Can you remember a time when a plan helped you reach a personal goal?

Business plans work the same way.

A business plan helps business owners define their goals and how to achieve them.

A business plan may also be a tool for attracting investors.

Most business plans share a similar outline.

Table of contents for business plan

1. Executive Summary

The Executive Summary distills the essential information about your business into one page or less. Although the Executive Summary comes first in your plan, write it last. This will allow you to pull information from all the other sections making sure there are no inconsistencies.

Animated purple and red text reading,

Your Executive Summary should include your unique value proposition. This is the thing that makes your product or service different — and better! — from the competition. Try this format:

 [Your target market] is dissatisfied with [these current solutions]. [Your product or service] solves this problem with its [unique key features].

Quiz

What's the best way to write an effective Executive Summary?

2. Company Overview

Mission Statement

In one sentence or a brief paragraph, explain what motivates you and why your business exists.

History 

The history of your company includes its founding date, milestones, location, number of employees, and major products or services.

Objectives

Business objectives are the goals that guide you. They should be SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound.

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3. Market Analysis And Competitive Analysis

Laptop screen showing pie, bar, and line graphs with hands typing on keyboard. Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash

Market Analysis

Describe your ideal customer or “target market.” Provide demographic information like age, gender, location, income, education, or job. Then include facts about the target market's actual and potential size.

Competitive Analysis

What sets you apart from your competitors? 

Identify other companies that currently sell to your target market and explain how you're different. You might want to compare your prices or marketing strategies, for instance.

Quiz

Sohini is comparing her product with a competitor's in the Competitive Analysis section of her business plan. What might she compare?

4. Product Or Service

Describe your product or service in more detail and prove it is better than its competition.

Benefits 😀

What are the unique features, advantages for the customer, or intellectual property rights or any patents that protect your unique proposition?

Production Process 🚚

How do you create or assemble products, source raw materials, or otherwise manage operations?

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5. Marketing And Sales Plan

Explain how you'll attract and keep customers.

Are you planning a launch? Do you have strategies — like customer loyalty or referral programs — to keep customers? What are your advertising and marketing campaign plans?

Which advertising and promotion channels will you use?

  • social media 👍🏽

  • print 🗞

  • television 📺

  • word of mouth 👄

  • something else ❓

6. Financial Plan

Provide a budget and future projections. Future projections are especially important if you're a new business and don’t have at least three years of reporting to share. You may include...

  • profit and loss statements

  • cash flow statements

  • balance sheets

  • income statements

Quiz

The Financial Plan section of your business plan...

7. Organization And Management

Provide the names and titles of key people in your business. Illustrate how they'll drive the business’s success by highlighting their expertise and qualifications. 

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This Byte has been authored by

CB

Carolyn Black

Freelance writer and editor for education