Before you even start drafting your business plan, consider your target audience and plan objectives. While most business plans include common elements like sales estimates and marketing strategies, the structure of a business plan varies based on its audience and business type.

Plans also differ significantly in terms of length, level of information, and visual presentation. Plans that never leave the office and are only used for internal strategic planning and management may contain more casual language and may not have as much visual polish as plans that are utilized outside the office.

On the contrary, a strategy that is intended to land on the desk of a top venture capitalist will be well polished and will place a strong emphasis on the high-growth components of the business and the highly experienced team that is poised to deliver spectacular outcomes.

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What is a Business Plan?

In very simple words, a business plan is a blueprint—a framework for your company that highlights goals, details and the steps you intend to take to meet them.

You’ve probably already made a business plan, if you’ve ever scribbled down business ideas on the back of a napkin, along with a list of tasks you need to complete. At its most basic level, a business plan is simply a general plan for how your company will operate and how you intend to see it through to success.

If you believe that a business plan must be a lengthy, formal document, as if it were some kind of thesis, then you are living in the past. That is completely incorrect. 

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If you do necessitate a formal business plan document, then you will need to include elements such as the following:

  • An overview/summary
  • A synopsis of the company
  • Information about your products and/or services 
  • Your marketing strategy 
  • A  list of dates that are significant to your company (e.g: milestones)
  • Some background information on each member of your team, as well as their positions within the organization.
  • Specifics about your company’s financial strategy

Note: These are referred to as the “sections” or “chapters” of the business plan in some circles.

Why is it Important?

If you’re serious about your business, making thorough plans is critical to your long-term success. When you’re embarking on a significant endeavor that is likely to consume a significant amount of time, money, and resources, you’ll want to put together a business plan to guide you through the process.

Unfortunately, many people believe that business plans are only necessary when starting a new company or applying for a bank loan. However, business plans are also necessary for running a business (strategic planning), regardless of whether the company requires new loans or new investments. Existing businesses should have business plans that they keep up to date and update as market conditions change and as new opportunities present themselves to them.

Every business has long- and short-term objectives, sales targets, and expense budgets; a business plan incorporates all of these elements and is equally useful to a startup looking to raise capital as it is to a 10-year-old company looking to expand its customer base and revenue.

Useful Business Plan Templates for Building Your Business


There is no right or wrong way to go about writing business plans.  The most important thing is that your plan meets your requirements.

There are two types of business plans that are commonly seen in the marketplace: the traditional and the lean startup.

Traditional business plans are more common; they follow a standard structure and encourage you to go into greater detail in each section of your plan. In general, they require more preparation up front and can be dozens of pages in length.

Lean startup business plans are less common than traditional business plans, but they also follow a standard structure. They are concerned with summarizing only the most important points of the most important elements of your plan, rather than the entire plan. They can be completed in as little as one hour and are typically only one page in length.

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Traditional Business Plan 

  • Executive Summary – Explain briefly to your reader what your company is and why you believe it will be a success. Include your company’s mission statement, your product or service, as well as basic information about your company’s leadership team, employees, and geographic location.
  • Company Description – Make use of your company description to provide precise information about your organization. Go into specifics about the problems that your company resolves. Make a list of the consumers, organizations, and businesses that your company intends to serve, and be specific in your description.
  • Market Analysis – You’ll need to have a solid grasp of your industry’s outlook as well as your target market. You can learn about other businesses’ strategies and strengths by conducting competitive research on their activities. In your market research, keep an eye out for emerging trends and themes.
  • Organization and Management – An organizational chart can be used to clearly illustrate who is in charge of what in your company. Demonstrate how each individual’s unique experience will contribute to the overall success of your venture. Consider including the resumes and CVs of key members of your team in your presentation materials.
  • Funding Request – If you’re looking for financial assistance, this is where you’ll highlight that. Your objective is to explain how much funding you will require over the next five years, as well as what you intend to do with it. Include details such as whether you want debt or equity, the terms you’d like to be applied, etc. Provide a thorough explanation of how you intend to use your funds.
  • Financial Projections – Financial projections should be provided in support of your funding request. In order to be successful, you must prove that your company is stable. If your company is already established, you should include financial statements such as: income statements, balance sheets, etc. If you have any other assets that you could use as collateral for a loan, make sure to list them now.
  • Appendix – This part is where you include any other supporting documents and materials that have been specifically requested by the client. Credit histories, resumes, product photographs, letters of recommendation, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts are usually what’s put in here.

Lean Startup Business Plan

  • Key Partnerships – Make a list of the other businesses or services you’ll be collaborating with in order to run your business. Consider strategic partners such as suppliers, manufacturers, subcontractors, and other similar organizations.
  • Key Activities – Make a list of the ways in which your company will gain a competitive advantage. Things to emphasize include selling directly to consumers and leveraging technology to participate in the sharing economy.
  • Value proposition – Produce a succinct and compelling statement about the distinct value your company brings to the marketplace.
  • Relationships with Customers –  Describe the manner of how customers will interact with your company. Is it a computer-generated or a human-generated response? Do you prefer to meet in person or online? Make a thorough analysis of the customer experience from beginning to end.
  • Customer segments – Remember to be specific when identifying your target market. Because your business will not be for everyone, it is critical to establish a clear understanding of who your business will serve.
  • Channel – Make a list of the most important ways in which you will communicate with your customers. The majority of businesses employ a variety of channels, which they refine over time.
  • Costing and pricing structure –  Will your company’s primary focus be on cost reduction or value maximization? Define your strategy, and then make a list of the most significant expenses you’ll incur as a result of pursuing it.
  • Various sources of income – Explain how your company will generate revenue in the real world. Direct sales, membership fees, and the sale of advertising space are all examples of business models. Make a list of all of your company’s revenue streams if it has more than one.

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