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What Is a Business Plan?

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

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.

business plan in order to do what

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

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.

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 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 in to 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.

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

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1. Write an executive summary

2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. add additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

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 three to five years, and you can share it with potential investors, lenders or other important partners.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your business plan.

» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .

This is the first page of your business plan. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services offered, and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.

» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps

Next up is your company description, which should contain information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.

Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.

Lastly, it should cover the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan

The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out exactly what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the long term.

If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain why you have a clear need for the funds, how the financing will help your business grow, and how you plan to achieve your growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity presented and how the loan or investment will grow your company.

For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch the new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.

In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

Your sales strategy.

Your distribution strategy.

You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.

Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.

Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.

» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing

If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.

You may also include metrics such as:

Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.

Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.

Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.

This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.

» NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.

Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.

Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.

List any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere, such as resumes of key employees, licenses, equipment leases, permits, patents, receipts, bank statements, contracts and personal and business credit history. If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

Here are some tips to help your business plan stand out:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business loan at a local bank, the loan officer likely knows your market pretty well. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of loan approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors, taking their mind off your business and putting it on the mistakes you made. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. You can search for a mentor or find a local SCORE chapter for more guidance.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

More From Forbes

Seven sections your business plan should have.

Forbes Business Development Council

Joseph is Director at  Wise Business Plans , a firm helping clients with professionally written business plans, branding, licensing and more.

To someone who’s never done it before, crafting a business plan can seem like a complicated, magical process that regular people are incapable of accomplishing. The finished product looks so complex and informative — who even knows what goes into something like that?

But, in reality, business plans are less like magic and more like baking. Gather the right ingredients, put them together in the proper order, and ta-da! The finished product is a road map for the company’s future success.

With a little help from a professional or the right recipe, even the newest small-business owner will be baking up business plans in no time.

So, what is that recipe for planning perfection? Like bread and pastry, every business plan has some flair of its own, from custom graphic design to unique financial information.

But some sections are universal and absolutely necessary if a business owner wants to be taken seriously by investors and banks.

1. An Executive Summary

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This concise, carefully written, first section of the plan offers an easy-to-follow introduction to the company, its purpose and its framework. This section sums up the information in your plan, so it can be helpful to go back and write it after the rest of the work is completed.

Pro Tip: In the opening statement, explain the business in one or two sentences. Once you have completed your business plan, write the Executive Summary last.

2. Company Overview

List the goods and services the company will provide, the market it will serve, short- and long-term goals for growth and a brief history of the company’s formation and past performance.

Pro Tip: Explain any momentum the company has made to date and future plans.

3. Products & Services

This section allows for a more complete explanation of the kinds of goods or services the business will be selling or providing. Make the descriptions compelling and engaging. 

Pro Tip: List a detailed description of your products or services and their competitive advantages over the competition.

4. Market Analysis

Use this as an opportunity to showcase the research and knowledge company leaders have to bring to the table with regard to the people and entities they hope to serve or sell to. Include information on the industry the company belongs to and the state of the competition locally, nationally and even internationally, if relevant. 

Pro Tip: Check out the census website  for statistics and demographics.

5. Marketing Strategy

How does the business intend to get the word out about what it has to offer? This section should list plans for all expected marketing channels, from traditional advertising to social media outreach efforts.

Pro Tip: The marketing budget and strategy should be a focal point of your plan. This will ultimately drive sales.

6. Organization & Management

This can be broken into separate sections, but both leadership and plans for employees must be addressed. This should include a basic visual “tree” showing the number of employees expected to be hired, as well as the reporting structure for those people. The management portion should contain an introduction to the company’s leaders and their expertise and career achievements. 

Pro Tip: Explain why you and your team are capable of executing the business goals and objectives.

7. Financials

Different kinds of plans will require slightly different financial information. However, every plan should show historical financial data, if available, and sensible projected expenditures and forecasted income. This section should also include an overview of the company’s current financial status.

Pro Tip: Every industry has a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). Benchmark your company against its peers in the market.

It’s a fact that a quality business plan contains complicated information about not only the business being built but also the market and industry the company plans to compete in. Looking at a business plan as a piece-by-piece process, rather than a completed whole, can make creating your own a little less daunting. Including the seven sections listed above is a great starting point for making a plan that will impress any investor or financial institution.

Forbes Business Development Council is an invitation-only community for sales and biz dev executives. Do I qualify?

Joseph Ferriolo

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

Smartsheet Contributor Joe Weller

October 11, 2021

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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 .

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:

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:.

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.

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Business Plan Example and Template

Learn how to create a business plan

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that contains the operational and financial plan of a business, and details how its objectives will be achieved. It serves as a road map for the business and can be used when pitching investors or financial institutions for debt or equity financing .

Business Plan - Document with the words Business Plan on the title

A business plan should follow a standard format and contain all the important business plan elements. Typically, it should present whatever information an investor or financial institution expects to see before providing financing to a business.

Contents of a Business Plan

A business plan should be structured in a way that it contains all the important information that investors are looking for. Here are the main sections of a business plan:

1. Title Page

The title page captures the legal information of the business, which includes the registered business name, physical address, phone number, email address, date, and the company logo.

2. Executive Summary

The executive summary is the most important section because it is the first section that investors and bankers see when they open the business plan. It provides a summary of the entire business plan. It should be written last to ensure that you don’t leave any details out. It must be short and to the point, and it should capture the reader’s attention. The executive summary should not exceed two pages.

3. Industry Overview

The industry overview section provides information about the specific industry that the business operates in. Some of the information provided in this section includes major competitors, industry trends, and estimated revenues. It also shows the company’s position in the industry and how it will compete in the market against other major players.

4. Market Analysis and Competition

The market analysis section details the target market for the company’s product offerings. This section confirms that the company understands the market and that it has already analyzed the existing market to determine that there is adequate demand to support its proposed business model.

Market analysis includes information about the target market’s demographics , geographical location, consumer behavior, and market needs. The company can present numbers and sources to give an overview of the target market size.

A business can choose to consolidate the market analysis and competition analysis into one section or present them as two separate sections.

5. Sales and Marketing Plan

The sales and marketing plan details how the company plans to sell its products to the target market. It attempts to present the business’s unique selling proposition and the channels it will use to sell its goods and services. It details the company’s advertising and promotion activities, pricing strategy, sales and distribution methods, and after-sales support.

6. Management Plan

The management plan provides an outline of the company’s legal structure, its management team, and internal and external human resource requirements. It should list the number of employees that will be needed and the remuneration to be paid to each of the employees.

Any external professionals, such as lawyers, valuers, architects, and consultants, that the company will need should also be included. If the company intends to use the business plan to source funding from investors, it should list the members of the executive team, as well as the members of the advisory board.

7. Operating Plan

The operating plan provides an overview of the company’s physical requirements, such as office space, machinery, labor, supplies, and inventory . For a business that requires custom warehouses and specialized equipment, the operating plan will be more detailed, as compared to, say, a home-based consulting business. If the business plan is for a manufacturing company, it will include information on raw material requirements and the supply chain.

8. Financial Plan

The financial plan is an important section that will often determine whether the business will obtain required financing from financial institutions, investors, or venture capitalists. It should demonstrate that the proposed business is viable and will return enough revenues to be able to meet its financial obligations. Some of the information contained in the financial plan includes a projected income statement , balance sheet, and cash flow.

9. Appendices and Exhibits

The appendices and exhibits part is the last section of a business plan. It includes any additional information that banks and investors may be interested in or that adds credibility to the business. Some of the information that may be included in the appendices section includes office/building plans, detailed market research , products/services offering information, marketing brochures, and credit histories of the promoters.

Business Plan Template - Components

Business Plan Template

Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan:

Section 1: Executive Summary

Section 2: Industry Overview

Section 3: Market Analysis and Competition

Section 4: Sales and Marketing Plan

Section 5: Management Plan

Section 6: Operating Plan

Section 7: Financial Plan

Section 8: Appendices and Exhibits

Related Readings

Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to Business Plans. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful:

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The following is a general outline of the Order that should be followed in constructing your business plan. With the exception of the Executive Summary and the Marketing Summary, all other summaries should be no more than one [1] paragraph in length.

The purpose of each summary is to give the reader an overview of the upcoming segments. This is helpful to your reader when reviewing your business plan since almost all readers of your business plan will be looking to read specific details and will use only those segments of interest to them. Any time you help the reader find what they are looking for, then you increase your favor with that person and increase your opportunities for funding or for a successful business presentation.

Details, interesting details , and keep it interesting!

Think of what you would tell a potential client in each of the above sections if you were working to persuade them to complete a deal with you that was worth several thousand or hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the primary way to approach this part of writing your business plan.

Yes, it's true: some of these segments would not be the business of your average client. But stretch your thinking here just a bit, and consider what you would say if the person listening to you were a close friend or confidant and you were trying to persuade them that your business was strong, profitable, and worth taking a look at for financial support. This thought process will reveal to you what to put in and how to approach it.


You will want to leave out everything personal. If it is your personal career change [unless that career change brought you to the creation of your company], leave it out. If your family suffered serious and long term setbacks, leave it out. If you filed a personal bankruptcy, definitely leave that information out of your business plan. If you are desperate for funding to help your ailing and aging mother, leave it out.

Remember the more desperate things in life that sometimes propel us to certain individuals or companies are not usually the more attractive details of our business decisions. People who read your business plan should be reading the most attractive summary of you and your business available anywhere. If you feel it is necessary to discuss any of these personal items with your reader, then wait until they ask you a specific question. Some things should remain personal unless you are asked specifically about them.


If you cover each of these details in each of the business plan's segments, then your final plan will be comprehensive and answer any banker's or investor's questions. Ultimately, this should be one of the goals of your business plan since every banker or investor will ask to see your business plan so they can judge your plans, decision making process, strategies, and the bottom line.

1. Each Summary should include the high points of the detailed section beneath it. You may want to limit it to a certain number of points in each summary, or you may choose to simply write one or two paragraphs in a summation style to accomplish this goal. Either way, most Summary sections should be less than one page unless otherwise noted.

2. Do not add anything into the Summary that does not exist in the detailed section. Do not bore your reader with the same language as your detailed section or a "copy and paste" of certain sentences, but be sure to keep the essence of the details congruent between the Summary and the detailed sections.

1. Describe your Products or Services in detail in this section. Use common sense here; if you have 300 products, you do not want to list each of them separately. But you may want to group them according to category and explain why this group of products is so important to your target market and to your business.

2. Your description details should include the range of quality (qualities) in the different products or services that your company offers. In this description is the range of pricing as well, along with which segment of the market that product or service is designed to capture.

3. Descriptions should be worded in such a way as to emphasize what it is about your product or service that sets your company apart from its competitors in the market place. Why do your clients want YOUR product or service over the apparently same product or service offered by another company?

4. The Products and Services description details should be limited to no more than one five sentence paragraph per product category for a total of no more than two pages of product descriptions.

1. Demographics [gender, race, income, and education level of potential clients].

1. Name names and list web addresses.

2. Statistics about your competition.

3. Insider's reports about client relations.

4. Are they located near your business? Are they local, regional, or national? How does that directly affect your company?

5. Are they strong in advertising and promotions? Are they stable and reliable in the eyes of the customer?

6. Do they provide variety in their product availability? How is their product quality?

7. What are their sales methods and credit policies?

8. Is their pricing competitive? Or do they price because of a standard of high quality in their product?

1. What size and type of sales staff do you have promoting your company's products?

2. By what percentage has your sales staff outperformed itself over last year or over last month?

3. Are the salesmen directly involved in the distribution of the product or is the distribution handled by a separate handler or department?

4. What is the chain of distribution for your company? Once the order is placed, what route does the product or service take to get to the customer?

1. Appendices are generally speaking documents referred to in the content of your business plan that exist outside of the business plan.

2. When you refer to any of the Appendices in the context of the business plan, you will footnote it with a sequential number. You will then number the Appendix accordingly in the context of your listing at the end of the business plan. For example : If you had 3 Appendices, you would foot note them in the appropriate context of the business plan and on the coordinating page, then number them as 1, 2, and 3. Then, at the end of the business plan, where you list these documents under the subheading "Appendices," you would assign the corresponding document the number which applied to it per the context of the business plan.

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How To Write the Perfect Business Plan in 9 Steps (2023)

How to write a business plan: everything you need to know

A great business plan can help you clarify your strategy, identify potential roadblocks, decide what you’ll need in the way of resources, and evaluate the viability of your idea or your growth plans before you start a business .

Not every successful business launches with a formal business plan, but many founders find value in taking time to step back, research their idea and the market they’re looking to enter, and understand the scope and the strategy behind their tactics. That’s where writing a business plan comes in.

Table of Contents

What is a business plan?

Why write a business plan, business plan formats, how to write a business plan in 9 steps, tips for creating a small business plan, common mistakes when writing a business plan, prepare your business plan today, business plan faq.

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A business plan is a document describing a business, its products or services, how it earns (or will earn) money, its leadership and staffing, its financing, its operations model, and many other details essential to its success.

We had a marketing background but not much experience in the other functions needed to run a fashion ecommerce business, like operations, finance, production, and tech. Laying out a business plan helped us identify the “unknowns” and made it easier to spot the gaps where we’d need help or, at the very least, to skill up ourselves. Jordan Barnett, Kapow Meggings

Investors rely on business plans to evaluate the feasibility of a business before funding it, which is why business plans are commonly associated with getting a loan. But there are several compelling reasons to consider writing a business plan, even if you don’t need funding.

If you’re looking for a structured way to lay out your thoughts and ideas, and to share those ideas with people who can have a big impact on your success, a business plan is an excellent starting point.

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Business planning is often used to secure funding, but plenty of business owners find writing a plan valuable, even if they never work with an investor. That’s why we put together a free business plan template to help you get started.

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Business plans can span from one page to multiple pages with detailed graphs and reports. There’s no one way to create a business plan. The goal is to convey the most important information about your company for readers.

Common types of business plans we see include, but are not limited to, the following:

Check out real-world examples of different business plans by reading The Road to Success: Business Plan Examples to Inspire Your Own .

Few things are more intimidating than a blank page. Starting your business plan with a structured outline and key elements for what you’ll include in each section is the best first step you can take.

Since an outline is such an important step in the process of writing a business plan, we’ve put together a high-level overview you can copy into your blank document to get you started (and avoid the terror of facing a blank page). You can also start with a free business plan template and use it to inform the structure of your plan.

Once you’ve got your business plan outline in place, it’s time to fill it in. We’ve broken it down by section to help you build your plan step by step.

1. Draft an executive summary

A good executive summary is one of the most crucial sections of your plan—it’s also the last section you should write.

The executive summary’s purpose is to distill everything that follows and give time-crunched reviewers (e.g., potential investors and lenders) a high-level overview of your business that persuades them to read further.

Again, it’s a summary, so highlight the key points you’ve uncovered while writing your plan. If you’re writing for your own planning purposes, you can skip the summary altogether—although you might want to give it a try anyway, just for practice.

Screenshot of an executive summary by FIGS

An executive summary shouldn’t exceed one page. Admittedly, that space constraint can make squeezing in all of the salient information a bit stressful—but it’s not impossible. Here’s what your business plan’s executive summary should include:

2. Describe your company

This section of your business plan should answer two fundamental questions: who are you, and what do you plan to do? Answering these questions with a company description provides an introduction to why you’re in business, why you’re different, what you have going for you, and why you’re a good investment bet. For example, clean makeup brand Saie shares a letter from its founder on the company’s mission and why it exists.

A letter from the Saie founder next to a picture of a woman putting on mascara

Clarifying these details is still a useful exercise, even if you’re the only person who’s going to see them. It’s an opportunity to put to paper some of the more intangible facets of your business, like your principles, ideals, and cultural philosophies.

Here are some of the components you should include in your company description:

Some of these points are statements of fact, but others will require a bit more thought to define, especially when it comes to your business’s vision, mission, and values. This is where you start getting to the core of why your business exists, what you hope to accomplish, and what you stand for.

This is where you start getting to the core of why your business exists, what you hope to accomplish, and what you stand for.

To define your values, 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.

Once you know your values, you can write a mission statement . Your statement should explain, in a convincing manner, why your business exists, and should be no longer than a single sentence.

As an example, Shopify’s mission statement is “Making commerce better for everyone.” It’s the “why” behind everything we do and clear enough that it needs no further explanation.

What impact do you envision your business having on the world once you’ve achieved your vision?

Next, craft your vision statement: what impact do you envision your business having on the world once you’ve achieved your vision? Phrase this impact as an assertion—begin the statement with “We will” and you’ll be off to a great start. Your vision statement, unlike your mission statement, can be longer than a single sentence, but try to keep it to three at most. The best vision statements are concise.

Finally, your company description should include both short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals, generally, should be achievable within the next year, while one to five years is a good window for long-term goals. Make sure all your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

3. Perform a market analysis

No matter what type of business you start, it’s no exaggeration to say your market can make or break it. Choose the right market for your products—one with plenty of customers who understand and need your product—and you’ll have a head start on success. If you choose the wrong market, or the right market at the wrong time, you may find yourself struggling for each sale.

Market analysis is a key section of your business plan, whether or not you ever intend for anyone else to read it.

This is why market research and analysis is a key section of your business plan, whether or not you ever intend for anyone else to read it. It should include an overview of how big you estimate the market is for your products, an analysis of your business’s position in the market, and an overview of the competitive landscape. Thorough research supporting your conclusions is important both to persuade investors and to validate your own assumptions as you work through your plan.

How big is your potential market?

The potential market is an estimate of how many people need your product. While it’s exciting to imagine sky-high sales figures, you’ll want to use as much relevant independent data as possible to validate your estimated potential market.

Since this can be a daunting process, here are some general tips to help you begin your research:

Some sources to consult for market data include government statistics offices, industry associations, academic research, and respected news outlets covering your industry.

SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis looks at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What are the best things about your company? What are you not so good at? What market or industry shifts can you take advantage of and turn into opportunities? Are there external factors threatening your ability to succeed?

These breakdowns often are presented as a grid, with bullet points in each section breaking down the most relevant information—so you can probably skip writing full paragraphs here. Strengths and weaknesses—both internal company factors—are listed first, with opportunities and threats following in the next row. With this visual presentation, your reader can quickly see the factors that may impact your business and determine your competitive advantage in the market.

Here’s an example:

SWOT analysis

Free: SWOT Analysis Template

Get your free SWOT Analysis Template. Use this free PDF to future-proof your business by identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

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Competitive analysis.

There are three overarching factors you can use to differentiate your business in the face of competition:

To understand which is the best fit, you’ll need to understand your business as well as the competitive landscape.

You’ll always have competition in the market, even with an innovative product, so it’s important to include a competitive overview in your business plan. If you’re entering an established market, include a list of a few companies you consider direct competitors and explain how you plan to differentiate your products and business from theirs.

You’ll always have competition in the market, even with an innovative product.

For example, if you’re selling jewelry, your competitive differentiation could be that, unlike many high-end competitors, you donate a percentage of your profits to a notable charity or pass savings on to your customers.

If you’re entering a market where you can’t easily identify direct competitors, consider your indirect competitors—companies offering products that are substitutes for yours. For example, if you’re selling an innovative new piece of kitchen equipment, it’s too easy to say that because your product is new, you have no competition. Consider what your potential customers are doing to solve the same problems your product solves.

4. Outline management and organization

A woman does research on a laptop sitting on the floor

The management and organization section of your business plan should tell readers about who’s running your company. Detail the legal structure of your business. Communicate whether you’ll incorporate your business as an S corporation or create a limited partnership or sole proprietorship.

If you have a management team, use an organizational chart to show your company’s internal structure, including the roles, responsibilities, and relationships between people in your chart. Communicate how each person will contribute to the success of your startup.

5. List your products and services

Your products or services will feature prominently in most areas of your business plan, but it’s important to provide a section that outlines key details about them for interested readers.

If you sell many items, you can include more general information on each of your product lines; if you only sell a few, provide additional information on each. For example, bag shop BAGGU sells a large selection of different types of bags, in addition to home goods and other accessories. Its business plan would list out those bags and key details about each.

Screenshot of BAGGU reusable bags on its website

Describe new products you’ll launch in the near future and any intellectual property you own. Express how they’ll improve profitability.

It’s also important to note where products are coming from—handmade crafts are sourced differently than trending products for a dropshipping business, for instance.

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6. perform customer segmentation.

A man looks at graphs on an ipad

Your ideal customer, also known as your target market, is the foundation of your marketing plan , if not your business plan as a whole. You’ll want to keep this person in mind as you make strategic decisions, which is why an overview of who they are is important to understand and include in your plan.

To give a holistic overview of your ideal customer, describe a number of general and specific demographic characteristics. Customer segmentation often includes:

This information will vary based on what you’re selling, but you should be specific enough that it’s unquestionably clear who you’re trying to reach—and more importantly, why you’ve made the choices you have based on who your customers are and what they value.

For example, a college student has different interests, shopping habits, and pricing sensitivity than a 50-year-old executive at a Fortune 500 company. Your business plan and decisions would look very different based on which one was your ideal customer.

7. Define a marketing plan

A screenshot of a tweet about a marketing plan

Your marketing efforts are directly informed by your ideal customer. Your marketing plan should outline your current decisions and your future strategy, with a focus on how your ideas are a fit for that ideal customer.

If you’re planning to invest heavily in Instagram marketing , for example, it might make sense to include whether Instagram is a leading platform for your audience—if it’s not, that might be a sign to rethink your marketing plan.

Most marketing plans include information on four key subjects. How much detail you present on each will depend on both your business and your plan’s audience.

Promotion may be the bulk of your plan since you can more readily dive into tactical details, but the other three areas should be covered at least briefly—each is an important strategic lever in your marketing mix.

8. Provide a logistics and operations plan

Brown boxes stacked to the ceiling in a warehouse

Logistics and operations are the workflows you’ll implement to make your ideas a reality. If you’re writing a business plan for your own planning purposes, this is still an important section to consider, even though you might not need to include the same level of detail as if you were seeking investment.

Cover all parts of your planned operations, including:

This section should signal to your reader that you’ve got a solid understanding of your supply chain and strong contingency plans in place to cover potential uncertainty. If your reader is you, it should give you a basis to make other important decisions, like how to price your products to cover your estimated costs, and at what point you plan to break even on your initial spending.

9. Make a financial plan

A laptop sits open with numbers and graphs on the screen

No matter how great your idea is, and regardless of the effort, time, and money you invest, a business lives or dies based on its financial health. At the end of the day, people want to work with a business they expect to be viable for the foreseeable future.

The level of detail required in your financial plan will depend on your audience and goals, but typically you’ll want to include three major views of your financials: an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash-flow statement. It also may be appropriate to include financial data and projections.

Here’s a spreadsheet template that includes everything you’ll need to create an income statement, balance sheet, and cash-flow statement, including some sample numbers. You can edit it to reflect projections if needed.

Income statement

Your income statement is designed to give readers a look at your revenue sources and expenses over a given time period. With those two pieces of information, they can see the all-important bottom line or the profit or loss your business experienced during that time. If you haven’t launched your business yet, you can project future milestones of the same information.

Balance sheet

Your balance sheet offers a look at how much equity you have in your business. On one side, you list all your business assets (what you own), and on the other side, all your liabilities (what you owe). This provides a snapshot of your business’s shareholder equity, which is calculated as:

Assets - Liabilities = Equity

Cash flow statement

Your cash flow statement is similar to your income statement, with one important difference: it takes into account when revenues are collected and when expenses are paid.

When the cash you have coming in is greater than the cash you have going out, your cash flow is positive. When the opposite scenario is true, your cash flow is negative. Ideally, your cash flow statement will help you see when cash is low, when you might have a surplus, and where you might need to have a contingency plan to access funding to keep your business solvent .

It can be especially helpful to forecast your cash-flow statement to identify gaps or negative cash flow and adjust operations as required. Here’s a full guide to working through cash-flow projections for your business.

Download your copy of these templates to build out these financial statements for your business plan.

Know your audience

When you know who will be reading your plan—even if you’re just writing it for yourself to clarify your ideas—you can tailor the language and level of detail to them. This can also help you make sure you’re including the most relevant information and figure out when to omit sections that aren’t as impactful.

Have a clear goal

You’ll need to put in more work and deliver a more thorough plan if your goal is to secure funding for your business versus working through a plan for yourself or even your team.

Invest time in research

Sections of your business plan will primarily be informed by your ideas and vision, but some of the most crucial information you’ll need requires research from independent sources. This is where you can invest time in understanding who you’re selling to, whether there’s demand for your products, and who else is selling similar products or services.

Keep it short and to the point

No matter who you’re writing for, your business plan should be short and readable—generally no longer than 15 to 20 pages. If you do have additional documents you think may be valuable to your audience and your goals, consider adding them as appendices.

Keep the tone, style, and voice consistent

This is best managed by having a single person write the plan or by allowing time for the plan to be properly edited before distributing it.

Use a business plan software

Writing a business plan isn’t the easiest task for business owners. But it’s important for anyone starting or expanding a business. Fortunately, there are tools to help with everything from planning, drafting, creating graphics, syncing financial data, and more. Business plan software also have templates and tutorials to help you finish a comprehensive plan in hours, rather than days.

A few curated picks include:

For a more in-depth look at the available options, read Get Guidance: 6 Business Plan Software to Help Write Your Future .

Other articles on business plans would never tell you what we’re about to tell you: your business plan can fail. The last thing you want is for time and effort to go down the drain. Avoid these common mistakes:

Read through the following business plan example. You can download a copy in Microsoft Word or Google Docs and use it to inspire your own business planning.

Download sample business plan example (.doc)

A business plan can help you identify clear, deliberate next steps for your business, even if you never plan to pitch investors—and it can help you see gaps in your plan before they become issues. Whether you’ve written a business plan for a new online business idea , a retail storefront, growing your established business, or purchasing an existing business , you now have a comprehensive guide and the information you need to help you start working on the next phase of your own business.

Illustrations by Rachel Tunstall

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Desirae is a senior product marketing manager at Shopify, and has zero chill when it comes to helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

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

Clifford Chi

Published: December 01, 2022

Free Business Plan Template

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

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

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

Business Plan Format

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

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

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

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

Fill out the form to get your free template.

Most business plans include the following sections:

1. Executive Summary

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

Most executive summaries include:

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

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

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

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

5. Marketing Strategy

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

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

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

6. Key Features and Benefits

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

7. Pricing and Revenue

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

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

8. Financials

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

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

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

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

Sample Business Plan Templates

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

1. HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

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

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

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

Why We Like It

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

2. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

Sample business plan: hubspot free editable pdf

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

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

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

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

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

2. Lula Body

Business plan example: Lula body

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

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

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

6. Curriculum Companion Suites (CSS)

business plan examples: curriculum companion suites

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

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

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

7. Culina Sample Business Plan

sample business plan: Culina

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Step-by-step guide on writing a lean business plan with templates

Yauhen Zaremba

Yauhen Zaremba Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc

If you’ve got a good idea and an entrepreneurial spirit, you’ve probably considered starting your own business at some point.

But, even if you’ve got some experience with business operations, actually bringing that idea to life is no simple task.

Traditional business plans can help, but they might be far too complicated if you’re in the early stages of business development or you aren’t intended to seek external funding to start your company.

If that’s the case, a lean business plan is probably a better answer.

In this article, we’ll talk you through the details of a lean business plan, and we’ll show you how to write in this step-by-step guide.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

Before you start your business plan

What is a lean business plan.

Lean business plans tend to be geared toward early-stage businesses that don’t need any kind of outside investment and have no intention to seek financing in order to start their business.

Lean plans are more flexible than traditional business plans. They cover much of the same information — but not all of it — and the format isn’t as strict.

However, there is a key difference to consider.

Traditional business plan

A traditional business plan ( template here ) is primarily a marketing document designed to help an entrepreneur acquire funding.

With a traditional plan, the business owner needs to prove that they’ve considered their business fully and show a potential investor (or banking agent) how they plan to invest the funds to create a successful enterprise.

Lean business plan

A lean business plan is more of a vision document. The plan format doesn’t usually include any kind of financial documentation, and it doesn’t always follow a predetermined template or format.

Instead, this plan is much shorter (often one or two pages) and is primarily designed to help new business owners get their ideas on paper and figure out how to transform them into a viable company.

It’s possible to scale a lean plan into a traditional plan if funding is required, but it’s not the main purpose of this plan.

With all that said, keep in mind that any business plan is still all about helping you make money at the end of the day.

While your lean business plan will probably be shorter than a traditional plan and all accompanying financial documentation, the decisions that you make while planning will have a direct financial impact on your business once you get started.

The key difference is that you’ll be investing (and losing) your own money — so it pays to be prudent, do your market research, and come back with a plan that maximizes your profit while minimizing costs.

Remember: A lean plan isn’t a shortcut to creating an effective business strategy or a viable company.

No matter your bottom line, if you don’t have the necessary financial resources, the company won’t be able to accomplish its goals and may not even be able to keep its doors open.

A lean plan can help you define your vision and determine the best path forward but, like all business plans, it’s only as good as the work you put into it.

Why do you need a lean plan?

Lean business plans, like other types of plans, are most useful when helping you better understand the environment surrounding your business and how your company will need to operate in order to stay competitive in the marketplace.

A lean business plan can help you determine each of the following details:

As you write your plan, you’ll need to evaluate your target marketing, including buyers and brand competitors.

You’ll need to develop strategies for how you’ll stand out, what sales channels make the most sense for your business, and how you need to talk about your products and services in order to generate strong interest from buyers.

Without this information, you risk launching your business into an unknown and unexplored market, which will open you up to massive deficits and competitive exposure as you try to adjust on the fly.

When should you write your lean business plan?

There are a few great times to write any business plan, and a lean business plan is no exception.

Keeping in mind that a lean plan is a business document, you should consider creating this plan in any of the following circumstances:

However, it’s important to note that a lean plan isn’t a static document that needs to be frozen in time.

Unlike a traditional business plan, which often serves as a snapshot of your business operations and planning, a lean plan is flexible enough to evolve quickly and can be updated with greater frequency as your business grows and customer needs evolve.

Businesses commonly discover new or related markets shortly after they first open their doors, necessitating a pivot in products and services.

Update your lean plan accordingly and share it with your leadership team, then execute a new strategy to capture the new opportunity.

Parts of a lean business plan

In this section, we’ll cover the parts of a lean business plan.

While we’ll cover each section in-depth below, one important thing to remember is that your lean plan should be focused on developing your business idea into a viable company.

To do that, you’ll need business partners, a decent understanding of your cost structure, and some insights into what successful businesses in your industry might look like.

These plans are best-fits for early-stage startups (pre-seed), solopreneurs, and similar businesses with no immediate need for funding.

If you’re planning to launch your business as part of a funding-backed enterprise, be prepared to use the information you gather as part of a lean plan into a more traditional plan when the need arises.

01. Identity

The identity section of your document covers your business details, including what your company does and how you identify with your target customers.

It’s often best to think of this as an elevator pitch for your business. Your identity statement doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it should sum up the crux of your business in a few words.

If you find that you can’t do that when formulating your business, you might need to spend more time thinking about what you’re actually trying to do and how you can best serve your intended market.

02. Problem worth solving

Put simply, this section represents an existing problem that you’re getting into business to solve.

What’s driving you to start the business? Maybe you feel like a specific service doesn’t exist or you can offer better pricing or a better experience in a unique market.

Once your business enters the market, what problem will it solve?

03. Solution

If the problem (listed above) is one half of the equation, how you plan to solve it is the other half.

In this section, you’ll want to highlight your answer to that problem by pointing out how your business solves the issue.

While the details are obviously more complex than what you can list in a lean plan, this solution should encapsulate how your business stands apart from everyone else.

04. Target market

In this section, you’ll want to list your ideal customers for your business. You can do this using a number or bulleted list, and it doesn’t have to be particularly complicated.

Because a lean plan isn’t as in-depth as a traditional business plan, it might be tempting to add any potential customer to this list.

Further reading: How to find your target market

However, it’s best if you take a little time and do some additional market research to ensure the customer you want exists in quantities large enough to sustain your business.

05. Competition

No matter how unique your business or idea, you’ll always have competitors.

Take a look around (both locally and online!) and see who might offer services that are similar or competitive to yours.

Keep in mind that, while pricing and cost aren’t everything, they play a large role in the marketplace.

Consider that as one factor among many while trying to assess your competition.

06. Sales сhannels

Depending on the nature of your business, your sales channels will vary.

Do you plan to sell products online-only, or are you opening a retail store for products? Do you even sell a physical product? Will services be rendered remotely or in person?

07. Marketing activities

One of the most important aspects of your business deals with how you’re planning to inform your customers about your business and the services you offer.

Raising customer awareness and generating leads is one of the most important things that a business can do, but marketing activities can also become a major cost center for the business.

Even though a lean plan is designed to help clarify the bigger picture, it’s important to do your research before you decide on your planned marketing tactics.

08. Revenue streams

We said it before, but it bears repeating: At the end of the day, it’s all about the money. You’ll need cash flow to keep your business afloat.

In this section, you’ll want to cover how you plan to generate that revenue. What products or services do you plan to sell? What will be your flagship products?

In the example below, we’ve listed a flagship product or service for each of our imaginary businesses. However, you can list multiple products or services for your own business as bullet points in this section.

09. Expenses

To keep your business running, you’ll need to invest some of your revenue back into the company to cover operating expenses.

Further reading: 12 Major Business Expenses (and How to Reduce Them)

In this section, you’ll want to highlight those primary cost centers. If you’re still in the planning process for your business, you may not have any metrics for your own operation.

In that case, doing your research can help you better determine what major expenses you’re likely to encounter as you get your business off the ground.

10. Milestones

Now that you’ve got most of the basics out of the way, you’ll need to come up with logical next steps to get your business operations underway.

To do this, you’ll create milestones to meet your business needs. While these milestones can be quite broad and may involve many subtasks, they still need to have some specificity so that you can plan for the future.

11. Team and key roles

Some businesses can be done alone, but most are a team effort. In this section, you’ll want to list all of the key players and roles that you need in order for your business to function.

Keep in mind that, as the business owner, the expertise and knowledge of your staff are some of your most valuable assets. Depending on your niche and your specialty, replacing a key employee can be a major challenge.

While building out your list, consider what steps you’ll need to take when a key player exits your business.

12. Partners and resources

No business can thrive on its own.

Whether you need help with your marketing strategy or you need to hand over your books to an accountant at the end of the year, you’ll need partners to help you navigate murkier waters.

In this section, list any major partners and key resources that you’ll need in order to continue operating with your competitive advantage.

Better business planning with PandaDoc

While writing a business plan might feel like a monumental task, it’s often the first major step when starting your business.

PandaDoc can help you do more with your business plan by offering advanced layout, formatting, and collaboration tools.

Grab a free business plan template from the template library and see the PandaDoc editor in action by signing up for a free 14-day trial .

Originally published Oct 17, 2017, updated Jun 21, 202 2

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between a lean business plan and a formal business plan.

A detailed business plan is much longer and is typically used whenever you need financing.

When you’re creating a plan for your own use, or when you’re planning to self-fund and aren’t seeking investors, a lean plan can be the better way to get started.

That being said, you can always scale up your lean plan into a traditional business plan, if you decide that funding or additional information is needed.

None of the work that goes into your lean plan needs to be wasted if you decide that your situation demands something a little more formal somewhere down the line.

Is a business plan required to start a business?

A business plan definitely isn’t required to open your business, especially if you aren’t seeking a loan.  However, good planning can help you achieve your goals faster and with lower overall costs.

A business plan, whether you use a one-page business plan like the lean plan here or a traditional plan, forces you to formalize your idea and conduct market research that will help to further define your brand.

Often, creating a workable plan requires you to determine key metrics and ideal customer segments.  Formal plans may even ask for sales forecasts or financial forecasts to help lenders better understand your projected profits.

You won’t see as much of that with a lean plan, though the numbers-driven details should definitely play a role in your regular review once the business is up and running.

Do I have to have everything done before I start my business?

No, and you probably won’t.

No matter how well you prepare, no business plan will ever be perfect, and you’ll always encounter some unexpected problem that no one anticipated. A business plan can help you predict some of those problems, but you won’t be able to plan for scenarios where a distributor has trouble or a new competitor opens its doors.

At some point, you’ll have to stop writing and start operating your business. Set a personal deadline to stop planning and start working.

Perfection is the enemy of good enough.

How long should my business plan be?

This depends on your plan and the objective of the plan itself.

Lean business plans like the one listed here are often created using a single page or a few pages (at most). Even if you want to follow a more traditional route, a personal plan probably shouldn’t run more than around 10 pages.

That’s different from a funded startup, which can be closer to 30 pages, once the market analysis and all financial details are accounted for. These plans venture strongly into VC and investment funding, which often necessitates higher investments and a great amount of due diligence. In these scenarios, you might also be looking at a pitch rather than a plan.

For more traditional businesses or existing businesses seeking funding from a small business loan officer, somewhere between 7 and 15 pages is probably sufficient for your needs.

Can I change my business plan after I’ve written it?

Certainly. In fact, this is expected.

A business plan is best viewed as a living document that should grow and evolve with your company. Markets shift. Public interest goes in new directions. New competitors and business opportunities may arise.

As your business grows, you’ll need to shift your focus or pivot your business model to accommodate for those changes. Your business plan should evolve with you in order to best reflect the position that your organization needs to take in order to remain profitable.

Do investors really care about a business plan?

Yes, although it can depend on who you’re speaking to and how you’re trying to secure funding.

If you’re trying to get a loan from a bank, a business plan is almost mandatory. A small business loan officer will evaluate the validity of your plan and may come back to you with questions before authorizing your loan.

On the other hand, a VC firm or an angel investor may expect a pitch, rather than a business plan, especially if you’re in a pre-seed round and have no cash flow or financials that they can actively evaluate. They’ll also be interested in anything else you can use to make your case, like intellectual property (patents, inventions, etc.) that make your business model unique and defensible.

In either case, your potential investors want to know that you’ve done your research and that they aren’t throwing away their investment. Even if you need to pitch, starting with a business plan can help you figure out how to address these pressing questions.

Should I hire someone to write my business plan?

It might be tempting to hire a consultant, strategist, or writer to help you create your business plan, but this is something you should do by yourself or with the help of your business partners.

Why?  Because, as the business owner, the knowledge that you’ll gain from the research is invaluable to the long-term success of your company. It’s not something that you should outsource.

Of course, we aren’t saying that you should avoid shortcuts. Use a lean business plan template or a traditional business plan template , if that helps you kickstart your creative process. After the plan is written, you can even bring in writers, editors, and graphic designers to make it look great.

Keep in mind as well that nobody knows everything. While writing your business plan, you’ll probably spot gaps in your own knowledge in key areas of your business operations.

Surround yourself with experienced advisors and mentors that you trust so that you can fill those knowledge gaps. If you aren’t sure where to find them, resources like SCORE or the Small Business Administration (US) and similar websites can help you get started. You may also need to hire mentors and specific talent in order to succeed.

How will I know what to write in my business plan?

Most business plans follow a template or a process. Pick one you like and that makes sense for your business, then follow it.

Keep in mind that length isn’t everything when it comes to business plans.

You don’t always need a 30+ page document to get a loan from the bank, and supporting documentation around financing and past success may be just as important to lenders and investors as good planning skills.

Do I have to follow a specific format?

No, although you’ll want to make sure that all of the basic information is covered if you choose to deviate from any standard format.

Some readers may be expecting a specific format or a document that’s styled similarly to other business plans that they’ve seen before.

The more you stray from the accepted format, the harder your plan will be to interpret, which could cause confusion and complicate the lending or investing process.

PandDoc is not a law firm, or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. This page is not intended to and does not provide legal advice. Should you have legal questions on the validity of e-signatures or digital signatures and the enforceability thereof, please consult with an attorney or law firm. Use of PandaDocs services are governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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How to Write a Business Plan Outline

A step-by-step guide to your best first impression

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

business plan in order to do what

Business Plan Outline

Adrian Mangel / The Balance

Are you an entrepreneur looking to turn your idea into a business? Do you have a business plan? There is some debate about whether new businesses need a business plan when just starting out, especially if they're not asking for money. According to Carl Schramm, author of "Burn the Business Plan," many large corporations didn't have business plans when they first started:

"If you look at all our older major corporations—U.S. Steel, General Electric, IBM, American Airlines—and then you look at our newer companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, none of these companies ever had a business plan before they got started."

The U.S. Small Business Administration takes a middle-of-the-road approach, recognizing that not all businesses need a comprehensive plan. Instead, it suggests that smaller businesses and startups use a "leaner" and more streamlined version to outline the essentials and highlight strengths. Lean or long, your business plan should cover the basics.

The outline below offers a brief overview of what each section of your business plan should cover. It is not a definitive guide, as you may wish to expand or combine sections, or add extra detail in a way that is customized to your particular venture. Keep in mind the idea is to present your venture in the most attractive and professional way possible.

Executive Summary

Though it appears first in the business plan, the executive summary is a section that is usually written last, as it encapsulates the entire plan. It provides an introduction and high-level overview of your business, including your mission statement and details about what product(s) and/or service(s) you offer.

Since the executive summary is your business's first impression, it's critical that it be outstanding, especially if you're seeking funding.

Business Description

Provide information about the business you're starting, including what sort of problem your products/services solve and your most likely buyers. You can also expand this description by offering an overview of the industry that your business will be a part of, including trends, major players, and estimated sales. This section should give a positive perspective on your place within the industry. Set your business apart from the competition by describing your or your team's expertise, as well as your competitive advantage.

Market Analysis

The market analysis is a crucial section of the business plan, as it identifies your best customers or clients. To create a compelling market analysis, thoroughly research the primary target market for your products/services, including geographic location, demographics, your target market's needs, and how these needs are currently being met. Your purpose here is to demonstrate that you have a solid and thorough understanding of the people you are planning to sell your products/services to so that you can make informed predictions about how much they might buy, and convince other interested parties.

Competitive Analysis

In preparing to write the competitive analysis section, you'll learn how successful your direct and indirect competitors are in the marketplace. This section of your business plan includes an assessment of your competition's strengths and weaknesses, any advantages they may have, and the unique qualities that make your business stand out from the competition. It also includes an analysis of how you will overcome any barriers to entry in your chosen market.

The primary goal here is to distinguish your business from the competition, but a strong competitive analysis will be able to persuade potential funding sources that your business can compete in the marketplace successfully . A useful tool to help articulate this section of the plan is sometimes referred to as a SWOT analysis, or a "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats" assessment.

Sales and Marketing Plan

The sales and marketing section offers a detailed explanation of your sales strategy, pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, and all the benefits of your products/services. This is where to outline your business's unique selling proposition, describe how you plan to get your products/services to market, and how you'll persuade people to buy them.

When developing your unique selling proposition, your goal is to answer the question: Why should people buy from me over my competition?

Ownership and Management Plan

This section outlines your business's legal structure and management resources, including the internal management team, external management resources, and human resources needs. Include any experience or special skills that each person in your management team brings to the business. If the goal of your business plan is to get funding, it's wise to include an advisory board as a management resource.

Operating Plan

The operating plan offers detailed information about how your business will be run. It provides your business's physical location, descriptions of facilities and equipment, types of employees needed, inventory requirements, suppliers, and any other applicable operating details that pertain to your precise type of business, such as a description of the manufacturing process, or specialty items needed in day-to-day operations.

Financial Plan

Starting a business is usually about making a profit, so it's important to demonstrate that you have a solid sense of your current finances, funding needs, as well as projected income. In the financial section , provide a description of your funding requirements, your detailed financial statements, and a financial statement analysis. This part of the business plan is where you present the three main financial documents of any business: the balance sheet, the income statement, and the cash flow statement, or in the case of a new business, a cash flow projection.

Appendices and Exhibits

In addition to the sections outlined above, at the end of your business plan, include any additional information that will help establish the credibility of your business idea, or bolster your potential success. You may choose to include marketing studies, photographs of your product, permits, patents and other intellectual property rights, credit histories, résumés, marketing materials, and any contracts or other legal agreements pertinent to your business.

How to Organize Your Business Plan

There is no set order to your business plan, the only exception being that the executive summary should always come first. Beyond that, the order depends on your goals.

If your purpose for writing a business plan is to help you organize, gather information, and create a roadmap, organize it in the way that is most intuitive to your process. You might group similar content together, such as all the material relating to markets (industry overview, marketing analysis, competitive analysis, and marketing plan).

If your goal is to seek funding, organize the plan based on what your audience values, and lead with the best, most convincing material first. If you have a stellar group of people serving on your new business's advisory board, put that section directly after the executive summary. Highlighting your new business's strengths will encourage your reader to continue reading your plan.

Add a Title Page and Table of Contents

After completing all the sections, don't forget to insert a title page at the beginning of the plan followed by a table of contents listing each section with page numbers.

The Appearance of Your Business Plan Matters

If you're writing a business plan as an organizational exercise—for your eyes only—feel free to get loose with the style and organization; the simple act of putting all your ideas into a practical template may be a valuable brainstorming tool. However, if you're looking for funding or investors, the business plan is a formal document, so it should look like one. Every aspect of your business plan should impress your potential funding source.

Pay attention to margins and formatting; make sure it's spell-checked and grammatically sound. If you're not good at this, pay a professional to do it.

Hiring a professional to design, edit, or review your business plan may be a good idea, regardless of how skilled you are; a fresh pair of eyes can often spot issues that the original writer missed.

If you need printed copies, get them professionally printed and bound. Keep in mind that you may only have a short amount of time to sell your idea, and first impressions pack a powerful punch.

How Long Should a Business Plan Be?

A good business plan can't be pinned to a minimum or maximum page count. This is because the right length depends on your business. Your business plan should be brief enough to convey the essentials without redundancy or fluff content, yet long enough to demonstrate to your audience that your business is well-researched and fully considered. A simple plan for a modest startup might be around 40 pages, while a more complex business plan may need 100 pages to convey an ambitious financing strategy, product diagrams, industry data, or the full scope of the venture. The goal is to allow for a full explanation of the pertinent information about your business, presented in a concise and well-organized fashion.

Knowledge@Wharton. " Why Creating a Business Plan Is a ‘Waste of Time’ ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

Corporate Finance Institute. " Barriers to Entry ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " SBA Recommended Business Plans and Length ."

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What is a business plan?

How to write a business plan

Vector of a single page with folded corner and a pencil. Represents preparing to write a business plan.

How to Write a Business Plan

Noah Parsons | Apr 12, 2023

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. The more you know about what goes into your plan, the easier it will be to write.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to put together a strong, detailed business plan. One that will impress bankers and potential investors, while helping you start, run, and grow a successful business.

Step-by-step guide for writing a business plan

Follow these simple steps and download one of our free business plan templates to make writing your business plan quick and easy.

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Start with a one-page plan

Outline all of your important business details with a brief and focused document that’s incredibly easy to update and expand. You may even find that it’s all you need to run your business.

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Write an executive summary

Create a brief and convincing introduction to your business. This is the first, and possibly only, thing investors, employees and anyone else will read. It’s second on this list, but the last thing you should write.

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Describe your products and services

This is where you describe what you are selling and how it solves a problem for your target market. Any other information, like initial traction or patents, should further demonstrate how your product/service stands out.

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Document your market analysis

When writing a business plan you’ll need to spend some time collecting information about your customers. The tricky part is taking all of that data and turning it into an informative description of your target market.

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Show that you know the competition

Everyone has competition and you should show that you understand who they are and how you compare as part of your business plan.

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Outline your marketing and sales plan

Describe how you plan to reach and sell to your potential customers, what your sales strategy will be, and what marketing activities you will use to make your business successful.

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Provide an overview of your operations

It’s important to address the specific day-to-day operations and setup for your business. This includes your location, distribution efforts, partnerships, and anything else that keeps you running.

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Track milestones and metrics

While not required to complete your business plan it can be incredibly useful to map out key business milestones and the metrics you’ll be tracking along the way.

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Describe your company and team

Explore the human element of your business by creating a company description that includes an overview of your history, management team, potential hires, and legal structure.

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Make a financial plan and starting forecasts

Creating a financial forecast and budget prepares you with the necessary financial statements and forecasts to set goals and pursue business loans and investments.

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Add supporting information to an appendix

A place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports or just doesn’t fit into specific sections of your plan.

Business plan templates and tools

Kickstart your plan writing by downloading one of our free business plan templates.

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Traditional business plan template

Download a free SBA-approved business plan template built for small businesses and startups.

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One-page plan template

Download a free one-page plan template to write a useful business plan in as little as 30 minutes.

Bplans Library

Sample business plan library

Explore over 500 free real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries to inspire and guide your own plan.

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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.

business plan in order to do what

Plan, fund, and grow.

Easily write a business plan, secure funding, and gain insights.

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business plan in order to do what

business plan in order to do what

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 plans for home or business

Microsoft 365 is a subscription service that makes sure you always have the most up-to-date modern productivity tools. If you're looking to buy Microsoft 365, but not sure which plan is right for you, use the information below to help guide your decision. 

Business plans versus personal and family plans

Microsoft 365 business subscriptions

Microsoft 365 business subscriptions  can help you grow your business, no matter if you're a team of one or more. 

Microsoft 365 Family and Personal

Personal and family subscriptions are ideal for personal use like home, personal, or family projects and school related activities.

The right plan for you will depend on what your needs are. Let's explore the options...

If you're leaning towards a business plan, deciding which one can depend on your specific business needs. The Microsoft 365 plan chooser is designed to help you with this. The chooser will make recommendations based on your answers to questions such as the size of your business, your field of work, the devices you use, and what kind of features, IT support, and security you're looking for. See Find the right plan for your business .

Looking for more product details and prices? Check out the comparison tables:  Compare Microsoft 365 for business plans

Buy or try Microsoft 365:

For business      For personal and family

Do you need both a business plan and a personal plan?

In some cases, a single Microsoft 365 plan will suit all your needs, but there might be instances when having both plans is the correct decision for you.

For example, you may want to keep your personal files, photos, and other documents separate from your business, having two plans will allow you to do this.

Additionally, if you already have Microsoft 365 Family that you're sharing with friends and family who aren't part of your business, keeping that personal subscription might be the best thing for everyone. This means you don't have to move anyone off that plan, and you don't have to worry about any personal files you already have associated with that subscription and your personal account. 

Switch from a personal Microsoft 365 subscription to Microsoft 365 for business

Have you already been using Microsoft 365 Family or Personal for your business and now you're ready to switch your business to Microsoft 365 for business? It's possible to transfer your business documents and files to your new business plan. Learn more about your options to help you with this process.

Follow the steps in  Switch from Microsoft 365 for home to a business subscription .

Work with a Microsoft 365 business partner in your area: Find the right partner for you .

Microsoft Store business consultant are available to help you this free of charge:  Contact Microsoft Stores online. (Note: Help from Microsoft business consultants isn't available in all markets.)


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business plan in order to do what

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

business plan in order to do what

A business plan is a blueprint for success. It guides you through all processes of starting and managing your company.

Well-thought-out business planning can often make the difference between success and failure. In this article, you will learn how to write a business plan step by step, which is a crucial must for all starting entrepreneurs.

What is a Business Plan and Why You Need to Write One?

A business plan is a document containing all the key elements and a business overview of your company. It is an executive summary that describes your business goals, methods for obtaining those goals, and the real time frame for implementing and reaching them. Use a business plan template or write a free-form piece explaining your ideas and visions.

Main Reasons to Write a Business Plan

To successfully launch a business, you need to come up with solid business strategies. To do that, you need to research potential clients, target audience, markets, and existing competitors.

Even in such business models as print-on-demand, where inventory and up-front investment are not necessary, planning is an important step if you want to scale your business. Write a business plan to put down visions, the purpose of your business, target market, and audience as well as the time and resources you'll need.

Funds & Cooperations

Writing down a good, detailed business plan can later help you raise capital, attract various investors, venture capitalists, get a business loan, new partners, and skilled employees. A strategic plan and overview will help other companies feel confident about investing their funds in your business's success.

Types of Business Plans

While small businesses can get through with a lean plan, most of them need to write a standard – typical business plan. Not just to attract investors, extra funds, and business partners, but to get a full idea of your own vision and time frame for implementation. 

That’s why we want to provide you with a detailed step-by-step guide on how to write the standard business plan.

Creating a Standard Business Plan Step by Step

Creating a Standard Business Plan

Although the standard business plan is more time-consuming, as it takes longer to write, it lets you create a fully thorough competitive analysis of your business. Whether you have a small business or a big one, write a business plan to gather all pros and cons, thus gaining a competitive advantage amongst competitors. 

Let’s take a detailed look at all the sections necessary for a standard business plan.

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is the most important part of your business plan. It is the first thing people see when reading it, so make it as appealing, compelling, and convincing as possible. 

This part should be two pages at the most and easy on the eyes. It has to catch the attention of the reader, so briefly explain:

The executive summary is meant to showcase all the best aspects of your business.

Pro tip: write this part last. Pick out the highlights from each section of your written business plan and create a summary to showcase your intellectual property.

2. Company Description

This is the section meant for bragging. Show off the strengths of your company. Be passionate about it and start with the most important information – the key characteristics of your business and company overview.

Make your company shine amongst direct and indirect competitors. Writing a business plan helps to boost your business strategy and thoroughly understand the purpose and goals for you, a potential business partner, team members, and potential investors.

3. Market Analysis

Before designing products and services, and offering them to the target audience, it is important to thoroughly understand, examine and know your market.

That’s why it’s important to conduct market research and analysis when writing a good business plan, to gain a clear view of the competitive landscape.

To choose the right market for your product or service, you need to know:

How to Do Market Analysis

Within the analysis, explain why your business differs. What sets you apart from your competition? And what do you need to do to make it happen in the future?

This analysis grants you and others an understanding of the industry and target market. It lets you comprehend your customers and reduce risks.

Whether you are submitting a funding request or striving for business success, a competitive analysis will help understand what successful businesses do, how and why it works, and how you can do it better.

4. Organization and Management

This section lets you explain how your business is run and handled, and who is involved and responsible for all the actions. It is needed to make sure there are no overlaps in the structure and confusion with responsibilities.


Define the type of your business and positions within the company. Business plans need an understanding of how you will provide the workflow. Provide this section in an organizational chart or graph form. 

Creating a Standard Business Plan - Organization

Once the structure of your company is clear, explain who are the people behind each role. List the management people, their positions, and responsibilities.

Why are they there? From ownership and board members to the full management team.

Include the following information on each member/owner/manager:

Explain in your business plan how each person’s skills and experience will contribute to the growth and success of the business. This internal company description highlights all the main features you and your team have to offer to have a competitive advantage over other businesses. 

5. Products and Services

Creating a Standard Business Plan - Products and Services

Although your products or services are mentioned multiple times throughout the business plan, there needs to be a section dedicated specifically to highlight every key characteristic of them.

Product positioning is one of the most important parts of starting a business. Explain your plans and competitive advantages through a detailed description of your products or services.

When writing a business plan, this section should include:

This section should be the centerpiece of a successful business plan. Capture the attention of those you want to work with. Show your professional side, be precise and clear in the descriptions and highlight your product or service from all angles.

6. Customer Segmentation

Creating a Standard Business Plan - Customer Segmentation

To maintain a successful relationship with diverse groups of people, you need to understand their main traits, means of communication, and unique needs. That’s why you need to divide them into customer segments .

This helps you distinguish your best customers and reach them through various channels when implementing a new business idea.

How to Segment Your Customers

Customer segmentation helps you improve customer relationships and reach your target audience through marketing, sales, service, and product efforts. Communicate more efficiently with your customers to meet their specific needs and offer the best value proposition for them.

7. Marketing Plan

Creating a Standard Business Plan - Marketing Plan

This section of your business plan explains how you will attract customers to your product or service and how you will advertise directly to them over a given time period. Specify the types of advertising you will use, at what times, in what manner, and at what cost.

How to Write a Marketing Plan

8. Logistics and Operations Plan

Manage your workflow from production to delivery with a well-thought-out logistics plan. Cover a full outline of the supply chain step by step. Whether you are writing a business plan to improve the financial health of the company or simply for your own planning, logistics is an important topic to cover. 

Describe the following sections:

Logistics and operations plan helps you and others thoroughly understand all business processes down to fulfillment. It also helps you manage and set prices accordingly.

While thinking about the easiest ways to start a business, keep in mind the print-on-demand (POD) model. The logistics and operations plan will be of no concern with this approach.

POD means no investment, no inventory, no worries. The lack of a physical store means no hassle with storage space, equipment, stocks, or employment. Sell digital items on a digital platform with third-party partners – print providers – who fulfill the order for you from printing to packing and delivery.

9. Financial Plan

Creating a Standard Business Plan - Financial Plan

Back up your ideas and visions with figures and data. This section is important if you wish to win over investors or get a loan. Or simply get a clear understanding of the financial aspect of your business. 

A financial plan mainly consists of three business financials:  an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. The numbers provide a clear image of financial forecasts. Explain your revenue streams, how you’re going to use, spend, and earn money within your business.

How to Write a Financial Plan

From cash flow statements and balance sheets to profit margins – a financial plan should cover all financial aspects of your business ideas. And here’s what you need:

The main goal of these financial statements is to prove that your business is viable and your idea is implementable.

Business Plan Pro Tips For Beginners

Business Plan Pro Tips For Beginners

Why do I need a business plan?

A business plan is an important must-have document that explains how to turn your idea for a product or service into reality. It can help you fully see the overview of your business and attract investors and new partners.

How long should a business plan be?

The volume of your business plan differs depending on the size of your company. A lean business plan should be no longer than two pages. However, a standard business plan should be covered in 20-40 pages. More or less, depending on the size of your business and details included.

Can I hire someone to create a business plan?

Absolutely. If writing isn’t your cup of tea or you simply don’t have the time for it, hire a business expert that will do it for you. Another option is to use a business plan template that shows you how everything is done. 

Do I need a business plan for a dropshipping business?

Yes. Sure, dropshipping gives you the benefit of leaving out several sections of the standard plan. Or it allows writing them seemingly shorter (such as customer segmentation and logistics). However, it is still important to have a thoroughly described and put-together overview of your business. It can only do you good by reducing risks, overlaying in actions, and misusing marketing ideas.

Do I need to include all of these sections?

We suggest that you do. All the sections cover specific areas that can only help you improve your business. A well-written plan helps you see if your ideas can be implemented and turned into reality, and whether your business will be successful.

An alternative is to write a lean plan. It will not be as thoroughly captured, but it will give you a complete picture of your business and its functions.

What is one purpose of writing a business plan before entering the market?

It helps you organize your business and prove to yourself and potential funders or partners that your business will be successful. The purpose of business plans is to identify, analyze and describe an opportunity while examining its technical, financial, and economic feasibility. 

No matter the size or type of business, it is important to highlight all the pros and cons of it. Map out the structure and processes, do market research, analyze your customers, competition, and every last detail in the nine provided steps:

Focus on what makes your business special and different from others. Write a powerful and well-thought-out mission statement and prove your business is worth it. Measure the success of the business before investing time, money, and precious resources in it. That’s what having your own business plan is for.

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Free business plan template for small businesses in 2023

Zoe Ashbridge

A business plan is critical for any serious entrepreneur and business owner. Without a plan, you can lose your vision; it’s easier to get distracted by the next new thing, and without an established WHY it can be difficult to keep going when times get tough. If business planning feels overwhelming, we’ve got the solution: a free business plan template for small businesses.

In this article, we’re sharing our free business plan template, what we love about it and our tips for creating a business plan that will set you up for success.

What’s covered in our business plan template?

Tips to create a business plan that works

Business plan template faq.

Our business plan template cover all sorts of areas of business. The best thing about this free business plan template for startups is that it acts as a guide to help you write your plan effectively — overwhelm, be gone!

Below, we describe the basics functions of each template, so that you can pick the template that best suits your needs:

Executive summary

Introduce your business plan and outline any key points. You’ll include a brief overview of the business plan, its purpose, its mission statement, and a summary of notable points.

Company description

The company description is an in-depth description of the business, including values and mission statements.

Company goals

The company goals section should include specific key performance indicators and strategies, you’ll be able to track your progress and celebrate your successes along the way.

Products / Services

Your business plan will outline what you’re selling. You might start thinking about your target market here, too.

Market research

Include a comprehensive evaluation of the industry and market. This section must be thorough, especially if you’re presenting to investors. They will feel more comfortable investing if they believe you’re well-researched and know your market. You’ll want to consider an analysis of competitors, market size, customer demographics, where your product or service fits, and how you intend to close the gap on aspirational competitors to disrupt the market.

Marketing and sales strategy

In your business plan, create a roadmap for marketing and sales. You’ll need to demonstrate how to reach and attract customers, including advertising, promotions, and sales tactics. During this section, you’ll need to choose priorities and support why you’re focusing on particular marketing or sales tactics.

Financial projections

A detailed analysis of the financials, including revenue forecasts and expense projections. You’ll need to include a break-even analysis to indicate when funders can expect a return on their money. This section is critical, especially if you’re starting with someone else’s cash.

Supporting documents, such as resumes of key personnel, market research data, and financial statements.

Use our free business plan template

We’ve provided our free business plan template in several formats, for your convenience. Simply download a template in your desired format, follow the instructions and compose your own text to replace the example.

Ready to get started? You got this!

Here are some of our top tips for creating a business plan that will help you.

Get very clear on what you’re saying in your plan.

When you develop your business plan, you will be focusing hard on each aspect of your business. Now is the time to focus intently on the business. If you aim for absolute clarity on your plan, you’ll thank yourself later since your business planning will help you spot potential issues that you can resolve, or plan for, now.

Conduct thorough market research.

Your market research is of utmost importance. In most cases, you need to think about your market online and off. You need to prove this research is well-thought-out so that investors are not struggling to find faults or missed opportunities.

Develop a focused marketing plan .

It’s very easy to become enamored with marketing, but you must keep yourself focused and realistic. Marketing is expensive. You need to pick your channels wisely based on data, and better to focus on a few channels well than many poorly.

Project your financials realistically.

Investors won’t take kindly to unrealistic financial projections or timelines for break-even.

Keep your language clear and concise.

Your business plan needs to use simple terms to avoid confusion.

Include an executive summary.

Your summary provides a concise overview of your business plan. Since all stakeholders must review this plan, the executive summary will be an excellent reminder of notable details.

Regularly review and update your plan.

My first business plan was a four-year plan, but within one year, I had achieved almost everything planned. After the first year, I reviewed my plan, so the business was constantly evolving.

Think hard about your why .

Your real why might not be something you put in front of your investors, but when I created my business plan, I added a page dedicated to my personal why. This slide goes beyond revenue, expenses, and logistics. I use it to keep myself motivated and inspired. My ‘why’ includes having a better work/life balance, supporting my friends and family, pursuing a business that allows me to hire new talent, and earning enough to donate to charities or mentor aspiring entrepreneurs.

Is the business plan template really free?

Yes! The business plan template is free and highly customizable too. Our free plan should get you started, and you can feel free to add or remove sections to tailor the template to your business.

How do I write a business plan?

If you’re asking how to write a business plan, then starting with a free business plan template is an absolute must. Our free template will guide you through each phase required.

To write a business plan, you must outline your mission, target market, and unique value proposition. Your business plan should include market research and an understanding of who your immediate and aspirational competitors are. Also, where exactly you fit in the market and how your offering is unique.

What’s of utmost importance, especially if you want to persuade funders or investors, is demonstrating a clear understanding of your market, competitors, and financial projections. You need to be realistic but bold and knowledgeable in your approach. Investors need to feel very safe that the money they invest (and more) will return in ample time.

Why do I need a business plan to start a business?

Importantly, a business plan is there for you; it helps you articulate your vision. Whilst you may already know what you want to do with your business, taking the time to put your thoughts in writing will help you gain clarity over your thoughts and direction.

A well-thought-out business plan will help you settle your ‘why’ for both an online business or offline venture. It can also help you stay on track as you grow your business by providing a framework for measuring progress and making informed decisions.

Writing your business plan can also help you assess the viability of your business idea. When you create the plan for the business, you think about the details so you can highlight any roadblocks or things that won’t work before you start. This will save expensive mistakes later.

Outside of your needs as an entrepreneur, a business plan will likely be required to secure funding from investors or lenders. Without a plan, there’s no real backing to demonstrate why you need funding and how quickly it can be returned.

The information contained in this guide is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice from GoDaddy on any subject matter.

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business plan in order to do what

Write a business plan

Download free business plan templates and find help and advice on how to write your business plan.

Business plan templates

Download a free business plan template on The Prince’s Trust website.

You can also download a free cash flow forecast template or a business plan template on the Start Up Loans website to help you manage your finances.

Business plan examples

Read example business plans on the Bplans website.

How to write a business plan

Get detailed information about how to write a business plan on the Start Up Donut website.

Why you need a business plan

A business plan is a written document that describes your business. It covers objectives, strategies, sales, marketing and financial forecasts.

A business plan helps you to:

You’ll need a business plan if you want to secure investment or a loan from a bank. Read about the finance options available for businesses on the Business Finance Guide website.

It can also help to convince customers, suppliers and potential employees to support you.

Related content

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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2023 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset . Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions . Legal Statement . Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper .

Biden rule will redistribute high-risk loan costs to homeowners with good credit

Interest rates for mortgages have roughly doubled over the past year.

One of the Fed's biggest levers is raising mortgage rates: Jason Furman

One of the Fed's biggest levers is raising mortgage rates: Jason Furman

Economic experts Jason Furman and Kevin Hassett weigh in on responding to record-high inflation on 'Special Report.'

A Biden administration rule is set to take effect that will force good-credit home buyers to pay more for their mortgages to subsidize loans to higher-risk borrowers.

Experts believe that borrowers with a credit score of about 680 would pay around $40 more per month on a $400,000 mortgage under rules from the Federal Housing Finance Agency that go into effect May 1, costs that will help subsidize people with lower credit ratings also looking for a mortgage, according to a Washington Times report Tuesday.

"The changes do not make sense. Penalizing borrowers with larger down payments and credit scores will not go over well," Ian Wright, a senior loan officer at Bay Equity Home Loans, told the Times. "It overcomplicates things for consumers during a process that can already feel overwhelming with the amount of paperwork, jargon, etc. Confusing the borrower is never a good thing."


President Joe Biden

A new Biden administration rule will make borrowing for a home more expensive for those with good credit scores to subsidize loans to higher-risk borrowers. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees federally backed home mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has long sought to give consumers more affordable housing options. But those who work in the industry believe the new rules will only serve to frustrate and confuse people.

"This confusing approach won’t work and more importantly couldn’t come at a worse time for an industry struggling to get back on its feet after these past 12 months," David Stevens, a former commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration during the Obama administration, wrote in a social media post responding to the new rules. "To do this at the onset of the spring market is almost offensive to the market, consumers, and lenders."

The rules come as the housing market has struggled in the wake of multiple interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve.

Under the new rules, consumers with lower credit ratings and less money for a down payment would qualify for better mortgage rates than they otherwise would have.

Sold Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and House

The rules come as the housing market has struggled in the wake of multiple interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve. (iStock)


Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra Thompson said the new rules are designed to "increase pricing support for purchase borrowers limited by income or by wealth" and comes with "minimal" fee changes.

While Stevens agreed there was a gap in opportunity for low-income — especially minority — borrowers to qualify for affordable homes, he argued that attempting to manipulate prices was not the solution.

federal reserve

The Federal Reserve building. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


"Why was this done? The answer is simple, it was to try to narrow the gap in access to credit, especially for minority home buyers who often have lower down payments and lower credit scores," Stevens said. 

"The gap in homeownership opportunity is real. America is facing a severe shortage of affordable homes for sales combined with excessive demand causing an imbalance. But convoluting pricing and credit is not the way to solve this problem."

Michael Lee is a writer at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee

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business plan in order to do what

AutoGPT: Everything You Need To Know

Just when we got our heads around ChatGPT, another one came along. AutoGPT is an experimental open-source pushing the capabilities of the GPT-4 language model.

AutoGPT: Everything You Need To Know

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been taking in a lot of heft news about ChatGPT, GPT-4, etc. Some of you have probably seen something around AutoGPT, but naturally and I don’t blame you; you probably thought it was just another GPT-Plugin or Chrome-Extension. But AutoGPT is more than that.

What is AutoGPT?

  AutoGPT combines GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 via API, allowing projects to be created that have been iterating on their own prompts and reviewing each iteration to improve and build upon it. How does this work exactly?

AutoGPT requires: 

For example: 

Once AutoGPT has met the description and goals, it will start to do its own thing until the project is at a satisfactory level. 

So what’s so good about AutoGPT? Well first thing first, it is important to note that GPT has the ability to write its own code using GPT-4. It also executes Python scripts which allow it to recursively debug, develop, build and continuously self-improve. Crazy right? AutoGPT is a self-improving AI - showing true AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) capabilities. 

AutoGPT’s feedback loop looks like this:

AutoGPT will read and write different files, and browse the web, along with looking back and reviewing its own prompts - just to ensure the project is what the user wants. You give it a goal, it scrapes the web for the best information out there, and then it autonomously does the task for you and continues to constantly improve itself. 

AutoGPT will ask you for permission after every prompt, to ensure that the project is going in the right direction. 

Here is an example of AutoGPT creating an app for Varun Mayya, a Computer Science Engineer. AutoGPT recognized that Varun did not have a Node, so it googled how to install Node, where AutoGPT then found a Stackoverflow article with a link, downloaded it, extracted it, and then spawned the server on Varun's behalf. 

How Can I Use AutoGPT?

  In order to use AutoPGT, credits will be used from your OpenAI-account. However,  you can use up to 18$ which is included in the free version. 

As I mentioned above, AutoGPT requires your permission after every prompt, meaning you will need to do a lot of testing. This allows you to test and cater your AI project to how you want it before it costs you anything. 

Installation and Requirements

  In order to use AutoGPT, you will need:

In your CMD, Bash or Powershell window, clone the repository:

Go to the project directory:

Install the required dependencies:

You then need to navigate to the folder and rename .env.template to .env . Once this is done, open .env . You want to then replace the Keys with your OPENAI_API_KEY .

If you are using it for speech purposes, you will need to fill in your ELEVEN_LABS_API_KEY as well.

How to get your keys:

Once this is all done and successful, you want to run in your CMD, Bash or Powershell window:

You’re ready to start using AutoGPT!

If you have any issues, please refer to GitHub .

AutoGPT Demo

  You can download the demo video from the Auto-GPT GitHub repository .

Wrapping Up

  I’ve been browsing news about AutoGPT on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more. It seems like everybody has a different perspective and experience on the actual capabilities of AutoGPT. If you’ve had a chance to use AutoGPT, let us know in the comments what you’ve been able to create so far.

If you want to keep up with the future of AutoGPT, I would recommend following the brains behind it on Twitter: SigGravitas 

What do you think is going to be next in the world of AI?

    Nisha Arya is a Data Scientist, Freelance Technical Writer and Community Manager at KDnuggets. She is particularly interested in providing Data Science career advice or tutorials and theory based knowledge around Data Science. She also wishes to explore the different ways Artificial Intelligence is/can benefit the longevity of human life. A keen learner, seeking to broaden her tech knowledge and writing skills, whilst helping guide others.  

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Mortgage fees are changing for homebuyers next month. Here's what you should know.

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If you're looking to buy a home, be aware that mortgages will change next month. 

Starting May 1, upfront fees for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be adjusted because of changes in the Loan Level Price Adjustments (LLPAs), the fees that vary from borrower to borrower based on their credit scores, down payments , types of home and more. The changes relate to credit scores and downpayment sizes.  

In some cases, people with higher credit scores may end up paying more while those with lower credit scores will pay less.  

Scoring higher: Applying for a mortgage? How to improve your credit score and save when buying a house

How much better?: Exclusive: Save thousands on your home mortgage by raising your credit score this much

Learn more: Best personal loans

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What are the fee changes? 

The entire matrix of fees based on credit score and down payment  has been updated. If you have a top credit score, you’ll still pay less than if you have a low credit score. However, the penalty now for having a lower credit score will be smaller than it was before May 1.  

For example, if you have a score of 659 and are borrowing 75% of the home's value, you'll pay a fee equal to 1.5% of the loan balance. Before these changes, you would have paid a 2.75% fee. On a hypothetical $300,000 loan, that's a difference of $3,750 in closing costs. 

On the other end, if you have a credit score of 740 or higher, you would have paid a 0.25% fee on a loan for 75% of your home value before May 1. After that date, you could pay as much as 0.375%. 

What you need to know: Housing market glossary: 25 real estate-related terms you should know, from FICO to escrow

Low-balled: Thinking of buying a home? Here's why you should offer less than asking.

What loans do these fees apply to? 

Any loan that’s guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac , regardless of the lender.

Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac’s share of the mortgage market comprised nearly 60% of all new mortgages during the pandemic , up from 42% in 2019, according to the Urban Institute. 

 Home loans and interest rates: What affects mortgage interest rates when buying a home?

Wealth builder:  Homeowners became 40 times wealthier than renters in the past decade

Why are these changes being made? 

These changes are part of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s broader examination of fees to provide “equitable and sustainable access to homeownership” and shore up capital at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. 

Last October,  Housing Finance Agency eliminated fees for conventional loans for about 20% of homebuyers, which helped boost affordability for many Americans, particularly as housing costs rose . 

Groups that benefit from that change include low- to median-income first-time homebuyers ; buyers using the HomeReady (Fannie Mae) or Home Possible (Freddie Mac) low-down-payment mortgage options for low-income buyers; buyers using the HFA Advantage (Freddie Mac) or HFA Preferred (Fannie Mae) loans offered through state and local housing finance agencies; and single-family loans that fall under the Duty to Serve program that helps low- and moderate-income families finance manufactured housing and rural housing purchases. 

High home prices: Home prices rose in February after months of decline as low inventory met high demand

Housing's future: How Hispanic homeownership became a 'driving force' shaping the housing market's future .

Are these positive changes? 

It depends on which side of the spectrum you land. 

“I can see both sides,” said Hakan Wildcat, mortgage area manager in Kansas for Guardian Mortgage. “Are there going to be people who qualify for a loan but maybe shouldn’t? Maybe, but that’s probably a very small percentage," he said, adding,"But I can see at the end of the day, money is money and if you have great credit, why should you be penalized?  

“We're going to have to see it in practice and see how it plays out but overall, the thought process is probably sound and good,” he said.

Prices still high: These are the 10 housing markets across the US where home sellers are sitting pretty

Young buyers: Report: More millennial households own than rent. Here's where they're buying.

Will there be any more changes? 

The Housing Finance Agency also plans a fee on August 1 for borrowers with at least a 40% debt-to-income ratio and 60% loan-to-value ratio, calculated by how large your loan is compared with the value of your home. This fee was also supposed to take effect May 1 but was delayed after pushback from the industry.

As a standalone measure, debt-to-income ratio is not a reliable indicator of a borrower’s ability to repay, said the Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry group. 

“A borrower’s income and expenses can change several times throughout the loan application and underwriting process,” wrote Bob Broeksmit, Mortgage Bankers Association president and chief executive, in a recent blog post. “This is especially true in today’s labor market, which is shaped by the growth in self-employment, part-time employment, and gig economy  employment.” This would “create complications and problems for borrowers and lenders alike.” 

The debt-to-income ratio fee will also likely affect a larger group of potential buyers, Wildcat said. “A lot of people fall above 40% debt-to-income ratio, and this is going to impact their purchasing power.” 

Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at [email protected] and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning. 

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Former Obama housing chief slams Biden’s ‘unprecedented’ mortgage plan: ‘Not the way to do it’

The rule would give homebuyers with riskier credit scores better mortgage rates and lower fees than homeowners with good credit.

Former Obama Federal Housing Association Commissioner David Stevens warns against the White House redistributing high-risk loan costs to homeowners with good credit.

Former Obama housing chief slams ‘unprecedented’ Biden mortgage plan

Former Obama Federal Housing Association Commissioner David Stevens warns against the White House redistributing high-risk loan costs to homeowners with good credit.

Many critics have blasted new rules from the Biden administration that will force good-credit homebuyers to subsidize the costs of buyers with poor credit. One former Obama housing official is calling out the "unprecedented" move, arguing this is "not the way" to bring in more home buyers.

"This is an unprecedented move," Former Federal Housing Administration Commissioner David Stevens said on " America Reports " Thursday. "We can do better programs to help more minorities get into homeownership. This is not the way to do it."

New rules from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will allow consumers with lower credit ratings and less money for a down payment to qualify for better mortgage rates than they otherwise would have. In turn, the costs are expected to be passed on the those with good credit. The rules are set to go into effect May 1.

Government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, have traditionally risk-based priced their loans. The new rules, however, will change the way those mortgages are set .


FOX Business host Stuart Varney argues homeowners with good credit will pay for their 'success.'

Stuart Varney: Biden’s new mortgage rule punishing homeowners with good credit is 'pure politics'

FOX Business host Stuart Varney argues homeowners with good credit will pay for their 'success.'

"For the first time ever, the [FHFA] director, in an effort to bring more first-time homebuyers - particularly minority homebuyers into the GSE's lending programs - made a shift where she lowered the fees being charged to borrowers with low down payments and low credit scores and the way she compensated or they compensated for that loss of income, that capital costs that they're going to incur, is they're actually raising fees on better creditworthy borrowers who are putting down much larger down payments," Stevens said. US REAL ESTATE MARKET IN ‘BIG TROUBLE,' EXPERT WARNS

Experts believe that borrowers with a credit score of about 680 would pay around $40 more per month on a $400,000 mortgage under the FHFA rules – costs that will help subsidize people with lower credit ratings also looking for a mortgage, according to a Washington Times report Tuesday.

"This has really convoluted the entire discipline and credit risk pricing structure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have followed since their inception," Stevens added.

"I think it violates the entire discipline that these two companies have operated under. And it's going to end up costing some borrowers who are putting in 15, 20% down payments, who have credit scores in the seven hundreds and above more for their mortgage so they can help pay for those who are getting the discount," he warned.

National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard breaks down April's housing market index, which showed new home starts rose slightly.

US housing market 'not operating on all cylinders' yet: Jerry Howard

National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard breaks down April's housing market index, which showed new home starts rose slightly.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees federally backed home mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has long sought to give consumers more affordable housing options.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra Thompson said the new rules are designed to "increase pricing support for purchase borrowers limited by income or by wealth" and come with "minimal" fee changes.


Stevens, however, said the industry was "outraged" by the decision to use GSEs for "political purposes."

"I literally just got an email from an executive with a mortgage lending company. He goes, ‘So I guess we have to teach borrowers to worsen their credit before they apply for a mortgage in order to get the better price.’ I mean, that's a bit of an extreme, but yes, I totally recognize and appreciate the effort to bring more people into homeownership who have traditionally not had that opportunity. But using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for these sorts of political purposes may not be the best thing to do," Stevens said. 

Like many experts, Stevens fears the rule change is "very concerning" given the state of the U.S. housing market . 

Sales of previously owned homes tumbled 2.4% in March from the prior month to an annual rate of 4.4 million units, according to new data released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). On an annual basis, existing home sales are down 22% when compared with March 2022. 

Home Mortgage Biden FHFA

A new Biden administration rule will subsidize costs for high-risk homebuyers through buyers with good credit. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar / AP Newsroom)

The market is also dealing with limited inventory and fewer home builds.

A recent report from Realtor.com showed that the number of available homes on the market last month is down more than 50% from the typical amount before the pandemic began.

"We're in a period where interest rates have risen. We're all seeing the home sales data and seeing how much home sales are declining because of these rising interest rates," Stevens said.  

"Now we're adding this second whammy to good credit-worthy home buyers who are now going to have to pay for other people's mortgages. And that's something that I think is a real bad reaction."


Fox News' Michael Lee and FOX Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report.

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What's in House Republicans' bill to lift the debt ceiling and cut spending?

By Melissa Quinn, Kathryn Watson

Updated on: April 20, 2023 / 1:29 PM / CBS News

Washington — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Republican lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled their plan to raise the debt ceiling and cut government spending ahead of the looming summer deadline to avert a catastrophic and historic default by the U.S. on its debt obligations.

Called the "Limit, Save, Grow Act," the 320-page proposal would lift the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or until the end of March 2024. The measure, introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington, a Texas Republican, also details cuts in federal spending to the tune of $4.5 trillion, according to McCarthy.

The bill was announced by McCarthy amid stalled talks with the White House over the debt ceiling. The U.S. hit its borrowing authority in January, forcing the Treasury Department to begin using "extraordinary measures" to keep paying the bills. The Congressional Budget Office estimates those measures will be exhausted as soon as July, putting the nation at risk of a first-ever default without action from Congress. Some analysts have said the extraordinary measures could run their course even sooner.

President Biden and Democrats have been pushing for a bill that raises or suspends the debt limit with no conditions. But Republicans have been set on pairing spending cuts with a debt-ceiling hike, setting the two sides on a collision course.

Mr. Biden and McCarthy have met face-to-face once , in February, to discuss the debt ceiling, and the White House has pushed Republicans to provide more details about what federal programs could face cuts. It's unclear whether the Limit, Save, Grow Act satisfies the demands from the president for the House GOP to release a budget explaining the spending potentially on the chopping block. But White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called Republicans' legislation a "blueprint to devastate hard-working American families."

"MAGA House Republicans are holding the American economy hostage in order to take a hatchet to programs Americans rely on every day to make ends meet," she said in a statement. 

It's also unclear whether McCarthy's proposal can garner enough support from Republicans for it to clear the House, where the GOP holds a slim majority. The plan has no chance of passing the Democratic-led Senate, and even if the legislation were to win approval from both chambers, it would almost certainly be vetoed by Mr. Biden.

The bill does, however, serve as House Republicans' opening offer in any eventual negotiations, and sheds light on the priorities of a fractious caucus that enjoys a narrow majority. Here's what House Republicans' Limit, Save, Grow Act would do:

Raise the debt limit

The plan would lift the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024, whichever comes first.

Cap budget increases

The GOP bill limits increases in the federal budget to 1% per year, significantly slower than the rate of inflation and less than recent year-over-year budget increases, particularly since the pandemic. That isn't likely to fly with Democrats, as it necessarily means cuts to discretionary spending. 

Impose work requirements for federal aid

The GOP bill imposes stricter work requirements to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding, formerly known as food stamps, for childless adults. The bill also requires each state to collect and submit information to the federal government about the percentage of people enrolled in SNAP who are in unsubsidized employment, as well as the median earning of people who were work-eligible after they exit the program. 

Rescind IRS funding

The Republican plan would also nix $80 million in additional IRS funding, including funding for thousands more agents, that was made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act. Republicans passed a bill to eliminate those additional positions before, but the bill died in the Senate. 

Recoup unspent pandemic relief funds

The Republican legislation recoups unspent federal COVID-19 relief funds approved in the American Rescue Plan and emergency relief packages passed in the final months of the Trump administration. While most of the money has been spent, Republicans — many of whom have long railed against the massive influx of federal spending — believe clawing back the remaining funds can help balance federal coffers. 

"The American people are tired of politicians who use COVID as an excuse for more extreme inflationary spending," McCarthy said on the House floor Wednesday. "Now, if this money was authorized to fight the pandemic was not spent during the pandemic, it should not be spent after the pandemic is over."

Unwind Biden's student loan forgiveness program

Republicans' bill would nullify Mr. Biden's program forgiving student loan debt up to $20,000 per borrower. Under the plan, announced by the president last August, eligible borrowers can have up to $10,000 in student debt wiped clean, while qualifying Pell Grant recipients can have an additional $10,000 forgiven. The program has been on hold as legal challenges have made their way through the courts.

Roughly 40 million Americans are eligible for the relief. Mr. Biden extended a pause on federal student loan payments, first put in place by Trump in the early months of the pandemic, through June.

Separate from House Republicans' effort to unwind the student loan forgiveness program, two challenges to the plan are pending before the Supreme Court. The justices are expected to issue a decision, which could invalidate the program, by the end of June.

Repeal provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law by Mr. Biden last year and is Democrats' marquee health care, tax and climate bill. The $740 billion package passed with only Democratic support.

Republicans now want to rescind key aspects of the law that were designed to combat climate change, including provisions establishing a high-efficiency electric home rebate program and home energy efficiency contractor training grants.

Implement Republicans' signature energy bill

Included in the debt limit package is H.R. 1, the "Lower Energy Costs Act." The legislation aims to boost American energy production and decrease dependency on foreign oil. The plan seeks to quicken the permitting process for energy and infrastructure projects and increase oil and gas production and sales.

It also includes a provision that prohibits the energy secretary from implementing any rules that would "directly or indirectly limit" consumer access to gas kitchen ranges and ovens. 


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