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Do you want to increase the odds that your business startup will be a success? Then download this step-by-step business plan template and use it to lay the groundwork for your new business.

Writing a business plan gives you an opportunity to carefully think through every step of starting your company so you can better prepare and handle any challenges.

While a thorough business plan is essential in the financing process, it's helpful even if you don’t need outside financing.

Creating a business plan can:

Laying out a detailed, step-by-step plan gives you a blueprint you can refer to during the startup process and helps you maintain your momentum.

What this business plan template includes

Writing a business plan for a startup can sometimes seem overwhelming. To make the process easier and more manageable, this template will guide you step-by-step through writing it. The template includes easy-to-follow instructions for completing each section of the business plan, questions to help you think through each aspect, and corresponding fillable worksheet/s for key sections.

After you complete the 11 worksheets, you will have a working business plan for your startup to show your SCORE mentor .

The business plan sections covered in this template include:

The Appendices include documents that supplement information in the body of the plan.  These might be contracts, leases, purchase orders, intellectual property, key managers’ resumes, market research data, or anything that supports assumptions or statements made in the plan.

The last section of the template, “Refining Your Plan,” explains ways you may need to modify your plan for specific purposes, such as getting a bank loan, or for specific industries, such as retail or manufacturing.

Complete the Business Plan Template for a Startup Business to create a working business plan for your startup.

Then, contact your local  SCORE mentor  to review and refine your plan either online or in person.

For more than 100 years, Deluxe Corporation has sought to create the tools that help shape our economy. Since 1915, Deluxe has recognized the vital role that small business plays in our communities, from job creation to business development. For these reasons, the Deluxe Corporation Foundation provides financial support to nonprofits that help entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed. Our grants to SCORE have totaled more than $1.5M in recent years, with the majority of these funds supporting the creation and updates of online training and certification for SCORE mentors.   

Business Planning & Financial Statements Template Gallery Download SCORE’s templates to help you plan for a new business startup or grow your existing business.

An Easier Way to Prepare Your Business Plan -The Business Model Canvas The Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a one-page business plan that allows you to test and validate the key parts of your business in a manageable format.

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.


Organize Your Change Initiative Around Purpose and Benefits

business plan template for it services company

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the Project Economy and a World Driven by Change

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

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

Managing Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits : The Key to Obtaining Buy-In From Stakeholders

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

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

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

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

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

See more HBR charts in Data & Visuals

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

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

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

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Free Business Plan Template

Helena Young

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Got a brilliant idea for a new business? Then congratulations, the hardest part is over. Now comes the most crucial: putting it down on paper.

Your business plan is the document that adds structure to your proposal and helps you focus your objectives on an achievable and realistic target. It should cover every aspect of what your business journey will look like, from licensing and revenue, to competitor and sector analysis.

Writing a business plan doesn't need to be a difficult process, but it should take at least a month to be done properly.

In today's capricious business climate there's a lot to consider, such as the impact of political challenges like Brexit. These details are especially important in today's bad economy. Investors are looking for entrepreneurs who are aware of the challenges ahead and how to properly plan for them.

Below, you'll find everything you need to create a concise, specific and authoritative business plan. So let's get started turning your idea into a reality!

Our below guide will give you detailed advice on how to write a quality business plan. But first, you need to know what to include – and that's where a high quality template can help. business plan template

We recommend creating an account with monday to use this template – doing so means you can start your entrepreneurial journey on the right foot.

What to include in your business plan:

There's a lot of information online about how to write a business plan – making it a confusing task to work out what is and isn't good advice.

We're here to cut through the noise by telling you exactly what you need to include for a business plan that will satisfy stakeholders and help develop a key identity for your brand. By the end, you'll have a plan to make even Alan Sugar proud and can get started with the most exciting part – running your business.

1. Executive summary

This section is a summary of your entire business plan.   Because of this, it is a good idea to write it at the end of your plan, not the beginning.

Just as with the overall business plan, the executive summary should be clearly written and powerfully persuasive, yet it should balance sales talk with realism in order to be convincing. It should be no more than 1,000 words.

It should cover:

2. Personal summary

Remember, investors want to know who they're investing in, as much as what. Outline your general contact details first, giving your telephone number, email address, website or portfolio, and any professional social media profiles you might have.

Run through this checklist to tell the reader more about yourself, and put your business ambitions into context.

Richard Osborne, founder and CEO of UK Business Forums, says personality is important in a business plan.

“Having a strong, personal reason at the heart of your business model will help keep you going and give you the motivation to carry on,” he affirms.

3. Business idea

Here, you should include your general company details, such as your business name and a  one-line summary of your business idea known as an  elevator pitch. This section should also list a few key business objectives to show how you plan to scale over the next 1-3 years.

We also recommend carrying out a SWOT analysis to tell investors what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are for your business idea. Think about:

Need a business idea? We've crunched the numbers and come up with a list of the best business ideas for startup success in 2023 based on today's most popular and growing industries.

4. Your products or services

Use this section to answer all of the below questions and explain what you plan to sell and how. Just like your business idea outline, your answers should be concise and declarative.

What insurance and licensing requirements do you need to consider?

Depending on what your business offers, you might need to invest in insurance or licensing. Our How To Start guides have more details about sector-specific insurance or licensing.

Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, and Employers' Liability are the most well-known types of business insurance. We've listed some other common other licensing and insurance requirements below:

5. Market analysis

This section pulls all of your target market and customer research together to indicate to stakeholders that you are knowledgable about the sector and how to succeed in it.

What is your marketing strategy?

Once you've highlighted who your rivals are in the market, you can provide details on how you plan to stand out from them through your marketing strategy.

Outline your  business' USP, your current marketing strategy, and any associated advertising costs.

6. Competitor analysis

This section demonstrates how well you know the key players and rivals in the industry. It should show the research you have carried out in a table format.

List the key information about your competitors:

Competitors will take two forms, either direct  or  indirect. Direct competitors sell the same or similar products or services. Indirect competitors sell substitute or alternative products or services.

Check out our list of the top competitor analysis templates to download free resources for your business, plus advice on what to include and how to get started.

7. Cash forecast

All of your considered costs can be put into one easy-to-read document called a monthly cash forecast. Cash forecasts contain:

1. Incoming costs such as sales revenue, customer account fees, or funding.

2. Outgoing costs such as staff wages or operating expenses. The latter can cover everything from advertising costs to office supplies.

For those firms which have already started trading, include any previous year's accounts (up to three years) as well as details of any outstanding loans or assets.

Annual cash forecast: what is it?

By conducting 12 monthly cash forecasts, you can create an annual cash forecast to work out when your company will become profitable (also known as breakeven analysis) . You will break even when total incoming costs = total outgoing costs.

In your annual cost budget, make sure to also include month opening/closing balance.  This is important to monitor for accounting, particularly for year-end.

The opening balance of any month will always be the same as the closing balance of the previous month. If you are repeatedly opening months with a negative closing balance, you need to adjust your spending.

8. Operations and logistics

This section gives investors a tangible idea of how your day-to-day business activities will be run, including key business partnerships around production and delivery.

1. Production

2. Delivery

3. Supplier analysis

Lastly, you should carry out a supplier analysis.  Write down 2-3 suppliers you plan to use as part of your business operations and evaluate them on factors like location and pricing.

9. Backup plan

In the event that your business does not go to plan, there will be costs to incur. A backup plan outlines to potential investors how you will pay back any outstanding loans or debt.

In the short-term: 

If your cash-flow temporarily stalls, what steps could you take to quickly raise money or make savings? For example, by negotiating shorter payment terms with your customers.

In the long-term:

If you've noticed a drop in sales that seems to be persisting, what changes can you make that would improve cash flow longer term? For example, can you do more of your business online to reduce rent fees?

To placate investors even further, it's a good idea to include details about potential support channels you can utilise (eg. a business network or contact) who might be able to help if you get caught in a sticky cash-flow situation.

Startups' 5 top tips for writing a business plan

Now that you're up to speed on everything a business plan needs to include, we recommend using the free business plan template to jot down your ideas.

At, we're here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have practical resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – use the tool below to get started today.

What Does Your Business Need Help With?

Designing a business plan is very important for laying the foundation of your business. Ensure you spend an appropriate amount of time filling it out, as it could save you many headaches further down the line.

Once your plan is complete, you'll then be ready to look at other aspects of business set-up, such as registering your company. Sound daunting? Don't worry!

Our experts have pulled together a simple, comprehensive guide on How to Start a Business in 2023, which will tell you everything you need to know to put your new plan into action. is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews.

Written by:

Helena Young

Helena is a Senior Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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Business Resilience Plan Template for Utilities

Business Resilience Plan Template for Utilities

What is a Business Resilience Plan for Utilities?

A business resilience plan for utilities is a strategy to ensure that the critical infrastructure and services of essential service providers such as electricity, water, and gas remain operational and continue to provide services despite disruptions or disasters. The plan outlines policies, processes, and procedures for responding to and recovering from the impact of such disruptions. It also provides a framework for assessing the risks associated with the services provided by the utility and for taking preventive and corrective measures to protect against those risks.

What's included in this Business Resilience Plan for Utilities template?

Each focus area has its own objectives, projects, and KPIs to ensure that the strategy is comprehensive and effective.

Who is the Business Resilience Plan for Utilities template for?

This template is ideal for utility companies and other essential service providers who are looking to develop a comprehensive business resilience plan. It provides a step-by-step guide to creating a plan that identifies focus areas, objectives, and measurable targets, and outlines actions to be taken to achieve those targets.

1. Define clear examples of your focus areas

Focus areas are the broad topics that are addressed within your business resilience plan. Examples of focus areas may include business continuity, cyber security, emergency protocols, supplies and resources, and communication. These areas should be tailored to the specific needs of the utility company.

2. Think about the objectives that could fall under that focus area

Objectives are the specific goals that are set in order to achieve the overall goal of the plan. For each focus area, objectives should be set to address the specific risks and challenges associated with that area. Examples of objectives may include developing emergency protocols, establishing a backup system for essential services, monitoring supplies and resources, and establishing cyber security protocols.

3. Set measurable targets (KPIs) to tackle the objective

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable targets that are set to assess progress toward objectives. KPIs should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Examples may include maintaining 99.9% uptime for essential services, implementing emergency protocols within 90 days, and monitoring cyber threats daily.

4. Implement related projects to achieve the KPIs

Projects, or actions, are the planned activities that are necessary to achieve the KPIs. Examples may include creating a comprehensive emergency protocol, establishing a backup system for essential services, and establishing a monitoring system for cyber threats. These should be tailored to the specific needs of the utility company.

5. Utilize Cascade Strategy Execution Platform to see faster results from your strategy

Cascade is a strategy execution platform that enables businesses to quickly and effectively create, manage, and track their business resilience plans. Cascade provides best practices and templates to help companies develop their plans, and includes features such as automated KPIs, project management, and collaboration tools to help teams drive their strategies forward.

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How to describe your product and service in a business plan like a pro

It’s deceiving.

You’d think that this part of a business plan does exactly what it says on the tin–describe your product & service offering– right ?

And yes, you are partially right. 

But there’s a very specific way in which this description should be written to make sure that your business has the best chance of succeeding – in real life and under the eagle eye of a potential backer (if you’re preparing a business plan for external financing purposes).

Keep reading to find out the secret sauce to writing a winning product and service description:

WHAT is the Product and Service Description in a Business Plan?

This business plan section is also known as:

HOW Do You Write a Product and Service Description in a Business Plan?

So, what should a good product/service overview contain?

Here are some items to consider including into this section:

1.     Portfolio:

The range of products and/or services that a business offers to potential and current customers.

2.     Features and benefits (value proposition):

Explain what the product/service does and how it works.

3.     Problem and solution (value proposition cont.):

The problem(s) the product or service solves. Every business needs to solve a problem that its customers face. Explain what the problem is and how the product or service solves it.

4.     Innovation:

If the company is doing something new and different, explain why the world needs the innovation.

5.     Proprietary advantages:

Any proprietary features that contribute to a competitive advantage. This could include: intellectual property (e.g., copyright, trademark, patent filings, trade secret), exclusive agreements with suppliers or vendors, exclusive licenses (e.g., for a product, service or technology), company’s own research and development activities.

6.     Development stage:

Current stage of development of the product / service (e.g., idea, development, testing, prototype, already on the market).

7.     Product life-cycle:

Estimate the life span of the product or service.

Specify whether the product or service under consideration is a short-lived fad or has a long-term potential.

8.     Future:

Mention plans for changes and new additions to the current portfolio of products / services.

Describe any plans to move into new markets in the future (e.g., serving different types or sizes of customers, industries, geographic areas).

Make your best guess at when the business will be ready to address these markets and what it needs to do first to be ready.

9.     Limitations:

If applicable, explain any risks or limitations associated with the product (e.g., liability issues like guarantees or returns), along with any legal advice received regarding these issues.

10.  Visual aids:

Use photos, images, diagrams and other graphics to help the reader visualize and learn about the products / services.

If the business is tackling several distinct problems through different products / services, describe the solutions individually .

However, for a large line of products / services, there is no need to list each one, just identifying the general categories will suffice.

How LONG Is the Product and Service Chapter of a Business Plan?

This part of a business plan can be very short, just a couple of paragraphs, or it can spread over multiple pages, depending on how many products/services you offer and how much explanation they require.

If your products or services are particularly complex , technical , innovative , or proprietary , you will want to provide more information and spend considerable time describing them.

This is especially true if you are seeking funding for a new product or service, particularly one that is not immediately understandable to the business plan readers, and if potential funders are likely to be motivated by the specifics.

In any case, when describing a product or service, provide just enough information to paint a clear picture of what it is and does . A brief explanation of what you will be making, selling or doing is appropriate here.

Excessive detail makes this section cumbersome for a reader to wade through. Reserve detailed descriptions (e.g., production processes) for the Appendix.

In any case, it is a good idea to first summarize the value proposition of each product or service into a one short sentence, and only then continue with a more detailed description of the product or service.

If any images or graphics are available that would contribute to the understanding of the product or service, the writers of a business plan should use them.

Otherwise, include any product or service details , such as technical specifications, drawings, photos, patent documents and other support information, in the Appendix section of the business plan document.

TOP 4 TIPS for Writing a Product and Service Overview

Tip #1: features v. benefits.

Don’t just list the features of the product / service.

Instead, describe the specific benefits it will offer to customers – from their perspective.

Make it clear what your customers will gain through buying your product or service. Include information about the specific benefits of your product or service – from your customers’ perspective.

Features are not the same thing as benefits. And you need to understand both.

Confused? Let’s clarify:

What Is the Difference Between Features and Benefits?

Tip #2: problem v. solution.

If at all possible, present the information in the Problem >> Solution format.

Start by describing the key problem that your customers have, immediately followed by the solution with which you will address this need for your target market.

Tip #3: Competitive Advantage

You should also comment on your ability to meet consumers’ key problems or unmet needs in a way that brings your product or service advantages over the competition.

For example:

Explain why your customers need your particular restaurant. Do you offer lower prices? More convenient hours? A better location? A different concept, such as a vegan ice-cream pop up store? A specialty that is not otherwise available in your area, such as a Peruvian ceviche or Hungarian goulash?

What is it about the existing solutions that is subpar? Maybe you are improving on a mediocre product category, such as creating better medical uniforms for healthcare workers (e.g., more flattering cut, trendy designs, sustainable materials). Or perhaps your new blockchain solution has the potential to entirely eliminate the middle-men in an entire industry.

Although the subject of competitive advantage regarding the business as a whole will be fully explored in the Market and Competitor Analysis part of a business plan, it is advisable to touch on it here also – in the context of the company’s products and service.

Tip #4: Validating the Problem and Solution

Speaking of which, when you are doing market research and analysis for your business plan, remember to validate the problem and solution your product or service is addressing.

There is a plethora of minor issues out there that people are perfectly fine with just tolerating. To build a solid business, though, you need a problem that a sufficient number of people are motivated to solve. That is, that they recognize it as a problem that’s worth paying you to solve. Even if they didn’t realize it was solvable until they were presented with your solution.

So, how do you get evidence that prospects are willing to pay for your solution?

Validation of Problem

Describe what you’ve done so far to confirm that the problem you are focused on is a real problem for your customers.

For an established business, this is probably just a matter of recapping your success in the marketplace. Your customers have already voted with their wallets.

For a startup, it is important to survey and have conversations with as many potential customers as possible about where they are having problems, how they solve them today, and validate that they are interested enough in addressing those problems to pay for a good solution.

Validation of Solution

Describe how you have tested your ideas with existing or potential customers to confirm that there is a good market for the products or services you plan to offer. Summarize the positive customer feedback or market traction that you have achieved with your solution so far.

For an established business, the answers probably lie in your paying customer base – their existence itself, combined with their repeat business, word-of-mouth referrals, follow-up customer surveys, and other indicators of customer satisfaction.

For a new business, you can start validating your solution immediately by trying it out with potential customers, even informally or at no charge, to get their opinion. If your product or service does not exist yet, talk to prospects about what you plan to offer and measure their feedback.

In summary, this section should answer the million dollar question:

What makes you think that people will buy, be satisfied with, and recommend your products or services?

Related Questions

What are products and services.

Products and services are items that businesses offer for sale to a market. While services are intangible, meaning that they do not exist in a physical form, products are of tangible nature, in other words – you can touch them.

What is a Product Line?

Product line is a group of related products that are all produced or sold by one entity and typically marketed under one brand name.

What is a Service Line?

Service line is a group of related services that are all produced or sold by one entity and typically marketed under one brand name.

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Intelligent intranet overview

Keep employees informed and engaged by providing a shared place to securely view and collaborate on content, and to connect and communicate with colleagues. Build community and culture within your organization by bringing people together through events, networking opportunities, and strategic communication channels. Personalize, share, and manage organizational news and shared content to drive organizational efficiencies securely on any device.

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Intelligent intranet overview

Build an intelligent intranet

Learn how to move through the process of creating an intranet for your organization. Get familiar with common intranet planning and creation roles , design stages, and the intranet lifecycle . Learn how to align goals into priority scenarios that you can get started implementing quickly. Then, learn how to engage with viewers and maintain your intranet over time as the organization changes and scales.

Help your organization engage and inform

Use SharePoint and other Microsoft 365 products to create communication channels that serve specific audiences. Learn how to create and share organizational news and use the News web part into key landing pages and portals.

Integrate Yammer and the Yammer web parts to embed conversations and highlights in sites. Use the power of video to share pre-recorded messages and record organizational events for later viewing. Use content services like audience targeting to make sure key audience are targeted specific content.

Enhance collaboration and sharing

Create and increase opportunities to collaborate across your organization. Use Microsoft Lists and document libraries to securely store and dynamically display content that can be accessed on any device. Then, users can view, share, and coauthor content in real time.

Use SharePoint team sites to create secure collaboration spaces for teams to share content, get updates, and news. Consider adding Microsoft Teams to your team site to add real-time chat and virtual meetings.

Achieve specific outcomes

Use SharePoint to achieve specific business outcomes like narrowing the distance between leadership teams and individual contributors by creating a leadership site that encourages sharing news and starting conversations. Use SharePoint to unite and inform groups of people with related interests by setting up news for a hub site. View custom solutions in the look book to help inspire your next site design or get help with new employee onboarding , crisis communication , and more.

Overview of how to set up an intelligent intranet

Harness the power of the intelligent intranet to communicate effectively across the organization, engage employees, and connect with relevant information and knowledge. Learn more about intranet planning and implementation phases and how to get started, and considerations like how to design your home site and use multi-lingual features. Then, use the intranet roadmap to prepare business owners, stakeholders, site owners, and content authors.

Intranet set up overview

1 - Explore what's possible

Start by getting inspired by what you can accomplish with SharePoint by viewing compelling business scenarios , the SharePoint look book , and guided walkthroughs .

Learn more about how to think about your intelligent intranet .

2 - Understand and align

Get started planning your intelligent intranet. Learn more about intranet governance before you start building and ensure you have a plan in place to manage intranet governance. Explore various opportunities to engage viewers in workplace communications using Yammer, Teams, live events, and site templates.

Get familiar with the intranet lifecycle and basic SharePoint intranet and site building blocks .

3 - Implement plans and start building

Start building the home site , hubs , sites , and pages that will make up the framework of your intranet. Consider using Microsoft Purview Information Barriers to ensure confidential content is seen by the right users or use audience targeting to target specific content to certain groups of users.

Learn more about intranet way finding and how to implement multi-geo features if needed.

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AI-powered marketing and sales reach new heights with generative AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in marketing and sales. And now, with the ongoing step-change evolution of generative AI (gen AI), we’re seeing the use of open-source platforms penetrating to the sales frontlines, along with rising investment by sales-tech players in gen AI innovations. Given the accelerating complexity and speed of doing business in a digital-first world, these technologies are becoming essential tools.

Inevitably, this will impact how you operate—and how you connect with and serve your customers. In fact, it’s probably already doing so. Forward-thinking C-suite leaders are considering how to adjust to this new landscape. Here, we outline the marketing and sales opportunities (and risks) in this dynamic field and suggest productive paths forward.

Our research suggests that a fifth of current sales-team functions could be automated.

How AI is reshaping marketing and sales

AI is poised to disrupt marketing and sales in every sector. This is the result of shifts in consumer sentiment alongside rapid technological change.

Omnichannel is table stakes

Across industries, engagement models are changing: today’s customers want everything, everywhere, and all the time. While they still desire an even mix of traditional, remote, and self-service channels (including face-to-face, inside sales, and e-commerce), we see continued growth in customer preference for online ordering and reordering.

Winning companies—those increasing their market share by at least 10 percent annually—tend to utilize advanced sales technology; build hybrid sales teams and capabilities; tailor strategies for third-party and company-owned marketplaces; achieve e-commerce excellence across the entire funnel; and deliver hyper-personalization (unique messages for individual decision makers based on their needs, profile, behaviors, and interactions—both past and predictive).

Step changes are occurring in digitization and automation

What is generative ai.

Many of us are already familiar with online AI chatbots and image generators, using them to create convincing pictures and text at astonishing speed. This is the great power of generative AI, or gen AI: it utilizes algorithms to generate new content—writing, images, or audio—from training data.

To do this, gen AI uses deep-learning models called foundation models (FMs). FMs are pre-trained on massive datasets and the algorithms they support are adaptable to a wide variety of downstream tasks, including content generation. Gen AI can be trained, for example, to predict the next word in a string of words and can generalize that ability to multiple text-generation tasks, such as writing articles, jokes, or code.

In contrast, “traditional” AI is trained on a single task with human supervision, using data specific to that task; it can be fine-tuned to reach high precision, but must be retrained for each new use case. Thus gen AI represents an enormous step change in power, sophistication, and utility—and a fundamental shift in our relationship to artificial intelligence.

AI technology is evolving at pace. It is becoming increasingly easy and less costly to implement, while offering ever-accelerating complexity and speed that far exceeds human capacity. Our research suggests that a fifth of current sales-team functions could be automated. In addition, new frontiers are opening with the rise of gen AI (see sidebar “What is generative AI?”). Furthermore, venture capital investment in AI has grown 13-fold over the last ten years. 1 Nestor Maslej et al., “The AI Index 2023 annual report,” AI Index Steering Committee, Institute for Human-Centered AI, Stanford University, April 2023. This has led to an explosion of “usable” data (data that can be used to formulate insights and suggest tangible actions) and accessible technology (such as increased computation power and open-source algorithms). Vast, and growing, amounts of data are now available for foundation-model training, and since 2012 there’s been a millionfold increase in computation capacity—doubling every three to four months. 2 Cliff Saran, “Stanford University finds that AI is outpacing Moore’s Law,” Computer Weekly, December 12, 2019; Risto Miikkulainen, “Creative AI through evolutionary computation: Principles and examples,” SN Computer Science, 2(3): 163, March 23, 2001.

Would you like to learn more about our Growth, Marketing & Sales Practice ?

What does gen ai mean for marketing and sales.

The rise of AI, and particularly gen AI, has potential for impact in three areas of marketing and sales: customer experience (CX), growth, and productivity.

For example, in CX, hyper-personalized content and offerings can be based on individual customer behavior, persona, and purchase history. Growth can be accelerated by leveraging AI to jumpstart top-line performance, giving sales teams the right analytics and customer insights to capture demand. Additionally, AI can boost sales effectiveness and performance by offloading and automating many mundane sales activities, freeing up capacity to spend more time with customers and prospective customers (while reducing cost to serve). In all these actions, personalization is key. AI coupled with company-specific data and context has enabled consumer insights at the most granular level, allowing B2C lever personalization through targeted marketing and sales offerings. Winning B2B companies go beyond account-based marketing and disproportionately use hyper-personalization in their outreach.

Bringing gen AI to life in the customer journey

There are many gen AI-specific use cases across the customer journey that can drive impact:

A gen AI sales use case: Dynamic audience targeting and segmentation

Gen AI can combine and analyze large amounts of data—such as demographic information, existing customer data, and market trends—to identify additional audience segments. Its algorithms then enable businesses to create personalized outreach content, easily and at scale.

Instead of spending time researching and creating audience segments, a marketer can leverage gen AI’s algorithms to identify segments with unique traits that may have been overlooked in existing customer data. Without knowing every detail about these segments, they can then ask a gen AI tool to draft automatically tailored content such as social media posts and landing pages. Once these have been refined and reviewed, the marketer and a sales leader can use gen AI to generate further content such as outreach templates for a matching sales campaign to reach prospects.

Embracing these techniques will require some openness to change. Organizations will require a comprehensive and aggregated dataset (such as an operational data lake that pulls in disparate sources) to train a gen AI model that can generate relevant audience segments and content. Once trained, the model can be operationalized within commercial systems to streamline workflows while being continuously refined by agile processes.

Lastly, the commercial organizational structure and operating model may need to be adjusted to ensure appropriate levels of risk oversight are in place and performance assessments align to the new ways of working.

This revolutionary approach is transforming the landscape of marketing and sales, driving greater effectiveness and customer engagement from the very start of the customer journey.

Winning tomorrow’s car buyers using artificial intelligence in marketing and sales

Winning tomorrow’s car buyers using artificial intelligence in marketing and sales

Commercial leaders are optimistic—and reaping benefits.

We asked a group of commercial leaders to provide their perspective on use cases and the role of gen AI in marketing and sales more broadly. Notably, we found cautious optimism across the board: respondents anticipated at least moderate impact from each use case we suggested. In particular, these players are most enthusiastic about use cases in the early stages of the customer journey lead identification, marketing optimization, and personalized outreach (Exhibit 1).

These top three use cases are all focused on prospecting and lead generation, where we’re witnessing significant early momentum. This comes as no surprise, considering the vast amount of data on prospective customers available for analysis and the historical challenge of personalizing initial marketing outreach at scale.

Various players are already deploying gen AI use cases, but this is undoubtedly only scratching the surface. Our research found that 90 percent of commercial leaders expect to utilize gen AI solutions “often” over the next two years (Exhibit 2).

Our research found that 90 percent of commercial leaders expect to utilize gen AI solutions “often” over the next two years.

Overall, the most effective companies are prioritizing and deploying advanced sales tech, building hybrid teams, and enabling hyper-personalization. And they’re maximizing their use of e-commerce and third-party marketplaces through analytics and AI. At successful companies, we’ve found:

Such trailblazers are already realizing the potential of gen AI to elevate their operations.

Our research indicates that players that invest in AI are seeing a revenue uplift of 3 to 15 percent and a sales ROI uplift of 10 to 20 percent.

Anticipating and mitigating risks in gen AI

While the business case for artificial intelligence is compelling, the rate of change in AI technology is astonishingly fast—and not without risk. When commercial leaders were asked about the greatest barriers limiting their organization’s adoption of AI technologies, internal and external risk were at the top of the list.

From IP infringement to data privacy and security, there are a number of issues that require thoughtful mitigation strategies and governance. The need for human oversight and accountability is clear, and may require the creation of new roles and capabilities to fully capitalize on opportunities ahead.

In addition to immediate actions, leaders can start thinking strategically about how to invest in AI commercial excellence for the long term. It will be important to identify which use cases are table stakes, and which can help you differentiate your position in the market. Then prioritize based on impact and feasibility.

The AI landscape is evolving very quickly, and winners today may not be viable tomorrow. Small start-ups are great innovators but may not be able to scale as needed or produce sales-focused use cases that meet your needs. Test and iterate with different players, but pursue partnerships strategically based on sales-related innovation, rate of innovation versus time to market, and ability to scale.

AI is changing at breakneck speed, and while it’s hard to predict the course of this revolutionary tech, it’s sure to play a key role in future marketing and sales. Leaders in the field are succeeding by turning to gen AI to maximize their operations, taking advantage of advances in personalization and internal sales excellence. How will your industry react?

Richelle Deveau is a partner in McKinsey’s Southern California office, Sonia Joseph Griffin is an associate partner in the Atlanta office, where Steve Reis is a senior partner.

The authors wish to thank Michelle Court-Reuss, Will Godfrey, Russell Groves, Maxim Lampe, Siamak Sarvari, and Zach Stone for their contributions to this article.

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Ovation Credit Repair Overview

How Much Does Ovation Cost?

How Ovation Compares to The Competition

Ovation Credit Repair Review

Our experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money ( here's how ). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners ; however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

The only thing more important than a clean credit report is an accurate credit report. However, this isn't as guaranteed as you may think. According to a survey conducted by the FTC , one in five consumers has an error in at least one of their credit reports, and one in 20 has an error that negatively affects their credit score. 

Consumers have the right to dispute errors on their credit reports themselves. However, companies like Ovation Credit Services  can also dispute errors on their behalf. Read on to learn more about Ovation, one of the companies listed in our guide on the best credit repair services .

Operating out of Florida since 2004, Ovation Credit Services, Inc. has packaged its services into two options: Essentials Plan and Essentials Plus Plan . Both plans include unlimited disputes, which is a nice feature given that some credit repair companies limit the number of disputes they'll send on their cheaper tiers.

The Essentials Plan is exactly what it sounds like, giving you expert-guided disputes with additional financial management tools. The Essentials Plus Plan adds to these features, providing letter templates for other credit-related scenarios for individuals with multiple errors with negative impacts on their credit reports. These services cost $79 and $109 monthly, respectively. Both also charge an $89 first work fee.

While this is a high cost, given you can dispute errors without the help of a third-party company, Ovation is one of the cheapest credit repair services on the market. Ovation also offers discounts for several groups of people, which you can find in our costs section.

Relative to the rest of the credit repair industry, Ovation is an appealing option, given its low cost and unlimited disputes. However, it's still important to recognize that there are free resources available online and free to consumers who wish to dispute credit report inaccuracies directly with the three major credit bureaus . 

Ovation Plans

Ovation offers consumers a pair of customizable credit repair plans from which to choose — the Essentials and the Essentials Plus plans, for a monthly cost of $79 and $109, respectively, with the latter offering more options than the former. A single add-on, the Fast Track Program, is available to Essentials Plus plan members keen on getting same-day service for resolving credit disputes.

Ovation Features

Wondering what each of these services actually provides? Let's break down Ovation's features one by one:

Professional Credit Analysis

This service is the first step in the credit repair process. Working with a professional credit analyst to scour your credit report and highlight opportunities in need of attention is the best way to determine if Ovation is the right match for your needs.

Credit Disputes

The main feature of any credit repair service is to identify and dispute inaccuracies on your credit report — something Ovation offers in unlimited quantity for both plan tiers.

Credit Report Monitoring

This service monitors your credit report and notifies you of any changes. Credit monitoring can flag suspicious activity early, allowing you to mitigate any damages resulting from identity theft . Only available with the company's Essentials Plus plan, Ovation just monitors your TransUnion credit reports, leaving two of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax and Experian, unmonitored.

You'll be able to find more complete credit monitoring services elsewhere for cheaper. Here's our guide on the best credit monitoring services , some of which are free.

Credit Letter Templates

Essentials Plus subscribers can access customizable template letters, such as goodwill letters that ask creditors to remove negative information and cease-and-desist letters you can send to a debt collector so they'll stop contacting you.

Identity Theft Insurance

This Essentials Plus-exclusive feature offers limited coverage if your identity is stolen. Before signing up, be sure to determine how much coverage you qualify for, how long it will last, and if it will be adequate in the event of a data breach.

Financial Management Tools

Learning how to budget and limiting debt are essential components in repairing and rebuilding your credit. Ovation offers these tools via its Education Center , a one-stop, online shop for valuable information on financial topics from building credit to applying for loans and myriad others.

Fast Track Program

This add-on gives Essentials Plus members priority when disputing inaccuracies on their credit reports. It does not, however, promise faster-than-usual resolution.

Regardless of the plan you choose, Ovation charges an $89 first work fee and either $79 or $109 monthly, depending on the plan you use. Their Essentials Plus add-on, The Fast Track, is available for a one-time fee of $25.

In addition to its competitive rates, Ovation offers customers a handful of discounts, including:

The Competitive Upgrade — a one-time, $50 credit for switching to Ovation (valid only for consumers who have proof of working with another credit repair service within 12 months of  enrolling).

Tell A Friend  — current clients who refer their friends will receive the best thank you of all: a one-time $30 credit (for referring to an individual) and/or a one-time $50 credit (for referring to a couple). 

Couples Discount — any pair of two people, regardless of relationship and residence, who embark upon credit repair together will receive a 20% discount.

Military Discount  — any retired or active-duty military personnel will receive 10% off their monthly bill (once their first-work fee has been paid) upon providing documentation.

Senior Discount  — any individuals 65 or older will receive 10% off their monthly bill once their first-work fee has been paid.

How to Sign Up For Ovation Credit Repair

Before signing on the dotted line (or sharing your personal information) with any credit repair service, contact each of the three major credit bureaus directly and request copies of your credit reports.

Remember, the first step in repairing your damaged credit is to identify any erroneous information that may have been reported — something a consumer can only tackle by reviewing their credit report. While inaccuracies can be removed by disputing items directly with the three credit bureaus, accurately reported delinquencies will linger for seven years (10 for most bankruptcies) from the date of reporting.

Don't forget: No credit repair service will be able to remove accurate information, regardless of how damaging it is.

If Ovation sounds appealing, sign up by calling 1-866-639-3426, Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. ET, to speak with someone in English or Spanish. To take advantage of the company's free credit consultation, click here . Unfortunately, no chat feature is available on their website now. 

Ovation has gotten ample applause from customers — to the tune of tens of thousands of individuals seeking credit repair services over the past two decades. Ovation received an A+ from the Better Business Bureau with a 3.47 customer review rating. On Trustpilot, Ovation has an average of 4.7 stars, with 92% of reviews giving the company four or five stars.

Through the various discounts on a product already priced lower than many of its competitors, Ovation is a very appealing option. Though the plans don't offer much more than those basic disputes, it's important to recognize that credit repair services should be used as a means to an end, not an ongoing subscription you keep running in the background, like an identity theft or credit monitoring service.

Ovation Lawsuits

Credit repair companies are highly regulated, limited in when they can charge you money and what they say about their products in advertising. A long list of lawsuits against a credit repair company usually indicates it's closer to a scam than a legitimate business. 

Fortunately, Ovation has no lawsuits related to the quality and legality of its credit repair operations. However, we found two lawsuits from 2018, one on telemarketing efforts and another related to labor.

In 2018,  Wagner et al v. Ovation Credit Services  alleged that the defendant willfully violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and, by extension, the plaintiffs' rights by contacting them via phone despite being enrolled in the national Do-Not-Call list. 

Diggs v. Ovation Credit Services was brought forth in 2018 by an employee who alleged the defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to both compensate him for overtime hours and pay the required minimum wage in his role as credit analyst; five other employees ultimately opted into the litigation. 

Ovation Credit FAQs 

The professionals at Ovation are poised to dispute — on a client's behalf — any information on their credit report deemed inaccurate, incomplete, misleading, or unverifiable. No credit repair service will be able to remove negative markers from an individual's credit report that are accurate, no matter how much they promise.

While Ovation Credit does not guarantee any specific result(s), the company stands behind its No-Risk Refund Policy : if at any time the customer feels Ovation has failed to provide the agreed-upon services, all monthly fees will be waived. Simple as that.  

Existing clients can reach customer support by calling 1-866-639-3426 and selecting option 2. If you prefer to communicate by email, contact the department of your choice directly using this contact information.  

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Read our editorial standards .

Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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How to Write an Online Boutique Clothing Store Business Plan + Example Templates

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Elon Glucklich

8 min. read

Updated May 17, 2023

Image of a boutique business owner prepping clothing for their online boutique clothing store business.

In 2022, U.S. consumers spent over $1 of every $5 in online shopping on apparel .

From rare, vintage fashion to contemporary clothes for all shapes and sizes, shoppers have increasingly turned to the eCommerce market to stock their wardrobes in recent years. But with that opportunity comes fierce competition. 

Anyone looking to start an online clothing business will need to have an unequaled knowledge of both their target market and competitors. This makes writing a detailed, flexible business plan an essential first step to successfully launch and sustain your online clothing business.

On this page

Why You Need a Business Plan for Your Online Boutique Clothing Store

Understand your niche in the online clothing marketplace, develop a unique brand and product offerings, create an online marketing strategy, plan for inventory management and fulfillment, set financial projections and funding requirements, then be ready to change them, prepare for changing customer preferences, download a free online boutique clothing store business plan template and example.

A business plan will help you determine the startup costs you’ll need to buy inventory, set up an order fulfillment process and establish your online presence. It will also help you set realistic sales expectations and ensure that the revenue you bring in will be enough to cover costs and generate some profit.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to tailor your business plan to meet the needs of the fast-paced online fashion landscape – you can even download a free online boutique clothing store business plan template to help get you started.

The surge in online shopping presents a major opportunity for fashion-minded entrepreneurs looking to enter the online clothing space. But you’ll need to show a firm understanding of the industry, your target market, and the consumers you intend to serve if you hope to carve out a niche online.

As you begin writing your business plan, you should be prepared to go beyond the basics like your company description, focus and management team. While those are certainly important, the business plan gives you an opportunity to describe your store’s unique selling proposition and how you intend to set it apart from competitors.

How will you stand out from the competition?

You’ll definitely be asked what makes your business unique if you hope to secure any outside investment. So take the initiative and start detailing your store’s value proposition here. Maybe it’s that you sell popular clothing styles of old that most shoppers can’t find in stores these days. Or it could be that you emphasize sustainable sourcing and environmentally friendly packaging. The sooner you start thinking about your strategic advantages, the better prepared you will be to defend it to an investor or bank.

You will also need to conduct extensive Research into your target customers, including their demographics (age range, gender, income level and location) and psychographics (values, lifestyles, interests and personality traits).

Create a customer persona

One way you can do this is by creating what’s known as a Target Customer Persona. Basically, you’re creating a representation of your target market in the form of one ideal customer. To do this effectively, you will need to investigate their current online clothes shopping habits, pain points and customer experience expectations.

Then, realistically assess how your product offerings and brand values align with your ideal customer’s needs and desires. Adding this information to your business plan will provide a clear understanding of who you’re aiming to serve.

Start your plan

In your business plan, document how you will create a unique brand identity that sets your online boutique apart from competitors. This includes developing a memorable brand name, logo, and tagline, as well as defining your brand’s values, voice, and visual style. 

Many stores offer customer retention incentives like loyalty programs. If you are considering strategies like reward programs or discounts for returning customers, use your business plan to determine which strategies make the most sense for your online store. It’s also an opportunity to consider the brand-building initiatives you might undertake to capitalize on these programs, such as personalized email marketing campaigns.

Consider your sales channel

Another consideration for your brand – and your business plan – is whether to host your online clothing store on an eCommerce platform or sell through a standalone website. Platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce streamline many aspects of the online shopping process, but have costs of their own that can grow as you try to scale your business.

In your business plan, consider the costs of choosing a platform versus the boost you can receive using a host like Shopify to let it handle logistics like order processing. Then, outline the platform you’ve chosen and the reasons for your decision.

Your business plan is the place to detail your plan for effectively capturing the attention of your target audience and converting them into loyal customers. In your business plan, detail your marketing budget, reintroduce your target customer traits from earlier, and detail the channels you’ll use to reach them. In a space with as much competition as online clothing, you will likely need to use a combination of tactics to reach your target audience. These might include:

Social media

Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are powerful tools for reaching and engaging your target audience. Explain how you’ll develop a consistent posting schedule, tailor content for each platform and leverage paid advertising to reach a wider audience.

Email Marketing

In your business plan, explain how you’ll nurture relationships with customers and promote new products through email marketing. Discuss your plans to create engaging email content like newsletters, promotional offers and new product announcements. Consider how you will measure the success of your email campaigns through metrics like open rates, click-through rates and conversions.

Search Engine Optimization

While it may seem difficult to find the time to create high-quality, engaging content for your audience while running your business, it can be a valuable tool for attracting customers. Whether it’s blog posts, videos or podcast episodes, targeting certain Google search keywords that resonate with your audience will make your website more visible to them as they shop online. Be sure to discuss in your business plan how you will measure the success of your content marketing efforts through metrics like traffic, engagement, and conversions.


Do you know anyone who loves your style? If so, they could be your next influencer. While people tend to think of big-name celebrities when they think of influencers, establishing partnerships with customers who resemble your target audience can help generate exposure and build credibility for your brand. In your business plan, discuss how you might offer giveaways, collaborate on content or produce sponsored posts to showcase your products and build social proof.

No matter how popular a brand you develop, you will need to carefully manage processes like inventory management and order fulfillment to avoid disasters like running out of stock or facing delivery delays.

In your business plan, describe all of the logistical aspects of your business and the systems you will put in place to manage them. These include: inventory sourcing channels, whether they are wholesale suppliers or local artisans; inventory management methods, such as dropshipping, holding inventory in a warehouse or using a third-party fulfillment center; packaging and shipping methods; and return policies.

In addition, describe your contingency plans for how you will manage orders in case something goes wrong with one of your third-party suppliers or other partners.

A key component of any business plan is a detailed financial analysis. Financials can be intimidating for any business owner, but you will need to demonstrate in your business plan that your online boutique clothing store can be both profitable and financially stable. Proving that you have at least thought through the long-term vision for your business could be the difference between securing a loan or investment, or not.

Base your financial projections – ideally a 3-5 year forecast –  on market research and up-to-date industry data. You may also want to consider different scenarios such as best-case, worst-case, and most likely outcomes to account for potential fluctuations.

Of course, trends evolve quickly, and what’s fashionable at the beginning of your forecast may be passé by the next season. So staying ahead of fashion trends and understanding the competitive landscape will help with your forecast as you go.

As you research trends in the fashion industry, respond to the changing needs of your customers, and identify gaps in the market that your online boutique can fill. As you do so, you may need to change where you source your clothing, or your marketing strategy, or your distribution channels. All of those will affect your financial forecasts. But that’s a perfectly normal part of the business planning process..

To help get your business started, check out our free online boutique clothing business plan template . You can download this document in Word form and use it as a foundation for your own business plan.

In addition to these resources, you may want to brush up on how to write specific sections of a traditional business plan. If so, take a look at our step-by-step guide on how to write a business plan .

Content Author: Elon Glucklich

Elon is a marketing specialist at Palo Alto Software, working with consultants, accountants, business instructors and others who use LivePlan at scale. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Oregon.

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