18 Best Sample Business Plans & Examples to Help You Write Your Own

Clifford Chi

Published: December 01, 2022

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Reading sample business plans is essential when you’re writing your own. As you explore business plan examples from real companies and brands, you’ll learn how to write one that gets your business off on the right foot, convinces investors to provide funding, and ensures your venture is sustainable for the long term.

Business plan sample: Image shows a hand writing a plan and a notepad.

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But what does a business plan look like? And how do you write one that is viable and convincing? Let's review the ideal business plan formal, then take a look at business plan samples you can use to inspire your own.

Business Plan Format

Ask any successful sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you they have a unique plan for every single game. The same logic applies to business. If you want to build a thriving company that can pull ahead of the competition, you need to prepare for battle before breaking into a market.

Business plans guide you along the rocky journey of growing a company. Referencing one will keep you on the path toward success. And if your business plan is compelling enough, it can also convince investors to give you funding.

With so much at stake, you might be wondering, "Where do I start? How should I format this?"

Typically, a business plan is a document that will detail how a company will achieve its goals.

Fill out the form to get your free template.

Most business plans include the following sections:

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is arguably the most important section of the entire business plan. Essentially, it's the overview or introduction, written in a way to grab readers' attention and guide them through the rest of the business plan (which may be dozens or hundreds of pages long).

Most executive summaries include:

However, many of these topics will be covered in more detail later on in the business plan, so keep the executive summary clear and brief, including only the most important take-aways.

If you’re planning to start or expand a small business, preparing a business plan is still very crucial. The plan should include all the major factors of your business. You can check out this small business pdf to get an idea of how to create one for your business.

business plan sample: Executive Summary Example
  • What demographics will most likely need/buy your product or service?
  • What are the psychographics of this audience? (Desires, triggering events, etc.)
  • Why are your offerings valuable to them?

It can be helpful to build a buyer persona to get in the mindset of your ideal customers and be crystal clear on why you're targeting them.

5. Marketing Strategy

Here, you'll discuss how you'll acquire new customers with your marketing strategy. You might consider including information on:

  • The brand positioning vision and how you'll cultivate it
  • The goal targets you aim to achieve
  • The metrics you'll use to measure success
  • The channels and distribution tactics you'll use

It can help to already have a marketing plan built out to help you inform this component of your business plan.

6. Key Features and Benefits

At some point in your business plan, you'll review the key features and benefits of your products and/or services. Laying these out can give readers an idea of how you're positioning yourself in the market and the messaging you're likely to use . It can even help them gain better insight into your business model.

7. Pricing and Revenue

This is where you'll discuss your cost structure and various revenue streams. Your pricing strategy must be solid enough to turn a profit while staying competitive in the industry. For this reason, you might outline:

  • The specific pricing breakdowns per product or service
  • Why your pricing is higher or lower than your competition's
  • (If higher) Why customers would be willing to pay more
  • (If lower) How you're able to offer your products or services at a lower cost
  • When you expect to break even, what margins do you expect, etc?

8. Financials

This section is particularly informative for investors and leadership teams to determine funding strategies, investment opportunities, etc. According to Forbes , you'll want to include three main things:

  • Profit/Loss Statement - This answers the question of whether your business is currently profitable.
  • Cash Flow Statement - This details exactly how much cash is incoming and outgoing to provide insight into how much cash a business has on hand.
  • Balance Sheet - This outlines assets, liabilities, and equity, which gives insight into how much a business is worth.

While some business plans might include more or less information, these are the key details you'll want to include.

Keep in mind that each of these sections will be formatted differently. Some may be in paragraph format, while others will be in charts.

Sample Business Plan Templates

Now that you know what's included and how to format a business plan, let's review some templates.

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

Download a free, editable one-page business plan template..

The business plan linked above was created here at HubSpot and is perfect for businesses of any size — no matter how many strategies we still have to develop.

Fields such as Company Description, Required Funding, and Implementation Timeline gives this one-page business plan a framework for how to build your brand and what tasks to keep track of as you grow. Then, as the business matures, you can expand on your original business plan with a new iteration of the above document.

Why We Like It

This one-page business plan is a fantastic choice for the new business owner who doesn’t have the time or resources to draft a full-blown business plan. It includes all the essential sections in an accessible, bullet-point-friendly format. That way, you can get the broad strokes down before honing in on the details.

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

One of the major business expenses is marketing. How you handle your marketing reflects your company’s revenue. We included this business plan to show you how you can ensure your marketing team is aligned with your overall business plan to get results. The plan also shows you how to track even the smallest metrics of your campaigns, like ROI and payback periods instead of just focusing on big metrics like gross and revenue.

Fintech startup, LiveFlow, allows users to sync real-time data from its accounting services, payment platforms, and banks into custom reports. This eliminates the task of pulling reports together manually, saving teams time and helping automate workflows.

When it came to including marketing strategy into its business plan, LiveFlow created a separate marketing profit and loss statement (P&L) to track how well the company was doing with its marketing initiatives. This is a great approach, allowing businesses to focus on where their marketing dollars are making the most impact.

“Using this framework over a traditional marketing plan will help you set a profitable marketing strategy taking things like CAC, LTV, Payback period, and P&L into consideration,” explains LiveFlow co-founder, Lasse Kalkar .

Having this information handy will enable you to build out your business plan’s marketing section with confidence. LiveFlow has shared the template here . You can test it for yourself.

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

This fictional business plan for an art supply store includes everything one might need in a business plan: an executive summary, a company summary, a list of services, a market analysis summary, and more. Due to its comprehensiveness, it’s an excellent example to follow if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store and need to get external funding to start your business .

One of its most notable sections is its market analysis summary, which includes an overview of the population growth in the business’ target geographical area, as well as a breakdown of the types of potential customers they expect to welcome at the store. This sort of granular insight is essential for understanding and communicating your business’s growth potential. Plus, it lays a strong foundation for creating relevant and useful buyer personas .

It’s essential to keep this information up-to-date as your market and target buyer changes. For that reason, you should carry out market research as often as possible to ensure that you’re targeting the correct audience and sharing accurate information with your investors.

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

If you’re looking for a SaaS business plan example, look no further than this business plan for a fictional educational software company called Curriculum Companion Suites. Like the business plan for the NALB Creative Center, it includes plenty of information for prospective investors and other key stakeholders in the business.

One of the most notable features of this business plan is the executive summary, which includes an overview of the product, market, and mission. The first two are essential for software companies because the product offering is so often at the forefront of the company’s strategy. Without that information being immediately available to investors and executives, then you risk writing an unfocused business plan.

It’s also essential to front-load your company’s mission if it explains your “Why?” In other words, why do you do what you do, and why should stakeholders care? This is an important section to include if you feel that your mission will drive interest in the business and its offerings.

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

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How to Conduct a Monthly Business Plan Review Meeting

Posted june 21, 2021 by noah parsons.

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Most people think that meetings are a waste of time. They’re right.

The fact is, too many meetings are run poorly, have no real objective, and waste employees’ time — which kills productivity.

I absolutely encourage you to be ruthless in your pursuit of fewer and more efficient meetings. There’s tons of advice out there on how to run better meetings and cut down on useless touch bases that waste time and make your organization move slower.

For example, here at Palo Alto Software , we’ve found one meeting that is simply indispensable. It only takes an hour each month, keeps the management team up to speed on everything that’s going on in the company, and helps us plan and manage in a quick and effective way .

This meeting is our monthly plan review meeting. 

What is a plan review meeting?

A monthly review meeting is a time for you and your team to review current progress against your ideal performance. This one-to-two-hour meeting should be spent dissecting parts of your strategy, reviewing financials, and making adjustments based on overall performance. It has been a fixture of our management strategy for years and is simply one of the most effective ways for us to continue to grow the company and adjust our course as necessary.

For us, business planning isn’t just a one-time or annual event. Instead, it’s an ongoing process where we are constantly reviewing and adjusting course as necessary while ensuring that we’re staying on track toward our larger goals .

Why is it important to conduct a monthly plan review?

Every business of any size can benefit from a calculated time to stop, review and revise. When done correctly, this meeting can help you focus on what’s vital for your company, identify what data you need to accurately measure it and how to best present and review these results. Additionally, your monthly plan review process can help your business in the following ways.

Commits your business to learn and act

It can become very easy to let operations and processes become stagnant and standard. Without a regular performance review, any potential problems may remain to fester well beyond when they are first identified. You don’t want to waste company time and resources on things that are ineffective, but it’s difficult to change course without first processing it.

By setting aside this monthly time, it provides the opportunity to commit to learning and adjusting anything and everything. This isn’t based on off-hand information but on solid information and data that helps you identify and evaluate what’s most important for your business. 

Engages individuals across your entire business

Depending on how you present this meeting, it has the potential to pull in greater insight from across your business. Whether you’re sharing information company-wide or sticking with select leaders from each department, it immediately expands the scope of expertise. 

The more that every leader and employee knows what’s going on with everyone else, the better you can align and produce effective goals . It also provides the opportunity to identify potential solutions or issues from outside your core team’s responsibilities. Maybe your product team sees a potential gap in your marketing messaging. Or someone in HR sees a potential work/life balance misalignment in the sales team. None of this would come to life without a core review meeting like this.

Influences better business conversations

Engaging more people across your business and providing more detailed information typically leads to more fruitful conversations outside the core meeting. Yes, the meeting itself is vital for actively reviewing and adjusting your strategy at the moment. However, this information being top of mind means that potential issues or innovations will be dealt with outside of the planning meeting. This is due to your employees having a clear direction to reference in the day-to-day. They know the strategy and data are up-to-date and that it serves as a north star for their own projects and initiatives.

How to run an effective monthly plan review meeting

We treat planning not as a document, but as a management tool that helps guide decisions and strategy. It’s this mindset that helps our team run these monthly meetings successfully. We have a strategy in place, steps to walk through and key objectives we expect to find.

Here’s a quick overview of how we structure our monthly plan review meetings and what’s worked well for us over the years. 

1. Review your financial statements

We always start with the numbers first . How did we do last month compared to our forecast ? How did we do compared to the same month last year? What does our year-to-date performance look like?

What financial statements to review

Ideally, you’ll have the opportunity to review all relevant monthly financial statements. At a minimum, you should review your Profit and Loss Statement , Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement . These will provide a high-level overview of your financial position and help identify any obvious anomalies. If possible, it’s valuable to look at these all together through a business dashboard , that way you can immediately start making connections.

With that top-level exploration in mind, you can then start looking into your budget, financial forecast scenarios, and any specific elements that may seem relevant. This may include things like your expense categories, accounts receivable/payable payment schedules, etc. 

Look beyond top-line performance

We always spend time drilling into the numbers, beyond the top-line revenue and expenses to better understand what the drivers were behind our performance. Did all product lines perform well? Or did some underperform? Did we spend as planned or were there some areas that we overspent in?

Most importantly, we review our cash position and cash flow . Did we collect money as planned? What does our cash flow forecast look like for the next few months?

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There are benefits to looking at financials together

While financial reports can be reviewed outside of a meeting, reviewing them together as a team encourages questions and discussion around our revenue and spending. It also helps you uncover specific issues or opportunities that you may miss on your own. And of course, gives everyone a voice to determine the next steps for the company as well as their specific teams.

Of course, we use LivePlan to review our numbers because it’s much easier than drilling through exported reports from QuickBooks . But if you’re not ready to make that jump, you can always start out with a simple cash flow template in Excel.

Screen Shot 2021 06 21 at 10.51.20 AM

2. Reevaluate your milestones

Once we review our financial performance, we review our “ major milestones ”—the big tasks we had hoped to get done in the past month and our plans for the next month.

We discuss how various teams might be working with each other on different projects and talk about the specific milestones that we have planned. Are these still the tactics that we want to work on that will help achieve our goals? Do we need to shift priorities? Is there new learning and information that would have us change our schedule?

By reviewing major initiatives on a monthly basis, we can stay agile and make changes as needed. That’s also why we review them after parsing through our financials, to determine if our current milestones should still be a priority. As we learn more about our customers and our market , we might shift strategies and develop new milestones .

monthly planning meeting

3. Review your long-term goals and strategy

Next, we review our long-term strategic goals. While this doesn’t change too often in our situation as an established company, new startups might shift their strategy frequently as they search for a business model that works.

For those early-stage startups, this step of the meeting may be the most important step and often takes the longest. For more established companies, this part of the meeting might typically only take a few minutes. This is where having a brief and functional business plan can really help speed up the process.

Instead of delving deep into a 40-page business plan document to review our strategy, we review our our one-page business plan (in LivePlan, it’s called the Pitch ). It covers our company identity, the core problem we solve for our customers, our solution, competition , and sales and marketing strategy . It’s all on one page so it’s easy to read, review, and change quickly .

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4. Provide time to discuss any company issues

Finally, anyone on the team can bring forward any issues that they want to discuss. This could include new opportunities to consider, prioritization of product features, potential partnerships, or internal HR issues.

Everything is fair game and we try to come up with resolutions and next steps for any issue that’s brought up.

We’ve found that this type of open-ended discussion really helps generate new ideas and brings different perspectives from managers of different teams.

5. Set meeting guidelines

I believe that all companies would benefit from a monthly review of their business. These types of meetings keep everyone on the same page, help share information about progress, and turn planning into a tool that helps teams make informed decisions. 

But in order to run these monthly meetings successfully, you’ll need to do some preliminary work to keep you and your team on track. Here are three tips to successfully establish your monthly business plan review.

Put the meeting on the calendar

It’s important to make it a formal event that’s on the schedule. It can’t be optional and it has to be at a regular time so that everyone always knows when the meeting is.

For us, we started out with the meeting on the 3rd Thursday of every month. As our bookkeeping and accounting processes have become more efficient, we’ve been able to move our meeting to the 2nd Friday of the month.

Follow a repeatable agenda

While different topics will come up for discussion, it’s important that your plan review meeting has a repeatable agenda. Not only does it provide structure, but it gives your team specific action items to review beforehand.

That means making sure that you have your numbers ready for review and that your team has updates on their goals. Try to set time limits for each section if you can, and overestimate the length of the meeting with the full intention of finishing earlier than planned. This part will be a continuous work in progress and you and your team will gradually improve your efficiency with each subsequent meeting.

Be prepared to change the plan

These plan review meetings aren’t just about staying the course and blindly following the plan. Instead, they are about adjusting the plan. Perhaps you’ll discover that you should be investing more in marketing, or that you’re going to be able to expand and hire faster than you originally planned.

The plan review meeting is about making adjustments to your goals and strategies based on what you’ve discovered in the past month.

Use your monthly plan review to redefine how you do meetings

Keep in mind that running your meetings more successfully won’t just happen overnight. It takes time to develop a structure that works best for you and your team. As I outlined in this article, the best place to start your meeting restructure is with your monthly plan review meeting.

It’s a necessary review that can be consistently repeated, refined, and adjusted, which makes it the perfect testing ground for a new system. 

Editors’ Note: This article was originally written in 2018 and updated for 2021.

Noah Parsons

Noah Parsons

Posted in management.

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Operational & financial planning.

  • Your Business Check Up: Annual Business Plan Review

Have you done a business check up lately? Make time to review your progress and plan for success in the coming year.

Annual business plan reviews.

The business plan and goal setting that you completed as part of the application process will be a critical tool as you begin to build your business. This enables you to gauge your progress and to take corrective action when things don’t go according to plan.

As you approach the end of your first year in the program, we recommend a comprehensive business plan review. Be prepared to invest between one and five hours in your review and planning. At the end of the review you will have refocused, prioritized and planned for success in the coming year.

We have captured some best practice thinking around business reviews below:

  • Don’t be too concerned about getting it perfect – your plan may need to be revised over time to account for changing conditions. It’s better to have a completed plan with a few flaws than no plan at all.
  • Identify anticipated obstacles and how you expect to overcome these challenges. Be prepared – foresight can save you time, money and headaches.
  • Include a monthly one-year cash flow projection – this is the easiest way to measure your actual progress.
  • Be realistic, not optimistic when estimating sales and costs. Determine a worst case scenario and how it might impact your business.
  • Focus primarily on the next year – long term projections serve to provide direction but are rarely accurate.

Below you’ll find the Business Plan Review Template. You can also download it by clicking the ‘download tool’ button above. For your convenience we also provide a Financial Review Template that can be used in the planning process.

Prior to writing or revising your business plan for the upcoming year, remember to spend an adequate amount of time reflecting on the progress you made on the previous year’s plan.

Finally, engage your mentor to improve the quality of your plan. Invite him or her to ask challenging questions and suggest specific ways to enhance the plan.

Business Plan Review Template

Use this tool to support your business plan review and planning process. Simply make notes on progress to previous goals and identify your focus for the upcoming year.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis can help you understand how your business is positioned in relation to the market and your competitors, and thus provides verification of strategic/competitive analysis.

By carefully evaluating your business before creating next year’s business plan, you can start to craft a strategy that helps you distinguish yourself from your competitors. Create an overview of your business today by thinking through the questions to complete the chart below.

Evaluate Business Plan Components

Use the following evaluation criteria to further assess the key areas of your business plan and ongoing development. Remember: Simply make notes on progress to previous goals and identify your focus for the upcoming year.

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business plan review example

500+ Free business plan examples

500+ Free Sample Business Plans

Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 500 free real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries to guide you through writing your own plan. If you're looking for an intuitive tool that walks you through the plan writing process, we recommend LivePlan . It includes many of these same SBA-approved business plan examples and is especially useful when applying for a bank loan or outside investment.

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Example business plan format

Before you start exploring our library of business plan examples, it's worth taking the time to understand the traditional business plan format . You'll find that the plans in this library and most investor-approved business plans will include the following sections:

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally only one to two pages. You should also plan to write this section last after you've written your full business plan.

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, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).

Products & services

The products & services chapter of your business plan is where the real meat of your plan lives. It includes information about the problem that you're solving, your solution, and any traction that proves that it truly meets the need you identified.

This is your chance to explain why you're in business and that people care about what you offer. It needs to go beyond a simple product or service description and get to the heart of why your business works and benefits your customers.

Market analysis

Conducting a market analysis ensures that you fully understand the market that you're entering and who you'll be selling to. This section is where you will showcase all of the information about your potential customers. You'll cover your target market as well as information about the growth of your market and your industry. Focus on outlining why the market you're entering is viable and creating a realistic persona for your ideal customer base.


Part of defining your opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage may be. To do this effectively you need to get to know your competitors just as well as your target customers. Every business will have competition, if you don't then you're either in a very young industry or there's a good reason no one is pursuing this specific venture.

To succeed, you want to be sure you know who your competitors are, how they operate, necessary financial benchmarks, and how you're business will be positioned. Start by identifying who your competitors are or will be during your market research. Then leverage competitive analysis tools like the competitive matrix and positioning map to solidify where your business stands in relation to the competition.

Marketing & sales

The marketing and sales plan section of your business plan details how you plan to reach your target market segments. You'll address how you plan on selling to those target markets, what your pricing plan is, and what types of activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success.

The operations section covers the day-to-day workflows for your business to deliver your product or service. What's included here fully depends on the type of business. Typically you can expect to add details on your business location, sourcing and fulfillment, use of technology, and any partnerships or agreements that are in place.

Milestones & metrics

The milestones section is where you lay out strategic milestones to reach your business goals.

A good milestone clearly lays out the parameters of the task at hand and sets expectations for its execution. You'll want to include a description of the task, a proposed due date, who is responsible, and eventually a budget that's attached. You don't need extensive project planning in this section, just key milestones that you want to hit and when you plan to hit them.

You should also discuss key metrics, which are the numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common data points worth tracking include conversion rates, customer acquisition costs, profit, etc.

Company & team

Use this section to describe your current team and who you need to hire. If you intend to pursue funding, you'll need to highlight the relevant experience of your team members. Basically, this is where you prove that this is the right team to successfully start and grow the business. You will also need to provide a quick overview of your legal structure and history if you're already up and running.

Financial projections

Your financial plan should include a sales and revenue forecast, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. You may not have established financials of any kind at this stage. Not to worry, rather than getting all of the details ironed out, focus on making projections and strategic forecasts for your business. You can always update your financial statements as you begin operations and start bringing in actual accounting data.

Now, if you intend to pitch to investors or submit a loan application, you'll also need a "use of funds" report in this section. This outlines how you intend to leverage any funding for your business and how much you're looking to acquire. Like the rest of your financials, this can always be updated later on.

The appendix isn't a required element of your business plan. However, it is a useful place to add any charts, tables, definitions, legal notes, or other critical information that supports your plan. These are often lengthier or out-of-place information that simply didn't work naturally into the structure of your plan. You'll notice that in these business plan examples, the appendix mainly includes extended financial statements.

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

Business model canvas

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

The structure ditches a linear format in favor of a cell-based template. It encourages you to build connections between every element of your business. It's faster to write out and update, and much easier for you, your team, and anyone else to visualize your business operations.

One-page business plan

The true middle ground between the business model canvas and a traditional business plan is the one-page business plan . This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business.

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

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's 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, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.

It holds all of the benefits of the single-page plan, including the potential to complete it in as little as 27 minutes . However, it's even easier to convert into a more detailed plan thanks to how heavily it's tied to your financials. The overall goal of growth planning isn't to just produce documents that you use once and shelve. Instead, the growth planning process helps you build a healthier company that thrives in times of growth and remain stable through times of crisis.

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

Download a free sample business plan template

Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2023.

This simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template is designed to make planning easy. It's a proven format that has helped over 1 million businesses write business plans for bank loans, funding pitches, business expansion, and even business sales. It includes additional instructions for how to write each section and is formatted to be SBA-lender approved. All you need to do is fill in the blanks.

How to use an example business plan to help you write your own

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How do you know what elements need to be included in your business plan, especially if you've never written one before? Looking at examples can help you visualize what a full, traditional plan looks like, so you know what you're aiming for before you get started. Here's how to get the most out of a sample business plan.

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

You don't need to find an example business plan that's an exact fit for your business. Your business location, target market, and even your particular product or service may not match up exactly with the plans in our gallery. But, you don't need an exact match for it to be helpful. Instead, look for a plan that's related to the type of business you're starting.

For example, if you want to start a vegetarian restaurant, a plan for a steakhouse can be a great match. While the specifics of your actual startup will differ, the elements you'd want to include in your restaurant's business plan are likely to be very similar.

Use a business plan example as a guide

Every startup and small business is unique, so you'll want to avoid copying an example business plan word for word. It just won't be as helpful, since each business is unique. You want your plan to be a useful tool for starting a business —and getting funding if you need it.

One of the key benefits of writing a business plan is simply going through the process. When you sit down to write, you'll naturally think through important pieces, like your startup costs, your target market , and any market analysis or research you'll need to do to be successful.

You'll also look at where you stand among your competition (and everyone has competition), and lay out your goals and the milestones you'll need to meet. Looking at an example business plan's financials section can be helpful because you can see what should be included, but take them with a grain of salt. Don't assume that financial projections for a sample company will fit your own small business.

If you're looking for more resources to help you get started, our business planning guide is a good place to start. You can also download our free business plan template , or get started right away with LivePlan .

Think of business planning as a process, instead of a document

Think about business planning as something you do often , rather than a document you create once and never look at again. If you take the time to write a plan that really fits your own company, it will be a better, more useful tool to grow your business. It should also make it easier to share your vision and strategy so everyone on your team is on the same page.

Adjust your plan regularly to use it as a business management tool

Keep in mind that businesses that use their plan as a management tool to help run their business grow 30 percent faster than those businesses that don't. For that to be true for your company, you'll think of a part of your business planning process as tracking your actual results against your financial forecast on a regular basis.

If things are going well, your plan will help you think about how you can re-invest in your business. If you find that you're not meeting goals, you might need to adjust your budgets or your sales forecast. Either way, tracking your progress compared to your plan can help you adjust quickly when you identify challenges and opportunities—it's one of the most powerful things you can do to grow your business.

Prepare to pitch your business

If you're planning to pitch your business to investors or seek out any funding, you'll need a pitch deck to accompany your business plan. A pitch deck is designed to inform people about your business. You want your pitch deck to be short and easy to follow, so it's best to keep your presentation under 20 slides.

Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.

With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples. Or for a modern pitch solution that helps you create a business plan and pitch deck side-by-side, you may want to check out LivePlan . It will help you build everything needed for outside investment and to better manage your business.

Get LivePlan in your classroom

Are you an educator looking for real-world business plan examples for your students? With LivePlan, you give your students access to industry-best business plans and help them set goals and track metrics with spreadsheet-free financial forecasts. All of this within a single tool that includes additional instructional resources that work seamlessly alongside your current classroom setup.

With LivePlan, it's not just a classroom project. It's your students planning for their futures. Click here to learn more about business planning for students .

Ready to get started?

Now that you know how to use an example business plan to help you write a plan for your business, it's time to find the right one.

Use the search bar below to get started and find the right match for your business idea.

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Top 10 Monthly Business Review Templates with Samples and Examples

Top 10 Monthly Business Review Templates with Samples and Examples

Mohammed Sameer


Every business is a close-knit web of processes.

When shorn of all the hype or the unwarranted negativity, even the biggest businesses are, essentially, about processes and people working together. 

The processes are perfected over time. For this to happen, however, the management must get an idea of the things that aren’t going according to plan, and why. Finding these loopholes is often tricky. It necessitates undivided attention and a sharp eye to spot an error in business processes. 

This blog highlights the monthly business review templates that build upon extensive research and analysis. Using these PPT Templates, the management of the companies can analyze the situation and draft a new process or tweak already established ways of going about things.

Must-Have Monthly Business Review Templates

A monthly business analysis template or business review template saves users significant time when creating BIA (Business Impact Analysis) plans. Using it, strategies are implemented as planned because the POA (Plan of Action) is clearly defined in such templates.

Template 1: Monthly Review PPT Template

Monthly business reviews can be challenging. With our predesigned PPT Template, you can:

Download it now.

Monthly Review PPT Template

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Template 2: Four-point Agenda for Quarterly Business Review PPT Template

This Quarterly Business Review PowerPoint Design is a must-have tool in your arsenal. It breaks down the process into four-point agenda that covers the nitty-gritty of a methodical business review. It explains the KPIs, compares the actual performance against set goals, helps you think from the customer's perspective, and keep him/her happy. Get it now.

Four Point Agenda for Quarterly Business Review Meeting PPT Template

Grab this template

Template 3: Monthly Business Review Showing Marketing Performance

Use this PPT Framework to analyze your website’s performance for the last 30 days concerning social media engagement, leads, and conversions. This content-ready PPT Template is completely editable, and you can use it to perform your business’ monthly review with just a few clicks. Grab it now.

Company XYZ Monthly Business Review Showing Marketing Performance Dashboard PPT Template

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Template 4: Monthly Project Accomplishment PPT Framework

Present your monthly project accomplishment report without breaking a sweat using this template. It has dedicated sections for project health and timeline. Project health highlights progress and task status, while the timeline emphasizes pending actions and decisions. This template helps ensure your project progress is steady. Download it now.

Monthly Project Accomplishment Business Report PPT Template

Template 5: Monthly Business Review Showing Revenue and Expense Breakdown

Revenue is the bloodline of a business and is the doorway to exponential business growth. For that to happen, you need our monthly business review showing revenue and expenses to help structure your next action plan. Track whether you are on the right path with this template. Grab it now.

Monthly Business Review Showing Revenue & Expense Breakdown PPT Template

Template 6: Three-Month Business Process Review and Improvement Roadmap

Deploy our three-month business process review PPT Template and communicate your vision and lay a firm ground for your audience. This slide assists in aligning processes, defining goals, and thoughtfully planning and building solutions that assist businesses in achieving actual growth. Get it now! 

Three Months Business Process Review and Improvement Roadmap PPT Template

Template 7: Monthly Business Review PPT Slides

Use our ready-to-use template to create an accurate representation of your business health. This complete deck will provide you with detailed information on financial performance, client and project updates, and so on. Get impactful insights into your business performance with our complete deck. Download now!

Monthly Business Review PPT Template

Template 8: Six-Month Business Process Review and Improvement Roadmap

Obtain your six-month business process review template and conduct an in-depth review of your current methods as well as further analysis of your requirements. Maximize team efficiency and streamline a work plan efficiently by introducing our roadmap theme. Get it instantly.

Six Months Business Process Review and Improvement Roadmap PPT Template

Template 9: Quarterly Business Review PPT Template

Showcase your quarterly business review with our amazing PowerPoint Deck and convey your message effectively to your peers. With our slides, use your business review results to provide clients, stakeholders, and others with a better understanding of sales and growth. Enjoy maximum benefits out of this set. Grab it now.


Template 10: Quarterly Business Review Framework

Highlight your business's uniqueness with our quarterly business review framework. This complete deck is inclusive of topics such as economic assessment, company evaluation, organizational study, and the list goes on. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this. Download it right away.

Quarterly Business Review Framework PPT Template

The Takeaway

The month is ending, and your company has met its objectives. Congratulations! When you've finished celebrating, you must decide what comes next. To ensure a repeat performance for the next quarter, use our monthly business review templates. Our template assists you in understanding what your team has recently learned and how you can capitalize on this. It will position your team for success when the leadership team plans goals and projects.

FAQs on Monthy Business Review

What is a business review.

A business review is one of the most underutilized tools in a services company's arsenal. Monthly business reviews highlight new ways to assist clients in meeting their objectives and uncover risks and opportunities you're prepared to address. This also ensures that customer satisfaction and support quality are reviewed in an organized manner.

How do I write a monthly business review?

Here are the guidelines for conducting a Successful Monthly Review:

How do I write a monthly progress report?

How do you prepare a quarterly business review?

8 Methods for Conducting Valuable Quarterly Business Reviews:

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10 Tips to Write an Effective Business Report [Templates Included]

15+ General Business Report and Document Templates To Make Your Organization Sustainable

15+ General Business Report and Document Templates To Make Your Organization Sustainable

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Google Reviews

Free QBR and Business Review Templates

By Kate Eby | June 25, 2018 (updated October 20, 2022)

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Companies like Google and Intel use a form of goal planning and a business leadership process to identify OKRs, the objectives and key results that drive internal performance, build customer relationships, and deliver growth. The quarterly business review (QBR) meeting is the delivery platform to discuss and set OKRs and measure and grade performance as determined by a company’s overall mission and values. This article features an overview of QBR meetings, including expert business review planning and presentation techniques. You’ll find a variety of free QBR templates to use, so you can spend less time preparing for your presentations and more time managing your business.  

Customer QBR Meeting Preparation Checklist

Use this checklist to help you prepare a QBR meeting presentation that captures your customer’s attention and demonstrates your commitment to honor their valuable time.

Customer QBR Meeting Preparation Checklist

‌ Download Customer QBR Meeting Preparation Checklist

Supplier QBR Template

Supplier QBR Template

QBR meetings provide a place and time for suppliers and customers to build a strategic relationship that benefits both parties. Use this supplier QBR template to measure the quantitative value that your managed service providers and vendor partners offer your business. If you’re the supplier, use this template at your next QBR to take a proactive role as a valuable business partner by establishing your customer’s return on investment.

‌   Download Excel Template Try Smartsheet Template   ‌

Annual Business Review Template

Annual Business Review Template

Use this annual business review template to compile the key results of your quarterly business review meetings and prepare your presentation. This template is designed as a formal presentation to discuss key business objectives and results. Customize the slides outlined to deliver a concise, impactful review of past performance and articulate future goals for the year ahead.

‌ Download Annual Business Review Template – PowerPoint

Small Business QBR Template

Small Business QBR Template

Running a small business requires the optimization of time and money — hold your suppliers to the same standard with this template. Use this form to organize information about the products and services your key vendors provide. Also use it to facilitate critical quarterly checkpoint meetings in order to grade the relationship based on results.

Download Small Business QBR Template

Excel | Word

Executive QBR Template

Executive QBR Template

Use this customizable QBR slide deck to present to executive leadership. It is designed to present the most vital information up front and to summarize objectives and key results to busy executives with tight schedules. This template is perfect for remote online meetings that use video conferencing software. It’s also ideal for a less-than-captive audience.

‌ Download Executive QBR Template – PowerPoint

Sales QBR Template

Sales QBR Template

Sales professionals need an effective QBR business planning process to execute quarterly sales goals and measure the results of their sales team’s efforts. Share this customizable QBR slide deck outline with your team to elevate performance and establish accountability. They can easily modify each slide to present essential information about their market or customers and plan next steps to be reviewed at the next QBR meeting. Adjust the slides and craft a QBR presentation for your customers.  

‌ Download Sales QBR Template – PowerPoint

What Is a QBR Meeting?

The purpose of a QBR meeting is to communicate business-related goals, determine OKRs to measure success, and build relationships with customers or employees. The meeting is most effective when conducted face to face, but technology, the growth of global business, and the increase in geographically distributed teams make remote QBR meetings a popular option.

Internal QBR meetings happen at every level, from executive leadership to product teams. As an external communication tool, the QBR meeting is an opportunity for customer success managers (or related sales and marketing professionals using strategic account management) to discuss KPIs and return on investment (ROI), sign sales contracts, or negotiate service renewal agreements with customers.

What to Include in a Sales QBR

Determining business goals and using key customers to identify the desired results of your efforts are just the beginning of effective QBR planning. Resist the urge to think in a vacuum when creating your slide deck. Consider the customer. Don’t treat the QBR meeting like any other sales call by focusing on complaints, reviewing past performance, etc. Instead, create a customer-oriented agenda and share it with them prior to the meeting.

The agenda of your sales quarterly business review might include the following topics:

Status of outstanding business from previous meeting

Review of program objectives

Performance results and improvement

News and updates on products and services

Future business opportunities

Items from last meeting

Sales and marketing program metrics

Scorecard review (Customer Health Index or Net Promoter Score)

Support ticket review and resolution metrics review


Customer support desk review

Onboarding and training

Product roadmap and feature development

License renewals and service contracts

Summary of meeting and commitments

Scheduling of next QBR

Guide to Effective Customer QBR Meetings

Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte  is Principal at  Duarte, Inc ., a company that helps “write, design, and deliver groundbreaking stories and visual presentations for every occasion.” The following tips were inspired by Duarte’s experience and recommendations from her book  Harvard Business Review Guide to Persuasive Presentations . Use them to plan and deliver a compelling presentation to your customer at the next QBR meeting.

Audience over Ambitions : Duarte points out that your audience has the power, not you. Look past your ambitions for the meeting and prepare a presentation that takes into account who is in attendance, their valuable and limited time, and what each individual customer needs from the QBR meeting. Duarte recommends giving your customer a gift in the form of unique insight or information, providing them with a new skill or mindset to achieve their business goals, and seeking opportunities to get “unstuck” with a solution if there is a problem with their products, services, or operations.   

Filter Big Ideas : As the name suggests, the QBR is about reviewing past performance, but most customer QBR meetings are scheduled for one hour. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the opportunity to present ideas for how to build future business with your customers and add value to the discussion. Duarte is a proponent of filtering big ideas. “If you don’t filter your presentation, the audience will have to, and people will resent you for making them work too hard to identify the most important points,” she writes. This advice is especially relevant for QBR meetings that can quickly devolve into problem solving and complaint resolution sessions before you have time to present your ideas.

Anticipate Adversity : According to Duarte, as a presenter, you’re frequently creating resistance to your message and ideas. QBR meetings are not an opportunity to troubleshoot customer service issues or the performance of your product and services. Duarte suggests preparing for different types of resistance (logical, emotional, practical) by anticipating and addressing your customer’s concerns before they become roadblocks to your meeting. Consider opening the meeting agenda with a statement acknowledging the issues and when they will be addressed during the presentation. “By showing that you’ve considered opposing points of view, you demonstrate an open mind — and invite your audience to respond in kind,” she writes.  

Golden Rule : The motto at Duarte, Inc. is, “Never deliver a presentation you wouldn’t want to sit through.” Rehearse your presentation before the QBR meeting. Have a colleague or manager analyze your slides and delivery and provide some feedback. Duarte recommends preparing a shorter version of your presentation in case something goes wrong and time is cut short by an interruption or technical glitches. Your customer can tell if you try to wing it, and they will feel slighted. “It sends the message that you don’t value them or their time,” she writes. “Perhaps most significantly, rehearsing frees you up to be more present in your talk and to fully engage with the people in front of you,” she continues. This creates more opportunities to build future business, ask for recommendations, and schedule your future meetings with the customer.

Quarterly Business Review FAQ

Preparing for and delivering an effective quarterly business review doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s a look at some of the key questions about QBR meetings.

Does Every Customer Get a QBR?

QBR meetings foster relationships between you and your customers, reinforce the value of your products and services, and invite honest discussion about the ROI and the likelihood of renewing business agreements. Every customer that you want to provide this opportunity to is a candidate for regularly scheduled quarterly business reviews.

What Is the Best Strategy for Successful QBR Meetings?

Suppliers and vendors that operate under managed service provider (MSP) contracts leverage the QBR meeting as a strategy to manage expectations and learn how to improve, discuss the customer’s business goals and desired results, and understand the problems that customers try to solve in order to support future business plans. If you prepare and practice accordingly, your QBR meetings create a competitive advantage for you to transform customer relationships into win-win partnerships.

Where Do I Host a Customer QBR?

The likelihood of keeping a consistent, face-to-face QBR meeting on your customer’s calendar every 90 days is slim. Meetings get canceled, key customer contacts change, executives need flexibility to meet via video conference, etc. Plan your QBR presentation with the location in mind, and be flexible with where you host your meetings. Invite your best customers to meet on site at your office, and host the meeting over breakfast and coffee. Prepare a slide deck and online meeting agenda, so you can offer these elements as a hosting option for busy customers.

When Do I Schedule My First Customer QBR?

The answer depends on the product and service you provide. Schedule the first QBR after the customer is onboarded and has time to implement and assess your business and value. Coordinate the details for this meeting when you close the deal, and sign contractual agreements when you have the customer’s attention. This demonstrates that you are committed to delivering value and a return on the customer’s investment and will sit down with them every 90 days or so to review the results of this commitment.

Who Do I Invite to Participate in a Customer QBR?

Schedule your customer QBR meetings to include decision makers from both sides, including management and executive leadership when possible. Make sure you know who is attending each QBR meeting ahead of time, and plan your presentation based on the audience.

Does My QBR Presentation Need to Include Images and Charts?

According to Nancy Duarte, the most effective presenters think like designers. “Each slide should pass what I call the glance test: People should be able to comprehend it in three seconds,” says Duarte. “Think of your slides as billboards. When people drive, they only briefly take their eyes off their main focus — the road — to process billboard information,” she adds. Images and charts improve your audience’s cognitive response to your message. Use them in your QBR presentation to maximize your time and deliver crucial information your audience will remember. You can find free, ready-to-use drag-and-drop software, like the Onomics charting tool available from Priceonomics , to help you design a slide deck like a pro.

Improve Your QBR and Business Review Meetings with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

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

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

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

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

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The 7 Best Business Plan Examples

So you want to start a business . Kudos! You’re doing big things.

One of the first steps to building a strong foundation for your new venture is to write a rock-solid business plan . When done right, your business plan can pave your path to success, all while helping you to smoothly cruise through any obstacles that may come up.

Plus, a good business plan can help you secure critical partnerships and funding that you might need in your early stages.

If you’re unsure how to write one, a great place to start is to learn from the pros. In this article, we’ll look at companies that built incredible business plans.

Take notes on the structure, format, and details. Hopefully you’ll leave with plenty of inspiration to write your own.

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7-part template for business plan examples

We’ll look at a business plan that is structured using a seven-part template. Here’s a quick review of those parts:

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. 

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 ThoughtCo’s sample business plan for a fictional company called Acme Management Technology, the executive summary is three paragraphs and occupies nearly half the page:

business plan executive summary

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

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 its About page that could easily be repurposed as a company description for its business plan. 

company description business plan

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 we did for a hypothetical ecommerce business: 

marketing swot example

You’ll also want to run a competitive analysis as part of the market analysis component for 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. 

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.

business plan review example

Potential investors will want to know how you’ll get the word out about your business. As such, 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, production, 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. For 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:

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

Types of business plan (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 the sections, but make sure they’re abbreviated and summarized.

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.


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.


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. 

Mix and match to make a killer business plan

The good news is: there’s no single right way to write a business plan. If you’re feeling unsure about how to craft yours, pull bits and pieces that you like from other examples, and leave out the parts that don’t apply or make sense for you.

The important thing is to clearly communicate your reason for starting the company, what’s needed to operate it, and how you plan to make it work in the long run.

When you can convince others that you have a killer game plan, you’ve nailed it.

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Blog Business

How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates] 

By Letícia Fonseca , Jul 18, 2022

business plan outline

When it comes to writing a business plan, getting started is the biggest challenge.

So how can you avoid staring at a blank page for hours on end? Start with a business plan outline. 

With anything in life, an outline can give you the clarity you need to tackle an overwhelming task. This is especially true when drafting crucial documents for your success, like a  business plan . 

In fact, businesses with clear plans are  16% more likely to succeed , showing more focus and commitment than businesses without plans. 

But I know, a business plan is a huge document and it can be confusing to create an outline, too. That’s why I’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to write a business plan outline. No sweat. 

Read on for answers to all your business plan outline questions or jump ahead for some handy templates. 

Click to jump ahead:

What is a business plan outline (and why do you need one), what format should you choose for your business plan outline, what are the key components of a business plan outline.

A business plan outline is the backbone of your business plan. It contains all the most important information you’ll want to expand on in your full-length plan. 

Think of it this way: your outline is a frame for your plan. It provides a high-level idea of what the final plan should look like, what it will include and how all the information will be organized. 

Why would you do this extra step? Beyond saving you from blank page syndrome, an outline ensures you don’t leave any essential information out of your plan — you can see all the most important points at a glance and quickly identify any content gaps. 

It also serves as a writing guide. Once you know all the sections you want in your plan, you just need to expand on them. Suddenly, you’re “filling in the blanks” as opposed to writing a plan from scratch!

Incidentally, using a business plan template like this one gives you a running head start, too: 

business plan outline

Perhaps most importantly, a business plan outline keeps you focused on the essential parts of your document. (Not to mention what matters most to stakeholders and investors.)  With an outline, you’ll spend less time worrying about structure or organization and more time perfecting the actual content of your document. 

If you’re looking for more general advice, you can read about  how to create a business plan here . But if you’re working on outlining your plan, stick with me.

Return to Table of Contents

Most business plans fit into one of two formats. 

The format you choose largely depends on three factors: (1) the stage of your business, (2) if you’re presenting the plan to investors and (3) what you want to achieve with your business plan. 

Let’s have a closer look at these two formats and why you might choose one over the other.

Traditional format

Traditional business plans  are typically long, detailed documents. In many cases, they take up to 50-60 pages, but it’s not uncommon to see plans spanning 100+ pages. 

Traditional plans are long because they cover  every aspect  of your business. They leave nothing out. You’ll find a traditional business plan template with sections like executive summary, company description, target market, market analysis, marketing plan, financial plan, and more. Basically: the more information the merrier.

This business plan template isn’t of a traditional format, but you could expand it into one by duplicating pages:

business plan outline

Due to their high level of detail, traditional formats are the best way to sell your business. They show you’re reliable and have a clear vision for your business’s future. 

If you’re planning on presenting your plan to investors and stakeholders, you’ll want to go with a traditional plan format. The more information you include, the fewer doubts and questions you’ll get when you present your plan, so don’t hold back. 

Traditional business plans require more detailed outlines before drafting since there’s a lot of information to cover. You’ll want to list all the sections and include bullet points describing what each section should cover. 

It’s also a good idea to include all external resources and visuals in your outline, so you don’t have to gather them later. 

Lean format

Lean business plan formats are high level and quick to write. They’re often only one or two pages. Similar to a  business plan infographic , they’re scannable and quick to digest, like this template: 

business plan outline

This format is often referred to as a “startup” format due to (you guessed it!) many startups using it. 

Lean business plans require less detailed outlines. You can include high-level sections and a few lines in each section covering the basics. Since the final plan will only be a page or two, you don’t need to over prepare. Nor will you need a ton of external resources. 

Lean plans don’t answer all the questions investors and stakeholders may ask, so if you go this route, make sure it’s the right choice for your business . Companies not yet ready to present to investors will typically use a lean/startup format to get their rough plan on paper and share it internally with their management team. 

Here’s another example of a lean business plan format in the form of a financial plan: 

business plan outline

Your business plan outline should include all the following sections. The level of detail you choose to go into will depend on your intentions for your plan (sharing with stakeholders vs. internal use), but you’ll want every section to be clear and to the point. 

1. Executive summary

The executive summary gives a high-level description of your company, product or service. This section should include a mission statement, your company description, your business’s primary goal, and the problem it aims to solve. You’ll want to state how your business can solve the problem and briefly explain what makes you stand out (your competitive advantage).

Having an executive summary is essential to selling your business to stakeholders , so it should be as clear and concise as possible. Summarize your business in a few sentences in a way that will hook the reader (or audience) and get them invested in what you have to say next. In other words, this is your elevator pitch.

business plan outline

2. Product and services description

This is where you should go into more detail about your product or service. Your product is the heart of your business, so it’s essential this section is easy to grasp. After all, if people don’t know what you’re selling, you’ll have a hard time keeping them engaged!

Expand on your description in the executive summary, going into detail about the problem your customers face and how your product/service will solve it. If you have various products or services, go through all of them in equal detail. 

business plan outline

3. Target market and/or Market analysis

A market analysis is crucial for placing your business in a larger context and showing investors you know your industry. This section should include market research on your prospective customer demographic including location, age range, goals and motivations. 

You can even  include detailed customer personas  as a visual aid — these are especially useful if you have several target demographics. You want to showcase your knowledge of your customer, who exactly you’re selling to and how you can fulfill their needs.

Be sure to include information on the overall target market for your product, including direct and indirect competitors and how your industry is performing. If your competitors have strengths you want to mimic or weaknesses you want to exploit, this is the place to record that information. 

business plan outline

4. Organization and management

You can think of this as a “meet the team” section — this is where you should go into depth on your business’s structure from management to legal and HR. If there are people bringing unique skills or experience to the table (I’m sure there are!), you should highlight them in this section. 

The goal here is to showcase why your team is the best to run your business. Investors want to know you’re unified, organized and reliable. This is also a potential opportunity to bring more humanity to your business plan and showcase the faces behind the ideas and product. 

business plan outline

5. Marketing and sales

Now that you’ve introduced your product and team, you need to explain how you’re going to sell it. Give a detailed explanation of your sales and marketing strategy, including pricing, timelines for launching your product and advertising.

This is a major section of your plan and can even live as a separate document for your marketing and sales teams. Here are some  marketing plan templates to help you get started .

Make sure you have research or analysis to back up your decisions — if you want to do paid ads on LinkedIn to advertise your product, include a brief explanation as to why that is the best channel for your business. 

business plan outline

6. Financial projections and funding request

The end of your plan is where you’ll look to the future and how you think your business will perform financially. Your financial plan should include results from your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow projections. 

State your funding requirements and what you need to realize the business. Be extremely clear about how you plan to use the funding and when you expect investors will see returns.

If you aren’t presenting to potential investors, you can skip this part, but it’s something to keep in mind should you seek funding in the future. Covering financial projections and the previous five components is essential at the stage of business formation to ensure everything goes smoothly moving forward.

business plan outline

7. Appendix

Any extra visual aids, receipts, paperwork or charts will live here. Anything that may be relevant to your plan should be included as reference e.g. your cash flow statement (or other financial statements). You can format your appendix in whatever way you think is best — as long as it’s easy for readers to find what they’re looking for, you’ve done your job!

Typically, the best way to start your outline is to list all these high-level sections. Then, you can add bullet points outlining what will go in each section and the resources you’ll need to write them. This should give you a solid starting point for your full-length plan.

Business plan outline templates

Looking for a shortcut? Our  business plan templates  are basically outlines in a box! 

While your outline likely won’t go into as much detail, these templates are great examples of how to organize your sections.

Traditional format templates

A strong template can turn your long, dense business plan into an engaging, easy-to-read document. There are lots to choose from, but here are just a few ideas to inspire you… 

You can duplicate pages and use these styles for a traditional outline, or start with a lean outline as you build your business plan out over time:

business plan outline

Lean format templates

For lean format outlines, a simpler ‘ mind map ’ style is a good bet. With this style, you can get ideas down fast and quickly turn them into one or two-page plans. Plus, because they’re shorter, they’re easy to share with your team.

business plan outline

Writing tips to ace your business plan outline

Business plans are complex documents, so if you’re still not sure how to write your outline, don’t worry! Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when drafting your business plan outline:

If this is your first time writing a business plan outline, don’t be too hard on yourself. You might not get it 100% right on the first try, but with these tips and the key components listed above, you’ll have a strong foundation. Remember, done is better than perfect. 

Create a winning business plan by starting with a detailed, actionable outline

The best way to learn is by doing. So go ahead, get started on your business plan outline. As you develop your plan, you’ll no doubt learn more about your business and what’s important for success along the way. 

A clean, compelling template is a great way to get a head start on your outline. After all, the sections are already separated and defined for you! 

Explore Venngage’s business plan templates  for one that suits your needs. Many are free to use and there are premium templates available for a small monthly fee. Happy outlining!


Organize Your Change Initiative Around Purpose and Benefits

business plan review example

Connecting a project to core principles — and explaining how it will benefit stakeholders — can spark the motivation required for success.

If there’s one thing that’s certain about the future, it’s that change is here to stay. The ability to constantly transform has become a top priority for organizations. Therefore, change management is now an essential business priority that can’t be overlooked or set aside. Leaders need to urgently develop change and project management competencies across all levels of an organization, from employees and managers to senior executives. This article covers the two most important things leaders should focus on in any change project: purpose and benefits. Every successful change project needs at least one clearly articulated purpose. And the benefits to stakeholders must be clear. By using the approach outlined in this article, you’ll see that the level of engagement and buy-in on your change initiative will increase significantly.

A dramatic shift is taking place in industries everywhere: We have left behind a century dominated by increasing efficiency and are now living in an always-changing environment.  Operating a business in this environment means having a massive proliferation of change projects.

In a survey of 1,284 executives and project management professionals, the majority of senior executive respondents indicated that the number of change projects in their organizations had exploded over the last five years. Some 85% of the respondents had seen an increase in the number of projects, and out of these respondents, 56% had seen a rise of more than 25%. A full 25% of respondents said that the number of projects had increased by more than 50%. This meteoric growth of projects is affecting not only organizations, but also our professional lives and the very nature of work.

Change management can no longer be ignored, relegated, or misunderstood. These fundamental changes have created huge anxiety in the workplace and a natural dislike to change projects. Yet, nowadays, continuous transformation is at the center of the strategy of any organization, small, midsize, or large. Everyone at all levels of organizations — employees, managers, project managers, senior leaders, and CEOs — must understand and adapt to this shift.

Welcome to the Project Economy and a World Driven by Change

While the number of change projects keeps rising, the failure rates continue to be staggering: According to the Standish Group , only 31% of projects are considered successful. The idea that 69% of change projects result in wasted resources and budgets and unrealized benefits is mind-blowing. It requires that we approach change management in a radically different way, not only from a methodological perspective, but also from an organizational, cultural, and pure human perspective.

In fact, most of the current change management methods were developed for a stable world, where change projects were temporary and in addition to day-to-day operations, which were always the priority.

Managing Change

New concepts and tools to address change are emerging. I introduce two of them in the HBR Project Management Handbook : the importance of the purpose behind any change project, and the focus on the benefits.

Purpose: An Easy-to-Apply Tool to Fire Up Engagement

All change and project management methodologies demand that projects have a well-defined business case with often lengthy, technical, and deliverable-focused goals: for example, a new software rollout, a new platform, an expansion program, a new set of company values, a reorganization, or a digital transformation project. Most change projects use financial goals, such as a 10% return on investment (ROI). Yet these goals don’t inspire people to commit passionately to the change initiative.

Besides having a business case, a project should be linked to a higher purpose. People have enormous strengths, and the best leaders know that it’s possible to tap into those strengths through hearts and minds. When a project people work on connects to their inner purpose and passions, they can achieve extraordinary things.

According to the EY Beacon Institute , purpose-driven companies are 2.5 times better at driving innovation and transformation than other companies. At the same time, Deloitte says that, on average, purpose-driven companies report 30% higher levels of innovation and 40% higher levels of workforce retention than their competitors. These statistics are borne out in my own experience: Change initiatives with a higher purpose have significantly higher chances of success than those that don’t inspire people. Understanding the purpose and its connection to the overall strategy is not just crucial for deciding whether to invest or whether the transformation makes sense strategically; it is also a key driver for engaging team members and the organization as a whole, motivating them to support the change initiative.

Remember that people don’t have to be great at something to be passionate about it. Steve Jobs was not the world’s greatest engineer, salesperson, designer, or businessman. But he was uniquely good enough at all these things, and was driven by his purpose and passion for doing something far greater. Conversely, a lack of purpose or conviction about a change project can quickly spread from one team member to the rest of the team.

A remarkable example of setting a compelling purpose for an organizational transformation comes from Sony’s co-founder Akio Morita. At a time when Japan was seen as a cheap-product-copycat country, Morita established that Sony’s purpose was to make Japan known for the quality of its products. Japan —   not Sony. Sony’s purpose was aimed at a higher dimension than its own company — which was bold, yet inspiring to its employees.

An easy method of finding a change project’s purpose is to continuously ask, “Why are we doing the project?” Usually, you need to ask this question three to four times to get to the core purpose. For example, consider the introduction of a new Client Relationship Management (CRM) software system. Most change managers will say that the project is about implementing a new CRM system, but that’s not why we do the project. Instead, ask, “Why do we want the CRM system?” The answer may be “to manage our data more effectively, providing a single source of truth for our customer information.” See — you’ve just gone to a higher-level purpose. Next, ask yourself again why you want this outcome, and you may come up with “to provide a more personalized and responsive service.” You just went to a higher level again, and a higher priority of thinking based on what’s more essential for your company. Then ask again: “Why do we want to provide a more personalized service?” “Because we want our customers to be delighted with our services and retain them over the long term, which will lead to higher revenues.”

We’ve now moved the purpose of our project from installing a new CRM system to a project that will increase customer satisfaction and improve sales performance. What a difference. Now, we have a project whose purpose connects with the organization’s strategy and will motivate project team members.

Once you’ve gotten to the real reason behind your change project, ask “By when?” and “How much?”. Here’s an example: “We’ll increase customer satisfaction by 50% for our next customer survey, which will take place in five months.” Now, you have a specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-based goal, what I call a SMART purpose.

Every successful change project needs at least one clearly-articulated SMART purpose.

Benefits : The Key to Obtaining Buy-In From Stakeholders

Traditional change management practices have focused on the inputs and outputs — things like plans, schedules, budgets, deliverables, teams, etc. A change initiative is considered successful if it is delivered on time, on budget, and within scope. Yet, what matters most are the outcomes and benefits delivered, such as happier employees, returning customers, more sustainable practices, etc.

A great example of putting the focus on benefits is a sustainability transformation. Sustainability has become one of the most profound challenges of our time and a priority topic on most CEO’s agendas. Consider this example from Procter & Gamble (P&G): Marc Pritchard, a top marketer at P&G, has recently described how the world’s biggest consumer goods company is embracing sustainability to transform its brands. Or, as he puts it, to make P&G “a force for good and a force for growth.” As part of its new Ambition 2030 plan , P&G has pledged to make all its packaging fully recyclable or reusable by 2030. The company also plans to use 100% renewable energy and have zero net waste by that point.

While benefits might be easy to claim, they’re far more challenging to validate and measure, mainly when they’re accruing over time. Since a change project’s success should be measured by the benefits achieved, the process you use for identifying and mapping the benefits must be inclusive and transparent.

Each project will bring different benefits to different stakeholders. Change managers and project leaders should identify the main benefit expectations for each key stakeholder early in the transformation. Here is a simple approach to identifying the main benefits of your change projects:

Example of a Benefits Plan for a Digital Transformation project. This is an example of a Benefits Plan for a Digital Transformation project. Once you have identified the benefits for your key stakeholders, plot them into a benefits plan, which you should use to show progress when communicating with key stakeholders. In this example, 7 benefits are shown, with expected time to completion, and intermediate and completed milestones plotted by month. Benefit one: Save $40 million in maintenance costs in 7 months. Intermediate milestone of $20 million saved at 4-month mark. Benefit two: Reduce time to market from 12 months to 6 months, within 4 months. Intermediate milestone at 2-month mark, with time to market of 9 months. Benefit three: Increase net promoter score from 50 to 80 in 5 months. Intermediate milestones at the 2-month mark, with an NPS of 60, and at the 4-month mark, with an NPS of 70. Benefit four: Expand product offering to deliver an increase of 30% in revenues from new products in 12 months. Intermediate milestones at the 4-month mark, with a 10% increase, and at the 8-month mark, with a 20% increase in revenues. Benefit five: Improve real-time data on client issues to increase product reliability and reduce customer complaints by 80% in 6 months. Intermediate milestone at the 4-month mark, with a 40% reduction in customer complaints. Benefit six: Reduce time spent in meetings by 50% to increase productivity, within 7 months. Intermediate milestones at the 2-month mark, with a 20% reduction in time spent in meetings, and at the 5-month mark, with a 40% reduction. Benefit seven: Increase the number of patents by 25% in 12 months. Intermediate milestones at the 3-month mark, with a 10% increase in patents, and at the 7-month mark, with a 20% increase. Source: Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez

See more HBR charts in Data & Visuals

Example of the Benefits Card for a Digital Transformation project. Each project will bring different benefits to different stakeholders. Change managers and project leaders should use the benefits card to identify the main benefit expectations for each key stakeholder early in the transformation. This is an example of the Benefits Card for a Digital Transformation project that shows 4 benefits, lists their key performance indicators, or K P eyes, and provides an example. Benefit one: Improved efficiency. Objective: Reduce the time and resources required to complete tasks and processes. K P eyes: Time-to-complete for key processes. Reduction in manual data entry. Reduction in error rates. Increase in process automation levels. Increase in throughput or productivity. Example: Delta Air Lines implemented a digital transformation project to improve their maintenance processes. They equipped their maintenance teams with mobile devices to access real-time information about aircraft maintenance schedules, reducing the time required to complete maintenance tasks and improving operational efficiency. As a result, they saved over $40 million in maintenance costs in the first year. Benefit two: Increased agility. Objective: Improve the organization’s ability to respond quickly to changing circumstances. K P eyes: Time-to-market for new products or services. Number of successful product launches or service offerings. Reduction in time to make business decisions. Increase in speed of adapting to new trends. Number of successful partnerships formed. Example: The clothing retailer Zara used digital transformation to improve its supply chain and reduce the time it took to bring new fashion collections to market. They implemented an end-to-end digital process that allowed them to quickly analyze customer preferences and trends, design and produce new clothing items, and deliver them to stores in just a few weeks. This allowed Zara to respond rapidly to changes in fashion trends and remain competitive in a fast-paced industry. Benefit three: Enhanced customer experience. Objective: Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing a more personalized and engaging experience. K P eyes: Customer satisfaction scores. Net Promoter Score. Number of repeat customers. Increase in customer engagement levels. Reduction in customer churn rates. Example: The coffee chain Starbucks uses digital transformation to enhance the customer experience through its mobile ordering and payment app. The app allows customers to order and pay for their drinks in advance, reducing waiting times and increasing convenience. It also offers personalized recommendations based on previous orders and integrates with the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, providing customers with incentives to continue using the app. Benefit four: Increased revenue. Objective: Generate more revenue by expanding into new markets, creating new products, or offering new services. K P eyes: Revenue growth rate. Number of new customers acquired. Sales conversion rates. Average order value. Profit margins for new products or service. Example: The financial services company American Express launched a digital transformation initiative to expand its product offerings and improve customer experiences. They developed a suite of digital tools and services, including a mobile app, online banking platform, and digital payment services, to reach new customers and provide more value to existing ones. This resulted in an increase in revenue and a significant improvement in customer satisfaction scores. Source: Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez

By using this approach, you’ll see that the level of engagement and buy-in on your initiative will significantly increase.

Today, organizations need to change regardless of whether they are successful or not. They can not wait years to start obtaining benefits; leaders need to create value faster than ever. Constant transformation has become a top priority. Therefore, change management is now an essential business priority that can’t be overlooked or set aside; leaders must start adopting new concepts like purpose and benefits. And they need to urgently develop change and project management competencies across all levels of an organization, from employees and managers to senior executives. Some visionary leaders have already embarked on this transformation, and if you hesitate or wait too long, you might be putting the future of your organization seriously at stake. If there’s one thing that’s certain about the future, it’s that change is here to stay.

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How to Critique a Business Plan

How to Write a One-Year Profit Projection Letter

How to write a new business pitch, why is an effective business plan introduction important.

Once they have completed a business plan, many entrepreneurs wonder if it is ready to present to potential financing sources. They question whether the plan is as clear as it could be and if they have covered all the important points that investors want to see. They realize that the business plan is their first and perhaps only chance to get the investor’s attention. They want to make it as good as it can possibly be. One approach is to ask experienced business associates to critique the plan and provide suggestions about how it can be improved.

Read the plan through at least twice. Don’t read it with a critical eye the first time. Just try to absorb as much information as you can. The second time through, begin making notes about sections that seem unclear or incomplete.

Think like an investor. As you review the plan, ask yourself whether this business looks like a good investment. Many plans dwell too much on how intriguing the company's technology is and ignore the factor of critical importance to investors: Can we make money? Try to identify aspects of the company’s business model that will allow it to earn higher than average profits. Perhaps it has a labor cost advantage over competitors, for example.

Analyze the benefits of the products or services. The plan should give you a clear idea of the superiority of the company’s products or services compared with those offered by competitors. Make sure you see why the target customers have a compelling need for the company’s products or services. If you don’t, suggest that this section of the plan be strengthened.

Evaluate the management team. Ask yourself whether you believe this team is capable of executing the business strategy outlined in the plan. Does the team look complete? Look for gaps in talent or experience that need to be addressed by bringing additional managers aboard. Determine whether the capabilities of the team match up well with the requirements for success in this industry.

Check the assumptions for the financial projections. Make sure the entrepreneur has provided easy-to-follow logic behind the numbers. You should be able to take the revenue assumptions and duplicate the calculations presented. Entrepreneurs tend to present overly optimistic revenue and profit projections. Look for areas where costs were underestimated or omitted altogether. Determine whether the projected revenue growth, particularly in the first two years, seems realistic.

Brian Hill is the author of four popular business and finance books: "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "Attracting Capital from Angels" and his latest book, published in 2013, "The Pocket Small Business Owner's Guide to Business Plans."

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What is an effective meeting?

Top view of creative businesspeople having meeting

“This meeting should have been an email.” Emblazoned on coffee mugs, endless memes, and your colleagues’ faces on their ninth video call of the day, this sentence may end up being a catchphrase of the modern era.

As the pandemic rewrote the rule book for coworking and office culture, new processes and untested systems allowed inefficiencies to creep in —inefficiencies that included meetings scheduled for the sake of unstructured discussion or even basic human interaction rather than for productivity. While interacting might be easier than ever, value-creating collaboration isn’t—and its quality seems to be deteriorating .

Effective meetings aren’t just about keeping ourselves from going around the bend. When meetings aren’t run well—or when there are too many of them— decision  making becomes slower and the quality of decisions suffers. According to one McKinsey survey , 61 percent of executives said that at least half the time they spent making decisions—much of it surely spent in meetings—was ineffective. Just 37 percent of respondents said their organizations’ decisions were both timely and high quality. And, in a different survey , 80 percent of executives were considering or already implementing changes in meeting structure and cadence in response to the evolution of how people worked during the pandemic.

What’s more, when leaders try to solve for inefficient decision making, they too often look to organizational charts and vertical-command relationships. Rarely, in McKinsey’s experience, do they see the real issue at hand: poor design and execution of collaborative interactions. In other words, you guessed it, ineffective meetings.

It doesn’t have to be this way. When meetings are run well, they not only foster better decisions but also leave attendees feeling energized and motivated to carry the momentum forward independently. For tips on how to put a stop to video call fatigue and restart your team’s productivity, read on.

Learn more about McKinsey’s People & Organizational Performance Practice .

What does time management have to do with effective meetings?

“The only thing on Earth that never lies to you is your calendar ,” says renowned business author and McKinsey alum Tom Peters. “That’s why I’m a fanatic on the topic of time management. But when you use that term, people think, ‘Here’s an adult with a brain. And he’s teaching time management. Find something more important, please.’ But something more important doesn’t exist.”

Endless, diffuse meetings, according to Peters, take up far too much of executives’ precious working time. Half of leaders’ time, he says, citing an idea from the Israeli executive Dov Frohman, should be unscheduled. What should they do with all that unstructured time? One typically cheeky suggestion from Peters is to read more.

The reality is that effective meetings and good time management exist in a virtuous circle. Good time management means you feel empowered to turn down unnecessary meetings—and better meetings mean you spend the rest of your time feeling more purposeful in carrying out your work.

How can leaders address the problem of time scarcity?

McKinsey’s experience shows that leaders may want to stop thinking about time management as primarily an individual problem and start addressing it institutionally. Increasingly, time management is an organizational issue with roots deeply embedded in corporate cultures.

Unsurprisingly, the solution seems to be balance. Executives in one McKinsey survey  who reported being satisfied with the way their time is allocated spent 34 percent of their working time interacting with external stakeholders (including boards, customers, and investors), 39 percent in internal meetings (including one-on-ones with direct reports, leadership team meetings, and other employee gatherings), and 24 percent working alone.

Here are five ways to achieve optimal balance in allocating time :

Learn more about McKinsey’s  People & Organizational Performance Practice .

What are three questions you should ask yourself before scheduling a meeting?

Good meetings nurture better decision making . On the flip side, inefficient meetings not only waste time but also create distraction and confusion even when people are working independently. Here are three questions you can ask when scheduling a meeting  that can help create the clarity needed for efficient decision making.

Should this even be a meeting at all? Recurring meetings are particularly susceptible to migration from the original purpose toward something more diffuse. Check in with stakeholders to ensure that the frequency is right (weekly meetings could be changed to monthly, perhaps), or think about whether decisions could be best made by an individual—with, of course, guidance from others.

Then go deeper. Examine whether your company’s culture is to encourage meetings rather than individual decision making. To remedy this, if you’re a leader, think twice before reflexively accepting any meeting invitation as it appears in your inbox. The goal should be to treat leadership capacity as a finite resource— just like your company’s financial capital .

What is this meeting for? A meeting’s title and its purpose are not the same. When the latter isn’t clear, meetings can seem frustrating at best and futile at worst. To help avoid this, companies can appoint a “chief of staff” for certain efforts or products. This person collates materials before meetings, ensures that they are distributed ahead of time, and verifies that the due diligence has been done to necessitate a meeting in the first place. This can lead to better-informed participants, which in turn can lead to more effective time spent in meetings—and, ultimately, better decisions.

What is everyone’s role? Even if a meeting has a clear purpose, it’s of little use if there is no one present deputized to make a decision . Equally, even if it’s clear who the decider is, it’s a mistake to hold a meeting when people are unsure of participants’ roles. McKinsey analysts have seen poor role clarity stymie productivity and cause frustration, especially when decisions involve complicated business activities that cut across organizational boundaries. Blurry accountability is especially costly in an era where speed and agility confer a competitive advantage .

Meeting participants can be divided into four roles:

OK, I’ve eliminated all unnecessary meetings and assigned specific purposes to each one. Now what?

Great work. Now you can assign each meeting to one of the following three categories , and make specific shifts to improve the outcomes.

What are some best practices for video meetings?

Establishing best practices for meetings might seem like common sense—but they are not commonly practiced. Here are some helpful tips from Karin M. Reed , author of the 2021 book Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work :

For more in-depth exploration of these topics, see McKinsey’s People & Organizational Performance Practice . Also check out organizational structure–related job opportunities if you’re interested in working at McKinsey.

Articles referenced:

Top view of creative businesspeople having meeting

Want to know more about effective meetings?

Related articles.

Business people on a video call.

If we’re all so busy, why isn’t anything getting done?

To unlock better decision making, plan better meetings

To unlock better decision making, plan better meetings

Author Talks: Karin M. Reed on virtual meetings

Author Talks: Karin M. Reed on virtual meetings


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