’s structure, your market analysis, and information about your products or services. Conclude your plan with financial projections that outline your expected revenue, expenses, and profitability.

What is the best format to write a business plan?

The optimal format for a business plan arranges your plan in a clear and structured way, helping potential investors get a quick grasp of what your business is about and what you aim to achieve. Always start with a summary of your plan and finish with the financial details or any extra information at the end.

Want to learn more?

  • Question: Are You a Business Owner or an Entrepreneur?
  • Bootstrapping a Business: 10 Tips to Help You Succeed
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: 20 Ways to Think Like an Entrepreneur
  • 101+ Best Small Business Software Programs 

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How to Craft an Opportunity Business Plan

business plan examples for entrepreneur

Before a presentation on The Great Gatsby  to his college rhetoric class, Nico Aguilar suffered an anxiety attack so severe that he had to leave the room. Determined not to let that happen again, Aguilar read books on the subject and got coaching to become more comfortable with public speaking. 

Determined to help others overcome similar difficulties, he came up with Speeko , an AI-powered tool that helps users improve their public speaking skills. He and his co-founders, all engineers, built an algorithm that measures one’s speaking voice and then offers tips for improvement. The team had the algorithm down pat, but the business approach? “We were completely lost there,” Aguilar said. 

They turned to their mentors at tech incubator Techstars and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at University of Chicago for help in writing that critical document: a business plan.

3 Business Plan Examples

  • An operating plan. This sketches out a business’ trajectory for the next 12 to 24 months. The plan includes staffing, revenue, projections, inventory and other factors necessary to running a business. Operating plans should be updated constantly as the business and market evolve.
  • A financial plan, which examines the business from a cash-flow perspective. Take this plan, which takes a conservative view of your business’ finances, to the bank if you’re planning to get a loan.
  • An opportunity or a vision plan. That’s the kind entrepreneurs present to potential equity investors. This plan should be aggressive, optimistic, and show how you will use your investors’ money to grow your business. It represents what’s possible if lack of capital is not holding you back.

The plan, written with the help of a tool called Business Model Canvas (more on that soon), included Speeko’s value proposition, its market, customers and predicted use. The plan went through multiple iterations and took several months to write. “It’s a big process to put together facts and figures,” Aguilar said. Their efforts paid off when Speeko won Polsky Center’s 2020 Alumni New Venture Challenge, a prize that comes with a $175,000 investment.  Brimming with enthusiasm, entrepreneurs tend to stuff business plans with everything from detailed finances to long-term projections. Avoid overstuffing by deciding what kind of business plan to write before putting pen to paper, said Waverly Deutsch, adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business . Deutsch teaches the Global New Venture Challenge course, a venture launch competition for the executive MBA program. 

Business plan executive summary

If it’s a new business, then write an opportunity or vision plan to take to potential equity investors. This plan should be “highly optimistic” and not at all conservative, Deutsch said. “It’s what you can do if you raise the money you want to raise,” she said.

Gather Material

The opportunity or vision plan must show investors that your business presents a real opportunity, demonstrate that you can build the company you propose to build, and show investors how their money will help you build your company. 

To prove the opportunity, outline your competitive differentiation in the marketplace. Show what problem your product solves for which market, the size of that market, and that customers are willing to pay for your product. If your product is what Deutsch calls “fundamentally different,” along the lines of Airbnb or Uber, “there’s a reason for customers to choose you,” she said, but those types of startups are rare. 

“Most businesses are evolutionary, not revolutionary,” Deutsch said. New businesses not offering a radically different solution can differentiate on quality, service, business model, go-to-market approach, positioning in the market or other factors. 

Your plan also must prove that you can build the company you propose to build. Details about arrangements with potential suppliers, any intellectual property involved in your business, and the status of the product, be it a demo or a prototype, are critical parts of an opportunity plan.

Another critical part: Your and your partners’ experience and knowledge as they pertain to launching a business. Avoid simply pasting your traditional job-seeking resume into the business plan. Instead, examine it carefully and draw solid lines between your past experience and the skills your new business will require. “It’s your job to sell your and your team’s experience to the investor,” Deutsch said, adding that entrepreneurs shouldn’t underestimate this portion of the plan. Lacking a tangible product and real-time market experience, “it all comes down to the people,” she said. 

The third element: Your plan for creating inroads and a beachhead in your market. “De-risk the business for investors,” Deutsch said. Offer a detailed operating plan, complete with compelling milestones, for the next 12 to 24 months. Show them that their money will help create a repeatable, scalable sales process and a robust product truly valuable in the marketplace, she said. Show them that their money will help your startup get to the next round of funding. “Investors are always looking at that next round,” she said. 

Further Reading What Investors Look for in an AI Startup

Prepare to Pivot

It is entirely possible that you’ll start writing and soon figure out that your big idea isn’t so big after all. “That’s good to learn early,” said Bob Bridge, executive director and founder of SWAN Impact Network , an angel investing organization with branches in Austin and Dallas, Texas. “Companies often pivot, especially when they start testing their ideas with customers.” 

He suggested avoiding the “trap” of using feedback from 100 potential customers to decide whether a business is a go. When presented with an idea, “people, wanting to be helpful, will say that the idea sounds interesting, that it could work for them,” Bridge said. “The CEO hears this and it’s confirmation bias saying, ‘I think I have my first customer.’”

Instead, approach potential customers to see if they have the problem your business wants to solve, then ask for more information on that problem. “Ask questions and start peeling the onion and become the world expert on that problem,” he said. If you have the solution for exactly that problem, then discuss the budget with these potential customers, and confirm that your solution is a must-have, not a nice-to-have for them. 

“Then you understand that there’s a problem to solve and people are willing to pay for the solution,” Bridge said. “That’s what we like to hear, that entrepreneurs have validated the business with real customers,” he said. “And when we do due diligence, before we would invest, we’d ask to speak to those customers and ask them if this is a nice-to-have or a must-have.”

Further Reading There Are 5 Basic Types of Entrepreneurs. Which 1 Are You?

Choose a Medium

“Nobody writes a 20-page Word document and I promise you no investor ever reads one,” said Bridge. He offers Business Model Canvas , a tool readily available online, as one option to the traditional prose document. 

Business Model Canvas breaks down a business into nine parts: Key partners, activities and resources; value propositions; customer relationships and segments; channels; cost structure and revenue streams. The tool shows how all the parts connect, and via whiteboard, can be reconfigured and workshopped. Business Model Canvas “helped us try out 10 ideas before committing to one in the business plan,” said Aguilar of Speeko. The format “forces your business to be simple, which is a really good thing when you’re starting out,” he said.

Business Model Canvas template

A PowerPoint deck also works and is a must when presenting to investors. Bridge recalls driving to VC appointments on Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road. After every meeting, he’d pull over to revise his pitch deck. “On any given day, that PowerPoint may have been tweaked three or four times to make it more investable,” he said. “You’re always learning and improving your pitch, and it’s easy to do that with a PowerPoint slide.” 

Deutsch, a proponent of telling a story in a business pitch, recommends a combination of media to present the story most effectively. “You need to have multiple communication tools available to you,” she said. She advised thinking along the lines of 10 pages of text, 10 pages of charts and data and more detail, and a one-page executive plan. Two decks, one light on text, for the presentation, and another more detailed leave-behind complete the business-plan package. 

Deutsch said that every founder needs to be involved in the business plan, with each contributing their own area of expertise. The team member who’s the best writer should be responsible for making sure the plan is written in a unified voice, and that it is free of grammatical and spelling errors. She also suggested having an advisor read the plan to spot unanswered questions. There will be many, she said, and that’s not a cause for concern. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” she said. “You will never answer all the questions about your business until you’re actually executing on your business.”

Bridge agrees. “It takes twice as much time and twice as much money to hit milestones,” he said. “We know that and we’re comfortable with it.”

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Simple Business Plan Template for Entrepreneurs

Follow This Business Plan Outline to Write Your Own

Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.

business plan examples for entrepreneur

Pros and Cons of Using a Business Plan Template

Do i need a simple or detailed business plan, how to use this business plan template, table of contents, section 1: executive summary, section 2: business/industry overview.

  • Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition

Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan

Section 5: ownership and management plan, section 6: operating plan, section 7: financial plan.

  • Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits

Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Think you have a great idea for a business? The best way to find out whether your idea is feasible is to create a business plan .

A solid, well-researched business plan provides a practical overview of your vision. It can be used to ground your ideas into workable actions and to help pitch your idea to financial institutions or potential investors when looking for funding.

The standard business plan consists of a single document divided into several sections for distinct elements, such as a description of the organization, market research, competitive analysis, sales strategies, capital and labor requirements, and financial data. Your plan may include more or fewer sections to best represent your business.

The template presented here will get you well on your way toward your simple business plan.

Ready-made layouts

Free downloads

Generic, not customized

No financial guidance

Additional skills needed

  • Ready-made layouts : Templates offer general guidance about what information is needed and how to organize it, so you’re not stuck looking at a blank page when getting started. Especially detailed templates may offer instructions or helpful text prompts along the way.
  • Variations : If you know what type of business plan you need—traditional, lean, industry-specific—chances are you can find a specialized template.
  • Free downloads : There are many free business plan templates available online, which can be useful for comparing formats and features, or refining your own.
  • Generic, not customized : Templates typically contain just the basics, and there will still be a lot of work involved to tailor the template to your business. For instance, you'll have to reformat, refine copy, and populate tables.
  • No financial guidance : You’ll need enough industry knowledge to apply financial models to your specific business, and the math skills to generate formulas and calculate figures.
  • Additional skills needed : Some degree of tech savvy is required to integrate charts and graphs, merge data from spreadsheets, and keep it all up-to-date.

A corporate business plan for a large organization can be hundreds of pages long. However, for a small business, it's best to keep the plan short and concise, especially if you're submitting it to bankers or investors . Around 35 to 50 pages should be sufficient, and more allowed for extras, such as photos of products, equipment, logos, or business premises or site plans.  Your audience will likely prefer solid research and analysis over long, wordy descriptions.

An entrepreneur who creates a business plan is nearly twice as likely to secure financing and grow their business compared with those who do not have a plan.

The business plan template below is divided into sections as described in the table of contents. Each section can be copied into a document of your own; you may need to add or delete sections or make adjustments to fit your specific needs.

Once complete, be sure to format it attractively and get it professionally printed and bound. You want your business plan to convey the best possible impression. Make it engaging, something people will to want to pick up and peruse.

Enter your business information, including the legal name and address. If you already have a business logo, you can add it at the top or bottom of the title page.

  • Business Plan for "Business Name"
  • Business address
  • Website URL

If you're addressing it to a company or individual, include:

  • Presented to "Name"
  • At "Company"
  • Executive Summary................................................Page #
  • Business/Industry Overview.................................Page #
  • Market Analysis and Competition.........................Page #
  • Sales and Marketing Plan.......................................Page #
  • Ownership and Management Plan.......................Page #
  • Operating Plan..........................................................Page #
  • Financial Plan............................................................Page #
  • Appendices and Exhibits........................................Page #

The  executive summary introduces the plan, but it is written last. It provides a concise and optimistic overview of your business and should capture the reader's attention and create a desire to learn more. The executive summary should be no more than two pages long, with highlights or brief summaries of other sections of the plan.

  • Describe your  mission —what is the need for your new business? Sell your vision.
  • Introduce your company briefly, sticking to vital details such as size, location, management, and ownership.
  • Describe your main product(s) and/or service(s).
  • Identify the customer base you plan to target and how your business will serve those customers.
  • Summarize the competition and how you will get market share. What is your competitive advantage?
  • Outline your financial projections for the first few years of operation.
  • State your startup financing requirements.

This section provides an overview of the industry and explains in detail what makes your business stand out.

  • Describe the overall nature of the industry, including sales and other statistics. Note trends and demographics, as well as economic, cultural, and governmental influences.
  • Explain your business and how it fits into the industry.
  • Mention the existing competition, which you'll expand upon in the following section.
  • Identify what area(s) of the market you will target and what unique, improved, or lower-cost products and/or services you will offer.

Many business plans cover their products/services in a standalone section to add more detail or emphasize unique aspects.

Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition

This section focuses on the competitive factor of your business and justifies it with financial models and statistics. You need to demonstrate that you have thoroughly analyzed the target market, assessed the competition, and concluded that there is enough demand for your products/services to make your business viable.

  • Define the target market(s) for your products/services in your geographic locale.
  • Explain the need for your products/services.
  • Estimate the overall size of the market and the units of your products/services that the target market might buy. Include forecasts of potential repeat-purchase volume and how the market might be affected by economic or demographic changes.
  • Estimate the volume and value of your sales in comparison with any existing competitors. Highlight any key strengths over the competition in easily digestible charts and tables.
  • Describe any helpful barriers to entry that may protect your business from competition, such as access to capital, technology, regulations, employee skill sets, or location.  

You may opt to split the target market description and competitive analysis into two separate sections, if either (or both) portray your business especially favorably.

Here's where you dive into profits, giving detailed strategic view of how you intend to entice customers to buy your products and/or services, including advertising or promotion, pricing, sales, distribution, and post-sales support.

Product or Service Offerings

If your products and/or services don't take up a standalone section earlier in the plan, here is where you can answer the question: What is your unique selling proposition? Describe your products and/or services, how they benefit the customer and what sets them apart from competitor offerings.

Pricing Strategy

How will you price your products/services? Pricing must be low enough to attract customers, yet high enough to cover costs and generate a profit. You can base pricing decisions on a number of financial models, such as markup from cost or value to the buyer, or in comparison with similar products and/or services in the marketplace.  

Sales and Distribution

For products, describe how you plan to distribute to the customer. Will you be selling wholesale or retail? What type of packaging will be required? How will products be shipped? If you offer a service, how will it be delivered to the customer? What methods will be used for payment?

Advertising and Promotion

List the various forms of media you will use to get your message to customers (e.g., website, email, social media, or newspapers). Will you use sales promotional methods such as free samples and product demonstrations? What about product launches and trade shows? Don't forget more everyday marketing materials such as business cards, flyers, or brochures. Include an approximate budget.

This section describes the legal structure, ownership, and (if applicable) management and staffing requirements of your business.

  • Ownership structure : Describe the legal structure of your company (e.g., corporation, partnership, LLC, or  sole proprietorship ). List ownership percentages, if applicable. If the business is a sole proprietorship, this is the only section required.
  • Management team : Describe managers and their roles, key employee positions, and how each will be compensated. Include brief résumés.
  • External resources and services : List any external professional resources required, such as accountants, lawyers, or consultants.
  • Human resources : List the type and number of employees or contractors you will need, and estimate the salary and benefit costs of each.
  • Advisory board : Include an advisory board as a supplemental management resource, if applicable.

The operating plan outlines the physical requirements of your business, such as office, warehouse, or retail space; equipment; supplies; or labor. This section will vary greatly by industry; a large manufacturer, for instance, should provide full details about supply chain or specialty equipment, while a therapist's office can get by with a much shorter list.

If your business is a small operation (like a one-person, home-based consulting firm), you might choose to eliminate the operating plan section altogether and include the operating essentials in the business overview.

  • Development : Explain what you have done to date to identify possible locations, sources of equipment, supply chains, and other relevant relationships. Describe your production workflow.
  • Production : For manufacturing, explain how long it takes to produce a unit and when you'll be ready to start production. Include factors that may affect the time frame of production and how you'll deal with potential problems, such as rush orders.
  • Facilities : Describe the physical location of the business. Include geographical or building requirements; square footage estimates (with room for expansion if expected); mortgage or leasing costs; and estimates of maintenance, utilities, and related  overhead costs . Include zoning approvals and other permissions that are necessary in order to operate.
  • Staffing : Outline expected staffing needs and the main duties of staff members, especially the key employees. Describe how the employees will be sourced and the employment relationship (i.e., contract, full-time, part-time) as well as any training needs and how these will be provided.
  • Equipment : Include a list of any specialized equipment needed, along with cost, whether it will be leased or purchased, and sources.
  • Supplies : If your business is, for example, manufacturing, retail, or food services, include a description of the materials needed, reliable sources, major suppliers, and how you will manage inventory.

The financial plan is the most important section for lenders or investors. The goal is to demonstrate that your business will grow and be profitable. To do this, you will need to create realistic predictions or forecasts.

To avoid inflated expectations, a prudent financial plan underestimates revenues and overestimates expenses.

  • Income statements : The income statement displays projected revenues, expenses, and profit. Do this on a monthly basis for at least the first year for a startup business.
  • Cash-flow projections : The cash-flow projection shows your monthly anticipated cash revenues and disbursements for expenses. To be considered a good credit risk, it is important to demonstrate that you can manage your cash flow.
  • Balance sheet : The  balance sheet  is a snapshot summary of the assets, liabilities, and equity of your business at a particular point in time. For a startup, this would be on the day the business opens.
  • Breakeven analysis : Including a breakeven analysis will demonstrate to lenders or investors what level of sales you need to achieve to make a profit.

Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits

The appendices and exhibits section contains any detailed information needed to support other sections of the plan.  

Possible Appendix or Exhibit items include:

  • Credit histories for the business owners
  • Detailed market research and analysis of competitors
  • Résumés of the owners and key employees
  • Diagrams and/or research about your products and/or services
  • Site, building, or office plans
  • Copies of mortgage documents or equipment leases (or quotes)
  • Marketing brochures and other materials
  • References from business colleagues
  • Links to your business website
  • Any other material that may impress potential lenders or investors

SCORE. " Business Plan Template for a Startup Business ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write your business plan ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

U.S. Small Business Administration. " SBA Recommended Business Plans and Length ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

Bplans. " Why Plan Your Business? Look at This Data ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

Marketing MO. " Pricing Strategy ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

Incorporate.com. " Write a Business Plan, a Step-by-Step Guide ." Accessed April 29, 2021.

Startup Nation. " The Five Costs You're Most Likely to Underestimate in Your Business Plan ." Accessed April 28, 2021.

11.4 The Business Plan

Learning objectives.

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Overview

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

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

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

Purposes of a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

Link to Learning

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

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

Types of Business Plans

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

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

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

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

Full Business Plan

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

Executive Summary

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

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

Business Description

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

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

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

Competitive Analysis

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

Operations and Management Plan

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

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

Marketing Plan

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

Financial Plan

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

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

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

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

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

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

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

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

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

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

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

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

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

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Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
  • Authors: Michael Laverty, Chris Littel
  • Publisher/website: OpenStax
  • Book title: Entrepreneurship
  • Publication date: Jan 16, 2020
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
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Business Plan Examples: Mastering the Art of Entrepreneurial Planning

By GGI Insights | March 30, 2024

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The process of creating a business plan is a fundamental step for any entrepreneur. It serves as a business roadmap that outlines the goals and strategies of a business, providing a clear direction for success. But how exactly do you create a business plan that not only impresses investors but also sets you apart from the competition? In this article, we will explore real-world business plan examples, analyze the failures, and discuss how to customize your plan for different sectors. We will also delve into the investor perspective and examine case studies that showcase how a well-executed plan can lead to profitability and growth.

Real-world Business Plan Showcases

But before we dive into these examples, it's important to note that a business plan outline is not a one-size-fits-all document. Understanding the right business plan format is crucial, as the specific details and strategies outlined in a plan will vary depending on the industry and target audience. However, there are common elements that successful plans share, such as a clear value proposition, thorough market analysis, and a solid execution strategy.

Startup Triumphs

One inspiring example is writing a business plan of a tech startup that revolutionized the healthcare industry. Their plan outlined a disruptive solution to streamline patient care, reduce costs, and improve outcomes. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and data analytics, this startup aimed to transform the way healthcare providers operate. With a clear value proposition and detailed market analysis, they were able to secure significant funding from venture capitalists who saw the potential for disruption. As a result, this startup quickly became a leading player in the market, attracting partnerships with major healthcare institutions and achieving widespread adoption of their innovative solution.

Another noteworthy business plan is that of a sustainable fashion brand. In an industry known for its environmental impact, this brand set out to change the narrative by prioritizing ethical manufacturing practices and offering eco-friendly products. Their plan showcased a solid marketing strategy that resonated with environmentally-conscious consumers, leveraging social media influencers and partnering with sustainability-focused organizations. By aligning with consumers' increasing demand for sustainable fashion, this brand successfully differentiated itself within a competitive industry. As a result, they experienced rapid growth, expanding their product line and gaining recognition as a leader in the sustainable fashion movement.

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Industry-Specific Plans

It's crucial to understand that business plans should be tailored to the specific industry you operate in. For instance, a coffee shop business plan would focus on factors like location, target market, menu offerings, and competitive analysis . In the highly competitive food industry, a well-crafted business plan can make the difference between success and failure. By conducting thorough market research, identifying a unique selling proposition, and developing a comprehensive marketing strategy, a restaurant can position itself for long-term success.

On the other hand, a technology startup's plan would emphasize research and development, intellectual property protection, and scalability. In an industry driven by innovation and rapid advancements, a business plan for a tech startup needs to showcase a deep understanding of the market landscape, potential challenges, and a clear roadmap for product development and commercialization. Investors and stakeholders in the technology sector are particularly interested in the scalability and potential for disruptive growth.

By analyzing industry-specific business plans, entrepreneurs can gain invaluable insights into the critical elements needed to succeed within their respective sectors. Learning from others' successes and failures can significantly enhance your own planning and execution strategies. Remember, a business plan is not just a document to secure funding; it is a roadmap that guides your decision-making and helps you navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Analyzing Business Plan Failures

Examining the failures of business plans can be equally instructive as studying successful examples. By understanding the common pitfalls and learning from others' mistakes, you can avoid similar missteps in your own entrepreneurial journey.

When it comes to business plan failures, there are several common pitfalls that entrepreneurs often encounter. One frequently encountered pitfall is over-optimistic financial projections. It's easy to get carried away with excitement and optimism when planning for the future of your business. However, unrealistic revenue forecasts and underestimating expenses can undermine the credibility of your plan. Investors value transparency and honesty, so it's essential to provide accurate financial projections based on thorough market research and sound assumptions.

In addition to over-optimistic financial projections, another common mistake in business plans is neglecting to address potential risks and challenges. Every business faces uncertainties, and investors want to see that you have considered these factors and have contingency plans in place. By acknowledging and mitigating risks upfront, you demonstrate your preparedness and commitment to success.

Lessons can be learned from these failures. Failures can be transformative if approached with a growth mindset. By analyzing what went wrong, you can identify valuable lessons that will inform your future decision-making. Embracing failure as an opportunity for growth is a key characteristic of successful entrepreneurs.

One important lesson that stands out is the importance of market validation. Many failed business plans lacked sufficient market research and a deep understanding of customer needs. It's crucial to conduct thorough market analysis and obtain customer feedback to ensure that your business plan aligns with market demand. By doing so, you increase your chances of success and avoid potential pitfalls.

Another lesson to be learned is the significance of adaptability. Business environments are constantly changing, and it's essential to be flexible and willing to adjust your plan accordingly. Failed business plans often lacked the ability to adapt to changing market conditions or emerging trends. By staying agile and open to change, you can position your business for long-term success.

Communication and collaboration are vital aspects of a successful business plan. Many failed plans suffered from a lack of effective communication between team members or a failure to collaborate with relevant stakeholders. Building strong communication channels and fostering collaboration can help ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal.

A crucial lesson from business plan failures is the importance of continuous learning and improvement. Successful entrepreneurs understand that they must constantly evolve and refine their strategies. By seeking feedback, staying updated on industry trends, and investing in personal and professional development, you can stay ahead of the curve and increase your chances of success.

Customizing for Your Sector

While there are certain elements that every business plan should include, it's essential to customize your plan based on the sector you operate in. Let's explore how business plans differ in two distinct sectors: the tech industry and the retail sphere.

Tech Industry

In the tech industry, innovation and scalability are paramount. Your business plan should highlight your unique value proposition, the problem your product or service solves, and how it will disrupt the market. Investors in this sector look for intellectual property protection strategies, a strong research and development plan, and a clear path to scale and profitability.

When customizing your business plan for the tech industry, it is crucial to emphasize your company's technological expertise and the competitive advantage it provides. This could include details about your team's experience in developing cutting-edge technologies, patents or trademarks you have secured, and any partnerships or collaborations with industry leaders.

It is important to address the potential risks and challenges specific to the tech industry. This could involve discussing the rapidly evolving nature of technology, potential cybersecurity threats, and the need for continuous innovation to stay ahead of the competition. By acknowledging these challenges and presenting strategies to mitigate them, you will instill confidence in potential investors and stakeholders.

Retail Sphere

In the retail sphere, customer experience and differentiation are key. Your business plan should outline your target market, competitive analysis, and marketing strategies that will attract customers. Additionally, including details on your sourcing, inventory management, and distribution channels will demonstrate your operational expertise and ability to deliver an exceptional shopping experience.

When customizing your business plan for the retail industry, it is important to focus on understanding your target market and tailoring your offerings to meet their needs. This could involve conducting market research to identify consumer preferences, analyzing competitors to identify gaps in the market, and developing a unique selling proposition that sets your brand apart.

In the retail industry, establishing strong relationships with suppliers and implementing effective inventory management practices are crucial for success. Your business plan should highlight your sourcing strategies, such as direct partnerships with manufacturers or wholesalers, and your ability to maintain optimal inventory levels to meet customer demand while minimizing costs.

Your distribution channels play a significant role in the retail industry. Whether you plan to sell through brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce platforms, or a combination of both, it is important to outline your distribution strategy and how it aligns with your target market's preferences. This could involve discussing partnerships with third-party logistics providers, investments in warehouse infrastructure, or the development of an efficient online ordering and fulfillment system.

Investor Perspective: What They Want to See

When crafting your business plan, it's crucial to keep the investor's perspective in mind. Investors are interested in seeing a solid return on their investment and want to understand how you plan to achieve this.

Investors are not just looking for any business opportunity; they want to invest in ventures that have the potential to generate significant returns. Therefore, your business plan should include a comprehensive financial plan that illustrates the potential return on investment (ROI) metrics.

ROI Metrics

Your plan should include financial projections that illustrate the potential return on investment. This includes metrics such as revenue growth rates, profit margins, and the payback period. Investors want to see a well-thought-out financial plan that demonstrates the viability and profitability of your business.

When presenting your financial projections, it's essential to provide detailed explanations of the assumptions and methodologies used. This will help investors understand the basis for your projections and assess the accuracy and reliability of your financial forecasts.

Investors are interested in understanding the scalability of your business model. They want to see how your company can grow and expand over time, leading to increased profitability and higher returns for their investment.

Market Penetration Strategies

Investors also want to know how you plan to gain a competitive advantage and capture a significant share of the market. Your business plan should outline your marketing and sales strategies, including customer acquisition channels, pricing models, and brand positioning.

Demonstrating a clear understanding of the market dynamics and a strategic approach to market penetration will increase investor confidence in your plan. This includes conducting thorough market research to identify target customer segments, analyzing competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and developing a compelling value proposition that differentiates your business from others in the market.

Investors want to see evidence of a strong and experienced management team that can execute the proposed strategies effectively. Highlighting the qualifications and track record of your key team members will instill confidence in investors and demonstrate your ability to navigate the challenges of market penetration successfully.

Addressing potential risks and challenges in your business plan is essential. Investors want to see that you have identified potential obstacles and have developed contingency plans to mitigate them. This shows that you have a realistic and proactive approach to managing risks, which is crucial for long-term success.

When presenting your business plan to investors, it's important to provide a comprehensive analysis of ROI metrics and outline effective market penetration strategies. By addressing these key areas, you can increase investor confidence in your plan and enhance the likelihood of securing the funding you need to turn your business idea into a reality.

Mastering the art of entrepreneurial planning requires studying real-world business plan examples, analyzing failures, customizing your plan for your sector, and understanding what investors want to see. By taking inspiration from successful plans, learning from failures, tailoring your plan to your industry, and addressing investor concerns, you can create a compelling business plan that sets you on the path to entrepreneurial success. Remember, a well-crafted business plan is the cornerstone of your venture and can make all the difference in attracting investors and achieving your goals.

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300+ Business Plan Examples

Below you can choose from over 300 free business plan examples within numerous industries. You’ll also learn the answers to key sample business plan questions and find tips on how to write your business plan. Finally, you’ll see a full-length business plan sample. Rest assured that you’re in good hands; over the past 20+ years, Growthink has helped over 1 million companies develop simple business plans to start and grow their businesses.  

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here

If you’d like an interactive, fill-in-the-blanks template that also automatically completes your financial projections, we recommend Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan .

This is particularly true if you’re looking for funding from a bank (traditional loan, line of credit, SBA loan, etc.), angel investors or venture capitalists .

Quick Links to Sections On this Page:

  • Sample Business Plans By Business Category

Answers to Key Sample Business Plan Questions

Shoutmouth business plan example, business plan examples by business category, clothing & fashion business plan templates & samples.

Clothing Store Business Plan

Embroidery Business Plan

Fashion Business Plan

Jewelry Business Plan

Construction, Interior Design & Home Services Business Plan Templates & Samples

Consumer services business plan templates & samples, business services business plan templates & samples, events business plan templates & samples.

Banquet Hall Business Plan

Event Planning Business Plan

Event Venue Business Plan

Sample Event Venue Business Plan

Party Rental Business Plan

Photo Booth Business Plan

Table and Chair Rental Business Plan

Wedding Planning Business Plan

Farm Business Plan Templates & Samples

Financial services business plan templates & samples, fitness & beauty business plan templates & samples, food & beverage business plan templates & samples, medical & health business plan templates & samples, music & entertainment business plan templates & samples.

Music Business Plan

Party Bus Business Plan

Podcast Business Plan

Production Company Business Plan

Record Label Business Plan

Recording Studio Business Plan

Nonprofit Business Plan Templates & Samples

Sample Non-Profit Business Plan

Charity Business Plan

Sample Nonprofit Business Plan PDF

Social Enterprise Business Plan

Real Estate Business Plan Templates & Samples

Sample Airbnb Business Plan

House Flipping Business Plan

Property Development Business Plan

Property Management Business Plan

Real Estate Business Plan

Real Estate Agent Business Plan

Real Estate Business Plan PDF

Real Estate Development Business Plan

Real Estate Investment Business Plan

Retail & Ecommerce Business Plan Templates & Samples

Technology business plan templates & samples.

Biodiesel Business Plan

Blogging Business Plan

Clean Tech Business Plan

Mobile App Business Plan

Saas Business Plan

Software Company Business Plan

Technology Business Plan

Transportation Business Plan Templates & Samples

Travel and lodging business plan templates & samples.

Bed and Breakfast Business Plan

Campground Business Plan

Glamping Business Plan

Hotel Business Plan

Mobile Home Park Business Plan

Resort Business Plan

RV Park Business Plan

Travel Agency Business Plan

1. Why is utilizing an example business plan a good idea?

Sample business plans can help you quickly and easily write a business plan for your own business. Business plans are an important tool for any business, but they can be challenging to create. Sample business plan will help you understand business plan format , how to utilize a business plan template , and more.

Business plan examples may even help you with the different sections of a plan, including market analysis, company description, cash flow statements/business financial statements, and more. Business plans can also show you how a quality plan in your exact business plan category is organized and shows you the appropriate business communications style to use when writing your business plan.

2. Who would benefit from using an example business plan?

Any entrepreneur or business owner who has never written a business plan before can benefit from an example or sample plan. New business owners often start with business plan templates , which are helpful but are sometimes more useful after reviewing other full business plans.

A good sample plan can be a step-by-step guide as you work on your business planning and business idea. Once you have a sense for the flow, specs, and details, etc. that business plans have, utilizing a business plan template will help you pull everything together, helping you create a plan investors and other stakeholders will value. A solid plan will also help you if you need a bank loan, which may require a startup business plan.

3. How do you get started with a sample business plan and maximize its benefit?

First you should read the business plan thoroughly. Study both the type of information provided in key sections like the executive summary, target market analysis, summary, etc., as well as the format and style of the plan. As you read, you may find yourself thinking through things such as improving or evaluating your business planning process, your business idea, or reconsidering who you want to write your business plan for. This is OK and part of the process. In fact, when you start writing a business plan for the first time, it will be much easier because you’ve gone through this process.

After this initial read, outline your business plan and copy in from the sample plan sections that apply to your business. For instance, if the sample plan included public relations in their marketing strategy and sales plan, and you will also use this tactic, you can copy it into your plan and edit it as appropriate. Finally, answer the other questions answered in the sample plan in ways that reflect your unique business and potential customers.

Writing a business plan can seem daunting. Starting your business plan writing process by reviewing a plan that’s already been created can remove a lot of mental and emotional barriers while helping you craft the best plan you can.

4. When should you not use a sample business plan?

If your business is unlike any other, using a sample business plan will not be as effective. In this situation, writing a business plan from scratch utilizing a business plan template is probably your best path forward.

As an example, Facebook’s early business plan was unlike others since it was paving a new path and way of doing business. But, groundbreaking new businesses like Facebook are not the norm, and the vast majority of companies will benefit from utilizing sample business plans.

How to Finish Your Business Plan in 1 Day!

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With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

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Learn more about our professional business plan company and let us help you create a winning business plan for your company.

The business plan example below is for Shoutmouth, a company that enjoyed much success in the early 2000’s and which was able to raise funding. While the plan’s premise (social networking) is not as unique now as it was then, the format and structure of this business plan still holds.

I. Executive Summary

Business Overview

Launched in late February 2007, Shoutmouth.com is the most comprehensive music news website on the Internet .

Music is one of the most searched and accessed interests on the Internet. Top music artists like Akon receive over 3 million searches each month. In addition, over 500 music artists each receive over 25,000 searches a month.

However, music fans are largely unsatisfied when it comes to the news and information they seek on the artists they love. This is because most music websites (e.g., RollingStone.com, MTV.com, Billboard.com, etc.) cover only the top eight to ten music stories each day – the stories with mass appeal. This type of generic coverage does not satisfy the needs of serious music fans. Music fans generally listen to many different artists and genres of music. By publishing over 100 music stories each day, Shoutmouth enables these fans to read news on all their favorite artists.

In addition to publishing comprehensive music news on over 1200 music artists, Shoutmouth is a social network that allows fans to meet and communicate with other fans about music, and allows them to:

  • Create personal profiles
  • Interact with other members
  • Provide comments on news stories and music videos
  • Submit news stories and videos
  • Recommend new music artists to add to the community
  • Receive customized news and email alerts on their favorite artists

Success Factors

Shoutmouth is uniquely qualified to succeed due to the following reasons:

  • Entrepreneurial track record : Shoutmouth’s CEO and team have helped launch numerous successful ventures.
  • Affiliate marketing track record : Online affiliate marketing expertise has been cited as one of MySpace’s key success factors. Over the past two years, Shoutmouth’s founders have run one of the most successful online affiliate marketing programs, having sold products to over 500,000 music customers online.
  • Key milestones completed : Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 to-date to staff the company (we currently have an 11-person full-time team), build the core technology, and launch the site. We have succeeded in gaining initial customer traction with 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May 2007.

Unique Investment Metrics

The Shoutmouth investment opportunity is very exciting due to the metrics of the business.

To begin, over the past two years, over twenty social networks have been acquired. The value in these networks is their relationships with large numbers of customers, which allow acquirers to effectively sell to this audience.

The sales price of these social networks has ranged from $25 to $137 per member. Shoutmouth has the ability to enroll members at less than $1 each, thus providing an extraordinary return on marketing expenditures. In fact, during an April 2007 test, we were able to sign-up 2,000 members to artist-specific Shoutmouth newsletters at a cost of only 43 cents per member.

While we are building Shoutmouth to last, potential acquirers include many types of companies that seek relationships with music fans such as music media/publishing (e.g., MTV, Rolling Stone), ticketing (e.g., Ticketmaster, LiveNation) and digital music sales firms (e.g., iTunes, The Orchard).

Financial Strategy, Needs and Exit Strategy

While Shoutmouth’s technological, marketing and operational infrastructure has been developed, we currently require $3 million to execute on our marketing and technology plan over the next 24 months until we hit profitability.

Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to become a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.

Topline projections over the next three years are as follows:

II. Shoutmouth Overview

What is Shoutmouth?

Shoutmouth is an operating company of The Kisco Group Inc. (TKG). Since 2003, TKG has capitalized on web-based marketing opportunities via launching targeted websites and generating web-based leads. TKG revenues in 2005 exceeded $1.3 million and grew to $3.5 million in 2006. Shoutmouth is currently the sole focus of TKG; all other TKG business units have been divested.

Development of Shoutmouth began in August 2006 and the site officially launched on February 21, 2007. Shoutmouth (located at www.shoutmouth.com) is the most comprehensive music news community on the Internet. The website covers 1,200 popular bands and music artists and offers more than 100 new music articles each day. In addition to providing news, Shoutmouth is a web community. That is, Shoutmouth members can actively participate on the site, by doing things such as commenting on news stories and submitting their own stories.

The Market Size and Need for Shoutmouth

The music market is clearly vast. According to IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide, global music sales were $33.5 billion in 2005, with the U.S. accounting for $12.3 billion of that amount. Importantly, digitally music sales are seeing substantial growth, with IFPI reporting sales of $400 million in 2004, $1.1 billion in 2005 and $2 billion in 2006.

Online, music is the one of the most frequently searched and accessed interests. For example, according to Wordtracker, the music artist Eminem received over 1.7 million web searches in December 2006, while band Green Day received 534,000 searches.

To put these figures in perspective, top celebrities in other entertainment fields receive but a fraction of this search volume. For example, December 2006 search volumes for select sports stars and actors were as follows: Kobe Bryant, 122K; Tiger Woods, 88K; Cameron Diaz, 332K; and Tom Cruise, 82K.

Conversely, 225 music artists received over 100,000 searches in December 2006, and over 500 music artists received over 25,000 searches.

This data is corroborated by Nielsen BuzzMetrics which plots the most popular topics bloggers are posting about. The chart to the right plots September 25, 2006 to March 25, 2007 and shows how music dominates other entertainment sectors online.

When searching for music artists online, fans, which are primarily between the ages of 13 and 35, are looking for news, pictures, lyrics, videos and audio files. In addition, fans enjoy publicly voicing their opinions about music and interacting with other fans.

There is currently no website besides Shoutmouth that provides comprehensive music news. Currently, to get the latest news on their favorite artists, fans must visit the official websites or fan websites of each of the artists they like . Even then, it is unlikely that the fan will get all the news that has occurred. To solve this problem, Shoutmouth scours the web and uncovers news from thousands of web sites.

What Shoutmouth Does and Will Offer

As of May 2007, the site covers the 1,200 most popular music artists (popularity primarily based on the number of web searches over the past 12 months for each artist).

Shoutmouth currently offers members the ability to:

  • Read over 500 new music articles each week
  • Read special features such as album reviews, interviews, new album release dates, top quotes of the week and other special reports
  • Watch and rate music videos
  • Listen to select music audio clips
  • Comment on news stories and music videos
  • Submit news stories that they see/hear of elsewhere
  • Suggest new music artists to add to the site
  • View articles by music artist or by genre (current genres include Rock, Pop, Rap, R&B, Country, and Electronic)
  • Create a user profile that includes their favorite music artists, Shoutmouth friends, news stories submitted to Shoutmouth, and comments made. Members have the ability to find other members based on their favorite artists and via our search functions.
  • Receive customized news and email alerts. Members can customize their “My News” page to include only artists they specify. Likewise, they can choose to receive email alerts whenever there is a new story on one of their favorite artists.

While establishing itself as the premier music news community, Shoutmouth will embark on the more aggressive goal of becoming the premier music community online . To accomplish this, Shoutmouth will begin to offer additional content (more videos, audio, pictures, lyrics, etc.) and additional functionality (music compatibility testing (e.g., if you like this, you’ll like this), voting capabilities, member-to-member messaging, etc.). We have already begun mapping out our content and technology growths plans to achieve this goal upon financing.

Importantly, Shoutmouth expects to be able to add massive amounts of relevant content (e.g., lyrics, reviews, pictures, video files, audio files, etc.) via member submissions and moderation. This is the same way that YouTube has been able to quickly add millions of videos and Wikipedia has been able to add millions of articles. Importantly, since established music websites (e.g., MTV, RollingStone.com, Billboard.com, etc.) are not community based, they would have to hire thousands of staff members to rival the content that Shoutmouth will have.

How We Get and Publish Our News

Currently, news stories that appear on Shoutmouth are gathered from numerous online sources. Shoutmouth’s staff writers find these stories by using RSS and News feeds that cover thousands of websites. In addition, Shoutmouth community members have the ability to submit stories they find elsewhere.

Typical stories include factual information plus the insight of the author. Shoutmouth editors ensure that all stories are properly classified by artist and genre, and that duplicate articles are filtered out.

Over the past three months, Shoutmouth has developed a solid infrastructure, which we consider a core competitive advantage, that that allows us to provide comprehensive music news . This infrastructure includes:

  • Setting up hundreds of RSS feeds based on comprehensive research regarding sites from which to receive feeds
  • Training our editorial team regarding identifying a story and weeding out duplicates
  • Assigning music artists among our five-person editorial team to better manage work flow and avoid duplicate articles

We are working on a system to ensure that member-submitted articles are automatically routed to the appropriate member of Shoutmouth’s editorial team to improve our efficiencies further.

Shoutmouth’s Goal to Break News First

The majority (approximately 90%) of Shoutmouth’s articles are currently developed by our in-house editorial team, while the balance is submitted by members. In addition, virtually all of our articles are based on information gleaned from other websites. As such, we are generally not the first to publish news; however we are the first and only site to publish all the news in one easily-accessible place. The one current exception is news which is published on bands’ official MySpace pages; Shoutmouth generally publishes articles on this news 24 to 48 hours before it is reported by other news or music sites (due to our efficiencies in finding news).

Shoutmouth realizes that it will gain a key competitive advantage, and will generate significant market buzz, if it is able to report on music news stories before other media sources . To accomplish this, we have begun contacting publicity departments at record labels to gain direct access to music news. We expect these contacts to enable us to gain immediate and sometimes exclusive access to news which will help further establish Shoutmouth as the canonical source for music news. We also plan to more aggressively solicit member submissions of new, buzzworthy news events and will consider offering rewards for unique substantiated news (much the way paparazzi are compensated).

III. Competition in the Online Music Market

This section of the business plan provides a competitive analysis, which is an overview of the competitive landscape, discusses both indirect and direct competitors and then details Shoutmouth’s competitive advantages.

Because consumer demand for music on the Internet is so great, there are a vast number of music websites. In summary, we consider most sectors of the online music market (which are discussed below) to be indirect competitors and potentially partners, rather than direct competitors, because none of them focus on music news.

The reason we believe that no one focuses on music news is that it is very difficult to do. Because news is very important to music fans, most music websites offer news. However, they primarily get their news from organizations such as CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press and BBC. These large organizations only write about the music stories that have mass appeal, which traditionally amounts to 8-10 music news stories per day. However, since music fans are often zealots when it comes to their favorite artists, they are not merely interested in cover stories. For instance, a U2 fan cares about any U2 news, particularly news that a non-U2 fan might consider insignificant.

In fact, because Shoutmouth is the sole one-stop shop for getting comprehensive music news, there might be an opportunity to license our content to other music websites.

Sectors of the Online Music Market

Shoutmouth specifically comPs in the community-based music news market. While players in this market represent direct competitors, Shoutmouth faces indirect competitors in the following markets:

  • Community-Based Sites
  • Community-Based News Sites
  • Community-Based Music Sites
  • Traditional Music Websites
  • Official Artist and Fan Sites

Each of these markets is described below.

A. Community-Based Sites

Community-based sites, also known as social networking sites, are websites in which members can create profiles, leave comments throughout the site, and communicate with other members among other features.

A June 2006 report by Piper Jaffray entitled “Silk Road: Social Networking is Here to Stay” effectively sums up the power and longevity of social networking:

“We believe social networking sites have become a permanent part of the fabric of web applications and are rapidly becoming one of the most popular activities online, potentially impacting how other popular services such as email, IM, and maybe even search are accessed.

As a clear indication of the growth rate and scale of social networking, consider this: MySpace monthly page views have now surpassed MSN or AOL in the U.S. and are nearly 75% of the size of Yahoo!. Social networking has filled a gap that was left by all the existing portals and web services and it is fulfilling a very important and basic function for millions of users: allowing them to express themselves and connect with their friends, with the two functions tightly integrated.

The leading sites such as MySpace (News Corp), Facebook, and others are amassing significant power in the new landscape of the Internet and the existing Internet companies are likely to have to work with these newcomers as they may yield material control on the flow of traffic to other applications.”

Social networking sites such as MySpace.com, Facebook.com, Tagged.com, and TagWorld.com have educated consumers regarding the value of these sites and how to use them. Their success has spurred genre-specific social networks such as community-based/social networking news sites and music sites, which are discussed below.

Shoutmouth doesn’t view established social networking sites as competitors since these sites have a general focus. That is, members talk about all aspects of life, from dating to music to movies, etc. Conversely, Shoutmouth is solely focused on music.

B. Community-Based News Sites

Community-based news sites are sites in which members decide what’s newsworthy and what’s not. For instance, on Digg.com, the most prominent community-based news site, members “Digg” stories that they feel are most newsworthy. The stories that the community feels are most important rise to Digg’s homepage, while less important stories get little attention.

Digg’s one million members can submit stories, “digg” stories, and comment on stories. Digg focuses on general news with a slant towards technology, gaming and unique/sensational news. While Digg does have a Music area within its Entertainment section, this receives little focus. In fact, at the time of the writing of this plan, Digg’s music home page only includes one article submitted within the past 48 hours. Furthermore, Digg doesn’t pare down the music category into sub-categories such as Rock and individual music artists. Conversely, these sub-categories are the entire focus of Shoutmouth.

Other sites that are similar to Digg include Newsvine.com, Spotback.com and Gabbr.com. Of most relevance is the Digg-like site for music, Noisetap.com, which was launched by Ticketmaster in January 2007.

Like Digg, Noisetap.com allows members to submit and vote for music stories. Noisetap.com is organized by music genre and not by music artist. This most likely will not satisfy the needs of many music fans since they don’t have the ability to find news on the specific artists they care most about. Likewise, without a full-time staff actively researching and publishing news stories at the artist-level, Noisetap.com will never be able to offer the comprehensive news that Shoutmouth does.

While Shoutmouth is currently similar to community-based news sites in that members can submit stories and comment on the news they find most interesting, no established player in the market provides a comprehensive focus on music. In addition, Shoutmouth sees these sites as marketing partners as we have and will continue to submit our stories on them to increase our readership.

C. Community-Based Music Sites

There are many community-based music websites, although none focuses on music news such as Shoutmouth. Conversely, these sites generally give members the ability to create and listen to song play lists. The community acts to help individual members find new music and new friends based on similarities in their music tastes. Prominent sites in this genre include Last.fm, Finetune, Pandora, RadioBlogClub, MyStrands, iLike[1] and iJigg.

Last.fm is the most prominent community-based music site and is a good model with which to compare Shoutmouth. Likewise, we will benchmark our performance against Last.fm as we reach of goal of becoming the premier music news community and focus on becoming the premier music community.

According to Alexa, Last.fm is the 359th most visited site on the Internet. While Last.fm focuses on allowing members to create customized Internet stations based on their music tastes, the site has much additional content and social networking features. For instance, for each artist, Last.fm includes pictures, a bio, concert dates, discography, fans on Last.fm, and similar artists. Fans are also able to create journals and communicate with other fans. Key features that Last.fm doesn’t currently focus on include news and video.

D. Traditional Music Websites

Traditional music websites such as MTV.com, RollingStone.com, Billboard.com, NME.com, AOL Music, and Yahoo! Music tend to have many features such as news, reviews, pictures, videos and audio. While these sites are generally very well done and extremely popular, they are under-serving visitors in two core areas: music news and community .

These sites’ lack of music news stems from the difficulty in creating this news, specifically that it requires filtering through thousands of articles and websites to find relevant stories. Likewise, as discussed, these firms might wish to license our news content in the future.

Regarding community , none of the top music sites are thriving communities. Rather, either these sites offer no community features or they recently began offering select features (e.g., submitting reviews or commenting on articles). Even when available, the community features on these sites are afterthoughts and are not engrained within the core fabric of the sites.

While they haven’t been able to transform their current sites into communities, top music websites clearly understand the power of online music communities and have an appetite for them. For example, in January 2007, MTV invested in social networking website TagWorld. MTV also acquired RateMyProfessors.com and Quizilla.com (teen social network) in January 2007 and October 2006 respectively.

As mentioned previously, our vision is to build and incorporate additional technologies, and use our “army” of members to publish vast amounts of music content on Shoutmouth, in order to fully satisfy music fans and leapfrog traditional music sites in terms of their music content.

E. Official Artist and Fan Sites

Shoutmouth com’s with official music artist websites and fan websites. These sites often include news about the specific artist as well as pictures, videos and other relevant information.

On one hand, official music artist and fan websites are direct competitors to Shoutmouth. This is because some of these sites offer comprehensive news on the specific artist they cover. In addition, many offer forums, discussion boards or other ways to communicate with other fans.

However, two factors separate Shoutmouth from these types of sites: 1) breadth and 2) sophistication.

  • Breadth : Most music fans love more than one artist. As such, in order to get the news they want, they would have to visit/join multiple fan or artist websites rather than getting all of their news from Shoutmouth.
  • Sophistication : While some official music artist websites are technologically sophisticated, offering forums, networking and other worthwhile features, the majority of artist and fan websites have limited usability, functionality and networking ability. In fact, this deficiency has lead to the success of MusicToday, which provides front and back-end technology to power artist websites.

Specifically, MusicToday offers web design and hosting, develops sophisticated online stores, builds online fan clubs and offers web ticketing among other services to select top music artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Christina Aguilera, Kenny Chesney, Britney Spears and Usher. While offering sophisticated tools for select music artist websites, MusicToday offers little to no music news nor advanced social networking functions. For instance, the official Dave Matthews Band website offers less than one news story per month.

F. Direct Competitors: Community-Based Music News Sites

Shoutmouth’s direct competitors are other music news websites that have social or community features that allow users to join the site, submit articles, comment on articles, create public profiles and/or communicate with other members. Shoutmouth has identified one significant player who offers this service, AbsolutePunk.net.

AbsolutePunk.net has done a good job of building a user base (the site claims 125,000+ registered members and nearly 500,000 un-registered members). In addition, the user base is very active — the average story on their site receives approximately 20 comments. AbsolutePunk.net offers music news, reviews, pictures and interviews among other features.

On the negative side, AbsolutePunk.net’s articles are generally posted by one staff writer (as opposed to Shoutmouth’s five writers), most articles are simply one sentence posts rather than full articles, and no attempt seems to have been made to cover all news stories. In addition, the site only covers the punk music genre. Although “punk” is broadly defined on the site, the site doesn’t cater to genres such as R&B, rap and country among others, failing to satisfy the broader market.

AbsolutePunk.net is owned by Indieclick, a Los Angeles-based media company. According to the AbsolutePunk.net website, the site:

  • Has developed a loyal (72% return rate) reader base
  • 5,182,147 Posts
  • 163,535 Threads
  • 126,448 Members
  • 1,711 Artist Profiles
  • 20,774 Multimedia Files
  • Approx 76,000 visits per day.
  • Approx 276,000 pageviews per day.

Shoutmouth’s Competitive Advantage

In addition to being the first to fill the untapped market void for comprehensive music news, Shoutmouth’s competitive advantage in the market primarily includes the following:

Online Marketing Sophistication

Content Development Experience and Expertise

Shoutmouth’s team, primarily team members DL and PF, has operated an affiliate marketing business focusing on music for the past four years. Affiliate marketing is defined as a system of revenue sharing between one site (the affiliate) which features an ad or content designed to drive traffic to another site (the merchant). The affiliate receives a fee based on traffic to the merchant which converts to sales.

Our affiliate business has focused on connecting music fans, primarily aged 13 to 30, with music offers such as iPods and ringtones. Over the past two years, we have successful sold affiliated offers to over 500,000 customers. We have become a significant online advertiser, receiving Google’s “over 1 million leads” award, and are recognized as a major player among the top affiliate networks.

It is important to note that affiliate marketing success has been credited with part of MySpace’s success. This is because effective affiliate marketers understand how to drive and convert on Internet traffic.

Shoutmouth will employ its affiliate marketing techniques to drive traffic to Shoutmouth.com and enroll members. We will utilize technologies and proprietary techniques that allow us to monitor multiple metrics such as the cost per visitor, cost per member sign-up, etc., so that we can set and maintain profitable metrics.

Another venture that Shoutmouth team members, primarily PK and DL, launched was the development of over 3,000 niche websites. To create the content for these websites, we employed a virtual work force of over 90 researchers in India and 30 writers and editors in the US.

This experience taught us how to manage a large workforce, train writers to improve content quality and motivate a large group of people. These skill sets will be critical in allowing Shoutmouth to grow the content of the site, as developed by both staff and members, while maintaining quality standards.

IV. Marketing Plan

Shoutmouth’s marketing plan includes the following:

Online Advertising : Shoutmouth will initiate pay-per-click advertising campaigns on Google and Yahoo! in order to inexpensively drive traffic to the site. Specifically, Shoutmouth believes it can drive qualified traffic to the site for 20 cents per visitor and achieve a 20% member conversion rate, thus generating members at a cost of $1.00 per member.

Keys to Shoutmouth’s success in achieving this metric include:

  • Conducting thorough keyword research and advertising on appropriate keywords and keyword groups
  • Creating advertising text that maximizes click through rates
  • Creating landing pages that maximize conversions while maintaining the highest Google AdWords quality score possible
  • Closely monitoring conversions to quickly stop and/or modify unprofitable campaigns
  • Getting individuals to enter their email address to join the newsletter is much easier than getting them to join a site where they have to create a username, select a password, etc. As such, step one will be to get visitors to sign up for artist-specific newsletters.
  • Once on the newsletter distribution list, members will constantly receive messages (embedded in their daily newsletter) regarding the benefits of participating more on Shoutmouth.
  • Active Shoutmouth Membership: the constant reminders regarding Shoutmouth’s value proposition in the daily newsletters will influence members to participate more actively on the site (e.g., customize their profile, visit the site more often, etc.).

Invite-A-Friend : Shoutmouth is in the process of creating an aggressive invite-a-friend/member referral program. In doing so, we are following the lead of social movie community, Flixster, which grew to 5 million members within 10 months. It did this by encouraging members, during their initial registration process, to upload and send an invitation to multiple contacts in their email address books. The technology to develop this process is fairly complex and we expect to be completed with and to rollout this program in June 2007.

Direct Email Marketing : Shoutmouth will directly contact bloggers and prominent music fans we find online to tell them about Shoutmouth, encourage them to join, and encourage them to write about Shoutmouth on their blogs and online journals .

Creating/Distributing Buzzworthy/Viral Content : Shoutmouth plans to have several buzzworthy/viral articles (i.e., content that people would want to email to their friends since it is funny, interesting, etc.) on the site each day. With a single click, visitors will be able to send these articles to social bookmarking sites such as Digg.com or Fark.com, where these articles could receive widespread attention. In addition to our traditional news stories, Shoutmouth will also periodically create special reports/features in order to satisfy our members and visitors and to try to get widespread exposure.

An example of the power of such buzzworthy content, Shoutmouth has already succeeded in having two stories accepted by Fark and Digg, which have brought in over 50,000 unique visitors.

Super Fans/Street Team Development : Shoutmouth also plans to recruit “super fans.” Super fans are individuals who are passionate about a certain music artist/band and actively contribute articles and/or comments on Shoutmouth. We will recruit these fans, reward them with status (e.g., adding a gold Shoutmouth headphones image to their profile page) and encourage them to more aggressively promote the site by:

  • Submitting more news to Shoutmouth
  • Commenting on more articles on Shoutmouth
  • Growing the Shoutmouth community around their favorite artist(s) by actively recruiting new members to join the site (such as actively posting Shoutmouth-related comments on their MySpace pages, on other music forums, etc.)

Public Relations : Upon financing, Shoutmouth will hire a public relations firm to help us get mentions in media sources ranging from magazines, newspapers, radio, television and blogs. To date, we have developed and issued press releases via Billboard Publicity Wire which have been syndicated throughout the web. An effective PR firm will enable Shoutmouth to quickly reach a wide audience.

Widgets : Shoutmouth will create artist-specific and genre-specific music news widgets. For example, our U2 widget (see example on right) would include all of the recent U2 articles published on Shoutmouth. The widget can easily be placed on MySpace pages, blogs, etc. Each story title in the widget links to the full article on Shoutmouth.

Shoutmouth has great expectations for our widget. To begin, no such widget currently exists as there is no one place to get comprehensive news for specific music artists. Secondly, each time someone places a Shoutmouth widget on their blog or social networking page, it will effectively market Shoutmouth to a wide audience at zero cost to us.

V. Technology/Site Development Plan

This section provides a brief roadmap of the initial and future functionality of Shoutmouth.

Initial Site Functionality

The initial Shoutmouth website will include the following features:

  • Ability to submit and comment on news stories
  • Ability to suggest new music artists to add to the site
  • Ability to create user profiles
  • Ability to receive customized news and email alerts
  • Articles categorized by artist and core genre (e.g., Rock, Rap, Pop, etc.)
  • Music artist sections which includes News, Bio and Fans

Future Site Functionality

Shoutmouth will use news and basic functionality as the platform though which we will build a thriving music community. After initial launch, the Shoutmouth technology team will work on incorporating additional features such as:

  • Ability to message other members via the site (e.g., members will have an Inbox on the site)
  • Event calendars: members will receive online calendars. With the click of a button, the member will be able to add tour dates of their favorite artists/bands to their calendar.
  • Articles also categorized by sub-genre (e.g., Alternative Rock, West Coast Rap, etc.)
  • Music artist sections to also include videos, audio files, photo galleries, reviews and event calendars to which members can upload files and vote on top content.
  • Forums and member blogs
  • Music compatibility testing (suggestions on song/artists members might like)
  • Trivia quizzes
  • Music playlists

VI. Financial Plan

Revenue Model

During the first six months, Shoutmouth will not generate any revenues as it will not sell advertising space nor offer products for sale. This decision has been made to spur the growth of the Shoutmouth community. By initially positioning Shoutmouth more as a non-profit, for-the-people-by-the-people venture, members will be more prone to promote the site and invite their friends than if the site looks too commercial.

Starting in September 2007, Shoutmouth will primarily generate revenues from selling advertising space. As technologies (such as the Snocap music widget) evolve that allow us to seamlessly integrate music sampling and purchasing on our site, sales of downloadable music are also expected to be a significant revenue source. To a lesser extent, we may sell other music-related items such as ringtones, concert tickets, and apparel.

Funding To Date

To date, Shoutmouth’s founders have invested $500,000 in Shoutmouth, with which we have accomplished the following:

  • Built the site’s core technology
  • Hired and trained our core staff (we currently maintain an 11-person full-time team)
  • Populated the website with content (over 10,000 articles and 1,200 artist bios)
  • Generated brand awareness among music fans, including driving 50,000 unique visitors in March, 100,000 unique visitors in April, and 200,000 unique visitors in May 2007.

Funding Requirements/Use of Funds

Shoutmouth is currently seeking $3 million to provide funding for the next 24 months. At this point, the site will be profitable and can grow organically, or additional capital may be sought to more aggressively expand our member base.

The capital will be used as follows:

  • Execution of Marketing plan : in order for Shoutmouth to grow its visitor and member base, we need to invest dollars in online advertising and public relations. With regards to online advertising, we are confident that we can enroll members at a cost of $1 per member, which is a fraction of the value of the members to an acquirer (minimum $25 per member), thus providing a significant return on our marketing investments.
  • Execution of Technology plan : in order to build a thriving community, Shoutmouth needs to offer its visitors a “stickier” website and enhanced features. We currently maintain a vast “wish list” of features, such as members uploading and rating pictures and videos, trivia quizzes, and member-to-member messaging, that will significantly improve the site’s functionality and value proposition.
  • Staffing : In order to reach our goals, we will have to hire additional technical and operations personnel.

Financial Projections

Below is an overview of Shoutmouth’s Financial Projections for the next three years. Please see the Appendix for the full financial projections and key assumptions.

Exit Strategy / Valuation Metric

Shoutmouth’s most likely exit strategy is to be acquired by a traditional music website or property (e.g., Viacom/MTV, Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone), an entertainment/media conglomerate (e.g., Yahoo!, IAC/InterActiveCorp, NBC), or a large social networking site (e.g., News Corp/MySpace).

This strategy is supported by the significant M&A activity in the social networking market, which includes the following transactions over the past 24 months:

Regarding valuation, below are the estimated valuations of social networking companies on a per member basis upon exit:

  • Del.icio.us: $50 – $100 per member
  • MySpace: $25 per member
  • Xing (business social network): $137 per member at IPO in 10/06
  • Flickr: $56 – $130 per member
  • Grouper: $130 per member

Based on this data, not only are social networking sites a promising investment, but sites that can acquire members for less than $25 each (a conservative valuation estimate based on the figures above), should earn a solid return on investment. As discussed above, Shoutmouth’s goal is to acquire members for no more than $1 each.

In addition, per the membership projections above, Shoutmouth’s valuation at the end of 2009, at a $25 valuation per member, is expected to be $239 million. A more conservative, using a 24.4 time EBITDA multiple (the average multiple of tech M&A deals in 2006 according to The M&A Advisor), yields a $121 million valuation in 2009.

Shoutmouth’s founding team includes entrepreneurs and managers with a track record of success and a history of successfully working together.

Management Team

DL, Co-Founder and CEO

D has a history of successfully launching and growing businesses of all sizes. As president and co-founder of an entrepreneurial services firm., D has personally assisted in the launch and development of over 100 ventures.

Over the past three years, D founded and has managed The Kisco Group which includes an affiliate marketing division (2006 revenues exceeded $3 million), a search engine optimization business which includes a network of 3,000 websites (2006 revenues exceeded $500,000) and an e-commerce business (which includes TopPayingKeywords.com and ShowerHeadsEtc.com).

D earned his Bachelors degree from the University of South Carolina.

PK, Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations

For the past two years, P has managed The Kisco Group’s search engine optimization business where he hired, trained and managed nearly 100 employees and a dozen outside firms. During this time, P has honed his management skills with regards to content development, marketing and operations.

P has had a passion for music since childhood and has been a semi-professional drummer for the past 15 years.

P earned his Bachelors of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Clemson University.

PF, Co-Founder and Vice President of Technology

For the past year, P has managed The Kisco Group’s affiliate marketing business. In addition to setting up and managing widespread marketing campaigns, P has developed sophisticated analytic techniques to precisely analyze web traffic in order to optimize profitability.

Since August 2006, P has shifted his efforts and leveraged his technology skills in developing the Shoutmouth website. P has been instrumental in selecting the Content Management Platform upon which Shoutmouth is built, and finding and managing the technology team.

P earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College.

AB, Marketing Manager

A’s background in music includes being a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer. He has also worked on the marketing side of music, having marketed Veritas Records through the development and distribution of promotional materials.

A’s career also includes psychological research and administration, having served as a Research Assistant with the Interpersonal Perception And Communication Laboratory in Cambridge, MA.

A earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Ohio State University.

M, Lead Technology Developer

M is an experienced web programmer with expertise in web design, application development and database development among others.

M’s work experience includes serving as a Senior Developer at Spheres. M has also engaged in multiple, long term freelance projects including serving as a Database Developer Consultant with The Penn Group and a Web Developer Consultant with Volution Media Group and Allied Online Consulting Group.

M earned his Bachelors degree in Computer Science with a minor in Cognitive Science from Rutgers University.

Content Development Team

Shoutmouth’s writing team, managed by PK, includes the following members:

  • JS, Editorial Manager: former content manager and copywriter for Scholastic Inc. and Promotions.com.
  • TZ: former music intern (Virgin Records and WRRV) and author of the blog, The Tom Z Show .
  • ML: former assistant editor for Adventure Publishing; author of the blog Certified Gangsta ; and former editor-in-chief of Fordham University’s newspaper The Paper .
  • SB: former staff writer for Paste Magazine , The Clarion Ledger , and Nightclub and Bar Magazine among others.
  • CSJ: former editorial intern for Rolling Stone and Editorial Assistant for Psychology Today .

Outsourced Technology Team

Shoutmouth works very closely with 2skies, a technology firm based in Australia with staff in Australia and the United States. 2skies is run by JDN, one of the co-founding developers of XE, the platform upon which Shoutmouth is built.

XE is an extensible, Open Source web application framework written in PHP and licensed under the GNU General Public License. XE delivers the requisite infrastructure and tools to create custom web applications that include fully dynamic multi-platform Content Management Solutions (CMS).

VIII. Appendix: Shoutmouth Financial Projections   3-Year Income Statement

3-Year Balance Sheet

As of December 31

3-Year Cash Flow Statement

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Corporate Entrepreneurship: Seven Steps To Build It in Your Company

Bailey Maybray

Published: August 13, 2023

For decades, the business world split into two buckets: scrappy startups and big businesses. But with the growing pressure to stay agile and innovate, that line has started to blur thanks to corporate entrepreneurship.

Corporate entrepreneurship: a man sits in front of his business.

Corporate entrepreneurship imbues companies of all sizes with a startup mentality to drive innovation, increase creativity, and improve resiliency.

Table of contents:

What is corporate entrepreneurship?

Benefits of corporate entrepreneurship, how to foster corporate entrepreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship examples.

Corporate entrepreneurship is a work culture that supports entrepreneurialism, innovation, and creative thinking.

Corporate entrepreneurship is a work culture that supports entrepreneurialism, innovation , and creative thinking. It enables an organization to adopt a startup mindset, one that helps businesses identify and pursue new product and service opportunities.

Companies foster corporate entrepreneurship in a number of ways, such as:

  • Encouraging employees to take the lead on projects
  • Offering incentives, such as bonuses, to risk-takers
  • Investing in new opportunities, such as side ventures

Corporate entrepreneurship puts innovation, a key aspect of company success, at the forefront of a company’s culture.

While 84% of CEOs cite innovation as critical to business success, only 6% report feeling satisfied with their innovation performance. Corporate entrepreneurship helps bridge this gap, and can increase revenue, improve resiliency, and more.

1. It diversifies and increases revenue

By pursuing new opportunities, your business diversifies its revenue streams and can bring in more money.

One study conducted by the International Money Fund (IMF) found that, on average, 20% of business sales come from products new to markets or new to the business.

Corporate entrepreneurship encourages the entire organization to think of ideas for the business to pursue, which includes new features, products, and services.

2. It reduces costs

Corporate entrepreneurship also means looking at different ways to cut costs. An employee, for example, might look at business operations and identify redundancies. In a work culture that embraces corporate entrepreneurship, all employees look for ways to challenge the status quo — including current costs.

In the same study conducted by the IMF, researchers found that 40% of product innovations resulted in product-related expense savings. 

3. It makes your business more resilient

Almost every business executive (97%) regards resiliency as imperative to business success. Yet just under half view their organization as resilient. Corporate entrepreneurship brings greater resiliency to your business, as it:

  • Makes your business more agile
  • Reduces impact from market changes
  • Increases internal innovation

Economic downturns often cause businesses to shutter permanently, especially if they lack backup plans to deal with unexpected hurdles. Over 7 in 10 small business owners worry about the impact of a recession on their business.

By having a more innovative and creative workforce, you can set yourself up with greater resilience during tough times.

4. It helps your work culture stand out

Job seekers rank company culture as an important factor when applying for roles. This means companies with standout cultures receive stronger, more competitive applicants. Corporate entrepreneurship can make your workplace culture appealing to applicants, as it:

  • Encourages employees to take responsibility for projects, increasing their autonomy
  • Gives workers more flexibility
  • Gives workers more opportunity to upskill and move up
  • Encourages risk-taking

All of these reasons improve employee satisfaction and, in turn, help your work culture stand out from the crowd.

1. Determine your company’s risk factor

Though corporate entrepreneurship brings in clear benefits, it also has some drawbacks. Enabling all employees to tackle side projects, for example, could raise costs and remove the focus from day-to-day work. Not to mention innovation and experimentation can end in failure.

So, ask yourself the following questions to determine if corporate entrepreneurship makes sense for your organization:

  • How much risk can the business afford?
  • Does the industry as a whole engage in corporate entrepreneurship?
  • In what departments does corporate entrepreneurship make the most sense?

2. Craft a compelling mission statement

To get employees onboard with corporate entrepreneurship, you should consider writing a thoughtful mission statement. This should encompass why your business feels passionate about innovation. Consider the following examples:

  • “We believe in adapting to the evolving needs of our customers.”
  • “We aspire to revolutionize the biotech industry.”
  • “We want to constantly evolve and build upon our products.”

The statement should explain what corporate entrepreneurship means for your business, your employees, and your overall business goals.

3. Hire entrepreneurially minded people

When hiring , consider incorporating questions to gauge a candidate’s entrepreneurialism. You could start by asking:

  • Tell me about a passion project you recently worked on.
  • How do you deal with uncertainty?
  • Have you ever challenged yourself or a previous employer?

Any questions that tap into a candidate’s creativity, innovativeness, and proactivity will help you hire more professionals with entrepreneurial spirit .

4. Encourage leaders to embrace failures and mistakes

You, as a business owner, might embrace failures caused by risk-taking. But you need to encourage leaders, including managers, to better manage and respond to mistakes and failures.

So, instead of managers responding negatively to failure, instruct them to view it as a learning opportunity. They should collaborate with the employee on which steps they took, where the error occurred, and lessons learned along the way. That way, the employee feels comfortable bringing up mistakes to their manager who, in turn, extracts takeaways.

5. Create innovation-based incentives

It takes more than asking employees to innovate and tackle projects. You should look at how your organization rewards employees. Do you often give out year-end bonuses? What kind of perks do you reward employees? What does one’s career look like at the organization?

Then, think of ways to integrate innovation-based incentives. You could, for example, recognize risk-taking employees in messaging. Alternatively, you could reward bonuses to employees who create revenue-driving or impactful projects.

Whatever the incentive, it should demonstrate how your company views corporate entrepreneurship.

6. Invest in new opportunities

Strive to invest in viable opportunities discovered by employees, evaluating each proposed project based on its viability and profitability.

Consider this — can your organization realistically create and market this product? And to that end, does this product show a road to profitability?

If an employee presents an exciting opportunity, such as a new feature or product, you should think of ways your company can invest and build it. You could:

  • Give the employee resources to conduct additional market research
  • Involve other departments within the company, such as marketing, to gather more information
  • Create a prototype of the product or feature

7. Gather feedback from employees

You cannot build corporate entrepreneurship into your organization without help. So, as you work to build up this startup-driven culture, survey employees on their thoughts. Ask them what works, what the organization could improve, and what ideas they have.

Procter & Gamble (P&G)

P&G describes itself as having “the heart of a startup and the resources of a global corporation.” Most recently, P&G launched an internal development team called Growth Works.

The in-house team researches and develops innovative products for P&G’s portfolio — such as the Oral-B iO electric toothbrush. Growth Works has spurred new ways of thinking across the organization, bringing together teams to collaborate more frequently.

Other brands can take a page out of P&G’s book and consider building an in-house innovation team. This could involve current employees spending some of their time experimenting with and researching product and feature ideas. Or, if your organization can afford it, a team hired specifically to build out innovative opportunities.

IBM prides itself on its innovation, explaining that it “has repeatedly reinvented itself to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of innovation and value for our clients.” This mission statement explains their various innovation initiatives, from promoting IBM ideas to organizationwide brainstorming.

IBM’s blog Innovation Expectations spotlights notable IBM workers and their insights on emerging technologies and trends. The blog demonstrates the value IBM places on individual knowledge.

Moreover, IBM previously executed an organizationwide brainstorming campaign to generate new ideas and build working prototypes. Thousands of IBM workers came together, identified new opportunities, and learned the ins and outs of cognitive computing. The most successful ideas moved forward, with several teams presenting their prototypes to senior executives.

Both of these initiatives show IBM’s commitment to fostering corporate entrepreneurship. Other organizations can similarly host companywide collaborative efforts, which can result in many new product ideas.

Intel promotes seven company values, including “fearless innovation,” which espouses taking risks, learning from mistakes, and disrupting markets. The computer company achieves this a number of ways, including its own venture capital (VC) firm and an industrywide technology conference.

The organization’s VC firm, Intel Capital, contains a portfolio of cloud, silicon, devices, and frontier companies. Since its inception in 2015, Intel has invested $830m+ in diverse startup teams and has assigned 90+ Intel Embedded Experts into these organizations.

Intel also hosts its own technology conference called Intel Innovation, which strives to bring together innovative and entrepreneurial leaders in the hardware and software technology space.

These separate but connected investments alone show the large investment Intel has placed in corporate entrepreneurship.

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Outline your company's sales strategy in one simple, coherent plan.

Powerful and easy-to-use sales software that drives productivity, enables customer connection, and supports growing sales orgs

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  • Entrepreneurship

March 29, 2024

Here’s How To Define Your Target Market

The target market segmentation of your business is a crucial component to define within a business plan. Here's a few tips on defining your market.

Originally Published Apr. 28, 2019

The target market segmentation of your business is a crucial component to define within a business plan . When you envision the overall customer base for your business, it may incorporate people from a wide range of groups and walks of life. However, in target marketing, the goal is to break down that massive customer base and to define precisely who the most likely customer is for your brand so that you can target your marketing methods to reach that ideal customer more effectively.

In your business plan, lenders and potential investors who read it want to see your brand’s target market clearly defined to understand who you are marketing to and to understand the cost associated with your customer acquisition strategy. To better illustrate your target market segment, consider the following tips.

How to Define Your Target Market

Determine the geographical component.

One representation of your target market is based on the geographical location of your customers. For example, if you are a small retailer, it may be likely that your market is within a small physical area around your business. This could be based on local addresses and expanded through innovation utilizing technology such as geofencing. A geofence is a virtual perimeter of a real-world geographic area that will allow your customers to receive promotions and notifications about your business as they approach a pre-determined physical location surrounding your business’s physical location.

Understand the Demographics

Another way to define your target market is to determine the demographics of your customer base. Some of the most common demographics include gender and age. Income may also be a critical factor in determining who your most likely customers are as well. This can also be as narrow as a specific age group most likely to interact with or visit your business. For example, if you’re launching an arcade business, statistically, your targeted market is expected to be comprised of teenagers and young adults, principally males.

Consider the Psycho-graphic Component

Determining your target market is essential in most industries. The psycho-graphic segment may include a specific type of consumer most likely to patronize your business. In the context of a childcare business, this would be parents.

It could also be someone more likely to live in an urban setting if you are marketing an urban apparel line. If you sell pet supplies, your target market is, of course, pet lovers. Sell motorcycle parts? Your target market is motorcycle riders.

Understanding the lifestyle of your customers is a guaranteed strategy to ensure the success of your enterprise.

Think about Ideal

In some cases, your customer foundation may not be solely based on who is most likely to walk in the door but instead on who you wish to appeal to in your marketing campaigns. For example, if you are a home furnishing brand , you may want to appeal to those looking for high-end home remodeling, not merely consumers making simple home repairs.

Compare Examples

To perfect your business plan further, look at examples of how well other companies do locally and globally in your industry. For instance, feminine product sellers tend to market during the daytime hours on television when customers are most likely watching television talk shows. Alcohol brands tend to advertise their beverages during sporting events and late at night. More so, that same alcohol company may market itself as a high-end luxury beverage to women and men during more sophisticated programming and offer different ads with more of a low-key approach during reality television programming.

Understanding your potential customers and where they spend most of their time is essential to advertising and marketing your brand. Understanding your target market segment is vital to your business plan and is a critical component of your business plan. Simply put, when defined correctly, potential investors and future business partners have a strategic blueprint for who your brand will market to and when.

RELATED CONTENT:  Beauty Brand Turns A $5 Bar Soap Into A Multiple 6-Figure Business

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New Black Chamber CEO's priorities: Access to capital, securing contracts

business plan examples for entrepreneur

The new CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona is aiming to boost Black entrepreneurship by helping connect business owners to capital and growing the reach and advocacy of the organization.

Velma Trayham, CEO of Scottsdale-based Thinkzilla Consulting Group, was named president and CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona in mid-March, following the death of Robin Reed, who had served at the organization’s leader since 2016.

Trayham is also the founder of Millionaire Mastermind Academy, a nonprofit focused on growing diverse female entrepreneurship.

Trayham, who said she grew up in poverty, said her goal is to eliminate poverty through entrepreneurship.

At an event marking the beginning of her time as CEO, Trayham said she plans to build on some of the programs the Black Chamber was already using and create a hub for resources for Black business owners, which could be valuable for chambers of commerce around the state serving all types of businesses.

Trayham pointed out the Impact AZ program, which the Black Chamber and Trayham’s Millionaire Mastermind Academy have run for the past few years.

The program is a supplier readiness program that trains Black business owners to compete for contracts from other businesses and government organizations to grow their opportunities. In addition to continuing that training, she said she plans to expand the offerings to help businesses that are smaller and looking to grow and scale up.

Procurement and securing contracts are some of Trayham’s biggest goals for members of the Black Chamber, which can provide a way for them to scale while working with governments or corporations.

She also plans to meet with economic development directors from cities around the state to learn more about the small business resources and needs in each city, to inform the chamber’s advocacy.

Data collected from the State of Black Business report, done by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Black Chamber of Arizona, JP Morgan Chase and SRP, shows that Black-owned businesses still struggle with equitable access to capital, like loans or venture capital investment.

The Black Chamber will continue to focus on “capital readiness” to help businesses understand how to secure funding and understand the underwriting process, Trayham said. The organization will also grow a venture fund to help Black and minority entrepreneurs get funding and investment as they are getting started or growing.

The Black Chamber will also eventually have regular meetings for entrepreneurs that have a business idea but don’t know where to start.

“A lot of times people don’t know the opportunities that are available to them,” she said.  

Reach the reporter at   [email protected] . Follow her on X, formerly Twitter:   @CorinaVanek .

Entrepreneur: This Phoenix clothing designer is paving the way for Black artists. Here's how

Your employer can now match your student loan payments to your 401(k), but it may not be right for everyone

Affiliate links for the products on this page are from partners that compensate us (see our advertiser disclosure with our list of partners for more details). However, our opinions are our own. See how we rate student loans to write unbiased product reviews.

  • Getting free retirement funds from your employer is great, but it won't be useful for everyone.
  • Look into your employer's vesting schedule if you choose to use this benefit.
  • The CARES Act also allows employers to contribute to student loans, which may be better.

Insider Today

The Secure 2.0 Act brought about a new list of retirement plan rules when it was passed into law in December of 2022, although some of the legislative changes didn't go into effect until the beginning of 2024. This includes a new provision of the legislation that lets employers match funds into eligible retirement accounts based on employee payments on their student loans .

Employers who opt into this plan can consider an employee's student loan payment as the basis for an employer "match" into an eligible workplace retirement plan like a 401(k) , which paves the way for workers to pay down student debt and save for retirement at the same time.

But is this really a good idea? That may depend on who you ask and what the alternatives are, but experts agree there are upsides and serious downsides to consider for workers who receive this benefit.

Borrowers with limited funds can stretch their money further

Financial advisor Marcel Miu of Simplify Wealth Planning says that a significant advantage of getting student loan matching funds into a retirement account is the ability to build retirement savings even while focusing on paying down student debt.

This provision essentially allows workers to "double dip" with their student loan payments, he says, meaning they are paying off their loans while simultaneously growing their nest egg without having to split their limited financial resources between the two.

This can also be a motivational boost since the match could encourage employees to make student loan payments consistently since they're also receiving some benefits for retirement.

It's not a great deal for income-driven repayment plans

Millions of borrowers are repaying their federal student loans on income-driven repayment plans. These plans base student loan payments on income and family size, and there are many situations where borrowers with relatively low incomes qualify for a $0 monthly payment.

Take the new SAVE Plan from the Biden administration, for example, which has higher thresholds to qualify for a $0 monthly payment than other income-driven plans. According to the US Department of Education , 2.9 million borrowers who enrolled in this plan as of late last year were paying $0 monthly payments.

Workers who have a $0 monthly payment on student loans wouldn't qualify to receive matching funds to retirement through an employer with this provision in the Secure 2.0 Act.

They could, however, qualify for a traditional match on contributions to a workplace retirement plan if they save for retirement and their employer offers this benefit as an alternative.

Watch out for vesting schedules

Financial advisor Daniel Cieniewicz of Hyperion Financial says that not all employers have chosen to adopt this provision due to a lack of interest and complexity surrounding the law. And even among those that do, workers should watch out for vesting schedules and other requirements to receive their match.

Vesting percentages means the employer's contributions may require an employee to stay employed at the company in order to have the employer-contributed funds "vest," said the advisor.

"Otherwise, if an employee leaves prior to the funds vesting, the funds are forfeited back to the company."

Watch out for tax consequences

Student loan borrowers should also be aware of the tax consequences involved in accepting this benefit from an employer, whether good or bad. First off, Miu says that although student loan debt is paid with after-tax earnings, there is a student loan interest deduction.

"Student loan borrowers can deduct up to $2,500 in interest paid each year," he said.

Single borrowers with an  AGI under $75,000 are eligible for the full benefit, as are joint filers under $155,000. The ability to take this deduction phases out completely for single filers who earn $90,000 or more and married taxpayers filing jointly who earn $185,000 or more a year.

This means borrowers who make student loan payments may be able to deduct the interest they pay (up to the limits) each year, no matter what.

On the flip side of that, there are tax consequences that come with not contributing directly to a tax-advantaged retirement account like a 401(k). Cieniewicz points out that pre-tax retirement plan contributions lower an individual's adjusted gross income, thus saving on federal taxes.

"By making these contributions to a student loan rather than a retirement plan, you could be forfeiting this benefit," he said.

There are alternatives

While letting an employer match student loan payment amounts (or part of them) into an eligible workplace retirement plan can lead to getting "free money" and give you a boost toward retirement when you couldn't otherwise afford to save, there are other ways for employers to help out in this realm.

Specifically, Patricia Roberts of Gift of College says that employers can also make direct payments to student loans for their workers pursuant to the CARES Act and as extended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

"These permitted payments of up to $5,250 per employee , per year are fully tax-free to the employee on whose behalf they are made and can be made through December 31, 2025, unless extended by Congress," she said.

While offering this benefit wouldn't help workers save for retirement, it could help them get out from under the burden of crushing student loan debt considerably faster. With debt out of the way or at least under control, those employees may have more bandwidth to start saving for retirement on their own.

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Watch: Biden announces who can have $10,000 erased in student loans

business plan examples for entrepreneur

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Why DEI Still Matters for Small Businesses and Startups DEI shouldn't be just a buzzword.

By Murali Nethi • Mar 28, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • If you prioritize DEI and focus even a little each month on improvements, your business will be on the right track to attracting and keeping talent and customers for the long run.
  • Diverse perspectives produce more creative products, services and methods.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

All businesses want to succeed, but there is something many of them may not realize can support their growth. They say diversity is our strength as a society and encourages new ideas and perspectives. Well, I am here to tell you that the same things — diversity, equity and inclusion — can give businesses an edge. Some small company owners may think focusing on making sure their business and culture are unbiased, fair and welcoming to all types of people is just about being politically correct. Let's see how centering on these values — what I will call DEI for short — can truly help startups and smaller companies be stronger and more profitable over the long run.

Related: Prioritize DEI and Crush Your ROI Goals — How Inclusive and Authentic Marketing Drive Business Growth

Attracting top talent is getting more competitive

One big reason why DEI is important for small businesses is because attracting top talent is constantly becoming more competitive. Nowadays, when people, especially the younger generation, are looking for jobs, they do not just look at pay and benefits. They also want to work for companies whose values match their own . Top candidates may leave a small business or startup to work for organizations that value DEI; hence, the latter risk losing out on excellent applicants. As smaller businesses look to expand, having an inclusive culture and a diverse team can help them attract the most incredible talent available.

A better reflection of your customer base

Having a more diverse workforce can help you better understand and service a broad consumer base, which further motivates startups to focus on DEI. It will be more difficult for employees to relate to and address customers' demands from different backgrounds if they all have similar experiences. On the other hand, a diverse team of employees from various backgrounds may offer insightful advice on connecting with and pleasing clients from all backgrounds. More satisfied customers and growth prospects will follow from this.

Related: The Burden of Breaking Barriers is Pushing Black Leaders to Breaking Point. This DEI Expert Reveals Where We Are Going Wrong.

Improved creativity and innovation

Research repeatedly shows that having a varied group of people with different viewpoints, experiences and backgrounds fosters greater creativity and more creative problem-solving. A workplace where all views are heard can help spark innovative solutions that may not originate from a homogeneous group. This is beneficial for smaller companies and startups that are attempting to remain dynamic and come up with fresh ideas. Diverse perspectives produce more creative products, services and methods, essential for any expanding business.

Setting the right example for others

Even if your small business is just starting now, you can set the right example when it comes to DEI from the beginning. While some established companies may find it hard to change their culture , new startups can build inclusion into their foundations. Leading with strong DEI practices from day one allows you to attract like-minded customers, partners and investors who want to support companies demonstrating fairness and equality. It also prepares you to be a responsible community member and role model for positive change as your company succeeds.

Related: 4 Ways Inclusive Leaders Can Respond to the Weaponizing of DEI

Legal and regulatory compliance

Focusing on DEI for small businesses is also essential simply for legal and regulatory compliance reasons. As anti-discrimination laws and regulations continue to strengthen over time, companies of all sizes must ensure equitable policies and an inclusive culture. This reduces the risks of unfair treatment claims that can damage brands or result in lawsuits. Having defined DEI best practices and annual training shows that even a young company is operating ethically and by the law from the start.

Some practical ways small companies can improve DEI:

  • Commit from the top. The CEO and other top leaders must fully support and champion DEI from day one. They will need to communicate to all employees that promoting diversity and inclusiveness is a core value of the company. Leaders must provide the motivation and resources for DEI efforts to take root within the organization truly. When managers demonstrate their investment in these issues through their words and actions, it will encourage everyone else to get on board.
  • Support employee resource groups. Employee resource groups (ERGs) allow workers with shared backgrounds or life experiences to connect, raise awareness on issues impacting their communities, and advise company leaders. Small teams can sponsor one or two ERGs made up of volunteers. This allows employees to lead in promoting inclusion from peer to peer while getting necessary support and visibility from high levels.
  • Audit hiring and promotion practices. To address potential biases or inequities, small businesses must examine how they hire, develop and promote workers. Companies can review applicants and leadership demographics over the past few years. Do these numbers properly represent the diverse pools of talented individuals in their industry and community? Are there patterns indicating unfair barriers that held some groups back from equal opportunities? By reflecting on hiring metrics, businesses gain insight into whether implicit prejudices need addressing to establish a more just system open to all.

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  1. 9 Step Help You to Write the best business plan

  2. Business Plan Examples

  3. 📚 Entrepreneur's Business Plan guide🏅

  4. How to Write a Business Plan

  5. Business Plan Examples

  6. How to Write a Business Plan Episode 2

COMMENTS

  1. 7 Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own (2024)

    The business plan examples in this article follow this example template: Executive summary. An introductory overview of your business. Company description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your business and why it exists. Market analysis. Research-based information about the industry and your target market.

  2. 550+ Sample Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own

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

  3. 24 of My Favorite Sample Business Plans & Examples For Your Inspiration

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

  4. Simple Business Plan Template (2024)

    This section of your simple business plan template explores how to structure and operate your business. Details include the type of business organization your startup will take, roles and ...

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

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

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

    Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It's also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. After completing your plan, you can ...

  7. The 7 Best Business Plan Examples (2024)

    Marketing plan: A strategic outline of how you plan to market and promote your business before, during, and after your company launches into the market. Logistics and operations plan: An explanation of the systems, processes, and tools that are needed to run your business in the background. Financial plan: A map of your short-term (and even ...

  8. 3 Business Plan Examples

    An operating plan. This sketches out a business' trajectory for the next 12 to 24 months. The plan includes staffing, revenue, projections, inventory and other factors necessary to running a business. Operating plans should be updated constantly as the business and market evolve. A financial plan, which examines the business from a cash-flow ...

  9. How to Write a Business Plan

    Add in the company logo and a table of contents that follows the executive summary. 2. Executive summary. Think of the executive summary as the SparkNotes version of your business plan. It should ...

  10. Simple Business Plan Template for Entrepreneurs

    Simple Business Plan Template for Entrepreneurs. Follow This Business Plan Outline to Write Your Own. By. Susan Ward. Updated on October 13, 2022. Reviewed by. Thomas J. Catalano. Fact checked by Leila Najafi. In This Article.

  11. 11.4 The Business Plan

    There are also entrepreneurs who use the business plan earlier in the entrepreneurial process, either preceding or concurrently with a canvas. For instance, Chris Guillebeau has a one-page business plan template in his book The $100 Startup. 48 His version is basically an extension of a napkin sketch without the detail of a full business plan ...

  12. Business Plan Template: A Step-by-Step Guide For Entrepreneurs

    Operational Plan. This is your opportunity to organize and demonstrate your understanding of this industry and business. Include: Facilities and space needed. Technology needs. Equipment needs ...

  13. How To Write A Business Plan

    Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. The summary should tell the reader what you want. This is very important. All too often, what the ...

  14. Business Plan Examples: Mastering the Art of Entrepreneurial Planning

    One inspiring example is the business plan of a tech startup that revolutionized the healthcare industry. Their plan outlined a disruptive solution to streamline patient care, reduce costs, and improve outcomes. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and data analytics, this startup aimed to transform the way healthcare providers operate.

  15. 300+ Great Free Business Plan Examples for 2024

    300+ Business Plan Examples. Below you can choose from over 300 free business plan examples within numerous industries. You'll also learn the answers to key sample business plan questions and find tips on how to write your business plan. Finally, you'll see a full-length business plan sample. Rest assured that you're in good hands; over ...

  16. Business plan template for entrepreneurs

    Business strategy and planning Business continuity plan template. View more. We allow you to use these templates only as part of your business activities, but we do not guarantee that they fit your needs. Unfortunately, we do not offer any assistance. You are responsible for the content of the documents you create using these templates.

  17. Business Plan Examples [& How To Create Them In 2024]

    Simply, a business plan helps you with: 1. A Strategic Roadmap. A plan outlines your business goals and what actions you need to take to achieve them. Having this means that even when you get stuck in the weeds, you have a concrete set of goals and priorities to look at. 2.

  18. Business Plan

    Avalon_Studio | Getty Images. A business plan is a written description of your business's future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph ...

  19. Free editable and printable business plan templates

    That's why every entrepreneur—seasoned or novice alike—needs a business plan. ... Insert your branding onto your business plan template to make it your own. Choose the best fonts from our free and premium selections. Or add new elements such as high-resolution stock images, illustrations, and icons from our extensive media library. ...

  20. Corporate Entrepreneurship: Seven Steps To Build It in Your Company

    1. Determine your company's risk factor. Though corporate entrepreneurship brings in clear benefits, it also has some drawbacks. Enabling all employees to tackle side projects, for example, could raise costs and remove the focus from day-to-day work. Not to mention innovation and experimentation can end in failure.

  21. How To Define Your Target Market

    Compare Examples. To perfect your business plan further, look at examples of how well other companies do locally and globally in your industry. For instance, feminine product sellers tend to ...

  22. Sample- Business-PLAN

    Sample Business Plan mindanao state university iligan institute of technology college of business administration and accountancy department of marketing alibata. ... Entrepreneurship (Entrep 100) 8 Documents. Students shared 8 documents in this course. University Samar College. Academic year: 2021/2022. Uploaded by: MS. Megumin Sato.

  23. Business Plan Template

    Need a Business Plan Template? Here Is Apple's 1981 Plan for the Mac. If you want to write a business plan, Apple's plans for the Macintosh can help.

  24. 8 Lucrative Business Models For Entrepreneurs

    Let's explore eight diverse business models that are currently making waves in the entrepreneurial world: 1. The Subscription Model. The subscription model has been a rising star thanks to its ...

  25. New Black Chamber CEO Velma Trayham shares plan to grow group's reach

    0:55. The new CEO of the Black Chamber of Arizona is aiming to boost Black entrepreneurship by helping connect business owners to capital and growing the reach and advocacy of the organization ...

  26. I Survived a Performance Improvement Plan; PIP Made Me Better Worker

    Surviving a PIP not only let me keep my job but made me a better employee. Essay by Lexi Weber. Mar 24, 2024, 4:59 AM PDT. The author was a teacher who survived a performance improvement plan ...

  27. How Women Entrepreneurs Can Take Their Businesses to the Next Level

    Last fall, a Bank of America survey found that 45% of women business owners plan to expand their business in 2024. If your business is ready, the best way to start is to create a plan, set goals ...

  28. Your Employer Can Now Match Your Student Loan ...

    Employers who opt into this plan can consider an employee's student loan payment as the basis for an employer "match" into an eligible workplace retirement plan like a 401(k), which paves the way ...

  29. Why DEI Still Matters for Small Businesses

    Attracting top talent is getting more competitive. One big reason why DEI is important for small businesses is because attracting top talent is constantly becoming more competitive. Nowadays, when ...