• Search Search Please fill out this field.

What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, elements of a business plan, special considerations.

  • Business Plan FAQs

Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How To Write One

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

i want to know about a business plan

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

A business plan is a document that defines in detail a company's objectives and how it plans to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written road map for the firm from marketing , financial, and operational standpoints. Both startups and established companies use business plans.

A business plan is an important document aimed at a company's external and internal audiences. For instance, a business plan is used to attract investment before a company has established a proven track record. It can also help to secure lending from financial institutions.

Furthermore, a business plan can serve to keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and on target for meeting established goals.

Although they're especially useful for new businesses, every company should have a business plan. Ideally, the plan is reviewed and updated periodically to reflect goals that have been met or have changed. Sometimes, a new business plan is created for an established business that has decided to move in a new direction.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's core business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • A business plan can also be used as an internal guide to keep an executive team focused on and working toward short- and long-term objectives.
  • Businesses may create a lengthier traditional business plan or a shorter lean startup business plan.
  • Good business plans should include an executive summary and sections on products and services, marketing strategy and analysis, financial planning, and a budget.

Want Funding? You Need a Business Plan

A business plan is a fundamental document that any new business should have in place prior to beginning operations. Indeed, banks and venture capital firms often require a viable business plan before considering whether they'll provide capital to new businesses.

Operating without a business plan usually is not a good idea. In fact, very few companies are able to last very long without one. There are benefits to creating (and sticking to) a good business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and working through potential obstacles to success.

A good business plan should outline all the projected costs and possible pitfalls of each decision a company makes. Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they can have the same basic elements, such as an executive summary of the business and detailed descriptions of its operations, products and services, and financial projections. A plan also states how the business intends to achieve its goals.

While it's a good idea to give as much detail as possible, it's also important that a plan be concise to keep a reader's attention to the end.

A well-considered and well-written business plan can be of enormous value to a company. While there are templates that you can use to write a business plan, try to avoid producing a generic result. The plan should include an overview and, if possible, details of the industry of which the business will be a part. It should explain how the business will distinguish itself from its competitors.

Start with the essential structure: an executive summary, company description, market analysis, product or service description, marketing strategy, financial projections, and appendix (which include documents and data that support the main sections). These sections or elements of a business plan are outlined below.

When you write your business plan, you don’t have to strictly follow a particular business plan outline or template. Use only those sections that make the most sense for your particular business and its needs.

Traditional business plans use some combination of the sections below. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making. Regardless, try to keep the main body of your plan to around 15-25 pages.

The length of a business plan varies greatly from business to business. Consider fitting the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Then, other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and included as appendices.

As mentioned above, no two business plans are the same. Nonetheless, they tend to have the same elements. Below are some of the common and key parts of a business plan.

  • Executive summary: This section outlines the company and includes the mission statement along with any information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and location.
  • Products and services: Here, the company can outline the products and services it will offer, and may also include pricing, product lifespan, and benefits to the consumer. Other factors that may go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A firm needs a good handle on its industry as well as its target market. This section of the plan will detail a company's competition and how the company fits in the industry, along with its relative strengths and weaknesses. It will also describe the expected consumer demand for a company's products or services and how easy or difficult it may be to grab market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section describes how the company will attract and keep its customer base and how it intends to reach the consumer. A clear distribution channel must be outlined. The section also spells out advertising and marketing campaign plans and the types of media those campaigns will use.
  • Financial planning: This section should include a company's financial planning and projections. Financial statements, balance sheets, and other financial information may be included for established businesses. New businesses will include targets and estimates for the first few years plus a description of potential investors.
  • Budget: Every company needs to have a budget in place. This section should include costs related to staffing, development, manufacturing, marketing, and any other expenses related to the business.

Unique Business Plans Help

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its singularity and potential for success.

Types of Business Plans

Business plans help companies identify their objectives and remain on track to meet goals. They can help companies start, manage themselves, and grow once up and running. They also act as a means to attract lenders and investors.

Although there is no right or wrong business plan, they can fall into two different categories—traditional or lean startup. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the most common. It contains a lot of detail in each section. These tend to be longer than the lean startup plan and require more work.

Lean startup business plans, on the other hand, use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans aren't as common in the business world because they're short—as short as one page—and lack detail. If a company uses this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or lender requests it.

Financial Projections

A complete business plan must include a set of financial projections for the business. These forward-looking financial statements are often called pro-forma financial statements or simply the " pro-formas ." They include an overall budget, current and projected financing needs, a market analysis, and the company's marketing strategy.

Other Considerations for a Business Plan

A major reason for a business plan is to give owners a clear picture of objectives, goals, resources, potential costs, and drawbacks of certain business decisions. A business plan should help them modify their structures before implementing their ideas. It also allows owners to project the type of financing required to get their businesses up and running.

If there are any especially interesting aspects of the business, they should be highlighted and used to attract financing, if needed. For example, Tesla Motors' electric car business essentially began only as a business plan.

Importantly, a business plan shouldn't be a static document. As a business grows and changes, so too should the business plan. An annual review of the company and its plan allows an entrepreneur or group of owners to update the plan, based on successes, setbacks, and other new information. It provides an opportunity to size up the plan's ability to help the company grow.

Think of the business plan as a living document that evolves with your business.

A business plan is a document created by a company that describes the company's goals, operations, industry standing, marketing objectives, and financial projections. The information it contains can be a helpful guide in running the company. What's more, it can be a valuable tool to attract investors and obtain financing from financial institutions.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

Even if you have a good business plan, your company can still fail, especially if you do not stick to the plan! Having strong leadership with a focus on the plan is always a good strategy. Even when following the plan, if you had poor assumptions going into your projections, you can be caught with cash flow shortages and out-of-control budgets. Markets and the economy can also change. Without flexibility built into your business plan, you may be unable to pivot to a new course as needed.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers a quick explanation of its business. The company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide since it's just getting started.

Sections can include: a value proposition, a company's major activities and advantages, resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital, a list of partnerships, customer segments, and revenue sources.

Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

  • Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills 1 of 46
  • Business Ethics: Definition, Principles, Why They're Important 2 of 46
  • Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How To Write One 3 of 46
  • Organizational Structure for Companies With Examples and Benefits 4 of 46
  • Which Type of Organization Is Best For Your Business? 5 of 46
  • What Are the Major Types of Businesses in the Private Sector? 6 of 46
  • Corporate Culture Definition, Characteristics, and Importance 7 of 46
  • What Is an S Corp? 8 of 46
  • LLC vs. Incorporation: Which Should I Choose? 9 of 46
  • Private Company: What It Is, Types, and Pros and Cons 10 of 46
  • Sole Proprietorship: What It Is, Pros & Cons, Examples, Differences From an LLC 11 of 46
  • Bootstrapping Definition, Strategies, and Pros/Cons 12 of 46
  • Crowdfunding: What It Is, How It Works, Popular Websites 13 of 46
  • Seed Capital: What It Is, How It Works, Example 14 of 46
  • Venture Capital: What Is VC and How Does It Work? 15 of 46
  • Startup Capital Definition, Types, and Risks 16 of 46
  • Capital Funding: Definition, How It Works, and 2 Primary Methods 17 of 46
  • Series Funding: A, B, and C 18 of 46
  • Small Business Administration (SBA): Definition and What It Does 19 of 46
  • Upper Management: What it is, How it Works 20 of 46
  • What is the C Suite?: Meaning and Positions Defined 21 of 46
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): What They Do vs. Other Chief Roles 22 of 46
  • Operations Management: Understanding and Using It 23 of 46
  • Human Resource Planning (HRP) Meaning, Process, and Examples 24 of 46
  • Brand: Types of Brands and How to Create a Successful Brand Identity 25 of 46
  • What Is Brand Personality? How It Works and Examples 26 of 46
  • What Is Brand Management? Requirements, How It Works, and Example 27 of 46
  • What Is Brand Awareness? Definition, How It Works, and Strategies 28 of 46
  • Brand Loyalty: What It Is, and How to Build It 29 of 46
  • Brand Extension: Definition, How It Works, Example, and Criticism 30 of 46
  • What Is Social Networking? 31 of 46
  • Affiliate Marketer: Definition, Examples, and How to Get Started 32 of 46
  • What Is Commercialization, Plus the Product Roll-Out Process 33 of 46
  • Digital Marketing Overview: Types, Challenges, and Required Skills 34 of 46
  • Direct Marketing: What It Is and How It Works 35 of 46
  • Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained 36 of 46
  • What Are Marketing Campaigns? Definition, Types, and Examples 37 of 46
  • How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example 38 of 46
  • Micromarketing Explained: Definition, Uses, and Examples 39 of 46
  • Network Marketing Meaning and How It Works 40 of 46
  • Product Differentiation: What It Is, How Businesses Do It, and the 3 Main Types 41 of 46
  • Target Market: Definition, Purpose, Examples, Market Segments 42 of 46
  • Outside Sales: What They are, How They Work 43 of 46
  • What Is a Sales Lead? How It Works and Factors Affecting Quality 44 of 46
  • Indirect Sales: What it is, How it Works 45 of 46
  • What Is Inside Sales? Definition, How It Works, and Advantages 46 of 46

Small Business

Trading Basic Education

How to Start a Business

Initial Coin Offerings

Business Essentials


  • Terms of Service
  • Editorial Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your Privacy Choices

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

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

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

Link copied

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

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

What Is a Business Plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business Plan Steps

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

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

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

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

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

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

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

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

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

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

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

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

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

Step 1: Executive Summary

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

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

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

Step 2: Description of Business

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

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

Step 3: Market Analysis

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

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

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

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

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

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

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

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

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

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

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

Step 7: Marketing Plan

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

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

Step 8: Sales Plan

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

Start by answering the following questions:

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

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

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

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

Step 10: Financial Projections

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

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

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

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

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

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

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

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

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

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

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

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

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

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

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

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

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

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

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

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

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

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

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

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

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

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

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

Streamline Your Business Planning Activities with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

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

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

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

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

You’re our first priority. Every time.

We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.

So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Here is a list of our partners .

How to Write a Company Overview for a Business Plan

Page Grossman

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

When you start a company, you ideally want it to grow. If you’re seeking business funding to scale your business or an initial investment to get your business off the ground, you’re going to need a business plan . Putting together a business plan can be an intimidating process that involves a lot of steps and writing — but breaking it down piece by piece can help you accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task.

One small piece of your business plan is the company overview, so let’s take a look at what that is, exactly, check out some company overview examples and go over how to make a company overview of your very own.

What is a company overview?

A company overview provides the reader of your business plan with basic background information about your company so they have an understanding of what you do, who the management team is and what customers your business serves.

The company description is the second piece of a business plan, falling right after the executive summary. Similar to the executive summary, your company overview will be short and succinct. Your reader needs to have a grasp on what your business does and who your customers are, even if they have limited time.

Why do I need a company overview?

The company overview is the part of your business plan that gives the basics and background of your business. It’s the foundation on which you will build the rest of your business plan.

If you’re looking to appeal to investors or potential clients, you need a reader to make an informed decision about your company. Before they can do that, they must know what your company does and who your customer is. Lenders in particular need a reason to keep reading, since they see tons of business plans regularly. The company overview provides those answers, and it will help you get a better sense of your business so you can firm up things like your marketing plan.

Compare cards

What should i include in a company overview.

The exact elements that you need in your company overview will depend upon what details of your business are important, but there are some foundational elements that will be included in every company overview.

Once you’ve covered the basics, you can include any other minor details that will benefit a reader who will need to make an informed decision about your business.

Basic company information

Consider the company overview like an introduction for your business. In the opening paragraph of your company overview, you’ll want to include basic company information. That includes:

Your company name: This should be the official name of your business, exactly as it is written when you registered your business with the state.

Business structure: Your reader will want to know what business entity your company comes in: sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership or corporation.

Location(s): Share where your business is headquartered and other locations the business owns.

Ownership and management team

Break down who owns your business and how each owner is involved with the business. What shares of the company belong to whom? If you have a highly involved management team, share their names and key roles with the company as well.

Company history

Part of what makes your company unique is its history. And, even startups have some history. Don’t put too much focus on this section, but do add some personality and interesting details if possible, especially if they relate to your company culture.

Mission statement

Your company’s mission statement should be included in the company overview. If you don’t yet have a company mission statement, that’s okay. Think of a mission statement as the purpose of your company.

If you don’t have one, you can create one with your team. Or you can simply replace the mission statement with a problem statement. Your business idea should exist to solve a problem or pain point faced by your customers. Share what that problem is and what your business does to solve it. That’s essentially your mission statement.

Product/service and customer

This section of the company overview is where you can share the nitty-gritty details of your business. Talk about what product or service you provide and to whom you provide it. You can share some numbers here, but in general, save the numbers for later in your business plan.

The company overview should give the reader a general understanding of your business, your product or service, and your customer. If they’re interested to know more, they’ll reach out to you for a meeting or take the time to read the rest of your business plan. Keep it simple and straightforward here.

Future goals

While concrete details and facts about your business are important to whoever is reading your company overview, it’s also important to share your dreams and your vision. If you’re writing a business plan for a business that’s already in place, it’s very likely you’re looking for business financing to scale or solve a business problem. If you’re just starting out, though, then it’s likely you’re hoping to find startup funding.

The section on your future business goals should include a brief description of your growth goals for your business. Where you are now tells the reader a lot, but they also want to know where you plan to go.

A company overview is comprised of many small parts. Each part shares just a little bit more about your company with your reader.

i want to know about a business plan

Tips for writing a company overview

While a company overview is simply the details of your company written out, it might not be easy to write. Break it down into small steps and use these tips to make putting together your company overview just a little bit easier.

Start with the elevator pitch

If your business is already in operation, then you likely have an elevator pitch. Your company overview can start off with your elevator pitch.

The first paragraph of your company overview should include just a few sentences that explain your business and what you do. The shorter and clearer this is, the more likely your reader will understand and keep reading.

Stick to the basics

It’s tempting to pile on all the details when you’re writing a company overview. Remember, many of the details of your company, including the numbers, will be included in later sections of your business plan.

Your company overview should include only the most basic details about your company that the reader needs to know.

Be passionate

When you share the history, mission statement, and vision for the future of your company, it’s okay to show your passion. You wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t love what you do.

Your excitement for your business could spark interest for the reader and keep them engaged with your company overview and business plan.

Keep it succinct

When you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to get carried away. Remember that you’ve got plenty of space for details in your business plan. The company overview should be just the most basic information someone needs to understand your business.

It’s OK if your first draft of your company overview is long. Simply go through and edit it to be shorter, removing unnecessary details and words each time you read through it. Clear, concise descriptions are more likely to be read and to keep the reader reading to other sections of your business plan.

Have structure

Your company overview is just one piece of a multi-tiered business plan. Creating a clear structure for your business plan makes it easier to read. The same is true for your company overview.

Your business plan should have chapters, one of which is the company overview. Then, you can further break down the content for easy skimming and reading by adding sub-chapters. You can denote these breaks in content with bold headers.

While you can break down each section of the company overview with bold headers based on the above suggestions, you can also interweave some information together, such as the company structure and leadership structure. Each section should be only a few sentences long.

Write it later

If you’re struggling to write your company overview, come back to it. Write the rest of your business plan first and then write your company overview.

While this might seem like the opposite way of doing things, knowing what will be contained in the rest of your business plan can help you to focus in on the very most essential details in the company overview and to leave everything else out.

Get a test reader

If you’re struggling to edit down your company overview, get a test reader. Ideally, you’ll want to ask someone who doesn’t know a lot about your business. They’ll help you understand whether or not you’ve clearly communicated your message.

Proofreading is the final step in editing something you’ve written. This type of editing looks for typos, misspellings and grammatical errors that have been missed. Many of these small errors can be difficult to spot in our own writing, so be sure to ask someone who hasn’t seen multiple drafts of your company overview.

Company overview examples

If you don’t want to shell out for business planning software, but would still like some company overview examples to get you started, there are many places online you can look to for help getting started, like the Small Business Administration and SCORE.

Many successful companies also have some version of their company overview made public as their company profile page online. There are some variations from the company overview steps we’ve listed above, of course, but you can use the language and style of these company overview examples for inspiration:

Starbucks company profile .

Puma company page .

TaskRabbit About page .

Peloton company page .

Nestlé About page .

If you’re still feeling stuck, or want more company overview examples, try searching the websites of your favorite companies for more information. You might be surprised what you find — the Nestlé page, for example, has more information about their strategy and business principles.

On a similar note...

23 Pro Tips for Running a Successful Business

Sujan Patel

Published: December 12, 2022

Just about anyone can start a business.

Happy business owner running a successful clothing retail business using her mobile phone and computer.

Once you fill out a few forms, get the permits or licenses you need, offer a great product or service, and advertise it, it’s safe to say you’re a business owner.

Running a successful business is an entirely different story. Several factors affect the success of a business. In this article, we’ll share the latest data that you need to know before opening a small business. We'll talk about the factors that impact business success, and a few pro tips on how to run and maintain a thriving business.

Here’s a table of contents to help you navigate the important information you need to know:

What makes a business successful?

What factors can impact business success, business success trends [new data], how to run a business, what does business success look like.

One of the challenges of running a thriving business is that there are many ways to measure success. Each business owner must create their own unique definition, and stick to it.

For many, success means profit. While short-term gains are exciting, long-term wealth and growth are common goals. This may also extend to personal wealth and collecting expensive items like homes or cars. Others assess their value through their ability to solve problems for their customers. And some business owners focus their success on progress toward a dream or mission.

Revenue, gross profit, and cash flow impact the present and future of every company. But to create sustained value, businesses need to make their own definitions of success.

  • Focus on the customer experience.
  • A powerful business idea.
  • Offering value to your target audience.
  • Being flexible and quick to adapt.
  • Bold decision-making and creative problem-solving.
  • Paying attention.
  • Getting out of the office.

The world is changing quickly, and so the strategies and habits that worked in the past don't guarantee success today. You may be starting a business for the first time or working to pivot your company in a new direction. Either way, running a business today means staying open and taking in an ever-expanding flood of information.

The following steps will help you pay attention to the factors that matter most to business success.

1. Focus on the customer experience.

Customers and prospects have more access to information than ever before. According to HubSpot Research , 79% of customer service teams feel customers are more informed than they were in the past. And almost 90% of surveyed leaders say their expectations are higher than ever before.

What makes a business successful graphic: Customer expectations data

In many situations, the way you treat your customers has more of an impact than your pricing or products.

Customer experience is the impression you give your customer. It tells them what your values are and how much you care about them. And this impacts their perception of your brand across each stage and touchpoint of the customer journey.

This means that businesses need to focus on every step of the buyer journey. You need to identify the problems on that path and offer new opportunities to create a great customer experience.

These are just a few ways you can build a customer focus:

  • Make customer experience a priority by gathering insights from everyone on your team
  • Take steps to reduce friction and focus energy on what's most important to your customers
  • Look at your product experience from their point of view
  • Solve problems before they impact your audience
  • Invest in training and supporting your customer service team

Customers want and expect a great experience from beginning to end, and they’re willing to pay a premium for it. Are you ready to provide that experience? Are you over-delivering on your CX? To run a successful business, you should be.

Featured resources:

  • Customer experience strategy
  • How to improve your customer experience
  • Customer experience trends

2. A powerful business idea.

The oldest companies in the world have been around for as long as 1,400 years . But many companies struggle to last. In 2021 alone, over 14,000 businesses in the United States filed for bankruptcy .

Every business is born from an idea. Some ideas are riskier than others. Some ideas seem like a good plan at the time, but fizzle out over time. There are a few approaches you can take to find an idea that can make your business a success.

First, start with what you know. If you've ever had a hobby or job you're passionate about, you know that every niche is more complex than it seems. As you learn more, you get a clearer picture of the joys and challenges below the surface.

For example, video games are more popular than ever. But a gamer playing Stardew Valley isn't the same audience as someone who's into Half-Life. Their different approaches to gaming mean that you'll need to get more specific. This will help you find the problems you want to solve with your video game business idea.

Next, you'll want to talk to your community. Whether it's family and friends or an online group, it's smart to test out the value of your ideas with a group of people. This step can help you refine your idea and figure out what the common objections might be.

Finally, research is essential before you launch your business idea. If you want to create a product or service that people are willing to pay for, it has to be unique, useful, and high-quality. That kind of idea may take some time to polish before it's ready for purchase.

  • Small business ideas
  • Business opportunities

3. Offering value to your target audience.

Customer value could come from your excellent business idea. But an idea isn't enough to build a business. Honestly, it's easy to come up with a great idea. What's difficult is executing an idea so that it does what it's meant to do, and does it well.

And no great product is ever finished. Many products will need constant updates from customer reviews and internal feedback to continue to offer value.

Even if your product or service is perfect, providing value doesn't end there. The foundation of any successful business is trust. To develop that trust, you want to make sure your business goes above and beyond target audience expectations . But what does that mean?

First, it's making sure that your product does exactly what you say it does. Don't over-promise or sell functionality your product doesn't have. Next, it's about value throughout the customer experience, from support to instructions to your return policy. Value isn't just the cost of making your product or what you ask in exchange for it. It's customer perception, and how you meet those expectations.

For example, PopFlex doesn’t just offer inclusive athleisure wear, it runs a female fitness channel called Blogilates with journals, resources, and accessories to support its customers.

What makes a business successful example: PopFlex workout calendar

Image Source

  • Providing value through the buyer journey
  • Writing a value proposition
  • Value-based selling

4. Being flexible and quick to adapt.

Change is the only constant, and for your business to prosper, you'll need to shift with the times. Whether you have to follow fashion trends or shift with regular tech updates, the ability to flex is essential.

And flexibility isn't just useful when you're adjusting your products or marketing. Employee expectations and needs will change. Customer communications will swing. It might feel more comfortable for you to stick with what you're used to and ask other people to change instead. But that approach could limit your ability to succeed.

Adapting to change isn't always easy. But greeting change with a positive and open attitude can improve productivity, loyalty, and engagement. It can also help your business act on new ideas early and give you a competitive advantage by doing so.

Flexibility and adaptability are soft skills, and if they don't come naturally to you, you may need to go out of your way to practice them.

One way to stretch your flexibility is to travel somewhere new. The experience of adjusting to a different language and culture can make it easier to flex at home. Other ways to build your comfort with change include:

  • Making constant learning a priority
  • Keeping up with news and trends in your industry
  • Expanding your network
  • Becoming an adaptable leader
  • How to make your business more flexible

5. Bold decision-making and creative problem-solving.

Starting any business is a risk. But it's rarely the only bold action you'll take. More often than not, running a successful business means big decisions and creative experiments.

Dynamic thinking sounds wild and dicey when you're talking about a company that supports you, your family, and your team. But it's that creativity that creates a stable foundation for your business.

Because being creative is about finding where typical thinking has failed. It's a chance to develop new ways of solving problems. Bold decisions don't require any less planning or preparation than traditional ideas. They just take more faith, because there is usually little to no proof that these ideas will work. They might take more trial and error. But when a creative solution works, it really works.

If you don't think of yourself as bold or creative, this aspect of business success may feel a bit daunting. But there are a few ways that anyone can use the creative process to improve their business decisions.

What makes a business successful graphic: Decision tree

Begin with research, and try to quickly take in as much information as you can before you take action . Then, sit with the information for a little while. Consider the possible positive and negative impacts and don't let the urgency of a deadline or external pressure rush a decision.

Creative decision-making is rarely a linear process. These tools can help when you're feeling stuck:

  • Critical thinking course
  • Decision trees
  • Decision making

6. Paying attention.

Running a business takes a lot of skill, effort, and time. When your batteries are running low, it's tough to give your focus to the people and processes that need "extra" attention. But paying attention is what will help your business survive and thrive. It can give you vital insights you can use to grow your business over time.

For example, you want to pay attention to your customers' changing needs. People are talking about you and your brand whether you ask them to or not. Are you listening and considering what they're saying?

Your team might use traditional methods like calling or emailing your customers. You may also use the process of social listening or conduct feedback surveys , such as net promoter score (NPS), to gather data on customer sentiment. Make a habit of listening to the market and your customers .

Here’s a powerful example of a CEO who listened to feedback and applied it to grow his business. "As the founder of an indie startup, I've come to embrace a few core values," says Eugene Woo , CEO of Venngage.

"This includes realizing our mission over a long period of time instead of a quick exit, creating value for our customers by helping them solve real problems, being responsible for our own financial sustainability, scaling at our own pace, and doing the right thing over 'it's just business.' This philosophy has guided every aspect of my decision-making process as I've made Venngage into an independent, growing, and profitable business over the past four years."

7. Getting out of the office.

"Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week." - Lori Greiner

Running a business can take over your life. But if you don't take a break, you make it tough for your business to prosper. Stepping away from your office, store, or computer is essential to your continuing success.

Make time for social activities. Attend events, do some networking, or start a hobby that gets you out into the world. This can improve your energy levels and also help you expand your support system.

It's also a good idea to take extra care of yourself. Try to get in some physical activity, travel, and take short breaks throughout the day to give yourself a rest or change of perspective. There's a reason why airlines instruct us to place our oxygen masks on before helping others: if we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of someone else.

Likewise, if you don't have personal goals and plans for your overall health and well-being, you won't be as effective in running your business.

  • Market demand for products and services.
  • Building the right team.
  • Preparation for leadership.
  • Network development.
  • Competitive analysis.
  • Choosing the right pricing.
  • Long-term goals and vision.

There are many reasons why a business might fail. According to research, there are a few challenges that are more common than others.

The following factors are essentials to consider as you start and run your business.

1. Market demand for products and services.

A great service or product will get you nowhere if there's zero need for it. Due diligence and careful, detailed market research are essential in the early stages of starting a business.

You need concrete data on your ideal customers, the existing competition, expected growth and demand, market trends, and more. Determine who would buy your product, how often, and why.

These types of insights are invaluable and help you make informed business decisions and goals. They help you not only find your niche but adequately plan inventory and forecast sales, too.

2. Building the right team.

The most successful business owners and entrepreneurs know to surround themselves with people smarter than they are. If you decide to scale your business, you’ll need a strong team to help you do great work. The only way to do this is by recruiting and hiring the best people .

And don't just build any team — build a super team. As your budget and demand allow, surround yourself with experts in things that you are not. Ask for input and feedback from them.

Involve them in decisions that will impact them directly and indirectly. This will help foster greater investment in what you're building. It will also lead you to make better, more informed decisions together. When you win, you all win.

But that's not all. "It's important to develop a clear onboarding strategy for employees and a system for measuring results," says Nico Prins .

"Putting systems in place will help as you scale the business, especially if you're expanding quickly, and reduce the amount of time and work associated in dealing with inevitable staff turnover."

3. Preparation for leadership.

Before anything else, develop the leadership qualities necessary to build your business's long-term vision. Great leaders exhibit:

  • Accountability
  • Organizational direction

Even as a new business owner with no other employees, you are responsible for leading your business to success. As you (hopefully) grow and others come on board, that becomes increasingly important.

If leadership skills don't come naturally to you, you're not alone. According to Gallup research, only one in ten leaders comes by those skills naturally.

This means that most people need to prepare to lead, and there are extensive resources to help develop these skills. As you begin to work on your leadership skills, these resources can help:

  • Developing leadership skills
  • Leadership training
  • Leadership resources
  • Leadership skills

4. Network development.

You'll need a strong community for your business to thrive. If you're just starting out, your network can connect you to co-marketing, funding, and other vital opportunities. If you're continuing to run a business, your network can shore up areas that need work or draw extra resources.

Networking is a buzzword that can be off-putting to some. But the quality of your network is in your relationships. If you support businesses that complement yours, they're likely to return that investment and support. It can create a steady stream of referrals and connections that can help your business grow.

To be a great partner to the people in your network, start with common values. Reach out to people in your local community and online who align with the mission and ideals you have for yourself and your business. Next, create a clear set of expectations and maintain friendly and consistent communication.

  • Guide to networking
  • Building business relationships

5. Competitive analysis.

Some ideas are so unique that there's little to no competition, but most businesses will be entering an already-crowded market. If your market is full of established providers, you may be fighting an uphill battle. But if you have a unique spin on your product or niche, you might be in the right place at the right time.

There's only one way you'll know for sure, and that's by completing a competitive analysis.

You'll use this strategy to learn about the products, marketing, and sales approaches of your top competition. Your learning may lead you to go in another direction. It might also help you find a need or problem that only your business can solve.

This process can also help you set benchmarks and understand the share of voice you'll need to reach your business goals.

The more organized you are, the more useful your research will be. It's also a good idea to perform this analysis on a consistent basis, each quarter is ideal, so that you can quickly respond to changes in your industry.

  • Competitive analysis kit
  • Competitive analysis templates

6. Choosing the right pricing.

Getting your pricing strategy right is important for your business's sustainability. If your prices are too high, you'll struggle to sell; too low, you won't be able to cover your costs.

Setting your pricing is one of the first things to do when starting a new business. Pricing your products to sell is a skill that may take some time to learn.

If your prices are too high and you limit your customer base. If they're too low and you're not pulling in enough revenue to stay afloat. Are your products priced appropriately? How many units will you need to sell each period to reach your revenue and profitability goals? Document and lay this information out clearly so you know exactly what you need to do to keep your business running and thriving.

Featured tool: Pricing strategy calculator

How to run a business example: Sales pricing strategy calculator

Download for Free

7. Long-term goals and vision.

People start businesses for many different reasons. Some want to make ends meet with a side gig, others want to replace their full-time job and be their own boss. Whatever your reason is, decide upfront how you want your business to scale. If you aren't thoughtful about your long-term plans, you won't be prepared for what could happen.

For example, marketing can be unpredictable. Businesses go viral for doing great work and aren’t prepared for the influx. Knowing in advance whether you’ll meet the moment or let it pass can save you from FOMO, or even having to close your business because you lacked the preparation needed to scale.

Featured tool: Growth grader

How to run a business example: Growth grader tool

So, create a plan before you start selling and create a vision-based plan . Whether you're in it for the moment or the long haul, this process will give you a center to go back to when you and your team have decisions to make.

Your mission statement could be about annual revenue or inspiring a community to take significant action. Either way, you'll have a document to help you focus your energies when you need to decide what to do next.

Featured tool: Mission statement templates and examples

How to run a business example: Mission statement templates

TL; DR — If you’re planning to start a business, you must actively work to make it successful. You’ll need to research, study, and learn about your industry, customer, and market inside and out.

When it comes to business data, most entrepreneurs want to know what chances they have for success.

How many people are starting new businesses?

According to Statista and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 347,000 new businesses started in Q1 of 2022. That's an 8.4% decrease from the last quarter of 2021, but an almost 21% increase from Q1 2021. In other words, new business is booming.

Running a business graphic: New business applications 2022

Guidant research says that over 60% of entrepreneurs went into business because they wanted to be their own boss.

What are the top costs that come with starting a business?

Payroll is a top cost for many businesses. Depending on the nature of your business, wages alone can cover 15-50% of your overhead budget.

U.S. census data shows that compensation costs are up, with a 5.1% increase in wages and salaries and a 4.9% increase in benefits. At the same time, 51% of small businesses plan to expand their team in 2022.

Will my new business succeed?

The success rate of the average new business tends to decline over time. The exact numbers vary, but most align with 2021 Statista data that shows almost 80% of new businesses in operation after the first year. Ten years later, almost 35% of those businesses are still running.

The specific numbers also change depending on the industry . Some industries, like healthcare and social assistance, have a higher-than-average survival rate. Others, like construction and transportation, have rates that are lower.

But the most important business statistics are personal. 92% of surveyed business owners don't regret starting their own business. And 30% are serial entrepreneurs, starting two or more businesses.

  • Define clear KPIs.
  • Make great marketing and branding.
  • Draft a business plan.
  • Keep innovating.
  • Develop a strong company culture.
  • Focus on financial goals.
  • Refine business processes.
  • Use the right tools for your growth strategy.
  • Develop a support system.

Learning how to run a business isn’t the same as starting one. But as you build your buyer personas, market research, and vision, you’ll also start to develop the skills it takes to keep a business going. Running a business looks a little different for everyone, but these steps can help you prepare your company for sustainable growth.

1. Make great marketing and branding.

If you build it, they may not come. The presence of a marketing strategy is one of the telltale signs of whether or not a business will make it.

Marketing spans everything from finding prospects to upselling new products and services to loyal customers. Marketing is about getting the right message to the right people at the right time.

Featured tool: Marketing plan template

What makes a business successful examples: Marketing plan template

As you build your marketing plan, ask yourself:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What problems do they have that you can solve?
  • How do they want to engage with businesses?
  • Where do they spend their time?

Answering these questions will help you understand your target audience and buyer persona. An effective marketing and branding strategy will focus on this specific audience and then grow from that core group.

Once you know who you're talking to, you need to choose the best channels for communication.

Successful businesses looking to share their message usually start by building a following on one platform at a time. Here are the most common methods for communicating with potential customers:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Search Marketing
  • Business website
  • Content marketing

Most customers are online, so omnichannel marketing is a powerful option that can help you attract prospects and keep customers happy. Omnichannel integrates the various channels used by modern consumers into one seamless experience.

Strong businesses also focus their energy on a primary platform that they own. Branding is about creating a personality for your company that your audience can trust.

Your branding, design, tone, and personality all need to align across every marketing channel and point to a website.

Content marketing is another powerful option for small businesses. Having a website is beneficial because you own the channel. That means you can promote your content anytime you want without dealing with algorithms or paid ads. High-quality, valuable content on your website can drive traffic and leads to you.

As you build your marketing strategy, be sure that you're offering value to your customer. "One way to validate that people are looking for solutions to their 'problems' is through keyword research," says Nathan Gotch of Gotch SEO . "You can find the exact keywords your prospective customers are using with tools like UberSuggest or the Google Keyword Planner. You then need to create content around the keywords you find."

But it doesn't stop there. "Content is also a valuable sales tool," says Valerie Turgeon . "While a strong sales team is essential for closing the deal, buyers are more likely to self-educate and engage with digital content before conversing with sales. A content strategy will help guide your content creation and distribution efforts to get in front of buyers first and help capture leads for your sales team."

How to run a business example: Content marketing suggestions

An effective content marketing strategy is one of the best ways to stand out in today's crowded online marketplace. Founder and marketing director Isaac Justesen says, "But consistently creating high-quality content isn't easy. That's why many successful businesses outsource content creation instead."

You might also want to work with partners to amplify your messaging. As CEO of Aptitude 8 Connor Jeffers told me, "In the early days of Aptitude 8, we found a lot of success with partner marketing. I recommend early-stage companies find partners that serve the same audience they're targeting, build relationships with their marketing teams, and supply those teams with great content they can help distribute easily."

More resources:

  • Branding guide
  • Develop brand identity
  • Small business marketing guide
  • Content marketing guide

2. Draft a business plan.

It's up to you whether you want to create a formal business plan or just document your professional goals. But if you want to create a business that lasts, you need a space to record and share your plan for your business, one that you're proud to share with every stakeholder.

Business plans vary but most will include most of the items below:

  • Summary of your business idea
  • Company description
  • Products or services
  • Market research
  • A plan for marketing and branding
  • Legal requirements
  • Financial expectations
  • Starting budget

It's easier than ever before to create a business plan. And your business plan isn't a just document that you write and set aside. It's a living document you can store in the cloud. This means that every person with a stake in your business can have access to your plan. This will ensure consistency, collaboration, and the evolution of your business plan over time.

Featured tool: Free business plan template

How to run a business example: Business plan template

3. Define clear KPIs.

Without concrete goals, it will be difficult to tell how well your business is actually doing. So, setting the right KPIs is essential.

KPI stands for key performance indicator. These are a way to track your business performance against your goals. They can give your team a target to push toward, help you measure progress, and improve your decision-making as your business grows.

If you're not sure where to start, get clear on the four Ps : product, price, promotion, and place. These can guide your marketing plan, and customer personas, and can be a jumping-off point for setting other KPIs.

Try not to set too many KPIs to start, and make sure each KPI is SMART :

How to run a business example: SMART goals graphic

4. Keep innovating.

Like bold decision-making, innovation is a must for business success. Regular attention to invention and experimentation can keep your business from growing stagnant.

That said, you don't have to keep reinventing the wheel. Some of the most powerful innovations are small changes that improve the customer experience.

To make a habit of innovating, weave creative planning into your business processes. Set aside time during meetings and daily tasks for brainstorming, experiments, and trend research.

And make a point of keeping up with news and forward thinkers, especially in your industry and niche. Fresh insights can spark conversations that could lead to your next big idea.

5. Refine business processes.

Many business processes come about organically. Sometimes a process sticks around because of habits or resistance to change. Other processes evolve in response to outside forces.

To keep your business growing, effective processes are key. So, be intentional with planning and strategy before creating the processes your team completes each day.

Creating a solid plan before habits start forming will ensure that each process is best for your business. It also gives you an easy way to track and adjust processes that aren't working.

Featured tool: Free sales plan template

How to run a business example: Sales plan template

Processes often come from the tools you use. But if you scale your efforts with the right software you can get more done with less. Instead of disparate platforms, spreadsheets, and email tools, condense your sales process into one distinct CRM and sales platform .

The right tools make you better able to meet and exceed customer expectations. For example, 71% of customers are comfortable working with bots if it means a better experience. So, a tool like live chat software can help address the need for a quick response.

6. Develop a strong company culture.

Businesses often overlook the power that culture and employee engagement can have on all fronts of the company. But culture makes an impact, from recruiting to exit interviews.

To build a solid culture, focus on your team.

"Good HR teamed with an arsenal of great tools can change your company for the better," says Ali Anderson . "Happy, engaged employees do great work, and company growth will quickly follow."

According to Anderson: "When companies invest in their training and onboarding processes, they'll find their employees are more prepared to do great work and take on the challenges of the business."

Taking steps to measure and improve employee engagement and employee net promoter scores can increase productivity, improve employee sentiment, and make your employees more likely to recommend your business to their friends. If you’re looking for tips and ideas on this, check out the Culture Happens podcast .

How to run a business example: Culture Happens podcast for employee engagement

Monthly or quarterly performance discussions build team camaraderie and improve employee mental health. These meetings can also create an environment of trust, which leads to greater innovation.

Small businesses can attract rare candidates by having a positive culture, a strong career track, and well-trained, unbiased recruiters. "A supportive culture and a strong career track are key to attracting the best of the best," agrees Taylor Dumouchel .

"Top professionals seek respect, not just within their immediate teams, but throughout an organization; they want to work for companies that value what they do. In order to recruit top talent, executives need to highlight their positive and supportive culture and underscore how they recognize that their positions are a part of the major drivers for company growth."

Good HR teams with an arsenal of great tools can change your company for the better. Happy, engaged employees do great work, and company growth will quickly follow.

Many business leaders don't realize that company culture begins when a company is still new. They sometimes forget to care for the employees who are creating that culture. So, once you have a strong team of people, make sure that you're providing what they need to stick around.

Do what you can to help your team feel motivated, incentivized, and well taken care of so they can effectively do their job. This is why offering benefits to your staff is so important.

As you make hiring decisions, factor in how much budget you have to cover employee benefits. Once you know your budget, consider what benefits are required on a federal, state, and local level for your business. Some required benefits may include:

  • Unemployment taxes and insurance
  • Time off for voting, jury duty, and active military service
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Compliance with Family and Medical Leave Act ( FMLA )

After factoring in the costs of required benefits, you can determine what elective benefits you would like to offer. Know that these benefits are often what keep an employer competitive, especially in a hot job market. Competitive analysis can also help you see what other companies in your industry are offering their employees.

Other potential benefits include:

  • Health insurance
  • Retirement savings
  • Paid vacation and/or holidays
  • Disability insurance (required for some states)
  • Life insurance

7. Focus on financial goals.

Launching and building a business is expensive. You need financing — capital, investments, loans, and revenue — to get you through the lean times.

For a business to be successful, it has to make enough money to sustain operations and turn a profit that can be re-invested for future growth. A detailed budget can help you keep track of revenue and expenses.

Featured tool: Marketing budget template

How to run a business example: Marketing budget template

As you develop and track your financial goals, don't forget to factor in your business costs including:

Determine how much money your business needs to bring in on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis to succeed. If you're not comfortable with accounting , balance sheets , or financial forecasting , start learning now.

8. Use the right tools for your growth strategy.

The number of apps, products, and SaaS solutions available is growing exponentially. Identify and use those tools that can help you optimize your business.

Thanks to the ever-decreasing cost of technology, even small businesses have all the tools they need at their fingertips (for instance, a free-forever, all-in-one CRM ). But choosing the right tools can be challenging.

According to Manvi Agarwal , there are a few things you should consider when deciding which tool is best:

  • Zero in on the processes you want to use each tool for.
  • See how each one of those tools can make that process easier or more efficient.
  • Choose one that performs a very specific task, even if it might be tempting to go for an all-in-one tool.
  • Compare how much value the tool is providing vs. the amount it will cost you.
  • Ensure the tool is scalable – that it grows along with your business and can meet your business's changing needs.

If you haven’t implemented a stack of tools to streamline your business processes, using a CRM is a great place to start. HubSpot CRM is the perfect foundation for an effective growth strategy.

9. Develop a support system.

Running a business can take over your life. While many thrive on the intensity, too much can create a level of stress that's not healthy. So, a support system is essential for the continued success of your business.

This group of people can help you manage your stress and keep a positive outlook through the highs and lows. They can be active members of your small business team or offer vital reminders to maintain a balance between work and life.

Those with a tight circle of family and friends may rely on them for more than moral support. According to 2022 Bank of America research, 46% of small business owners run their businesses with a partner or spouse. And 12% fund their businesses with resources from family and friends.

It's also a good idea to expand your social circle. Shore up your community with local social clubs, industry organizations, and charitable groups. A support system can benefit you and everyone who's important to you with positive personal impacts. It can also boost collaboration and productivity.

Starting a business is easy.

But running a successful company takes time, effort, and commitment. Take the time to study the businesses that keep people at the forefront. These are the best teachers, even if they’ve made a few missteps along the way.

Cultivate a reputation of trustworthiness and build credibility and expertise in your industry. Then, take what you’ve learned here and turn it into action. You’ll be on your way to running a successful business that will delight your customers and turn a profit.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


Don't forget to share this post!

Related articles.

How to Start a Business: A Startup Guide for Entrepreneurs [Template]

How to Start a Business: A Startup Guide for Entrepreneurs [Template]

Product Differentiation and What it Means for Your Brand

Product Differentiation and What it Means for Your Brand

Amazon Affiliate Program: How to Become an Amazon Associate to Boost Income

Amazon Affiliate Program: How to Become an Amazon Associate to Boost Income

How to Write a Business Proposal [Examples + Template]

How to Write a Business Proposal [Examples + Template]

70 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

70 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

The 25 Best PayPal Alternatives of 2023

The 25 Best PayPal Alternatives of 2023

The First-Mover Advantage, Explained

The First-Mover Advantage, Explained

Intrapreneurship vs. Entrepreneurship: What's the Difference?

Intrapreneurship vs. Entrepreneurship: What's the Difference?

What Are Current Assets? Definition + Examples

What Are Current Assets? Definition + Examples

2 Essential Templates For Starting Your Business

100% Free CRM

Nurture and grow your business with customer relationship management software.

Business Plan Information: Everything You Need to Know

Business plan information must always tell an interesting story as the purpose of a business plan is to secure financing for a new company. 3 min read

Business plan information must always tell an interesting story. This is because the purpose of a business plan is to secure financing for a new company. The audience consists of potential investors that must be convinced to invest in your business. The goal of a business plan is to show that your company has the potential to make a lot of money. A well-written business plan relays information in numerous ways and can be comprised of a variety of different orders. However, it must convey a clear understanding of the proposed market opportunity, explain your individual business model, and describe how money can be made from investing in your company.

Gathering Information for Your Business Plan

When writing a business plan, it is important to gather data to try to accurately project employee costs, business needs, and company sales. Understanding how to research and compile all the necessary information will assist you in this task. Although the internet has made gathering information much easier, most of the data you will encounter will relate to competitors within your business industry. Some of the most beneficial information needed to develop a successful business plan will be found close to home, with business owners in your community who have a comparable business model.

There are several steps to take when gathering information from competitors for a business plan:

  • The number of patrons that go inside the business.
  • The number of purchases that were made.
  • Store prices .
  • How long each customer stays inside the business.
  • Look for a similar company in another location. Find a similar store in a destination outside your community. Contact the owner, truthfully explain your intentions, and ask thoughtful questions about their business.
  • Even if you do not want to purchase this particular store, the information you may gain could be very valuable.
  • Why is the owner selling the company?
  • Are there currently any problems within the company?
  • Shop at your competitors' stores. If you are considering starting a pizzeria, visit any potential competitors to assess how their business is running.

What Should Be Included in a Business Plan?

It helps to know the basic components of a business plan. It may include the following items:

  • Cover page and a table of contents : It helps to organize your business plan with a proper table of contents and page numbering. Also include the business name, associated logo, and the owner's contact information.
  • Executive summary : Provide a brief description of your business in order to get people interested. It is often recommended to wait to write this portion of the business plan after the other sections are completed.
  • Market analysis : In this section you should include any competitors, target market, and describe your industry.
  • Management and organization structure : Information regarding the appointed board of directors, employee job descriptions, past work experience, management profiles, and documenting the owner of the company should be clearly stated in this portion of the business plan.
  • Sales and marketing plans : Describe how you will market the business and how you plan to generate sales.
  • Service or product descriptions : Thoroughly describe your products or services and note any trademarks, patents , or copyrights that you have acquired.
  • Funding requests : Supply a budget that specifies how you intend to use invested capital and note your long-term financial strategies. This is where you will also outline your expectations of any funding needs required now and over the next five years.
  • Financial projections : Any relevant financial information should be included, including cash flow statements, balance sheets, past income statements, and projected income.
  • Appendix : In this section, any supplementary documentation should be provided such as tax returns, letters of recommendation, your resume, completed research, and any contracts or pertinent lease information.

Remember that preparing a business plan can be a difficult process, but the end result will be very worthwhile.

If you need help with business plan information, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

Hire the top business lawyers and save up to 60% on legal fees

Content Approved by UpCounsel

  • Creating a Business Plan
  • Service Business Plan
  • How to Make a Business Plan Format
  • Business Plan for Existing Company
  • Sample of a Good Business Plan
  • Parts of Business Plan and Definition
  • Business Plan Contents Page
  • LLC Business Plan Template
  • Business Plan for New Company
  • Details of a Business Plan

Trending now

Highest paying careers after mba, business analyst interview questions, digital transformation and future of tech jobs in india: a simplilearn report 2020, 11 of the most popular digital business models and strategies to create a one in 2023, business analyst job description: salaries and skills for 2023.

Top Business Analyst Skills

What’s the Difference Between Leadership vs Management?

10 major leadership theories every manager should master in 2023, embark on your path to mastering business analytics, top 14 mba specializations for 2023, business planning: it’s importance, types and key elements.

Business Planning: It’s Importance, Types and Key Elements

Table of Contents

Every year, thousands of new businesses see the light of the day. One look at the  World Bank's Entrepreneurship Survey and database  shows the mind-boggling rate of new business registrations. However, sadly, only a tiny percentage of them have a chance of survival.   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, about 50% in their fifth year.

Research from the University of Tennessee found that 44% of businesses fail within the first three years. Among those that operate within specific sectors, like information (which includes most tech firms), 63% shut shop within three years.

Several  other statistics  expose the abysmal rates of business failure. But why are so many businesses bound to fail? Most studies mention "lack of business planning" as one of the reasons.

This isn’t surprising at all. 

Running a business without a plan is like riding a motorcycle up a craggy cliff blindfolded. Yet, way too many firms ( a whopping 67%)  don't have a formal business plan in place. 

Become The Highest-Paid Business Analysis Expert

Become The Highest-Paid Business Analysis Expert

It doesn't matter if you're a startup with a great idea or a business with an excellent product. You can only go so far without a roadmap — a business plan. Only, a business plan is so much more than just a roadmap. A solid plan allows a business to weather market challenges and pivot quickly in the face of crisis, like the one global businesses are struggling with right now, in the post-pandemic world.  

But before you can go ahead and develop a great business plan, you need to know the basics. In this article, we'll discuss the fundamentals of business planning to help you plan effectively for 2021.  

Now before we begin with the details of business planning, let us understand what it is.

What Is a Business Plan?

No two businesses have an identical business plan, even if they operate within the same industry. So one business plan can look entirely different from another one. Still, for the sake of simplicity, a business plan can be defined as a guide for a company to operate and achieve its goals.  

More specifically, it's a document in writing that outlines the goals, objectives, and purpose of a business while laying out the blueprint for its day-to-day operations and key functions such as marketing, finance, and expansion.

A good business plan can be a game-changer for startups that are looking to raise funds to grow and scale. It convinces prospective investors that the venture will be profitable and provides a realistic outlook on how much profit is on the cards and by when it will be attained. 

However, it's not only new businesses that greatly benefit from a business plan. Well-established companies and large conglomerates also need to tweak their business plans to adapt to new business environments and unpredictable market changes. 

Before getting into learning more about business planning, let us learn the advantages of having one.

The Advantages of Having a Business Plan

Since a detailed business plan offers a birds-eye view of the entire framework of an establishment, it has several benefits that make it an important part of any organization. Here are few ways a business plan can offer significant competitive edge.

  • Sets objectives and benchmarks: Proper planning helps a business set realistic objectives and assign stipulated time for those goals to be met. This results in long-term profitability. It also lets a company set benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) necessary to reach its goals. 
  • Maximizes resource allocation: A good business plan helps to effectively organize and allocate the company’s resources. It provides an understanding of the result of actions, such as, opening new offices, recruiting fresh staff, change in production, and so on. It also helps the business estimate the financial impact of such actions.
  • Enhances viability: A plan greatly contributes towards turning concepts into reality. Though business plans vary from company to company, the blueprints of successful companies often serve as an excellent guide for nascent-stage start-ups and new entrepreneurs. It also helps existing firms to market, advertise, and promote new products and services into the market.
  • Aids in decision making: Running a business involves a lot of decision making: where to pitch, where to locate, what to sell, what to charge — the list goes on. A well thought-out business plan provides an organization the ability to anticipate the curveballs that the future could throw at them. It allows them to come up with answers and solutions to these issues well in advance.
  • Fix past mistakes: When businesses create plans keeping in mind the flaws and failures of the past and what worked for them and what didn’t, it can help them save time, money, and resources. Such plans that reflects the lessons learnt from the past offers businesses an opportunity to avoid future pitfalls.
  • Attracts investors: A business plan gives investors an in-depth idea about the objectives, structure, and validity of a firm. It helps to secure their confidence and encourages them to invest. 

Now let's look at the various types involved in business planning.

The Types of Business Plans

Business plans are formulated according to the needs of a business. It can be a simple one-page document or an elaborate 40-page affair, or anything in between. While there’s no rule set in stone as to what exactly a business plan can or can’t contain, there are a few common types of business plan that nearly all businesses in existence use.  

Here’s an overview of a few fundamental types of business plans. 

  • Start-up plan: As the name suggests, this is a documentation of the plans, structure, and objections of a new business establishments. It describes the products and services that are to be produced by the firm, the staff management, and market analysis of their production. Often, a detailed finance spreadsheet is also attached to this document for investors to determine the viability of the new business set-up.
  • Feasibility plan: A feasibility plan evaluates the prospective customers of the products or services that are to be produced by a company. It also estimates the possibility of a profit or a loss of a venture. It helps to forecast how well a product will sell at the market, the duration it will require to yield results, and the profit margin that it will secure on investments. 
  • Expansion Plan: This kind of plan is primarily framed when a company decided to expand in terms of production or structure. It lays down the fundamental steps and guidelines with regards to internal or external growth. It helps the firm to analyze the activities like resource allocation for increased production, financial investments, employment of extra staff, and much more.
  • Operations Plan: An operational plan is also called an annual plan. This details the day-to-day activities and strategies that a business needs to follow in order to materialize its targets. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of the managing body, the various departments, and the company’s employees for the holistic success of the firm.
  • Strategic Plan: This document caters to the internal strategies of the company and is a part of the foundational grounds of the establishments. It can be accurately drafted with the help of a SWOT analysis through which the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can be categorized and evaluated so that to develop means for optimizing profits.

The Key Elements of a Business Plan

There is some preliminary work that’s required before you actually sit down to write a plan for your business. Knowing what goes into a business plan is one of them. 

Here are the key elements of a good business plan:

  • Executive Summary: An executive summary gives a clear picture of the strategies and goals of your business right at the outset. Though its value is often understated, it can be extremely helpful in creating the readers’ first impression of your business. As such, it could define the opinions of customers and investors from the get-go.  
  • Business Description: A thorough business description removes room for any ambiguity from your processes. An excellent business description will explain the size and structure of the firm as well as its position in the market. It also describes the kind of products and services that the company offers. It even states as to whether the company is old and established or new and aspiring. Most importantly, it highlights the USP of the products or services as compared to your competitors in the market.
  • Market Analysis: A systematic market analysis helps to determine the current position of a business and analyzes its scope for future expansions. This can help in evaluating investments, promotions, marketing, and distribution of products. In-depth market understanding also helps a business combat competition and make plans for long-term success.
  • Operations and Management: Much like a statement of purpose, this allows an enterprise to explain its uniqueness to its readers and customers. It showcases the ways in which the firm can deliver greater and superior products at cheaper rates and in relatively less time. 
  • Financial Plan: This is the most important element of a business plan and is primarily addressed to investors and sponsors. It requires a firm to reveal its financial policies and market analysis. At times, a 5-year financial report is also required to be included to show past performances and profits. The financial plan draws out the current business strategies, future projections, and the total estimated worth of the firm.

Best Business Plan Software

The importance of business planning is it simplifies the planning of your company's finances to present this information to a bank or investors. Here are the best business plan software providers available right now:

  • Business Sorter

Become an AI-powered Business Analyst

Become an AI-powered Business Analyst

Common Challenges of Writing a Business Plan

The importance of business planning cannot be emphasized enough, but it can be challenging to write a business plan. Here are a few issues to consider before you start your business planning:

  • Create a business plan to determine your company's direction, obtain financing, and attract investors.
  • Identifying financial, demographic, and achievable goals is a common challenge when writing a business plan.
  • Some entrepreneurs struggle to write a business plan that is concise, interesting, and informative enough to demonstrate the viability of their business idea.
  • You can streamline your business planning process by conducting research, speaking with experts and peers, and working with a business consultant.

Become an Expert Business Planner

Whether you’re running your own business or in-charge of ensuring strategic performance and growth for your employer or clients, knowing the ins and outs of business planning can set you up for success. 

Be it the launch of a new and exciting product or an expansion of operations, business planning is the necessity of all large and small companies. Which is why the need for professionals with superior business planning skills will never die out. In fact, their demand is on the rise with global firms putting emphasis on business analysis and planning to cope with cut-throat competition and market uncertainties.

While some are natural-born planners, most people have to work to develop this important skill. Plus, business planning requires you to understand the fundamentals of business management and be familiar with business analysis techniques . It also requires you to have a working knowledge of data visualization, project management, and monitoring tools commonly used by businesses today.   

Simpliearn’s Post Graduate Program in Business Analysis will help you develop and hone the required skills to become an extraordinary business planner. This comprehensive training program combined with the latest tools and methods can pave the way for you and equip you with the skills and the know-how to tackle any real-world challenges that may arise. Completing this industry-recognized course also earns you a valued certification as tangible proof of your talent. 

What Is Meant by Business Planning?

Business planning is developing a company's mission or goals and defining the strategies you will use to achieve those goals or tasks. The process can be extensive, encompassing all aspects of the operation, or it can be concrete, focusing on specific functions within the overall corporate structure.

What Are the 4 Types of Business Plans?

The following are the four types of business plans:

Operational Planning

This type of planning typically describes the company's day-to-day operations. Single-use plans are developed for events and activities that occur only once (such as a single marketing campaign). Ongoing plans include problem-solving policies, rules for specific regulations, and procedures for a step-by-step process for achieving particular goals.

Strategic Planning

Strategic plans are all about why things must occur. A high-level overview of the entire business is included in strategic planning. It is the organization's foundation and will dictate long-term decisions.

Tactical Planning

Tactical plans are about what will happen. Strategic planning is aided by tactical planning. It outlines the tactics the organization intends to employ to achieve the goals outlined in the strategic plan.

Contingency Planning

When something unexpected occurs or something needs to be changed, contingency plans are created. In situations where a change is required, contingency planning can be beneficial.

What Are the 7 Steps of a Business Plan?

The following are the seven steps required for a business plan:

Conduct Research

If your company is to run a viable business plan and attract investors, your information must be of the highest quality.

Have a Goal

The goal must be unambiguous. You will waste your time if you don't know why you're writing a business plan. Knowing also implies having a target audience for when the plan is expected to get completed.

Create a Company Profile

Some refer to it as a company profile, while others refer to it as a snapshot. It's designed to be mentally quick and digestible because it needs to stick in the reader's mind quickly since more information is provided later in the plan.

Describe the Company in Detail

Explain the company's current situation, both good and bad. Details should also include patents, licenses, copyrights, and unique strengths that no one else has.

Create a marketing plan ahead of time.

A strategic marketing plan is required because it outlines how your product or service will be communicated, delivered, and sold to customers.

Be Willing to Change Your Plan for the Sake of Your Audience

Another standard error is that people only write one business plan. Startups have several versions, just as candidates have numerous resumes for various potential employers.

Incorporate Your Motivation

Your motivation must be a compelling reason for people to believe your company will succeed in all circumstances. A mission should drive a business, not just selling, to make money. That mission is defined by your motivation as specified in your business plan.

What Are the Basic Steps in Business Planning?

These are the basic steps in business planning:

Summary and Objectives

Briefly describe your company, its objectives, and your plan to keep it running.

Services and Products

Add specifics to your detailed description of the product or service you intend to offer. Where, why, and how much you plan to sell your product or service and any special offers.

Conduct research on your industry and the ideal customers to whom you want to sell. Identify the issues you want to solve for your customers.

Operations are the process of running your business, including the people, skills, and experience required to make it successful.

How are you going to reach your target audience? How you intend to sell to them may include positioning, pricing, promotion, and distribution.

Consider funding costs, operating expenses, and projected income. Include your financial objectives and a breakdown of what it takes to make your company profitable. With proper business planning through the help of support, system, and mentorship, it is easy to start a business.

Find our Post Graduate Program in Business Analysis Online Bootcamp in top cities:

About the author.


Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

Recommended Programs

Post Graduate Program in Business Analysis

Business Analyst

*Lifetime access to high-quality, self-paced e-learning content.

Find Post Graduate Program in Business Analysis in these cities

Understanding Business Continuity Planning

Understanding Business Continuity Planning

Recommended resources.

Business Intelligence Career Guide: Your Complete Guide to Becoming a Business Analyst

Business Intelligence Career Guide: Your Complete Guide to Becoming a Business Analyst

Corporate Succession Planning: How to Create Leaders According to the Business Need

Corporate Succession Planning: How to Create Leaders According to the Business Need

Top Business Analyst Skills

Business Analytics Basics: A Beginner’s Guide

Financial Planning for Businesses Across the Globe

Financial Planning for Businesses Across the Globe

The Best Guide On How to Become a Business Analyst

The Best Guide On How to Become a Business Analyst

  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Everything that you need to know to start your own business. From business ideas to researching the competition.

Practical and real-world advice on how to run your business — from managing employees to keeping the books.

Our best expert advice on how to grow your business — from attracting new customers to keeping existing customers happy and having the capital to do it.

Entrepreneurs and industry leaders share their best advice on how to take your company to the next level.

  • Business Ideas
  • Human Resources
  • Business Financing
  • Growth Studio
  • Ask the Board

Looking for your local chamber?

Interested in partnering with us?

Start » startup, how to use ai tools to write a business plan.

These tools use artificial intelligence to generate full business plans you can take to investors.

 A man sits at a white desk and looks at the screen of an open laptop. Scattered elsewhere on the desk are a couple of potted plants, a cup of pencils and scissors, a tablet and smartphone, and a few stacks of papers. The man is wearing a dark blue plaid shirt over a purple T-shirt, and he has one hand held to his chin in thought.

Writing a business plan is an important, if arduous, task. Most investors and financial institutions will ask to see your business plan before providing startup capital. But, for many entrepreneurs, putting pen to paper to detail your idea can be burdensome.

AI tools can speed up the process of writing a business plan by providing the framework and initial content. However, you’ll need to go through the plan in detail to make sure it accurately reflects the financial modeling, mission and vision, and other elements that you’re starting to put into motion. Consider any business plan generated by these AI tools as a starting point from which to finesse your plan to perfection.

[Read more: Writing a Business Plan? Here’s How to Do It, Step by Step ]

ProAI is built to generate custom business plans that include financial projections, market research, and a SWOT analysis. These detailed plans can be edited in the app or exported to Google Docs and Sheets for further editing. Simply answer some questions about your business information and goals; AI will create a custom plan with financials. The report can be ready in a few days, depending on the depth and level of customization required — something you determine when you go through the initial process. ProAI can also provide pitch decks and business funding. Pricing for ProAI starts at $199/month.

[Read more: 4 Effective Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage AI ]

Simplified offers a unique AI generator for small businesses. Like ProAI, you simply enter your small business details and objectives, or work off one of their existing templates (such as for a gym, food truck, or real estate service). Simplified’s artificial intelligence can generate market analysis, financial projections, and a clear value proposition for your plan. It can be edited within the tool. The best part? Simplified is free up to 2,000 words.

LivePlan Assistant is the company’s AI writing tool that can help you create a business plan. With this option, you can select one of LivePlan’s business plan templates and get help filling in each section from the Assistant. LivePlan’s database of 550 free sample business plans gives you a good starting point. The Assistant’s “Help Me Write” function will then generate ideas for each section of your plan according to the information you give it. It includes financial forecasting functionality, too. Pricing for LivePlan starts at $20/month.

WriteCream develops generic business plans that can be customized to fit your vision.

Upmetrics ’ AI Assistant can autowrite sections of your business plan, adjust the tone of your content to be more persuasive or professional, and reformat sections to make the plan flow. Unlike other tools on this list, Upmetrics also offers well-designed cover pages so you can make your document stand out. The platform lets you collaborate with different users on the same document so you can stay organized and coordinate better. And, instead of using a set template, Upmetrics has a drag-and-drop builder so you can determine what sections you want to include. Upmetrics starts at $7/month.


IdeaMaster uses ChatGPT-3 to create fairly basic business plans; if you’re looking for a short two-pager to share with investors before fully developing your concept, this is a good starting point. Simply tell IdeaMaster your industry and product type to get started. Plans include the basics, such as market size, MVP features, value proposition, sales and marketing channels, and key resources, among other things. Best of all, IdeaMaster is free.

WriteCream develops generic business plans that can be customized to fit your vision. It’s less sophisticated than other tools on this list, and it can be used as a blank canvas if you have a great idea but no time (or patience) to write a full business plan. It doesn’t come with the bells and whistles of other tools, but it is affordable: WriteCream is free-to-use for up to 10,000 words per month.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here .

i want to know about a business plan

Interested in a small business membership?

Find out how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can help your company grow and thrive in today's rapidly-evolving business environment. Connect with our team to learn how a small business membership can benefit your bottom line and help you achieve your goals.

Subscribe to our newsletter, Midnight Oil

Expert business advice, news, and trends, delivered weekly

By signing up you agree to the CO— Privacy Policy. You can opt out anytime.

For more startup tips

How to start an influencer business, 6 essential steps to take when setting up a retail business.

By continuing on our website, you agree to our use of cookies for statistical and personalisation purposes. Know More

Welcome to CO—

Designed for business owners, CO— is a site that connects like minds and delivers actionable insights for next-level growth.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce 1615 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20062

Social links

Looking for local chamber, stay in touch.

Document your market analysis

How to write your market analysis

  • Define your target market
  • Determine your market size

Optional information to include

  • Industry analysis
  • Customer persona

How to Conduct an Industry Analysis

' src=

8 min. read

Updated March 8, 2023

Female entrepreneur in a carpentry shop working on cutting a piece of wood. She has a firm understanding of her industry to grow her business.

I bet you agree: You need to know the industry you want to start a business in, and the kind of business you want to start, before you can start it.

Industry analysis is part of good management. That’s not just for the business planning, but rather for business survival, beginning to end. Most of the people who successfully start their own business have already had relevant business experience before they start, most often as employees.

But in this article, I focus on how to consolidate and formalize that industry knowledge into a formal business plan .

Although all business owners need to know their industry, the documented details and explanations are mainly for when you’re writing a business plan you need to show to outsiders, like bank lenders or investors . You’ll need to do some industry analysis so you’re able to explain the general state of your industry, its growth potential, and how your business model fits into the landscape.

And if your business plan is more of an internal strategic roadmap, you should still be very sure—whether you have to prove it to others or not—that you know your market, even if you don’t do a formal industry analysis. Whether you’re a service business, manufacturer, retailer, or something else, you want to know your industry inside and out.

On this page

What to cover in your industry analysis

Industry participants, distribution patterns, competition and buying patterns, main competitors.

Whether you write it all out in a formal business plan or not, when you’re doing your industry analysis, you’re looking at the following:

Everything in your industry that happens outside of your business will affect your company. The more you know about your industry, the more advantage and protection you will have.

A complete business plan discusses:

  • General industry economics
  • Participants
  • Factors in the competition
  • And whatever else describes the nature of your business to outsiders

A note on finding industry information

The internet has had an enormous impact on the state of business information. Finding information isn’t really the problem anymore, after the information explosion and the huge growth in the internet beginning in the 1990s and continuing in the 21st century.

Even 10 or 15 years ago, dealing with information was more a problem of sorting through it all than of finding raw data. That generality is truer every day. There are websites for business analysis, financial statistics, demographics, trade associations, and just about everything you’ll need for a complete business plan.

You should know who else sells in your market. You can’t easily describe a type of business without describing the nature of the participants. There is a huge difference, for example, between an industry like broadband television services, in which there are only a few huge companies in any one country, and one like dry cleaning, in which there are tens of thousands of smaller participants.

This can make a big difference to a business and a business plan. The restaurant industry, for example, is what we call “pulverized,” meaning that it, like the dry cleaning industry, is made up of many small participants. The fast-food business, on the other hand, is composed of a few national brands participating in thousands of branded outlets, many of them franchised .

Economists talk of consolidation in an industry as a time when many small participants tend to disappear and a few large players emerge. In accounting, for example, there are a few large international firms whose names are well-known, and tens of thousands of smaller firms. The automobile business is composed of a few national brands participating in thousands of branded dealerships, and in computer manufacturing, for example, there are a few large international firms whose names are well-known, and thousands of smaller firms.

Start your plan

Products and services can follow many paths between suppliers and users.

Explain how distribution works in your industry:

  • Is this an industry in which retailers are supported by regional distributors, as is the case for computer products, magazines, or auto parts?
  • Does your industry depend on direct sales to large industrial customers?
  • Do manufacturers support their own direct sales forces, or do they work with product representatives?

Some products are almost always sold through retail stores to consumers, and sometimes these are distributed by distribution companies that buy from manufacturers. In other cases, the products are sold directly from manufacturers to stores. Some products are sold directly from the manufacturer to the final consumer through mail campaigns, national advertising, or other promotional means.

In many product categories, there are several alternatives, and distribution choices are strategic.

Amazon made direct delivery a huge competitive advantage, especially in its earlier years. Doordash and competitors chose to be intermediaries between restaurants and customers, and several businesses offer prepackaged meal ingredients delivered with instructions for finishing the preparations in the consumers’ kitchens. Now major grocery chains offer grocery delivery. Red Box made a strategy of DVDs in kiosks. An entire industry of food delivery options gives consumers choices like restaurant meals or fresh meals ingredients being delivered. Many products are distributed through direct business-to-business (B2B) sales and in long-term contracts such as the ones between car manufacturers and their suppliers of parts, materials, and components. In some industries, companies use representatives, agents, or commissioned salespeople.

Technology can change the patterns of distribution in an industry or product category. The internet, for example, changed options for software distribution, books, music, and other products. Cable communication first, and more recently streaming, changed the options for distributing video products and video games. Some kinds of specialty items sell best with late-night infomercials on television, but others end up working on the web instead of television.

Distribution patterns may not be as critical to most service companies, because distribution is normally about physical distribution of specific physical products such as a restaurant, graphic artist, professional services practice, or architect.

For a few services, the distribution may still be relevant. A phone service, cable provider, or an internet provider might describe distribution related to physical infrastructure. Some publishers may prefer to treat their business as a service, rather than a manufacturing company, and in that case distribution may also be relevant.

It is essential to understand the nature of competition in your market. This is still in the general area of describing the industry or type of business.

Explain the general nature of competition in this business, and how the customers seem to choose one provider over another:

  • What are the keys to success?
  • What buying factors make the most difference—is it price? Product features? Service? Support? Training? Software? Delivery dates?
  • Are brand names important?

In the computer business, for example, competition might depend on reputation and trends in one part of the market, and on channels of distribution and advertising in another. In many business-to-business industries, the nature of competition depends on direct selling, because channels are impractical.

Price is vital in products competing with each other on retail shelves, but delivery and reliability might be much more important for materials used by manufacturers in volume, for which a shortage can affect an entire production line.

In the restaurant business, for example, competition might depend on reputation and trends in one part of the market, and on location and parking in another.

In many professional service practices, the nature of competition depends on word of mouth, because advertising is not completely accepted. Is there price competition between accountants, doctors, and lawyers? How powerful are the insurance decisions in medicine, like in or out of network? How do people choose travel agencies or florists for weddings? Why does someone hire one landscape architect over another? Why choose Starbucks, a national brand, over the local coffee house? All of this is the nature of competition.

The key to your specific industry analysis is a collection of decisions and educated guesses you’ll probably have to make for yourself. There are few pat answers. Maybe it’s easy parking, a great location, great reviews on Amazon or Yelp, or recommendations on social media. You can’t necessarily look this up. It’s the kind of educated guessing that makes some businesses more successful than others.

Do a very complete analysis of your main competitors. Make a list, determining who your main competitors are. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

Consider your competitors’:

  • Financial position
  • Channels of distribution
  • Brand awareness
  • Business development
  • Technology,  or other factors that you feel are important
  • In what segments of the market do they operate? What seems to be their strategy? How much do they impact your products, and what threats and opportunities do they represent?

Finding competitive information

Competitive research starts with a good web search. Look up competitors’ websites and social media, then search for mentions, reviews, announcements, and even vacancies and job search information. An amazing array of competitive information is posted in plain sight, where anybody can find it.

From, there, for a good review of additional sources of information, I suggest Practical Market Research Resources for Entrepreneurs , also here on Bplans.

Competitive matrix

A lot of businesses organize competitive analysis into a competitive matrix. The standard competitive matrix shows how different competitors stack up according to significant factors.


Some people also use a SWOT analysis to think about competition in terms of opportunities and threats, the “OT” of SWOT. Opportunities and threats are generally taken as externals, which would include competition, so it’s valuable to run a SWOT analysis on your business to help figure this out.

Content Author: Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.

Related Articles

i want to know about a business plan

4 Min. Read

How to Create an Expense Budget

i want to know about a business plan

12 Min. Read

How to Write a Food Truck Business Plan (2023 + Template)

i want to know about a business plan

10 Min. Read

How to Create a Cash Flow Forecast

i want to know about a business plan

8 Min. Read

How to Create A Digital Marketing Plan and Strategy

Garrett's Bike Shop

The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan

Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.

No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.

LivePlan pitch example

Discover the world’s #1 plan building software

i want to know about a business plan

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Here’s how you know

world globe

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

i want to know about a business plan

Crisis Communications Plans

world globe

Identifying Audiences

Contact Information

Working with the media, message development, contact and information centers.

The need to communicate is immediate when an emergency occurs. Many different audiences must be reached with information specific to their interests and needs.

The crisis communications plan is an important component of a business’ preparedness program. A business must be able to respond promptly, accurately and confidently during an emergency in the hours and days that follow.

Identifying Audiences and How to Reach Them

There are many potential audiences that will want information during and following an incident; each has its own needs for information. The challenge is to identify potential audiences, determine their need for information and then identify who within the business is best able to communicate with that audience.

Possible audiences include:

  • Government officials and regulators

Contact information for each audience should be compiled in advance and be accessible during an incident. Existing information such as customer, supplier and employee contact information may be exportable from existing databases. Include as much information for each contact as possible (e.g., organization name, contact name, business telephone number, cell number, fax number and email address). Lists should be updated regularly and secured.

News media will be on scene or calling to obtain details if the incident is serious. There may be numerous requests for information from local, regional or national media. The challenge of managing large numbers of requests for information, interviews and public statements can be overwhelming.

Determine in advance who will speak to the media and prepare that spokesperson with talking points, so they can speak clearly and effectively in terms that can be easily understood.

Prioritizing requests for information and development of press releases and talking points can assist with the need to communicate quickly and effectively.

One of the goals of crisis communication planning is to make sure that messages are consistent. Each audience will seek information that is specific to them during and following an incident.

Messages can be pre-scripted as templates with blanks to be filled in when information is available and tailored to each incident. Pre-scripted messages can be developed, approved by the management team, and stored on a remotely accessible server for quick editing and release when needed.

There initially may be limited information about the incident or its potential impacts. Having a coordinated review and distribution process allows the business to adapt to changing information. As days and weeks go by, this messaging will transition from reacting to the incident to moving toward recovery. Messaging for each step of this process also can be developed in advance.

Communications before, during and following an emergency is bi-directional. Stakeholders or audiences will ask questions and request information. The business will answer questions and provide information.

Contact and information centers receive requests for information from each audience and disseminate information to each audience.

  • The contact center fields inquiries from customers, suppliers, the news media and others. The contact center should be properly equipped and staffed by personnel to answer requests for information. The staff working within the contact center should be provided with scripts and a “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) document to answer questions consistently and accurately.
  • The information center consists of existing staff and technologies (e.g., website, call center, bulletin boards, etc.) that field requests for information from customers, employees and others during normal business hours. The information center and its technologies can be used to push information out to audiences and post information for online reading.

Last Updated: 09/07/2023

Return to top

  • Side Hustles
  • Power Players
  • Young Success
  • Save and Invest
  • Become Debt-Free
  • Land the Job
  • Closing the Gap
  • Science of Success
  • Pop Culture and Media
  • Psychology and Relationships
  • Health and Wellness
  • Real Estate
  • Most Popular

Related Stories

  • Become Debt-Free How the SAVE plan can help student loan   borrowers reduce monthly payments
  • Become Debt-Free 53% of student loan borrowers added credit   card debt during the payment pause
  • Become Debt-Free Your federal student loans are accruing   interest again—but you have options
  • Become Debt-Free Federal student loan borrowers can now   apply for the SAVE repayment plan
  • Become Debt-Free Supreme Court rules against Biden's   student loan forgiveness plan

The SAVE plan is touted as the most affordable student loan repayment option—how to know if it's right for you


The Biden administration has touted the new Saving on a Valuable Education repayment plan as the "most affordable repayment plan ever," boasting that it can cut federal student loan borrowers' payments in half and save them thousands of dollars a year. 

The Department of Education recently opened applications for the SAVE plan ahead of the expiration of the pandemic moratorium on payments and interest in September. When borrowers begin making payments again — or for the first time ever — in October, many could have a lower, or even no monthly payment , on the SAVE plan. 

But the SAVE plan may not be the best option for you. Depending on your repayment goals and income, you might be better off sticking to the standard repayment plan or another income-driven plan. The Federal Student Aid website has a loan simulator tool that lets you compare all the available repayment options and helps you choose the best one for your specific situation. 

SAVE replaces the plan formerly known as Revised Pay as You Earn. And the other IDR plans — Pay as You Earn and income-contingent repayment — will be eliminated.

Borrowers currently on those plans will be able to stay on them, but you will not be able to enroll or re-enroll if you leave the plans after July 1, 2024. The primary difference in benefits is for graduate borrowers who have to wait 25 years for loan forgiveness on SAVE versus 20 years on PAYE.

Here's a look at the factors to consider before you apply for the SAVE repayment plan.

Pros of the SAVE repayment plan

While some of these benefits may not apply to your situation right now, they could if your income or family size changes in the future. Plus, there are more changes to SAVE rolling out in 2024 that could make it even more attractive for you. 

Here are three of SAVE's primary benefits:

1. Affordable monthly payments

Your payments on SAVE are capped at 10% of your discretionary income. That's defined as the difference between your adjusted gross income and 225% of the federal poverty line, which is about $32,800 a year for individuals in 2023. And beginning next summer, that payment will be cut in half, as the cap will drop to 5% of your discretionary income.

For borrowers earning $32,800 a year or less (or $67,500 and under for a family of four), your monthly payment will be $0. 

2. Cap on interest

Accumulating interest has been called out as a contributor to the student debt crisis . The SAVE plan aims to address that by cutting additional interest charges after you've met your monthly payment. 

That means if your monthly payment is $0, you won't be charged additional interest. If $50 in interest accumulates on your loans in a month, but your payment is only $30, you won't be charged the additional $20. 

This could be an especially helpful benefit for borrowers who expect to significantly increase their salaries in the future. Consider a doctor completing their residency, Lauryn Williams, a certified financial planner and consultant with Student Loan Planner, tells CNBC Make It.

"With SAVE, you're getting an interest subsidy," she says. "This physician who's making 50 grand a year has a really low [payment] on SAVE, with no [extra] interest piling up on them."

Once that doctor starts earning a higher salary, they may consider a different repayment plan, Williams says, but they've reaped the benefit of saving on extra interest while they were on the SAVE plan. They could, of course, remain on SAVE, but with annual income certifications, their payment will rise along with their salary.

3. Forgiveness after as little as 10 years

Beginning in 2024, those with principal loan balances of $12,000 or less can have remaining balances forgiven after just 10 years of payments on the SAVE plan. You'll need to make payments for an additional year for every $1,000 you borrowed above $12,000 up to 20 or 25 years, depending on the degree.

An undergraduate borrower with a principal balance of $15,000 would need to make payments on SAVE for 13 years in order to qualify for loan forgiveness.

All IDR plans had some forgiveness component , mainly forgiving remaining balances after 20 or 25 years, regardless of the original balance. SAVE allows borrowers with lower balances to receive forgiveness earlier, but still keeps the 20-year loan term cap in place for undergraduate borrowers.

It's worth mentioning that you may owe income tax on any amount of debt you have forgiven, as several states treat forgiven debt as taxable income. While there is currently a waiver on federal income taxes on forgiven debt, it's scheduled to expire in 2025.

This will be especially important for low-income borrowers who go the full 20 or 25 years with low or no monthly payments and have relatively large amounts of debt forgiven.

Cons of the SAVE repayment plan

The SAVE plan is primarily designed to benefit low- and middle-income earners. While other borrowers may still find reasons to enroll, there are drawbacks to consider. 

Here are three drawbacks of the SAVE plan:

1. Borrowers with mid-level balances don't stand to benefit as much

Your monthly payment on the SAVE plan is income-driven, whereas your monthly payment on the standard repayment plan is balance-driven. That's because the standard plan is designed so that if you make every monthly payment in full and on time, your debt will be paid off in 10 years, or 120 monthly payments, regardless of your original balance.

With a starting debt balance of $26,946 (the average among borrowers when they graduate, according to the National Center for Education Statistics), you would pay $272 a month on the standard repayment plan according to FSA's loan simulator. You would have to earn about $65,000 or less to see that same monthly payment or lower on the SAVE plan.

If you earn more, your monthly payment will go up on the SAVE plan. While that may mean you pay off your balance faster, it would also mean missing out on the benefit of having some of your debt forgiven.

Bottom line: The higher your loan balance, the more likely it is you'll be able to benefit from some amount of debt forgiveness if you remain on the SAVE plan for the required 20 or 25 years. But depending on your income and other expenses, that might not be feasible for you.

Every situation is different so it's a good idea to use the loan simulator tool or run your own calculations to see what's best for you.

2. Monthly payment adjusts as income changes

Since the SAVE plan is an income-driven repayment plan, the higher your income, the more you pay each month. While your payment will stay capped at a percentage of your income, you may find it's more than you want to pay.

You also have to recertify your income every year in order to stay on the SAVE plan, which means every year your salary goes up, your payment likely will too. 

This may help you pay off your debt faster, but some borrowers prefer the stability of knowing they'll have the same monthly payment for the duration of their repayment.

3. The SAVE plan isn't available for parent Plus borrowers

Parents who took out loans on behalf of their child are ineligible for all IDR plans, including the SAVE plan.

The only option for parent borrowers outside of the standard, graduated and extended repayment plans is to consolidate their parent Plus loan into a direct consolidation loan to become eligible for the income-contingent repayment plan.

DON'T MISS: Want to be smarter and more successful with your money, work & life?  Sign up for our new newsletter!

Get CNBC's free  Warren Buffett Guide to Investing , which distills the billionaire's No. 1 best piece of advice for regular investors, do's and don'ts, and three key investing principles into a clear and simple guidebook.

Living on under $30K a year in 3 U.S. cities

We've detected unusual activity from your computer network

To continue, please click the box below to let us know you're not a robot.

Why did this happen?

Please make sure your browser supports JavaScript and cookies and that you are not blocking them from loading. For more information you can review our Terms of Service and Cookie Policy .

For inquiries related to this message please contact our support team and provide the reference ID below.


  1. Free Printable Business Plan Sample Form (GENERIC)

    i want to know about a business plan

  2. Writing a business plan. How to Write a Business Plan for a Small

    i want to know about a business plan

  3. 19+ Basic Business Plan Templates in Google Docs

    i want to know about a business plan

  4. How to Write Business Plan PDF: Expert Advice

    i want to know about a business plan

  5. Business Plans

    i want to know about a business plan

  6. 7 Sample Retail Business Plan Templates to Download

    i want to know about a business plan


  1. What Is A Business Plan And Why Do I Need One #shorts #business #foryou

  2. 10 Questions To Help You Create A Winning Business Plan

  3. Here's a Business Plan Summary Outline You Can Use in Your Small Business #businessplan

  4. 3 Effective Ways to Plan Your Business

  5. What is a Business Plan?

  6. 📚 Entrepreneur's Business Plan guide🏅


  1. How To Write A Business Plan (2023 Guide)

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

  2. Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How To Write One

    A business plan is a document that defines in detail a company's objectives and how it plans to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written road map for the firm from marketing,...

  3. Write your business plan

    Executive summary. Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company's leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

  4. How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

    A business plan is a document that outlines your business's financial goals and explains how you'll achieve them. A strong, detailed plan will provide a road map for the business's next...

  5. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks: Product goals and deadlines for each month. Monthly financials for the first two years. Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years. Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years. Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create ...

  6. How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Step 7: Financial Analysis and Projections. It doesn't matter if you include a request for funding in your plan, you will want to include a financial analysis here. You'll want to do two things here: Paint a picture of your business's performance in the past and show it will grow in the future.

  7. 10 steps to start your business

    Conduct market research Market research will tell you if there's an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. It's a way to gather information about potential customers and businesses already operating in your area. Use that information to find a competitive advantage for your business. Learn more about conducting market research

  8. How to write a business plan in 10 steps + free template

    Even better, if you're pressed for time, we've compiled the 10 steps and examples into a downloadable (PDF) template. The 10 steps to write a business plan are: Create an executive summary. Compose your company description. Summarize market research and potential. Conduct competitive analysis.

  9. How To Start A Business In 11 Steps (2023 Guide)

    1. Determine Your Business Concept 2. Research Your Competitors and Market 3. Create Your Business Plan 4. Choose Your Business Structure 5. Register Your Business and Get Licenses 6. Get...

  10. How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (2023)

    Here are some of the components you should include in your company description: , think about all the people your company is accountable to, including owners, employees, suppliers, customers, and investors. Now consider how you'd like to conduct business with each of them. As you make a list, your core values should start to emerge.

  11. How to Write a Company Overview for a Business Plan

    A company overview provides the reader of your business plan with basic background information about your company so they have an understanding of what you do, who the management team is and...

  12. 3 Things You Need to Know About Writing a Business Plan

    Research market trends and carefully consider your audience. Writing a thorough business plan is the key first step in starting a business because it helps identify the business's objective and target market. — Getty Images/rawpixel. If you're starting a business, you'll need to have a business plan. This is true whether you're planning ...

  13. How to Quickly Write the Best Business Plan (2023)

    1. Start with a one-page plan Learn More Outline all of your important business details with a simple highly focused document that's easy to complete and update. A one-page business plan is a succinct, high-level overview of your business concept, key objectives, and strategy for success.

  14. Business Plan: Everything You Need to Know

    A business plan is a written description of your small business's future. It shows what you intend to do and the way you intend to do it. Business plans are inherently strategic. Your plan reveals how you're going to start and grow your business. Executive Summary This defines the marketing strategy.

  15. What is a business plan

    Your business plan is an important document for lenders and investors, as it tells them who you are, how you do business, and what your business finances look like. It also helps them to more ...

  16. 23 Pro Tips for Running a Successful Business

    Sujan Patel Published: December 12, 2022 Just about anyone can start a business. Once you fill out a few forms, get the permits or licenses you need, offer a great product or service, and advertise it, it's safe to say you're a business owner. Running a successful business is an entirely different story.

  17. Business Plan Information: Everything You Need to Know

    Table Of Contents Business Plan Information: Everything You Need to Know Business plan information must always tell an interesting story as the purpose of a business plan is to secure financing for a new company.3 min read Business plan information must always tell an interesting story.

  18. 20 Things To Not Forget About In A First-Time Founder's Business Plan

    15. A Comprehensive Marketing Plan. First-time founders must include a comprehensive marketing plan in their business plan to avoid low customer acquisition and retention rates. A well-crafted ...

  19. 17 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting A Business

    1. Why do I want to start a business? This may seem obvious, but sometimes we want to start a business without even thinking about the why. What sparked your business idea and is it...

  20. What Type of Business Plan Do You Need?

    All businesses start with a lean plan. These are things that every business owner needs to do in order to run the business effectively. They apply to all businesses, large or small, startup or not: Develop and execute strategy. Set priorities. Allocate efforts and resources according to priorities.

  21. Running Your Business: 85 Things You'll Want to Know

    4. Familiarize yourself with the basics of business taxes for your legal form of business (Partnership, LLC, S Corporation). Tax Savvy, by Frederick Daily. 5. Get small business guides from the IRS. IRS website. 6. Learn about depreciation and Section 179 of the IRS Code. Deduct It!

  22. Business Planning: It's Importance, Types and Key Elements

    More specifically, it's a document in writing that outlines the goals, objectives, and purpose of a business while laying out the blueprint for its day-to-day operations and key functions such as marketing, finance, and expansion. A good business plan can be a game-changer for startups that are looking to raise funds to grow and scale.

  23. How to Use AI Tools to Write a Business Plan

    LivePlan. LivePlan Assistant is the company's AI writing tool that can help you create a business plan. With this option, you can select one of LivePlan's business plan templates and get help filling in each section from the Assistant. LivePlan's database of 550 free sample business plans gives you a good starting point.

  24. Buy an existing business or franchise

    A franchise is a business model where one business owner (the "franchisor") sells the rights to their business logo, name, and model to an independent entrepreneur (the "franchisee"). Restaurants, hotels, and service-oriented businesses are commonly franchised. Two common forms of franchising are: Product/trade name franchising : The ...

  25. How to Conduct an Industry Analysis

    Updated March 8, 2023 I bet you agree: You need to know the industry you want to start a business in, and the kind of business you want to start, before you can start it. Industry analysis is part of good management. That's not just for the business planning, but rather for business survival, beginning to end.

  26. Crisis Communications Plans

    The need to communicate is immediate when an emergency occurs. Many different audiences must be reached with information specific to their interests and needs. The crisis communications plan is an important component of a business' preparedness program. A business must be able to respond promptly, accurately and confidently during an ...

  27. Biden's SAVE student debt repayment plan: pros and cons

    Here are three drawbacks of the SAVE plan: 1. Borrowers with mid-level balances don't stand to benefit as much. Your monthly payment on the SAVE plan is income-driven, whereas your monthly ...

  28. Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

    The Texas power grid is teetering on the edge of blackouts. Saudi Arabia looks to mining metals for a new source of wealth. Swatch's new budget luxury timepiece is a $400 diver's watch. Gulf ...