How To Write A Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

A step-by-step guide on writing a business plan to catch an investor's attention & serve as a guiding star for your business..

July 13th, 2022    |    By: The Startups Team     |    Tags: Planning , Model , Pitch Deck

A comprehensive, step-by-step guide - complete with real examples - on writing business plans with just the right amount of panache to catch an investor's attention and serve as a guiding star for your business.

Introduction to Business Plans

So you've got a killer startup idea. Now you need to write a business plan that is equally killer.

You fire up your computer, open a Google doc, and stare at the blank page for several minutes before it suddenly dawns on you that,  Hm…maybe I have no idea how to write a business plan from scratch after all.

Don't let it get you down. After all, why would you know anything about business planning? For that very reason we have  4 amazing business plan samples  to share with you as inspiration.

How to write a business plan

For most founders,  writing a business plan  feels like the startup equivalent of homework. It's the thing you know you have to do, but nobody actually wants to do.

Here's the good news: writing a business plan doesn't have to be this daunting, cumbersome chore.

Once you understand the fundamental questions that your business plan should answer for your readers and how to position everything in a way that compels your them to take action, writing a business plan becomes way more approachable.

Before you set fingers to the keyboard to turn your business idea into written documentation of your organizational structure and business goals, we're going to walk you through the most important things to keep in mind (like company description, financials, and market analysis, etc.) and to help you tackle the writing process confidently — with plenty of real life business plan examples along the way to get you writing a business plan to be proud of!

Keep It Short and Simple.

There's this old-school idea that business plans need to be ultra-dense, complex documents the size of a doorstop because that's how you convey how serious you are about your company.

Not so much.

Complexity and length for complexity and length's sake is almost never a good idea, especially when it comes to writing a business plan. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. Investors Are Short On Time

If your chief goal is using your business plan to secure funding, then it means you intend on getting it in front of an investor. And if there's one thing investors are, it's busy. So keep this in mind throughout writing a business plan.

Investors wade through hundreds of business plans a year. There's no version of you presenting an 80-page business plan to an investor and they enthusiastically dive in and take hours out of their day to pour over the thing front to back.

Instead, they're looking for you to get your point across as quickly and clearly as possible so they can skim your business plan and get to the most salient parts to determine whether or not they think your opportunity is worth pursuing (or at the very least initiating further discussions).

You should be able to refine all of the key value points that investors look for to 15-20 pages (not including appendices where you will detail your financials). If you find yourself writing beyond that, then it's probably a case of either over explaining, repeating information, or including irrelevant details in your business plan (you don't need to devote 10 pages to how you're going to set up your website, for example).

Bottom line: always be on the lookout for opportunities to “trim the fat" while writing a business plan (and pay special attention to the executive summary section below), and you'll be more likely to secure funding.

2. Know Your Audience

If you fill your business plan with buzzwords, industry-specific jargon or acronyms, and long complicated sentences, it might make sense to a handful of people familiar with your niche and those with superhuman attention spans (not many), but it alienates the vast majority of readers who aren't experts in your particular industry. And if no one can understand so much as your company overview, they won't make it through the rest of your business plan.

Your best bet here is to use simple, straightforward language that's easily understood by anyone — from the most savvy of investor to your Great Aunt Bertha who still uses a landline.

How To Format Your Business Plan

You might be a prodigy in quantum mechanics, but if you show up to your interview rocking cargo shorts and lime green Crocs, you can probably guess what the hiring manager is going to notice first.

In the same way,  how  you present your business plan to your readers equally as important as what you present to them. So don't go over the top with an extensive executive summary, or get lazy with endless bullet points on your marketing strategy.

If your business plan is laden with inconsistent margins, multiple font types and sizes, missing headings and page numbers, and lacks a table of contents, it's going to create a far less digestible reading experience (and totally take away from your amazing idea and hours of work writing a business plan!)

While there's no one  right  way to format your business plan, the idea here is to ensure that it presents professionally. Here's some easy formatting tips to help you do just that.

If your margins are too narrow, it makes the page look super cluttered and more difficult to read.

A good rule of thumb is sticking to standard one-inch margins all around.

Your business plan is made up of several key sections, like chapters in a book.

Whenever you begin a section (“Traction” for example) you'll want to signify it using a header so that your reader immediately knows what to expect from the content that follows.

This also helps break up your content and keep everything nice and organized in your business plan.

Subheadings

Subheadings are mini versions of headings meant to break up content within each individual section and capture the attention of your readers to keep them moving down the page.

In fact, we're using sub-headers right now in this section for that very purpose!

Limit your business plan to two typefaces (one for headings and one for body copy and subheadings, for example) that you can find in a standard text editor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Only pick fonts that are easy to read and contain both capital and lowercase letters.

Avoid script-style or jarring fonts that distract from the actual content. Modern, sans-serif fonts like Helvetica, Arial, and Proxima Nova are a good way to go.

Keep your body copy between 11 and 12-point font size to ensure readability (some fonts are more squint-inducing than others).

You can offset your headings from your body copy by simply upping the font size and by bolding your subheadings.

Sometimes it's better to show instead of just tell.

Assume that your readers are going to skim your plan rather than read it word-for-word and treat it as an opportunity to grab their attention with color graphics, tables, and charts (especially with financial forecasts), as well as product images, if applicable.

This will also help your reader better visualize what your business model is all about.

Need some help with this?

Our  business planning wizard  comes pre-loaded with a modular business plan template that you can complete in any order and makes it ridiculously easy to generate everything you need from your value proposition, mission statement, financial projections, competitive advantage, sales strategy, market research, target market, financial statements, marketing strategy, in a way that clearly communicates your business idea.

Refine Your Business Plans. Then Refine Them Some More.

Your business isn't static, so why should your business plan be?

Your business strategy is always evolving, and so are good business plans. This means that the early versions of your business plans probably won't (and shouldn't be) your last. The details of even even the best business plans are only as good as their last update.

As your business progresses and your ideas about it shift, it's important revisit your business plan from time to time to make sure it reflects those changes, keeping everything as accurate and up-to-date as possible. What good is market analysis if the market has shifted and you have an entirely different set of potential customers? And what good would the business model be if you've recently pivoted? A revised business plan is a solid business plan. It doesn't ensure business success, but it certainly helps to support it.

This rule especially holds true when you go about your market research and learn something that goes against your initial assumptions, impacting everything from your sales strategy to your financial projections.

At the same time, before you begin shopping your business plan around to potential investors or bankers, it's imperative to get a second pair of eyes on it after you've put the final period on your first draft.

After you run your spell check, have someone with strong “English teacher skills” run a fine-tooth comb over your plan for any spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors you may have glossed over. An updated, detailed business plan (without errors!) should be constantly in your business goals.

More than that, your trusty business plan critic can also give you valuable feedback on how it reads from a stylistic perspective. While different investors prefer different styles, the key here is to remain consistent with your audience and business.

Writing Your Business Plan: A Section-By-Section Breakdown

We devoted an entire article carefully breaking down the  key components of a business plan  which takes a comprehensive look of what each section entails and why.

If you haven't already, you should check that out, as it will act as the perfect companion piece to what we're about to dive into in a moment.

For our purposes here, we're going to look at a few real world business plan examples (as well as one of our own self-penned “dummy” plans) to give you an inside look at how to position key information on a section-by-section basis.

1. Executive Summary

Quick overview.

After your Title Page — which includes your company name, slogan (if applicable), and contact information — and your Table of Contents, the Executive Summary will be the first section of actual content about your business.

The primary goal of your Executive Summary is to provide your readers with a high level overview of your business plan as a whole by summarizing the most important aspects in a few short sentences. Think of your Executive Summary as a kind of “teaser” for your business concept and the information to follow — information which you will explain in greater detail throughout your plan. This isn't the place for your a deep dive on your competitive advantages, or cash flow statement. It is an appropriate place to share your mission statement and value proposition.

Executive Summary Example

Here's an example of an Executive Summary taken from a sample business plan written by the Startups.com team for a fictional company called Culina. Here, we'll see how the Executive Summary offers brief overviews of the  Product ,  Market Opportunity ,  Traction , and  Next Steps .

Culina Tech specializes in home automation and IoT technology products designed to create the ultimate smart kitchen for modern homeowners.

Our flagship product, the Culina Smart Plug, enables users to make any kitchen appliance or cooking device intelligent. Compatible with all existing brands that plug into standard two or three-prong wall outlets, Culina creates an entire network of Wi-Fi-connected kitchen devices that can be controlled and monitored remotely right from your smartphone.

The majority of US households now spend roughly 35% of their energy consumption on appliances, electronics, and lighting.  With the ability to set energy usage caps on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, Culina helps homeowners stay within their monthly utility budget through more efficient use of the dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, stove, and other common kitchen appliances.

Additionally, 50.8% of house fires are caused in the kitchen — more than any other room in the home — translating to over $5 billion in property damage costs per year.  Culina provides the preventative intelligence necessary to dramatically reduce kitchen-related disasters and their associated costs and risk of personal harm.

Our team has already completed the product development and design phase, and we are now ready to begin mass manufacturing. We've also gained a major foothold among consumers and investors alike, with 10,000 pre-ordered units sold and $5 million in investment capital secured to date.

We're currently seeking a $15M Series B capital investment that will give us the financial flexibility to ramp up hardware manufacturing, improve software UX and UI, expand our sales and marketing efforts, and fulfill pre-orders in time for the 2018 holiday season.

2. Company Synopsis

Your Company Synopsis section answers two critically important questions for your readers: What painful  PROBLEM  are you solving for your customers? And what is your elegant  SOLUTION  to that problem? The combination of these two components form your value proposition.

Company Synopsis Example

Let's look at a real-life company description example from  HolliBlu * — a mobile app that connects healthcare facilities with local skilled nurses — to see how they successfully address both of these key aspects.  *Note: Full disclosure; Our team worked directly with this company on their business plan via Fundable.

Business plan: Company synopsis example

Notice how we get a crystal clear understanding of why the company exists to begin with when they set up the  problem  — that traditional nurse recruitment methods are costly, inconvenient, and time-consuming, creating significant barriers to providing quality nursing to patients in need.

Once we understand the painful problem that HolliBlu's customers face, we're then directly told how their  solution  links back directly to that problem — by creating an entire community of qualified nurses and directly connecting them with local employers more cost-effectively and more efficiently than traditional methods.

3. Market Overview

Your Market Overview provides color around the industry that you will be competing in as it relates to your product/service.

This will include statistics about industry size, [growth](https://www.startups.com/library/expert-advice/the-case-for-growing-slowly) rate, trends, and overall outlook. If this part of your business plan can be summed up in one word, it's  research .

The idea is to gather as much raw data as you can to make the case for your readers that:

This is a market big enough to get excited about.

You can capture a big enough share of this market to get excited about.

Target Market Overview Example

Here's an example from HolliBlu's business plan:

Business plan: Market overview example

HolliBlu's Market Overview hits all of the marks — clearly laying out the industry size ($74.8 billion), the Total Addressable Market or TAM (3 million registered nurses), industry growth rate (581,500 new RN jobs through 2018; $355 billion by 2020), and industry trends (movement toward federally-mandated compliance with nurse/patient ratios, companies offering sign-on bonuses to secure qualified nurses, increasing popularity of home-based healthcare).

4. Product (How it Works)

Where your Company Synopsis is meant to shed light on why the company exists by demonstrating the problem you're setting out to solve and then bolstering that with an impactful solution, your Product or How it Works section allows you to get into the nitty gritty of how it actually delivers that value, and any competitive advantage it provides you.

Product (How it Works) Example

In the below example from our team's Culina sample plan, we've divided the section up using subheadings to call attention to product's  key features  and how it actually works from a user perspective.

This approach is particularly effective if your product or service has several unique features that you want to highlight.

Business plan: Product overview

5. Revenue Model

Quite simply, your Revenue Model gives your readers a framework for how you plan on making money. It identifies which revenue channels you're leveraging, how you're pricing your product or service, and why.

Revenue Model Example

Let's take a look at another real world business plan example with brewpub startup  Magic Waters Brewpub .*

It can be easy to get hung up on the financial aspect here, especially if you haven't fully developed your product yet. And that's okay. *Note: Full disclosure; Our team worked directly with this company on their business plan via Fundable.

The thing to remember is that investors will want to see that you've at least made some basic assumptions about your monetization strategy.

Business plan: Revenue model

6. Operating Model

Your Operating Model quite simply refers to how your company actually runs itself. It's the detailed breakdown of the processes, technologies, and physical requirements (assets) that allow you to deliver the value to your customers that your product or service promises.

Operating Model Example

Let's say you were opening up a local coffee shop, for example. Your Operating Model might detail the following:

Information about your facility (location, indoor and outdoor space features, lease amount, utility costs, etc.)

The equipment you need to purchase (coffee and espresso machines, appliances, shelving and storage, etc.) and their respective costs.

The inventory you plan to order regularly (product, supplies, etc.), how you plan to order it (an online supplier) and how often it gets delivered (Mon-Fri).

Your staffing requirements (including how many part or full time employees you'll need, at what wages, their job descriptions, etc.)

In addition, you can also use your Operating Model to lay out the ways you intend to manage the costs and efficiencies associated with your business, including:

The  Critical Costs  that make or break your business. In the case of our coffee shop example, you might say something like,

“We're estimating the marketing cost to acquire a customer is going to be $25.  Our average sale is $45.  So long as we can keep our customer acquisition costs below $25 we will have enough margin to grow with.”

Cost Maturation & Milestones  that show how your Critical Costs might fluctuate over time.

“If we sell 50 coffees a day, our average unit cost will be $8 on a sale of $10.  At that point we're barely breaking even. However as we scale up to 200 coffees a day, our unit costs drop significantly to $4, creating a 100% increase in net income.”

Investment Costs  that highlight strategic uses of capital that will have a big Return on Investment (ROI) later.

“We're investing $100,000 into a revolutionary new coffee brewing system that will allow us to brew twice the amount our current output with the same amount of space and staff.”

Operating Efficiencies  explaining your capability of delivering your product or service in the most cost effective manner possible while maintaining the highest standards of quality.

“By using energy efficient Ecoboilers, we're able to keep our water hot while minimizing the amount of energy required. Our machines also feature an energy saving mode. Both of these allow us to dramatically cut energy costs.”

7. Competitive Analysis

Like the Market Overview section, you want to show your readers that you've done your homework and have a crazy high level of awareness about your current competitors or any potential competitors that may crop up down the line for your given business model.

When writing your Competitive Analysis, your overview should cover  who  your closest competitors are, the chief  strengths  they bring to the table, and their biggest  weaknesses .

You'll want to identify at least 3 competitors — either direct, indirect, or a combination of the two. It's an extremely important aspect of the business planning process.

Competition Analysis Example

Here's an example of how HolliBlu lays out their Competitive Analysis section for just one of their competitors, implementing each of the criteria noted above:

Business plan: Competion analysis example

8. Customer Definition

Your Customer Definition section allows you to note which customer segment(s) you're going after, what characteristics and habits each customer segment embodies, how each segment uniquely benefits from your product or service, and how all of this ties together to create the ideal portrait of an actual paying customer, and how you'll cultivate and manage customer relationships.

Customer Definition Example

Business plan: Customer definition

HolliBlu's Customer Definition section is effective for several reasons. Let's deconstruct their first target market segment, hospitals.

What's particularly successful here is that we are explained why hospitals are optimal buyers.

They accomplish this by harkening back to the central problem at the core of the opportunity (when hospitals can't supply enough staff to meet patient demands, they have to resort on costly staffing agencies).

On top of that, we are also told how  big  of an opportunity going after this customer segment represents (5,534 hospitals in the US).

This template is followed for each of the company's 3 core customer segments. This provides consistency, but more than that, it emphasizes how diligent research reinforces their assumptions about who their customers are and why they'd open their wallets. Keep all of this in mind when you are write your own business plan.

9. Customer Acquisition

Now that you've defined who your customers are for your readers, your Customer Acquisition section will tell them what marketing and sales strategy and tactics you plan to leverage to actually reach the target market (or target markets) and ultimately convert them into paying customers.

marketing Strategy Example

Business plan: Customer acquisition

Similar to the exercise you will go through with your Revenue Model, in addition to identifying  which  channels you're pursuing, you'll also want to detail all of relevant costs associated with your customer acquisition channels.

Let's say you spent $100 on your marketing plan to acquire 100 customers during 2018. To get your CAC, you simply divide the number of customers acquired by your spend, giving you a $1.00 CAC.

10. Traction

This one's huge. Traction tells investors one important thing: that you're business has momentum. It's evidence that you're making forward progress and hitting milestones. That things are happening. It's one of the most critical components of a successful business plan.

Why is this so important? Financial projections are great and all, but if you can prove to investors that your company's got legs before they've even put a dime into it, then it will get them thinking about all the great things you'll be able to accomplish when they do bankroll you.

Traction Example

Business plan: Traction

In our Culina Traction section, we've called attention to several forms of traction, touching on some of the biggest ones that you'll want to consider when writing your own plan.

Have I built or launched my product or service yet?

Have I reached any customers yet?

Have I generated any revenue yet?

Have I forged any strategic industry relationships that will be instrumental in driving growth?

The key takeaway here: the more traction you can show, the more credibility you build with investors. After all, you can't leave it all on market analysis alone.

11. Management Team

Here's what your Management Team section isn't: it's not an exhaustive rundown of each and every position your team members have held over the course of their lives.

Instead, you should tell investors which aspects of your team's experience and expertise directly translates to the success of  this  company and  this  industry.

In other words, what applicable, relevant background do they bring to the table?

Management Team Example

Business plan: The Team

Let's be real. The vast majority of startup teams probably aren't stacked with Harvard and Stanford grads. But the thing to home in on is how the prior experience listed speaks directly to how it qualifies that team member's current position.

The word of the day here is relevancy. If it's not relevant, you probably don't need to include it in your typical business plan.

12. Funding

Funding overview.

The ask! This is where you come out and, you guessed it,  ask  your investors point blank how much money you need to move your business forward, what specific milestones their investment will allow you to reach, how you'll allocate the capital you secure, and what the investor will get in exchange for their investment.

You can also include information about your  exit strategy  (IPO, acquisition, merger?).

Funding Example

Business plan: Funding

While we've preached against redundancy in your business plan, an exception to the rule is using the Funding section to offer up a very brief recap that essentially says, “here are the biggest reasons you should invest in my company and why it will ultimately benefit you.”

13. Financials

Spreadsheets and numbers and charts, oh my! Yes, it's everybody's “favorite” business plan section: Financials.

Your Financials section will come last and contain all of the forecasted numbers that say to investors that this is a sound investment. This will include things like your sales forecast, expense budget, and break-even analysis. A lot of this will be assumptions, or estimates.

The key here is keeping those estimates as realistic as humanly possible by breaking your figures into components and looking at each one individually.

Financials Example

Business Financials

The balance sheet above illustrates the business' estimated net worth over a three-year period by summarizing its assets (tangible objects owned by the company), liabilities (debt owed to a creditor of the company), and shareholders' equity (source of financing used to fund the assets).

In plain words, the balance sheet is basically a snapshot of your business' financial status by laying out what you own and owe, helping investors determine the level of risk involved and giving them a good understanding of the financial health of the business.

If you're looking to up your game from those outdated Excel-style spreadsheets,  our business planning software  will help you create clean, sleek, modern financial reports the modern way. Plus, it's as easy to use as it is attractive to look at. You might even find yourself enjoying financial projections, building a cash flow statement, and business planning overall.

You've Got This!

You've committed to writing your business plan and now you've got some tricks of the trade to help you out along the way. Whether you're applying for a business loan or seeking investors, your well-crafted business plan will act as your Holy Grail in helping take your business goals to the next plateau.

This is a ton of work. It's not a few hours and a free business plan template. It's not just a business plan software. We've been there before. Writing your [business plan](https://www.startups.com/library/expert-advice/top-4-business-plan-examples) is just one small step in startup journey. There's a whole long road ahead of you filled with a marketing plan, investor outreach, chasing venture capitalists, actually getting funded, and growing your business into a successful company.

And guess what? We've got helpful information on all of it — and all at your disposal! We hope this guides you confidently on how to write a business plan worth bragging about.

About the Author

The startups team.

Startups is the world's largest startup platform, helping over 1 million startup companies find customers , funding , mentors , and world-class education .

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How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

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Every successful business has one thing in common, a good and well-executed business plan. A business plan is more than a document, it is a complete guide that outlines the goals your business wants to achieve, including its financial goals . It helps you analyze results, make strategic decisions, show your business operations and growth.

If you want to start a business or already have one and need to pitch it to investors for funding, writing a good business plan improves your chances of attracting financiers. As a startup, if you want to secure loans from financial institutions, part of the requirements involve submitting your business plan.

Writing a business plan does not have to be a complicated or time-consuming process. In this article, you will learn the step-by-step process for writing a successful business plan.

You will also learn what you need a business plan for, tips and strategies for writing a convincing business plan, business plan examples and templates that will save you tons of time, and the alternatives to the traditional business plan.

Let’s get started.

What Do You Need A Business Plan For?

Businesses create business plans for different purposes such as to secure funds, monitor business growth, measure your marketing strategies, and measure your business success.

1. Secure Funds

One of the primary reasons for writing a business plan is to secure funds, either from financial institutions/agencies or investors.

For you to effectively acquire funds, your business plan must contain the key elements of your business plan . For example, your business plan should include your growth plans, goals you want to achieve, and milestones you have recorded.

A business plan can also attract new business partners that are willing to contribute financially and intellectually. If you are writing a business plan to a bank, your project must show your traction , that is, the proof that you can pay back any loan borrowed.

Also, if you are writing to an investor, your plan must contain evidence that you can effectively utilize the funds you want them to invest in your business. Here, you are using your business plan to persuade a group or an individual that your business is a source of a good investment.

2. Monitor Business Growth

A business plan can help you track cash flows in your business. It steers your business to greater heights. A business plan capable of tracking business growth should contain:

  • The business goals
  • Methods to achieve the goals
  • Time-frame for attaining those goals

A good business plan should guide you through every step in achieving your goals. It can also track the allocation of assets to every aspect of the business. You can tell when you are spending more than you should on a project.

You can compare a business plan to a written GPS. It helps you manage your business and hints at the right time to expand your business.

3. Measure Business Success

A business plan can help you measure your business success rate. Some small-scale businesses are thriving better than more prominent companies because of their track record of success.

Right from the onset of your business operation, set goals and work towards them. Write a plan to guide you through your procedures. Use your plan to measure how much you have achieved and how much is left to attain.

You can also weigh your success by monitoring the position of your brand relative to competitors. On the other hand, a business plan can also show you why you have not achieved a goal. It can tell if you have elapsed the time frame you set to attain a goal.

4. Document Your Marketing Strategies

You can use a business plan to document your marketing plans. Every business should have an effective marketing plan.

Competition mandates every business owner to go the extraordinary mile to remain relevant in the market. Your business plan should contain your marketing strategies that work. You can measure the success rate of your marketing plans.

In your business plan, your marketing strategy must answer the questions:

  • How do you want to reach your target audience?
  • How do you plan to retain your customers?
  • What is/are your pricing plans?
  • What is your budget for marketing?

Business Plan Infographic

How to Write a Business Plan Step-by-Step

1. create your executive summary.

The executive summary is a snapshot of your business or a high-level overview of your business purposes and plans . Although the executive summary is the first section in your business plan, most people write it last. The length of the executive summary is not more than two pages.

Executive Summary of the business plan

Generally, there are nine sections in a business plan, the executive summary should condense essential ideas from the other eight sections.

A good executive summary should do the following:

  • A Snapshot of Growth Potential. Briefly inform the reader about your company and why it will be successful)
  • Contain your Mission Statement which explains what the main objective or focus of your business is.
  • Product Description and Differentiation. Brief description of your products or services and why it is different from other solutions in the market.
  • The Team. Basic information about your company’s leadership team and employees
  • Business Concept. A solid description of what your business does.
  • Target Market. The customers you plan to sell to.
  • Marketing Strategy. Your plans on reaching and selling to your customers
  • Current Financial State. Brief information about what revenue your business currently generates.
  • Projected Financial State. Brief information about what you foresee your business revenue to be in the future.

The executive summary is the make-or-break section of your business plan. If your summary cannot in less than two pages cannot clearly describe how your business will solve a particular problem of your target audience and make a profit, your business plan is set on a faulty foundation.

Avoid using the executive summary to hype your business, instead, focus on helping the reader understand the what and how of your plan.

View the executive summary as an opportunity to introduce your vision for your company. You know your executive summary is powerful when it can answer these key questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What sector or industry are you in?
  • What are your products and services?
  • What is the future of your industry?
  • Is your company scaleable?
  • Who are the owners and leaders of your company? What are their backgrounds and experience levels?
  • What is the motivation for starting your company?
  • What are the next steps?

Writing the executive summary last although it is the most important section of your business plan is an excellent idea. The reason why is because it is a high-level overview of your business plan. It is the section that determines whether potential investors and lenders will read further or not.

The executive summary can be a stand-alone document that covers everything in your business plan. It is not uncommon for investors to request only the executive summary when evaluating your business. If the information in the executive summary impresses them, they will ask for the complete business plan.

If you are writing your business plan for your planning purposes, you do not need to write the executive summary.

2. Add Your Company Overview

The company overview or description is the next section in your business plan after the executive summary. It describes what your business does.

Adding your company overview can be tricky especially when your business is still in the planning stages. Existing businesses can easily summarize their current operations but may encounter difficulties trying to explain what they plan to become.

Your company overview should contain the following:

  • What products and services you will provide
  • Geographical markets and locations your company have a presence
  • What you need to run your business
  • Who your target audience or customers are
  • Who will service your customers
  • Your company’s purpose, mission, and vision
  • Information about your company’s founders
  • Who the founders are
  • Notable achievements of your company so far

When creating a company overview, you have to focus on three basics: identifying your industry, identifying your customer, and explaining the problem you solve.

If you are stuck when creating your company overview, try to answer some of these questions that pertain to you.

  • Who are you targeting? (The answer is not everyone)
  • What pain point does your product or service solve for your customers that they will be willing to spend money on resolving?
  • How does your product or service overcome that pain point?
  • Where is the location of your business?
  • What products, equipment, and services do you need to run your business?
  • How is your company’s product or service different from your competition in the eyes of your customers?
  • How many employees do you need and what skills do you require them to have?

After answering some or all of these questions, you will get more than enough information you need to write your company overview or description section. When writing this section, describe what your company does for your customers.

It describes what your business does

The company description or overview section contains three elements: mission statement, history, and objectives.

  • Mission Statement

The mission statement refers to the reason why your business or company is existing. It goes beyond what you do or sell, it is about the ‘why’. A good mission statement should be emotional and inspirational.

Your mission statement should follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). For example, Shopify’s mission statement is “Make commerce better for everyone.”

When describing your company’s history, make it simple and avoid the temptation of tying it to a defensive narrative. Write it in the manner you would a profile. Your company’s history should include the following information:

  • Founding Date
  • Major Milestones
  • Location(s)
  • Flagship Products or Services
  • Number of Employees
  • Executive Leadership Roles

When you fill in this information, you use it to write one or two paragraphs about your company’s history.

Business Objectives

Your business objective must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.) Failure to clearly identify your business objectives does not inspire confidence and makes it hard for your team members to work towards a common purpose.

3. Perform Market and Competitive Analyses to Proof a Big Enough Business Opportunity

The third step in writing a business plan is the market and competitive analysis section. Every business, no matter the size, needs to perform comprehensive market and competitive analyses before it enters into a market.

Performing market and competitive analyses are critical for the success of your business. It helps you avoid entering the right market with the wrong product, or vice versa. Anyone reading your business plans, especially financiers and financial institutions will want to see proof that there is a big enough business opportunity you are targeting.

This section is where you describe the market and industry you want to operate in and show the big opportunities in the market that your business can leverage to make a profit. If you noticed any unique trends when doing your research, show them in this section.

Market analysis alone is not enough, you have to add competitive analysis to strengthen this section. There are already businesses in the industry or market, how do you plan to take a share of the market from them?

You have to clearly illustrate the competitive landscape in your business plan. Are there areas your competitors are doing well? Are there areas where they are not doing so well? Show it.

Make it clear in this section why you are moving into the industry and what weaknesses are present there that you plan to explain. How are your competitors going to react to your market entry? How do you plan to get customers? Do you plan on taking your competitors' competitors, tap into other sources for customers, or both?

Illustrate the competitive landscape as well. What are your competitors doing well and not so well?

Answering these questions and thoughts will aid your market and competitive analysis of the opportunities in your space. Depending on how sophisticated your industry is, or the expectations of your financiers, you may need to carry out a more comprehensive market and competitive analysis to prove that big business opportunity.

Instead of looking at the market and competitive analyses as one entity, separating them will make the research even more comprehensive.

Market Analysis

Market analysis, boarding speaking, refers to research a business carried out on its industry, market, and competitors. It helps businesses gain a good understanding of their target market and the outlook of their industry. Before starting a company, it is vital to carry out market research to find out if the market is viable.

Market Analysis for Online Business

The market analysis section is a key part of the business plan. It is the section where you identify who your best clients or customers are. You cannot omit this section, without it your business plan is incomplete.

A good market analysis will tell your readers how you fit into the existing market and what makes you stand out. This section requires in-depth research, it will probably be the most time-consuming part of the business plan to write.

  • Market Research

To create a compelling market analysis that will win over investors and financial institutions, you have to carry out thorough market research . Your market research should be targeted at your primary target market for your products or services. Here is what you want to find out about your target market.

  • Your target market’s needs or pain points
  • The existing solutions for their pain points
  • Geographic Location
  • Demographics

The purpose of carrying out a marketing analysis is to get all the information you need to show that you have a solid and thorough understanding of your target audience.

Only after you have fully understood the people you plan to sell your products or services to, can you evaluate correctly if your target market will be interested in your products or services.

You can easily convince interested parties to invest in your business if you can show them you thoroughly understand the market and show them that there is a market for your products or services.

How to Quantify Your Target Market

One of the goals of your marketing research is to understand who your ideal customers are and their purchasing power. To quantify your target market, you have to determine the following:

  • Your Potential Customers: They are the people you plan to target. For example, if you sell accounting software for small businesses , then anyone who runs an enterprise or large business is unlikely to be your customers. Also, individuals who do not have a business will most likely not be interested in your product.
  • Total Households: If you are selling household products such as heating and air conditioning systems, determining the number of total households is more important than finding out the total population in the area you want to sell to. The logic is simple, people buy the product but it is the household that uses it.
  • Median Income: You need to know the median income of your target market. If you target a market that cannot afford to buy your products and services, your business will not last long.
  • Income by Demographics: If your potential customers belong to a certain age group or gender, determining income levels by demographics is necessary. For example, if you sell men's clothes, your target audience is men.

What Does a Good Market Analysis Entail?

Your business does not exist on its own, it can only flourish within an industry and alongside competitors. Market analysis takes into consideration your industry, target market, and competitors. Understanding these three entities will drastically improve your company’s chances of success.

Market Analysis Steps

You can view your market analysis as an examination of the market you want to break into and an education on the emerging trends and themes in that market. Good market analyses include the following:

  • Industry Description. You find out about the history of your industry, the current and future market size, and who the largest players/companies are in your industry.
  • Overview of Target Market. You research your target market and its characteristics. Who are you targeting? Note, it cannot be everyone, it has to be a specific group. You also have to find out all information possible about your customers that can help you understand how and why they make buying decisions.
  • Size of Target Market: You need to know the size of your target market, how frequently they buy, and the expected quantity they buy so you do not risk overproducing and having lots of bad inventory. Researching the size of your target market will help you determine if it is big enough for sustained business or not.
  • Growth Potential: Before picking a target market, you want to be sure there are lots of potential for future growth. You want to avoid going for an industry that is declining slowly or rapidly with almost zero growth potential.
  • Market Share Potential: Does your business stand a good chance of taking a good share of the market?
  • Market Pricing and Promotional Strategies: Your market analysis should give you an idea of the price point you can expect to charge for your products and services. Researching your target market will also give you ideas of pricing strategies you can implement to break into the market or to enjoy maximum profits.
  • Potential Barriers to Entry: One of the biggest benefits of conducting market analysis is that it shows you every potential barrier to entry your business will likely encounter. It is a good idea to discuss potential barriers to entry such as changing technology. It informs readers of your business plan that you understand the market.
  • Research on Competitors: You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and how you can exploit them for the benefit of your business. Find patterns and trends among your competitors that make them successful, discover what works and what doesn’t, and see what you can do better.

The market analysis section is not just for talking about your target market, industry, and competitors. You also have to explain how your company can fill the hole you have identified in the market.

Here are some questions you can answer that can help you position your product or service in a positive light to your readers.

  • Is your product or service of superior quality?
  • What additional features do you offer that your competitors do not offer?
  • Are you targeting a ‘new’ market?

Basically, your market analysis should include an analysis of what already exists in the market and an explanation of how your company fits into the market.

Competitive Analysis

In the competitive analysis section, y ou have to understand who your direct and indirect competitions are, and how successful they are in the marketplace. It is the section where you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, the advantage(s) they possess in the market and show the unique features or qualities that make you different from your competitors.

Four Steps to Create a Competitive Marketing Analysis

Many businesses do market analysis and competitive analysis together. However, to fully understand what the competitive analysis entails, it is essential to separate it from the market analysis.

Competitive analysis for your business can also include analysis on how to overcome barriers to entry in your target market.

The primary goal of conducting a competitive analysis is to distinguish your business from your competitors. A strong competitive analysis is essential if you want to convince potential funding sources to invest in your business. You have to show potential investors and lenders that your business has what it takes to compete in the marketplace successfully.

Competitive analysis will s how you what the strengths of your competition are and what they are doing to maintain that advantage.

When doing your competitive research, you first have to identify your competitor and then get all the information you can about them. The idea of spending time to identify your competitor and learn everything about them may seem daunting but it is well worth it.

Find answers to the following questions after you have identified who your competitors are.

  • What are your successful competitors doing?
  • Why is what they are doing working?
  • Can your business do it better?
  • What are the weaknesses of your successful competitors?
  • What are they not doing well?
  • Can your business turn its weaknesses into strengths?
  • How good is your competitors’ customer service?
  • Where do your competitors invest in advertising?
  • What sales and pricing strategies are they using?
  • What marketing strategies are they using?
  • What kind of press coverage do they get?
  • What are their customers saying about your competitors (both the positive and negative)?

If your competitors have a website, it is a good idea to visit their websites for more competitors’ research. Check their “About Us” page for more information.

How to Perform Competitive Analysis

If you are presenting your business plan to investors, you need to clearly distinguish yourself from your competitors. Investors can easily tell when you have not properly researched your competitors.

Take time to think about what unique qualities or features set you apart from your competitors. If you do not have any direct competition offering your product to the market, it does not mean you leave out the competitor analysis section blank. Instead research on other companies that are providing a similar product, or whose product is solving the problem your product solves.

The next step is to create a table listing the top competitors you want to include in your business plan. Ensure you list your business as the last and on the right. What you just created is known as the competitor analysis table.

Direct vs Indirect Competition

You cannot know if your product or service will be a fit for your target market if you have not understood your business and the competitive landscape.

There is no market you want to target where you will not encounter competition, even if your product is innovative. Including competitive analysis in your business plan is essential.

If you are entering an established market, you need to explain how you plan to differentiate your products from the available options in the market. Also, include a list of few companies that you view as your direct competitors The competition you face in an established market is your direct competition.

In situations where you are entering a market with no direct competition, it does not mean there is no competition there. Consider your indirect competition that offers substitutes for the products or services you offer.

For example, if you sell an innovative SaaS product, let us say a project management software , a company offering time management software is your indirect competition.

There is an easy way to find out who your indirect competitors are in the absence of no direct competitors. You simply have to research how your potential customers are solving the problems that your product or service seeks to solve. That is your direct competition.

Factors that Differentiate Your Business from the Competition

There are three main factors that any business can use to differentiate itself from its competition. They are cost leadership, product differentiation, and market segmentation.

1. Cost Leadership

A strategy you can impose to maximize your profits and gain an edge over your competitors. It involves offering lower prices than what the majority of your competitors are offering.

A common practice among businesses looking to enter into a market where there are dominant players is to use free trials or pricing to attract as many customers as possible to their offer.

2. Product Differentiation

Your product or service should have a unique selling proposition (USP) that your competitors do not have or do not stress in their marketing.

Part of the marketing strategy should involve making your products unique and different from your competitors. It does not have to be different from your competitors, it can be the addition to a feature or benefit that your competitors do not currently have.

3. Market Segmentation

As a new business seeking to break into an industry, you will gain more success from focusing on a specific niche or target market, and not the whole industry.

If your competitors are focused on a general need or target market, you can differentiate yourself from them by having a small and hyper-targeted audience. For example, if your competitors are selling men’s clothes in their online stores , you can sell hoodies for men.

4. Define Your Business and Management Structure

The next step in your business plan is your business and management structure. It is the section where you describe the legal structure of your business and the team running it.

Your business is only as good as the management team that runs it, while the management team can only strive when there is a proper business and management structure in place.

If your company is a sole proprietor or a limited liability company (LLC), a general or limited partnership, or a C or an S corporation, state it clearly in this section.

Use an organizational chart to show the management structure in your business. Clearly show who is in charge of what area in your company. It is where you show how each key manager or team leader’s unique experience can contribute immensely to the success of your company. You can also opt to add the resumes and CVs of the key players in your company.

The business and management structure section should show who the owner is, and other owners of the businesses (if the business has other owners). For businesses or companies with multiple owners, include the percent ownership of the various owners and clearly show the extent of each others’ involvement in the company.

Investors want to know who is behind the company and the team running it to determine if it has the right management to achieve its set goals.

Management Team

The management team section is where you show that you have the right team in place to successfully execute the business operations and ideas. Take time to create the management structure for your business. Think about all the important roles and responsibilities that you need managers for to grow your business.

Include brief bios of each key team member and ensure you highlight only the relevant information that is needed. If your team members have background industry experience or have held top positions for other companies and achieved success while filling that role, highlight it in this section.

Create Management Team For Business Plan

A common mistake that many startups make is assigning C-level titles such as (CMO and CEO) to everyone on their team. It is unrealistic for a small business to have those titles. While it may look good on paper for the ego of your team members, it can prevent investors from investing in your business.

Instead of building an unrealistic management structure that does not fit your business reality, it is best to allow business titles to grow as the business grows. Starting everyone at the top leaves no room for future change or growth, which is bad for productivity.

Your management team does not have to be complete before you start writing your business plan. You can have a complete business plan even when there are managerial positions that are empty and need filling.

If you have management gaps in your team, simply show the gaps and indicate you are searching for the right candidates for the role(s). Investors do not expect you to have a full management team when you are just starting your business.

Key Questions to Answer When Structuring Your Management Team

  • Who are the key leaders?
  • What experiences, skills, and educational backgrounds do you expect your key leaders to have?
  • Do your key leaders have industry experience?
  • What positions will they fill and what duties will they perform in those positions?
  • What level of authority do the key leaders have and what are their responsibilities?
  • What is the salary for the various management positions that will attract the ideal candidates?

Additional Tips for Writing the Management Structure Section

1. Avoid Adding ‘Ghost’ Names to Your Management Team

There is always that temptation to include a ‘ghost’ name to your management team to attract and influence investors to invest in your business. Although the presence of these celebrity management team members may attract the attention of investors, it can cause your business to lose any credibility if you get found out.

Seasoned investors will investigate further the members of your management team before committing fully to your business If they find out that the celebrity name used does not play any actual role in your business, they will not invest and may write you off as dishonest.

2. Focus on Credentials But Pay Extra Attention to the Roles

Investors want to know the experience that your key team members have to determine if they can successfully reach the company’s growth and financial goals.

While it is an excellent boost for your key management team to have the right credentials, you also want to pay extra attention to the roles they will play in your company.

Organizational Chart

Organizational chart Infographic

Adding an organizational chart in this section of your business plan is not necessary, you can do it in your business plan’s appendix.

If you are exploring funding options, it is not uncommon to get asked for your organizational chart. The function of an organizational chart goes beyond raising money, you can also use it as a useful planning tool for your business.

An organizational chart can help you identify how best to structure your management team for maximum productivity and point you towards key roles you need to fill in the future.

You can use the organizational chart to show your company’s internal management structure such as the roles and responsibilities of your management team, and relationships that exist between them.

5. Describe Your Product and Service Offering

In your business plan, you have to describe what you sell or the service you plan to offer. It is the next step after defining your business and management structure. The products and services section is where you sell the benefits of your business.

Here you have to explain how your product or service will benefit your customers and describe your product lifecycle. It is also the section where you write down your plans for intellectual property like patent filings and copyrighting.

The research and development that you are undertaking for your product or service need to be explained in detail in this section. However, do not get too technical, sell the general idea and its benefits.

If you have any diagrams or intricate designs of your product or service, do not include them in the products and services section. Instead, leave them for the addendum page. Also, if you are leaving out diagrams or designs for the addendum, ensure you add this phrase “For more detail, visit the addendum Page #.”

Your product and service section in your business plan should include the following:

  • A detailed explanation that clearly shows how your product or service works.
  • The pricing model for your product or service.
  • Your business’ sales and distribution strategy.
  • The ideal customers that want your product or service.
  • The benefits of your products and services.
  • Reason(s) why your product or service is a better alternative to what your competitors are currently offering in the market.
  • Plans for filling the orders you receive
  • If you have current or pending patents, copyrights, and trademarks for your product or service, you can also discuss them in this section.

What to Focus On When Describing the Benefits, Lifecycle, and Production Process of Your Products or Services

In the products and services section, you have to distill the benefits, lifecycle, and production process of your products and services.

When describing the benefits of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Unique features
  • Translating the unique features into benefits
  • The emotional, psychological, and practical payoffs to attract customers
  • Intellectual property rights or any patents

When describing the product life cycle of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Upsells, cross-sells, and down-sells
  • Time between purchases
  • Plans for research and development.

When describing the production process for your products or services, you need to think about the following:

  • The creation of new or existing products and services.
  • The sources for the raw materials or components you need for production.
  • Assembling the products
  • Maintaining quality control
  • Supply-chain logistics (receiving the raw materials and delivering the finished products)
  • The day-to-day management of the production processes, bookkeeping, and inventory.

Tips for Writing the Products or Services Section of Your Business Plan

1. Avoid Technical Descriptions and Industry Buzzwords

The products and services section of your business plan should clearly describe the products and services that your company provides. However, it is not a section to include technical jargons that anyone outside your industry will not understand.

A good practice is to remove highly detailed or technical descriptions in favor of simple terms. Industry buzzwords are not necessary, if there are simpler terms you can use, then use them. If you plan to use your business plan to source funds, making the product or service section so technical will do you no favors.

2. Describe How Your Products or Services Differ from Your Competitors

When potential investors look at your business plan, they want to know how the products and services you are offering differ from that of your competition. Differentiating your products or services from your competition in a way that makes your solution more attractive is critical.

If you are going the innovative path and there is no market currently for your product or service, you need to describe in this section why the market needs your product or service.

For example, overnight delivery was a niche business that only a few companies were participating in. Federal Express (FedEx) had to show in its business plan that there was a large opportunity for that service and they justified why the market needed that service.

3. Long or Short Products or Services Section

Should your products or services section be short? Does the long products or services section attract more investors?

There are no straightforward answers to these questions. Whether your products or services section should be long or relatively short depends on the nature of your business.

If your business is product-focused, then automatically you need to use more space to describe the details of your products. However, if the product your business sells is a commodity item that relies on competitive pricing or other pricing strategies, you do not have to use up so much space to provide significant details about the product.

Likewise, if you are selling a commodity that is available in numerous outlets, then you do not have to spend time on writing a long products or services section.

The key to the success of your business is most likely the effectiveness of your marketing strategies compared to your competitors. Use more space to address that section.

If you are creating a new product or service that the market does not know about, your products or services section can be lengthy. The reason why is because you need to explain everything about the product or service such as the nature of the product, its use case, and values.

A short products or services section for an innovative product or service will not give the readers enough information to properly evaluate your business.

4. Describe Your Relationships with Vendors or Suppliers

Your business will rely on vendors or suppliers to supply raw materials or the components needed to make your products. In your products and services section, describe your relationships with your vendors and suppliers fully.

Avoid the mistake of relying on only one supplier or vendor. If that supplier or vendor fails to supply or goes out of business, you can easily face supply problems and struggle to meet your demands. Plan to set up multiple vendor or supplier relationships for better business stability.

5. Your Primary Goal Is to Convince Your Readers

The primary goal of your business plan is to convince your readers that your business is viable and to create a guide for your business to follow. It applies to the products and services section.

When drafting this section, think like the reader. See your reader as someone who has no idea about your products and services. You are using the products and services section to provide the needed information to help your reader understand your products and services. As a result, you have to be clear and to the point.

While you want to educate your readers about your products or services, you also do not want to bore them with lots of technical details. Show your products and services and not your fancy choice of words.

Your products and services section should provide the answer to the “what” question for your business. You and your management team may run the business, but it is your products and services that are the lifeblood of the business.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing your Products and Services Section

Answering these questions can help you write your products and services section quickly and in a way that will appeal to your readers.

  • Are your products existing on the market or are they still in the development stage?
  • What is your timeline for adding new products and services to the market?
  • What are the positives that make your products and services different from your competitors?
  • Do your products and services have any competitive advantage that your competitors’ products and services do not currently have?
  • Do your products or services have any competitive disadvantages that you need to overcome to compete with your competitors? If your answer is yes, state how you plan to overcome them,
  • How much does it cost to produce your products or services? How much do you plan to sell it for?
  • What is the price for your products and services compared to your competitors? Is pricing an issue?
  • What are your operating costs and will it be low enough for you to compete with your competitors and still take home a reasonable profit margin?
  • What is your plan for acquiring your products? Are you involved in the production of your products or services?
  • Are you the manufacturer and produce all the components you need to create your products? Do you assemble your products by using components supplied by other manufacturers? Do you purchase your products directly from suppliers or wholesalers?
  • Do you have a steady supply of products that you need to start your business? (If your business is yet to kick-off)
  • How do you plan to distribute your products or services to the market?

You can also hint at the marketing or promotion plans you have for your products or services such as how you plan to build awareness or retain customers. The next section is where you can go fully into details about your business’s marketing and sales plan.

6. Show and Explain Your Marketing and Sales Plan

Providing great products and services is wonderful, but it means nothing if you do not have a marketing and sales plan to inform your customers about them. Your marketing and sales plan is critical to the success of your business.

The sales and marketing section is where you show and offer a detailed explanation of your marketing and sales plan and how you plan to execute it. It covers your pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success, and the benefits of your products and services.

There are several ways you can approach your marketing and sales strategy. Ideally, your marketing and sales strategy has to fit the unique needs of your business.

In this section, you describe how the plans your business has for attracting and retaining customers, and the exact process for making a sale happen. It is essential to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales plans because you are still going to reference this section when you are making financial projections for your business.

Outline Your Business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The sales and marketing section is where you outline your business’s unique selling proposition (USP). When you are developing your unique selling proposition, think about the strongest reasons why people should buy from you over your competition. That reason(s) is most likely a good fit to serve as your unique selling proposition (USP).

Target Market and Target Audience

Plans on how to get your products or services to your target market and how to get your target audience to buy them go into this section. You also highlight the strengths of your business here, particularly what sets them apart from your competition.

Target Market Vs Target Audience

Before you start writing your marketing and sales plan, you need to have properly defined your target audience and fleshed out your buyer persona. If you do not first understand the individual you are marketing to, your marketing and sales plan will lack any substance and easily fall.

Creating a Smart Marketing and Sales Plan

Marketing your products and services is an investment that requires you to spend money. Like any other investment, you have to generate a good return on investment (ROI) to justify using that marketing and sales plan. Good marketing and sales plans bring in high sales and profits to your company.

Avoid spending money on unproductive marketing channels. Do your research and find out the best marketing and sales plan that works best for your company.

Your marketing and sales plan can be broken into different parts: your positioning statement, pricing, promotion, packaging, advertising, public relations, content marketing, social media, and strategic alliances.

Your Positioning Statement

Your positioning statement is the first part of your marketing and sales plan. It refers to the way you present your company to your customers.

Are you the premium solution, the low-price solution, or are you the intermediary between the two extremes in the market? What do you offer that your competitors do not that can give you leverage in the market?

Before you start writing your positioning statement, you need to spend some time evaluating the current market conditions. Here are some questions that can help you to evaluate the market

  • What are the unique features or benefits that you offer that your competitors lack?
  • What are your customers’ primary needs and wants?
  • Why should a customer choose you over your competition? How do you plan to differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • How does your company’s solution compare with other solutions in the market?

After answering these questions, then you can start writing your positioning statement. Your positioning statement does not have to be in-depth or too long.

All you need to explain with your positioning statement are two focus areas. The first is the position of your company within the competitive landscape. The other focus area is the core value proposition that sets your company apart from other alternatives that your ideal customer might consider.

Here is a simple template you can use to develop a positioning statement.

For [description of target market] who [need of target market], [product or service] [how it meets the need]. Unlike [top competition], it [most essential distinguishing feature].

For example, let’s create the positioning statement for fictional accounting software and QuickBooks alternative , TBooks.

“For small business owners who need accounting services, TBooks is an accounting software that helps small businesses handle their small business bookkeeping basics quickly and easily. Unlike Wave, TBooks gives small businesses access to live sessions with top accountants.”

You can edit this positioning statement sample and fill it with your business details.

After writing your positioning statement, the next step is the pricing of your offerings. The overall positioning strategy you set in your positioning statement will often determine how you price your products or services.

Pricing is a powerful tool that sends a strong message to your customers. Failure to get your pricing strategy right can make or mar your business. If you are targeting a low-income audience, setting a premium price can result in low sales.

You can use pricing to communicate your positioning to your customers. For example, if you are offering a product at a premium price, you are sending a message to your customers that the product belongs to the premium category.

Basic Rules to Follow When Pricing Your Offering

Setting a price for your offering involves more than just putting a price tag on it. Deciding on the right pricing for your offering requires following some basic rules. They include covering your costs, primary and secondary profit center pricing, and matching the market rate.

  • Covering Your Costs: The price you set for your products or service should be more than it costs you to produce and deliver them. Every business has the same goal, to make a profit. Depending on the strategy you want to use, there are exceptions to this rule. However, the vast majority of businesses follow this rule.
  • Primary and Secondary Profit Center Pricing: When a company sets its price above the cost of production, it is making that product its primary profit center. A company can also decide not to make its initial price its primary profit center by selling below or at even with its production cost. It rather depends on the support product or even maintenance that is associated with the initial purchase to make its profit. The initial price thus became its secondary profit center.
  • Matching the Market Rate: A good rule to follow when pricing your products or services is to match your pricing with consumer demand and expectations. If you price your products or services beyond the price your customer perceives as the ideal price range, you may end up with no customers. Pricing your products too low below what your customer perceives as the ideal price range may lead to them undervaluing your offering.

Pricing Strategy

Your pricing strategy influences the price of your offering. There are several pricing strategies available for you to choose from when examining the right pricing strategy for your business. They include cost-plus pricing, market-based pricing, value pricing, and more.

Pricing strategy influences the price of offering

  • Cost-plus Pricing: This strategy is one of the simplest and oldest pricing strategies. Here you consider the cost of producing a unit of your product and then add a profit to it to arrive at your market price. It is an effective pricing strategy for manufacturers because it helps them cover their initial costs. Another name for the cost-plus pricing strategy is the markup pricing strategy.
  • Market-based Pricing: This pricing strategy analyses the market including competitors’ pricing and then sets a price based on what the market is expecting. With this pricing strategy, you can either set your price at the low-end or high-end of the market.
  • Value Pricing: This pricing strategy involves setting a price based on the value you are providing to your customer. When adopting a value-based pricing strategy, you have to set a price that your customers are willing to pay. Service-based businesses such as small business insurance providers , luxury goods sellers, and the fashion industry use this pricing strategy.

After carefully sorting out your positioning statement and pricing, the next item to look at is your promotional strategy. Your promotional strategy explains how you plan on communicating with your customers and prospects.

As a business, you must measure all your costs, including the cost of your promotions. You also want to measure how much sales your promotions bring for your business to determine its usefulness. Promotional strategies or programs that do not lead to profit need to be removed.

There are different types of promotional strategies you can adopt for your business, they include advertising, public relations, and content marketing.

Advertising

Your business plan should include your advertising plan which can be found in the marketing and sales plan section. You need to include an overview of your advertising plans such as the areas you plan to spend money on to advertise your business and offers.

Ensure that you make it clear in this section if your business will be advertising online or using the more traditional offline media, or the combination of both online and offline media. You can also include the advertising medium you want to use to raise awareness about your business and offers.

Some common online advertising mediums you can use include social media ads, landing pages, sales pages, SEO, Pay-Per-Click, emails, Google Ads, and others. Some common traditional and offline advertising mediums include word of mouth, radios, direct mail, televisions, flyers, billboards, posters, and others.

A key component of your advertising strategy is how you plan to measure the effectiveness and success of your advertising campaign. There is no point in sticking with an advertising plan or medium that does not produce results for your business in the long run.

Public Relations

A great way to reach your customers is to get the media to cover your business or product. Publicity, especially good ones, should be a part of your marketing and sales plan. In this section, show your plans for getting prominent reviews of your product from reputable publications and sources.

Your business needs that exposure to grow. If public relations is a crucial part of your promotional strategy, provide details about your public relations plan here.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a popular promotional strategy used by businesses to inform and attract their customers. It is about teaching and educating your prospects on various topics of interest in your niche, it does not just involve informing them about the benefits and features of the products and services you have,

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Businesses publish content usually for free where they provide useful information, tips, and advice so that their target market can be made aware of the importance of their products and services. Content marketing strategies seek to nurture prospects into buyers over time by simply providing value.

Your company can create a blog where it will be publishing content for its target market. You will need to use the best website builder such as Wix and Squarespace and the best web hosting services such as Bluehost, Hostinger, and other Bluehost alternatives to create a functional blog or website.

If content marketing is a crucial part of your promotional strategy (as it should be), detail your plans under promotions.

Including high-quality images of the packaging of your product in your business plan is a lovely idea. You can add the images of the packaging of that product in the marketing and sales plan section. If you are not selling a product, then you do not need to include any worry about the physical packaging of your product.

When organizing the packaging section of your business plan, you can answer the following questions to make maximum use of this section.

  • Is your choice of packaging consistent with your positioning strategy?
  • What key value proposition does your packaging communicate? (It should reflect the key value proposition of your business)
  • How does your packaging compare to that of your competitors?

Social Media

Your 21st-century business needs to have a good social media presence. Not having one is leaving out opportunities for growth and reaching out to your prospect.

You do not have to join the thousands of social media platforms out there. What you need to do is join the ones that your customers are active on and be active there.

Most popular social media platforms

Businesses use social media to provide information about their products such as promotions, discounts, the benefits of their products, and content on their blogs.

Social media is also a platform for engaging with your customers and getting feedback about your products or services. Make no mistake, more and more of your prospects are using social media channels to find more information about companies.

You need to consider the social media channels you want to prioritize your business (prioritize the ones your customers are active in) and your branding plans in this section.

Choosing the right social media platform

Strategic Alliances

If your company plans to work closely with other companies as part of your sales and marketing plan, include it in this section. Prove details about those partnerships in your business plan if you have already established them.

Strategic alliances can be beneficial for all parties involved including your company. Working closely with another company in the form of a partnership can provide access to a different target market segment for your company.

The company you are partnering with may also gain access to your target market or simply offer a new product or service (that of your company) to its customers.

Mutually beneficial partnerships can cover the weaknesses of one company with the strength of another. You should consider strategic alliances with companies that sell complimentary products to yours. For example, if you provide printers, you can partner with a company that produces ink since the customers that buy printers from you will also need inks for printing.

Steps Involved in Creating a Marketing and Sales Plan

1. Focus on Your Target Market

Identify who your customers are, the market you want to target. Then determine the best ways to get your products or services to your potential customers.

2. Evaluate Your Competition

One of the goals of having a marketing plan is to distinguish yourself from your competition. You cannot stand out from them without first knowing them in and out.

You can know your competitors by gathering information about their products, pricing, service, and advertising campaigns.

These questions can help you know your competition.

  • What makes your competition successful?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are customers saying about your competition?

3. Consider Your Brand

Customers' perception of your brand has a strong impact on your sales. Your marketing and sales plan should seek to bolster the image of your brand. Before you start marketing your business, think about the message you want to pass across about your business and your products and services.

4. Focus on Benefits

The majority of your customers do not view your product in terms of features, what they want to know is the benefits and solutions your product offers. Think about the problems your product solves and the benefits it delivers, and use it to create the right sales and marketing message.

Your marketing plan should focus on what you want your customer to get instead of what you provide. Identify those benefits in your marketing and sales plan.

5. Focus on Differentiation

Your marketing and sales plan should look for a unique angle they can take that differentiates your business from the competition, even if the products offered are similar. Some good areas of differentiation you can use are your benefits, pricing, and features.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing Your Marketing and Sales Plan

  • What is your company’s budget for sales and marketing campaigns?
  • What key metrics will you use to determine if your marketing plans are successful?
  • What are your alternatives if your initial marketing efforts do not succeed?
  • Who are the sales representatives you need to promote your products or services?
  • What are the marketing and sales channels you plan to use? How do you plan to get your products in front of your ideal customers?
  • Where will you sell your products?

You may want to include samples of marketing materials you plan to use such as print ads, website descriptions, and social media ads. While it is not compulsory to include these samples, it can help you better communicate your marketing and sales plan and objectives.

The purpose of the marketing and sales section is to answer this question “How will you reach your customers?” If you cannot convincingly provide an answer to this question, you need to rework your marketing and sales section.

7. Clearly Show Your Funding Request

If you are writing your business plan to ask for funding from investors or financial institutions, the funding request section is where you will outline your funding requirements. The funding request section should answer the question ‘How much money will your business need in the near future (3 to 5 years)?’

A good funding request section will clearly outline and explain the amount of funding your business needs over the next five years. You need to know the amount of money your business needs to make an accurate funding request.

Also, when writing your funding request, provide details of how the funds will be used over the period. Specify if you want to use the funds to buy raw materials or machinery, pay salaries, pay for advertisements, and cover specific bills such as rent and electricity.

In addition to explaining what you want to use the funds requested for, you need to clearly state the projected return on investment (ROI) . Investors and creditors want to know if your business can generate profit for them if they put funds into it.

Ensure you do not inflate the figures and stay as realistic as possible. Investors and financial institutions you are seeking funds from will do their research before investing money in your business.

If you are not sure of an exact number to request from, you can use some range of numbers as rough estimates. Add a best-case scenario and a work-case scenario to your funding request. Also, include a description of your strategic future financial plans such as selling your business or paying off debts.

Funding Request: Debt or Equity?

When making your funding request, specify the type of funding you want. Do you want debt or equity? Draw out the terms that will be applicable for the funding, and the length of time the funding request will cover.

Case for Equity

If your new business has not yet started generating profits, you are most likely preparing to sell equity in your business to raise capital at the early stage. Equity here refers to ownership. In this case, you are selling a portion of your company to raise capital.

Although this method of raising capital for your business does not put your business in debt, keep in mind that an equity owner may expect to play a key role in company decisions even if he does not hold a major stake in the company.

Most equity sales for startups are usually private transactions . If you are making a funding request by offering equity in exchange for funding, let the investor know that they will be paid a dividend (a share of the company’s profit). Also, let the investor know the process for selling their equity in your business.

Case for Debt

You may decide not to offer equity in exchange for funds, instead, you make a funding request with the promise to pay back the money borrowed at the agreed time frame.

When making a funding request with an agreement to pay back, note that you will have to repay your creditors both the principal amount borrowed and the interest on it. Financial institutions offer this type of funding for businesses.

Large companies combine both equity and debt in their capital structure. When drafting your business plan, decide if you want to offer both or one over the other.

Before you sell equity in exchange for funding in your business, consider if you are willing to accept not being in total control of your business. Also, before you seek loans in your funding request section, ensure that the terms of repayment are favorable.

You should set a clear timeline in your funding request so that potential investors and creditors can know what you are expecting. Some investors and creditors may agree to your funding request and then delay payment for longer than 30 days, meanwhile, your business needs an immediate cash injection to operate efficiently.

Additional Tips for Writing the Funding Request Section of your Business Plan

The funding request section is not necessary for every business, it is only needed by businesses who plan to use their business plan to secure funding.

If you are adding the funding request section to your business plan, provide an itemized summary of how you plan to use the funds requested. Hiring a lawyer, accountant, or other professionals may be necessary for the proper development of this section.

You should also gather and use financial statements that add credibility and support to your funding requests. Ensure that the financial statements you use should include your projected financial data such as projected cash flows, forecast statements, and expenditure budgets.

If you are an existing business, include all historical financial statements such as cash flow statements, balance sheets and income statements .

Provide monthly and quarterly financial statements for a year. If your business has records that date back beyond the one-year mark, add the yearly statements of those years. These documents are for the appendix section of your business plan.

8. Detail Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projections

If you used the funding request section in your business plan, supplement it with a financial plan, metrics, and projections. This section paints a picture of the past performance of your business and then goes ahead to make an informed projection about its future.

The goal of this section is to convince readers that your business is going to be a financial success. It outlines your business plan to generate enough profit to repay the loan (with interest if applicable) and to generate a decent return on investment for investors.

If you have an existing business already in operation, use this section to demonstrate stability through finance. This section should include your cash flow statements, balance sheets, and income statements covering the last three to five years. If your business has some acceptable collateral that you can use to acquire loans, list it in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

Apart from current financial statements, this section should also contain a prospective financial outlook that spans the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, and capital expenditure budget.

If your business is new and is not yet generating profit, use clear and realistic projections to show the potentials of your business.

When drafting this section, research industry norms and the performance of comparable businesses. Your financial projections should cover at least five years. State the logic behind your financial projections. Remember you can always make adjustments to this section as the variables change.

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section create a baseline which your business can either exceed or fail to reach. If your business fails to reach your projections in this section, you need to understand why it failed.

Investors and loan managers spend a lot of time going through the financial plan, metrics, and projection section compared to other parts of the business plan. Ensure you spend time creating credible financial analyses for your business in this section.

Many entrepreneurs find this section daunting to write. You do not need a business degree to create a solid financial forecast for your business. Business finances, especially for startups, are not as complicated as they seem. There are several online tools and templates that make writing this section so much easier.

Use Graphs and Charts

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business. Charts and images make it easier to communicate your finances.

Accuracy in this section is key, ensure you carefully analyze your past financial statements properly before making financial projects.

Address the Risk Factors and Show Realistic Financial Projections

Keep your financial plan, metrics, and projection realistic. It is okay to be optimistic in your financial projection, however, you have to justify it.

You should also address the various risk factors associated with your business in this section. Investors want to know the potential risks involved, show them. You should also show your plans for mitigating those risks.

What You Should In The Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection Section of Your Business Plan

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section of your business plan should have monthly sales and revenue forecasts for the first year. It should also include annual projections that cover 3 to 5 years.

A three-year projection is a basic requirement to have in your business plan. However, some investors may request a five-year forecast.

Your business plan should include the following financial statements: sales forecast, personnel plan, income statement, income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, and an exit strategy.

1. Sales Forecast

Sales forecast refers to your projections about the number of sales your business is going to record over the next few years. It is typically broken into several rows, with each row assigned to a core product or service that your business is offering.

One common mistake people make in their business plan is to break down the sales forecast section into long details. A sales forecast should forecast the high-level details.

For example, if you are forecasting sales for a payroll software provider, you could break down your forecast into target market segments or subscription categories.

Benefits of Sales Forecasting

Your sales forecast section should also have a corresponding row for each sales row to cover the direct cost or Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). The objective of these rows is to show the expenses that your business incurs in making and delivering your product or service.

Note that your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) should only cover those direct costs incurred when making your products. Other indirect expenses such as insurance, salaries, payroll tax, and rent should not be included.

For example, the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) for a restaurant is the cost of ingredients while for a consulting company it will be the cost of paper and other presentation materials.

Factors that affect sales forecasting

2. Personnel Plan

The personnel plan section is where you provide details about the payment plan for your employees. For a small business, you can easily list every position in your company and how much you plan to pay in the personnel plan.

However, for larger businesses, you have to break the personnel plan into functional groups such as sales and marketing.

The personnel plan will also include the cost of an employee beyond salary, commonly referred to as the employee burden. These costs include insurance, payroll taxes , and other essential costs incurred monthly as a result of having employees on your payroll.

True HR Cost Infographic

3. Income Statement

The income statement section shows if your business is making a profit or taking a loss. Another name for the income statement is the profit and loss (P&L). It takes data from your sales forecast and personnel plan and adds other ongoing expenses you incur while running your business.

The income statement section

Every business plan should have an income statement. It subtracts your business expenses from its earnings to show if your business is generating profit or incurring losses.

The income statement has the following items: sales, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), gross margin, operating expenses, total operating expenses, operating income , total expenses, and net profit.

  • Sales refer to the revenue your business generates from selling its products or services. Other names for sales are income or revenue.
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) refers to the total cost of selling your products. Other names for COGS are direct costs or cost of sales. Manufacturing businesses use the Costs of Goods Manufactured (COGM) .
  • Gross Margin is the figure you get when you subtract your COGS from your sales. In your income statement, you can express it as a percentage of total sales (Gross margin / Sales = Gross Margin Percent).
  • Operating Expenses refer to all the expenses you incur from running your business. It exempts the COGS because it stands alone as a core part of your income statement. You also have to exclude taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Your operating expenses include salaries, marketing expenses, research and development (R&D) expenses, and other expenses.
  • Total Operating Expenses refers to the sum of all your operating expenses including those exemptions named above under operating expenses.
  • Operating Income refers to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. It is simply known as the acronym EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). Calculating your operating income is simple, all you need to do is to subtract your COGS and total operating expenses from your sales.
  • Total Expenses refer to the sum of your operating expenses and your business’ interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
  • Net profit shows whether your business has made a profit or taken a loss during a given timeframe.

4. Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement tracks the money you have in the bank at any given point. It is often confused with the income statement or the profit and loss statement. They are both different types of financial statements. The income statement calculates your profits and losses while the cash flow statement shows you how much you have in the bank.

Cash Flow Statement Example

5. Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a financial statement that provides an overview of the financial health of your business. It contains information about the assets and liabilities of your company, and owner’s or shareholders’ equity.

You can get the net worth of your company by subtracting your company’s liabilities from its assets.

Balance sheet Formula

6. Exit Strategy

The exit strategy refers to a probable plan for selling your business either to the public in an IPO or to another company. It is the last thing you include in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

You can choose to omit the exit strategy from your business plan if you plan to maintain full ownership of your business and do not plan on seeking angel investment or virtual capitalist (VC) funding.

Investors may want to know what your exit plan is. They invest in your business to get a good return on investment.

Your exit strategy does not have to include long and boring details. Ensure you identify some interested parties who may be interested in buying the company if it becomes a success.

Exit Strategy Section of Business Plan Infographic

Key Questions to Answer with Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection

Your financial plan, metrics, and projection section helps investors, creditors, or your internal managers to understand what your expenses are, the amount of cash you need, and what it takes to make your company profitable. It also shows what you will be doing with any funding.

You do not need to show actual financial data if you do not have one. Adding forecasts and projections to your financial statements is added proof that your strategy is feasible and shows investors you have planned properly.

Here are some key questions to answer to help you develop this section.

  • What is your sales forecast for the next year?
  • When will your company achieve a positive cash flow?
  • What are the core expenses you need to operate?
  • How much money do you need upfront to operate or grow your company?
  • How will you use the loans or investments?

9. Add an Appendix to Your Business Plan

Adding an appendix to your business plan is optional. It is a useful place to put any charts, tables, legal notes, definitions, permits, résumés, and other critical information that do not fit into other sections of your business plan.

The appendix section is where you would want to include details of a patent or patent-pending if you have one. You can always add illustrations or images of your products here. It is the last section of your business plan.

When writing your business plan, there are details you cut short or remove to prevent the entire section from becoming too lengthy. There are also details you want to include in the business plan but are not a good fit for any of the previous sections. You can add that additional information to the appendix section.

Businesses also use the appendix section to include supporting documents or other materials specially requested by investors or lenders.

You can include just about any information that supports the assumptions and statements you made in the business plan under the appendix. It is the one place in the business plan where unrelated data and information can coexist amicably.

If your appendix section is lengthy, try organizing it by adding a table of contents at the beginning of the appendix section. It is also advisable to group similar information to make it easier for the reader to access them.

A well-organized appendix section makes it easier to share your information clearly and concisely. Add footnotes throughout the rest of the business plan or make references in the plan to the documents in the appendix.

The appendix section is usually only necessary if you are seeking funding from investors or lenders, or hoping to attract partners.

People reading business plans do not want to spend time going through a heap of backup information, numbers, and charts. Keep these documents or information in the Appendix section in case the reader wants to dig deeper.

Common Items to Include in the Appendix Section of Your Business Plan

The appendix section includes documents that supplement or support the information or claims given in other sections of the business plans. Common items you can include in the appendix section include:

  • Additional data about the process of manufacturing or creation
  • Additional description of products or services such as product schematics
  • Additional financial documents or projections
  • Articles of incorporation and status
  • Backup for market research or competitive analysis
  • Bank statements
  • Business registries
  • Client testimonials (if your business is already running)
  • Copies of insurances
  • Credit histories (personal or/and business)
  • Deeds and permits
  • Equipment leases
  • Examples of marketing and advertising collateral
  • Industry associations and memberships
  • Images of product
  • Intellectual property
  • Key customer contracts
  • Legal documents and other contracts
  • Letters of reference
  • Links to references
  • Market research data
  • Organizational charts
  • Photographs of potential facilities
  • Professional licenses pertaining to your legal structure or type of business
  • Purchase orders
  • Resumes of the founder(s) and key managers
  • State and federal identification numbers or codes
  • Trademarks or patents’ registrations

Avoid using the appendix section as a place to dump any document or information you feel like adding. Only add documents or information that you support or increase the credibility of your business plan.

Tips and Strategies for Writing a Convincing Business Plan

To achieve a perfect business plan, you need to consider some key tips and strategies. These tips will raise the efficiency of your business plan above average.

1. Know Your Audience

When writing a business plan, you need to know your audience . Business owners write business plans for different reasons. Your business plan has to be specific. For example, you can write business plans to potential investors, banks, and even fellow board members of the company.

The audience you are writing to determines the structure of the business plan. As a business owner, you have to know your audience. Not everyone will be your audience. Knowing your audience will help you to narrow the scope of your business plan.

Consider what your audience wants to see in your projects, the likely questions they might ask, and what interests them.

  • A business plan used to address a company's board members will center on its employment schemes, internal affairs, projects, stakeholders, etc.
  • A business plan for financial institutions will talk about the size of your market and the chances for you to pay back any loans you demand.
  • A business plan for investors will show proof that you can return the investment capital within a specific time. In addition, it discusses your financial projections, tractions, and market size.

2. Get Inspiration from People

Writing a business plan from scratch as an entrepreneur can be daunting. That is why you need the right inspiration to push you to write one. You can gain inspiration from the successful business plans of other businesses. Look at their business plans, the style they use, the structure of the project, etc.

To make your business plan easier to create, search companies related to your business to get an exact copy of what you need to create an effective business plan. You can also make references while citing examples in your business plans.

When drafting your business plan, get as much help from others as you possibly can. By getting inspiration from people, you can create something better than what they have.

3. Avoid Being Over Optimistic

Many business owners make use of strong adjectives to qualify their content. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make when preparing a business plan is promising too much.

The use of superlatives and over-optimistic claims can prepare the audience for more than you can offer. In the end, you disappoint the confidence they have in you.

In most cases, the best option is to be realistic with your claims and statistics. Most of the investors can sense a bit of incompetency from the overuse of superlatives. As a new entrepreneur, do not be tempted to over-promise to get the interests of investors.

The concept of entrepreneurship centers on risks, nothing is certain when you make future analyses. What separates the best is the ability to do careful research and work towards achieving that, not promising more than you can achieve.

To make an excellent first impression as an entrepreneur, replace superlatives with compelling data-driven content. In this way, you are more specific than someone promising a huge ROI from an investment.

4. Keep it Simple and Short

When writing business plans, ensure you keep them simple throughout. Irrespective of the purpose of the business plan, your goal is to convince the audience.

One way to achieve this goal is to make them understand your proposal. Therefore, it would be best if you avoid the use of complex grammar to express yourself. It would be a huge turn-off if the people you want to convince are not familiar with your use of words.

Another thing to note is the length of your business plan. It would be best if you made it as brief as possible.

You hardly see investors or agencies that read through an extremely long document. In that case, if your first few pages can’t convince them, then you have lost it. The more pages you write, the higher the chances of you derailing from the essential contents.

To ensure your business plan has a high conversion rate, you need to dispose of every unnecessary information. For example, if you have a strategy that you are not sure of, it would be best to leave it out of the plan.

5. Make an Outline and Follow Through

A perfect business plan must have touched every part needed to convince the audience. Business owners get easily tempted to concentrate more on their products than on other sections. Doing this can be detrimental to the efficiency of the business plan.

For example, imagine you talking about a product but omitting or providing very little information about the target audience. You will leave your clients confused.

To ensure that your business plan communicates your full business model to readers, you have to input all the necessary information in it. One of the best ways to achieve this is to design a structure and stick to it.

This structure is what guides you throughout the writing. To make your work easier, you can assign an estimated word count or page limit to every section to avoid making it too bulky for easy reading. As a guide, the necessary things your business plan must contain are:

  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Product or service description
  • Target audience
  • Market size
  • Competition analysis
  • Financial projections

Some specific businesses can include some other essential sections, but these are the key sections that must be in every business plan.

6. Ask a Professional to Proofread

When writing a business plan, you must tie all loose ends to get a perfect result. When you are done with writing, call a professional to go through the document for you. You are bound to make mistakes, and the way to correct them is to get external help.

You should get a professional in your field who can relate to every section of your business plan. It would be easier for the professional to notice the inner flaws in the document than an editor with no knowledge of your business.

In addition to getting a professional to proofread, get an editor to proofread and edit your document. The editor will help you identify grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and inappropriate writing styles.

Writing a business plan can be daunting, but you can surmount that obstacle and get the best out of it with these tips.

Business Plan Examples and Templates That’ll Save You Tons of Time

1. hubspot's one-page business plan.

HubSpot's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan template by HubSpot is the perfect guide for businesses of any size, irrespective of their business strategy. Although the template is condensed into a page, your final business plan should not be a page long! The template is designed to ask helpful questions that can help you develop your business plan.

Hubspot’s one-page business plan template is divided into nine fields:

  • Business opportunity
  • Company description
  • Industry analysis
  • Target market
  • Implementation timeline
  • Marketing plan
  • Financial summary
  • Funding required

2. Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplans' free business plan template is investor-approved. It is a rich template used by prestigious educational institutions such as Babson College and Princeton University to teach entrepreneurs how to create a business plan.

The template has six sections: the executive summary, opportunity, execution, company, financial plan, and appendix. There is a step-by-step guide for writing every little detail in the business plan. Follow the instructions each step of the way and you will create a business plan that impresses investors or lenders easily.

3. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot’s downloadable business plan template is a more comprehensive option compared to the one-page business template by HubSpot. This free and downloadable business plan template is designed for entrepreneurs.

The template is a comprehensive guide and checklist for business owners just starting their businesses. It tells you everything you need to fill in each section of the business plan and how to do it.

There are nine sections in this business plan template: an executive summary, company and business description, product and services line, market analysis, marketing plan, sales plan, legal notes, financial considerations, and appendix.

4. Business Plan by My Own Business Institute

The Business Profile

My Own Business Institute (MOBI) which is a part of Santa Clara University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a free business plan template. You can either copy the free business template from the link provided above or download it as a Word document.

The comprehensive template consists of a whopping 15 sections.

  • The Business Profile
  • The Vision and the People
  • Home-Based Business and Freelance Business Opportunities
  • Organization
  • Licenses and Permits
  • Business Insurance
  • Communication Tools
  • Acquisitions
  • Location and Leasing
  • Accounting and Cash Flow
  • Opening and Marketing
  • Managing Employees
  • Expanding and Handling Problems

There are lots of helpful tips on how to fill each section in the free business plan template by MOBI.

5. Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score is an American nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs build successful companies. This business plan template for startups by Score is available for free download. The business plan template asks a whooping 150 generic questions that help entrepreneurs from different fields to set up the perfect business plan.

The business plan template for startups contains clear instructions and worksheets, all you have to do is answer the questions and fill the worksheets.

There are nine sections in the business plan template: executive summary, company description, products and services, marketing plan, operational plan, management and organization, startup expenses and capitalization, financial plan, and appendices.

The ‘refining the plan’ resource contains instructions that help you modify your business plan to suit your specific needs, industry, and target audience. After you have completed Score’s business plan template, you can work with a SCORE mentor for expert advice in business planning.

6. Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

The minimalist architecture business plan template is a simple template by Venngage that you can customize to suit your business needs .

There are five sections in the template: an executive summary, statement of problem, approach and methodology, qualifications, and schedule and benchmark. The business plan template has instructions that guide users on what to fill in each section.

7. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two free business plan templates, filled with practical real-life examples that you can model to create your business plan. Both free business plan templates are written by fictional business owners: Rebecca who owns a consulting firm, and Andrew who owns a toy company.

There are five sections in the two SBA’s free business plan templates.

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Service Line
  • Marketing and Sales

8. The $100 Startup's One-Page Business Plan

The $100 Startup's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan by the $100 startup is a simple business plan template for entrepreneurs who do not want to create a long and complicated plan . You can include more details in the appendices for funders who want more information beyond what you can put in the one-page business plan.

There are five sections in the one-page business plan such as overview, ka-ching, hustling, success, and obstacles or challenges or open questions. You can answer all the questions using one or two sentences.

9. PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

The free business plan template by PandaDoc is a comprehensive 15-page document that describes the information you should include in every section.

There are 11 sections in PandaDoc’s free business plan template.

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Products and services
  • Operations plan
  • Management organization
  • Financial plan
  • Conclusion / Call to action
  • Confidentiality statement

You have to sign up for its 14-day free trial to access the template. You will find different business plan templates on PandaDoc once you sign up (including templates for general businesses and specific businesses such as bakeries, startups, restaurants, salons, hotels, and coffee shops)

PandaDoc allows you to customize its business plan templates to fit the needs of your business. After editing the template, you can send it to interested parties and track opens and views through PandaDoc.

10. Invoiceberry Templates for Word, Open Office, Excel, or PPT

Invoiceberry Templates Business Concept

InvoiceBerry is a U.K based online invoicing and tracking platform that offers free business plan templates in .docx, .odt, .xlsx, and .pptx formats for freelancers and small businesses.

Before you can download the free business plan template, it will ask you to give it your email address. After you complete the little task, it will send the download link to your inbox for you to download. It also provides a business plan checklist in .xlsx file format that ensures you add the right information to the business plan.

Alternatives to the Traditional Business Plan

A business plan is very important in mapping out how one expects their business to grow over a set number of years, particularly when they need external investment in their business. However, many investors do not have the time to watch you present your business plan. It is a long and boring read.

Luckily, there are three alternatives to the traditional business plan (the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck). These alternatives are less laborious and easier and quicker to present to investors.

Business Model Canvas (BMC)

The business model canvas is a business tool used to present all the important components of setting up a business, such as customers, route to market, value proposition, and finance in a single sheet. It provides a very focused blueprint that defines your business initially which you can later expand on if needed.

Business Model Canvas (BMC) Infographic

The sheet is divided mainly into company, industry, and consumer models that are interconnected in how they find problems and proffer solutions.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas was developed by founder Alexander Osterwalder to answer important business questions. It contains nine segments.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

  • Key Partners: Who will be occupying important executive positions in your business? What do they bring to the table? Will there be a third party involved with the company?
  • Key Activities: What important activities will production entail? What activities will be carried out to ensure the smooth running of the company?
  • The Product’s Value Propositions: What does your product do? How will it be different from other products?
  • Customer Segments: What demography of consumers are you targeting? What are the habits of these consumers? Who are the MVPs of your target consumers?
  • Customer Relationships: How will the team support and work with its customer base? How do you intend to build and maintain trust with the customer?
  • Key Resources: What type of personnel and tools will be needed? What size of the budget will they need access to?
  • Channels: How do you plan to create awareness of your products? How do you intend to transport your product to the customer?
  • Cost Structure: What is the estimated cost of production? How much will distribution cost?
  • Revenue Streams: For what value are customers willing to pay? How do they prefer to pay for the product? Are there any external revenues attached apart from the main source? How do the revenue streams contribute to the overall revenue?

Lean Canvas

The lean canvas is a problem-oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas. It was proposed by Ash Maurya, creator of Lean Stack as a development of the business model generation. It uses a more problem-focused approach and it majorly targets entrepreneurs and startup businesses.

The lean canvas is a problem oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas

Lean Canvas uses the same 9 blocks concept as the business model canvas, however, they have been modified slightly to suit the needs and purpose of a small startup. The key partners, key activities, customer relationships, and key resources are replaced by new segments which are:

  • Problem: Simple and straightforward number of problems you have identified, ideally three.
  • Solution: The solutions to each problem.
  • Unfair Advantage: Something you possess that can't be easily bought or replicated.
  • Key Metrics: Important numbers that will tell how your business is doing.

Startup Pitch Deck

While the business model canvas compresses into a factual sheet, startup pitch decks expand flamboyantly.

Pitch decks, through slides, convey your business plan, often through graphs and images used to emphasize estimations and observations in your presentation. Entrepreneurs often use pitch decks to fully convince their target audience of their plans before discussing funding arrangements.

Startup Pitch Deck Presentation

Considering the likelihood of it being used in a small time frame, a good startup pitch deck should ideally contain 20 slides or less to have enough time to answer questions from the audience.

Unlike the standard and lean business model canvases, a pitch deck doesn't have a set template on how to present your business plan but there are still important components to it. These components often mirror those of the business model canvas except that they are in slide form and contain more details.

Airbnb Pitch Deck

Using Airbnb (one of the most successful start-ups in recent history) for reference, the important components of a good slide are listed below.

  • Cover/Introduction Slide: Here, you should include your company's name and mission statement. Your mission statement should be a very catchy tagline. Also, include personal information and contact details to provide an easy link for potential investors.
  • Problem Slide: This slide requires you to create a connection with the audience or the investor that you are pitching. For example in their pitch, Airbnb summarized the most important problems it would solve in three brief points – pricing of hotels, disconnection from city culture, and connection problems for local bookings.
  • Solution Slide: This slide includes your core value proposition. List simple and direct solutions to the problems you have mentioned
  • Customer Analysis: Here you will provide information on the customers you will be offering your service to. The identity of your customers plays an important part in fundraising as well as the long-run viability of the business.
  • Market Validation: Use competitive analysis to show numbers that prove the presence of a market for your product, industry behavior in the present and the long run, as well as the percentage of the market you aim to attract. It shows that you understand your competitors and customers and convinces investors of the opportunities presented in the market.
  • Business Model: Your business model is the hook of your presentation. It may vary in complexity but it should generally include a pricing system informed by your market analysis. The goal of the slide is to confirm your business model is easy to implement.
  • Marketing Strategy: This slide should summarize a few customer acquisition methods that you plan to use to grow the business.
  • Competitive Advantage: What this slide will do is provide information on what will set you apart and make you a more attractive option to customers. It could be the possession of technology that is not widely known in the market.
  • Team Slide: Here you will give a brief description of your team. Include your key management personnel here and their specific roles in the company. Include their educational background, job history, and skillsets. Also, talk about their accomplishments in their careers so far to build investors' confidence in members of your team.
  • Traction Slide: This validates the company’s business model by showing growth through early sales and support. The slide aims to reduce any lingering fears in potential investors by showing realistic periodic milestones and profit margins. It can include current sales, growth, valuable customers, pre-orders, or data from surveys outlining current consumer interest.
  • Funding Slide: This slide is popularly referred to as ‘the ask'. Here you will include important details like how much is needed to get your business off the ground and how the funding will be spent to help the company reach its goals.
  • Appendix Slides: Your pitch deck appendix should always be included alongside a standard pitch presentation. It consists of additional slides you could not show in the pitch deck but you need to complement your presentation.

It is important to support your calculations with pictorial renditions. Infographics, such as pie charts or bar graphs, will be more effective in presenting the information than just listing numbers. For example, a six-month graph that shows rising profit margins will easily look more impressive than merely writing it.

Lastly, since a pitch deck is primarily used to secure meetings and you may be sharing your pitch with several investors, it is advisable to keep a separate public version that doesn't include financials. Only disclose the one with projections once you have secured a link with an investor.

Advantages of the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck over the Traditional Business Plan

  • Time-Saving: Writing a detailed traditional business plan could take weeks or months. On the other hand, all three alternatives can be done in a few days or even one night of brainstorming if you have a comprehensive understanding of your business.
  • Easier to Understand: Since the information presented is almost entirely factual, it puts focus on what is most important in running the business. They cut away the excess pages of fillers in a traditional business plan and allow investors to see what is driving the business and what is getting in the way.
  • Easy to Update: Businesses typically present their business plans to many potential investors before they secure funding. What this means is that you may regularly have to amend your presentation to update statistics or adjust to audience-specific needs. For a traditional business plan, this could mean rewriting a whole section of your plan. For the three alternatives, updating is much easier because they are not voluminous.
  • Guide for a More In-depth Business Plan: All three alternatives have the added benefit of being able to double as a sketch of your business plan if the need to create one arises in the future.

Business Plan FAQ

Business plans are important for any entrepreneur who is looking for a framework to run their company over some time or seeking external support. Although they are essential for new businesses, every company should ideally have a business plan to track their growth from time to time.  They can be used by startups seeking investments or loans to convey their business ideas or an employee to convince his boss of the feasibility of starting a new project. They can also be used by companies seeking to recruit high-profile employee targets into key positions or trying to secure partnerships with other firms.

Business plans often vary depending on your target audience, the scope, and the goals for the plan. Startup plans are the most common among the different types of business plans.  A start-up plan is used by a new business to present all the necessary information to help get the business up and running. They are usually used by entrepreneurs who are seeking funding from investors or bank loans. The established company alternative to a start-up plan is a feasibility plan. A feasibility plan is often used by an established company looking for new business opportunities. They are used to show the upsides of creating a new product for a consumer base. Because the audience is usually company people, it requires less company analysis. The third type of business plan is the lean business plan. A lean business plan is a brief, straight-to-the-point breakdown of your ideas and analysis for your business. It does not contain details of your proposal and can be written on one page. Finally, you have the what-if plan. As it implies, a what-if plan is a preparation for the worst-case scenario. You must always be prepared for the possibility of your original plan being rejected. A good what-if plan will serve as a good plan B to the original.

A good business plan has 10 key components. They include an executive plan, product analysis, desired customer base, company analysis, industry analysis, marketing strategy, sales strategy, financial projection, funding, and appendix. Executive Plan Your business should begin with your executive plan. An executive plan will provide early insight into what you are planning to achieve with your business. It should include your mission statement and highlight some of the important points which you will explain later. Product Analysis The next component of your business plan is your product analysis. A key part of this section is explaining the type of item or service you are going to offer as well as the market problems your product will solve. Desired Consumer Base Your product analysis should be supplemented with a detailed breakdown of your desired consumer base. Investors are always interested in knowing the economic power of your market as well as potential MVP customers. Company Analysis The next component of your business plan is your company analysis. Here, you explain how you want to run your business. It will include your operational strategy, an insight into the workforce needed to keep the company running, and important executive positions. It will also provide a calculation of expected operational costs.  Industry Analysis A good business plan should also contain well laid out industry analysis. It is important to convince potential investors you know the companies you will be competing with, as well as your plans to gain an edge on the competition. Marketing Strategy Your business plan should also include your marketing strategy. This is how you intend to spread awareness of your product. It should include a detailed explanation of the company brand as well as your advertising methods. Sales Strategy Your sales strategy comes after the market strategy. Here you give an overview of your company's pricing strategy and how you aim to maximize profits. You can also explain how your prices will adapt to market behaviors. Financial Projection The financial projection is the next component of your business plan. It explains your company's expected running cost and revenue earned during the tenure of the business plan. Financial projection gives a clear idea of how your company will develop in the future. Funding The next component of your business plan is funding. You have to detail how much external investment you need to get your business idea off the ground here. Appendix The last component of your plan is the appendix. This is where you put licenses, graphs, or key information that does not fit in any of the other components.

The business model canvas is a business management tool used to quickly define your business idea and model. It is often used when investors need you to pitch your business idea during a brief window.

A pitch deck is similar to a business model canvas except that it makes use of slides in its presentation. A pitch is not primarily used to secure funding, rather its main purpose is to entice potential investors by selling a very optimistic outlook on the business.

Business plan competitions help you evaluate the strength of your business plan. By participating in business plan competitions, you are improving your experience. The experience provides you with a degree of validation while practicing important skills. The main motivation for entering into the competitions is often to secure funding by finishing in podium positions. There is also the chance that you may catch the eye of a casual observer outside of the competition. These competitions also provide good networking opportunities. You could meet mentors who will take a keen interest in guiding you in your business journey. You also have the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs whose ideas can complement yours.

Exlore Further

  • 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)
  • 13 Sources of Business Finance For Companies & Sole Traders
  • 5 Common Types of Business Structures (+ Pros & Cons)
  • How to Buy a Business in 8 Steps (+ Due Diligence Checklist)

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Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan (10 Effective Steps)

Learn how to create an effective business plan in 10 easy steps and discover the transformative power of mentorship to elevate your startup's strategy.

investor startup business plan

Robin Waite

5 minute read

10 steps to create a business plan

Short answer

What should an effective business plan include?

An effective business plan should include the following elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Market analysis
  • Your products or services
  • Marketing and sales strategies
  • Organization and management
  • Financial projections
  • Funding requirements
  • Risk assessment
  • Conclusion and Call to Action

You need a strategic business plan to successfully navigate the startup world

Diving into the startup world without a clear plan is like setting sail without a compass ; you might drift aimlessly or even crash.

A solid business plan isn't just a piece of paper—it's your roadmap to success. It attracts the right investors, guides your decisions, and sets you on a clear path to victory.

In this article, I’ll walk you through 10 essential steps to craft that perfect plan. Plus, I’ll touch on the invaluable insights a business mentor can offer.

So, if you want to avoid common pitfalls and boost your chances of success, keep reading. Your startup's future might just depend on it.

Step 1: Executive summary

Think of the executive summary as the elevator pitch for your startup. It's a quick snapshot that captures the heart of your business idea, mission, and goals.

In this brief section, make sure to highlight who your target audience is, what sets you apart in the market, and your unique selling points.

And don't forget to give a glimpse of your financial outlook and any funding needs—it sets the stage for the details that follow.

Here's an example of an executive summary slide:

Executive summary slide example

Step 2: Company description

Here's where you tell your startup's story. It's not just a list of facts or a timeline. It's about painting a picture that connects with your readers.

Clearly outline your vision, mission, and the values that drive you. Share key milestones you've hit and where you currently stand in your business journey. This section gives depth to your startup, showing both where you've been and where you're headed.

Here's an example of a company introduction slide:

Company introduction slide example

Step 3: Market analysis

To thrive, you've got to know the lay of the land. That's where market analysis comes in. Start by zeroing in on your target audience and truly understanding what they're looking for.

Dive deep into industry trends, the overall market size, and where it's headed. And don't just know your competitors—understand what makes you stand out from the crowd.

Here's what a market analysis slide should look like:

Market analysis slide example

Step 4: Products or services

Here's your chance to shine a spotlight on what you're offering. What problems are your products or services solving? What makes them special? Whether it's a unique feature, a patent, or some groundbreaking tech, make it clear why your offerings are game-changers.

Here's an example of a solution slide:

Solution slide example

Step 5: Marketing and sales strategies

In today's crowded market, standing out is crucial. This step is all about your game plan to grab attention and win customers. Detail how you'll sell, where you'll promote, and how you'll get your products or services into the hands of those who need them.

Here's what a go-to-market slide should look like:

Go-to-market slide example

Step 6: Organization and management

Behind every great startup is a team of passionate people. Here, introduce your squad. Highlight their expertise, define their roles, and show the structure that keeps everything running smoothly.

If you've got advisors or partners in your corner, mention them—it shows you're serious about growing in every direction.

Here’s a full guide on how to create the perfect team slide for your startup . And here's a great example of one:

Team slide example

Step 7: Financial projections

Numbers don't lie, and in this step, they sketch out your startup's potential future. Dive into the financials, projecting where you see your revenue, expenses, and profits heading over the next few years.

By breaking down your initial costs and where you expect to get your funding, you give a clear view of how you're setting up for success.

Here's an example of a financials slide:

Financial projections slide example

Step 8: Funding requirements

Every startup needs fuel to get off the ground, and that fuel is capital. Here, be clear about how much you need to launch and keep things running.

Break down where every dollar will go, whether that's marketing, product development, or daily operations.

If you've already got some backers or have your eye on potential investors, mention them—it adds weight to your pitch.

Here's what a use of funds slide should look like:

Use of funds slide example

Step 9: Risk assessment

Every venture has its bumps in the road. Here, show that you're not just aware of potential challenges but that you've got a plan to tackle them. In assessing risks, it's crucial to choose the right business structure at the beginning. For examples, the formation of an LLC as a strategic measure not only protects your personal assets from business liabilities but also mitigates financial risks for stakeholders. By laying out your strategies for handling risks, you prove you're not just optimistic—you're realistic and ready.

Here's an example of a risk assessment slide:

Risk assessment slide example

Step 10: Conclusion and Call to Action

Time to wrap it up and rally your readers. Summarize the key points of your plan, driving home why your startup is a solid bet.

But remember, this isn't just a conclusion—it's a launchpad. Encourage readers to get involved, whether that's investing, partnering, or simply supporting your vision. Let's get this journey started!

And, if you need more information, check out our comprehensive guide on how to write a business plan .

Here's an example of a next step slide:

Next step slide example

Seek guidance from a business mentor

While a solid business plan is your startup's compass, adding guidance from a business mentor to your journey is like having a seasoned captain on board.

They bring a treasure trove of insights, lessons from past experiences, and a network of industry contacts. Their tailored advice doesn't just polish your plan—it also boosts your confidence and resilience, two must-haves for the unpredictable startup seas.

By embracing mentorship, you're signaling that you're all in on growth, ready to soak up wisdom and accelerate your path to success.

Why is a business plan crucial for startups?

Think of a business plan as your startup's GPS. It helps you navigate the twists and turns, pointing out both the challenges and the golden opportunities ahead. It's your master blueprint, detailing everything from your big-picture goals to your financial forecasts .

What role does a business mentor play in this process?

A business mentor serves as a seasoned guide in the startup journey. Drawing from their wealth of experience, they offer invaluable insights, helping startups navigate challenges and optimize their strategies. Their guidance is instrumental in making informed, strategic decisions.

How can a mentor enhance my market analysis?

Mentors have their finger on the pulse of the industry. They can help you get a clearer picture of market trends, spot who you're really up against, and gauge where the opportunities lie. With their insights, your market analysis won't just be good—it'll be top-notch.

Can a mentor assist in financial projections?

Absolutely. If your mentor has a financial background, they can be a goldmine. They'll help you craft projections that are both ambitious and grounded in reality. From revenue estimates to potential expenses, they'll ensure your numbers make sense.

How can you incorporate mentorship into the business plan?

Consider adding a dedicated section in your business plan to highlight the mentorship aspect. By detailing the insights and guidance you've received, or intend to seek, you underscore your commitment to informed growth. This proactive approach can resonate well with potential investors and stakeholders.

Business plan templates

Starting your business plan can feel like staring at a blank canvas—it's full of potential, but where do you begin? That's where interactive business plan templates come into play.

These templates serve as a structured guide, ensuring you don't miss any crucial details while allowing for flexibility and customization. They're designed to streamline the process, making it easier to organize your thoughts and present your vision in a coherent manner.

Ready to dive in? Grab a template from the library below and give your business plan a head start.

investor startup business plan

Robin Waite is a business coach based in the UK, bestselling author, and also regular business speaker. Robin's Fearless Business Accelerator covers pricing, productising services, and sales for coaches, consultants, and freelancers. Robin's passion is content marketing and blogging and he enjoys finding creative ways to make complex business topics simple for his readers.

investor startup business plan

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  • ZenBusiness > …
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  • > How to Write a Business Plan That Investors Will Like

How to Write a Business Plan That Investors Will Like

Step into the world of impactful entrepreneurship with our guide on crafting a business plan that resonates with investors, ensuring your vision is not just seen, but truly appreciated—a pivotal read for those ready to turn their dreams into reality.

Starts at $0 + state fees and only takes 5-10 minutes

Writing a business plan is an important first step for any startup. Although you’re not legally required to have one, a good business plan is the blueprint that maps out your goals and can help keep you on track.  

If your business will require significant capital to start properly, you may be searching for investors. This is when a good business plan is essential. Investors know that a company with a solid business plan is less likely to make mistakes and better able to handle things like unexpected costs. In fact, 29% of failed startups attributed closing their doors to lack of funding — with exactly 8% attributing their failure to a lack of investor interest.

When it comes to securing funding for your small business from people like angel investors or venture capitalists, a business plan is vital. Before investors sink money into your company, they want to make sure it can make money. In this guide, we’ll go over how to create a business plan investors will love. 

What’s Included in a Business Plan?

Although business plans can vary greatly, there are a few essential elements. Here are eight sections that a business plan should include:

  • Executive Summary:  This is an overview of the rest of your business plan. It will summarize things like your mission statement, plans, goals, structure, and financial needs. Keep this section short.
  • Company Description:  This section will identify the key parts of your business model, like its owners, location, and clientele. It also introduces products, states company goals, and mentions timelines for growth.
  • Market Research:  This section identifies the problem that your service will solve for your customers. It shows how your product will meet market needs and the overall market size. It should be backed up by solid research and statistics.
  • Product or Service Description:  This section describes your new product. It includes pricing, marketing strategy material, and future plans. It also defines the process of delivering products.
  • Marketing and Customer Acquisition Strategy:  This section shows where you’ll find new customers and how you’ll market to them (e.g., social media).
  • Business and Team Structure:  This section charts out the roles the members of your business will play. It also includes your team’s qualifications.
  • Company Financials:  This section estimates your company’s worth and financial forecast. It notes an income statement for your own business, projects financial milestones, and describes how cash flow will work.
  • Request for Funding:  This section shows the amount of money your company needs and outlines the way the money will be used.

Check out our  guide to writing a business plan  for even more resources on what each of these steps looks like in action. 

What Do Investors Want to See in a Business Plan?

Starting your own store can be a daunting task, especially with such big players already in the game. But starting an Amazon seller store is easier than yo

At the end of the day, investors are looking for a business with profitability potential. They’re different from bank lenders, who are primarily  worried about credit history. They want you to convince them that your company will make them money. That’s why your business plan should be easy to understand, well-thought out, and plausible. 

A good business plan will walk an investor through your company’s road to success. Investors are risk-takers, but they want to take calculated risks. You need to show them that your business is their best bet through four key areas:

  • Clear direction
  • Competence within the team
  • Competitive advantage
  • Financials that add up 

Clear Direction

One of the first things an investor will want to know is where your business is headed and how it will get there. A clear direction guides all your business decisions to make sure they bring you closer to your goals. That’s why it’s important that your executive summary is straightforward and concise. 

This section is where you’ll want to grab the investor’s attention. Be direct, and be succinct. You may be tempted to describe your business opportunity in depth, but you want to keep the investor’s attention. Instead, try to describe your business opportunity in two sentences.

If an investor can’t understand your executive summary, they may not even read the rest of your business plan. That’s why it can be a good idea to write your summary last; you’ll have a better idea of what a clear summary entails after you’ve finished the rest of your business plan.

Competence Within the Team

If an investor is putting money in your business, they’ll want to know that it’s run by capable and devoted people. Your management team is just as important as the service you’re selling. In your business and team structure section, go over your team members’ qualifications and the reason they’re involved. Show why they’re the best at what they do. 

You can mention each member’s position (e.g., CEO, CFO, manager), past experience, accomplishments, or advanced degrees and certifications. Add a quote or blurb on why each person is passionate about the industry.  Even if you have a  sole proprietorship , you’ll still want to highlight your qualifications and strengths. 

Be sure to clarify anything an investor might not be familiar with. For example, they might not know that, as a master electrician, you’ve received the highest certification in your industry (and have at least 4,000 hours of experience).

Be professional. Backers aren’t keen on fun facts or personal details. All they want to know is that everyone has the skills to get the job done. Save details like “favorite ice cream flavor” for your PR material, when you’re trying to relate to your target market. 

ZenBusiness has helpful templates for things that can help you plan the foundation of your company, like  business plan templates .

Competitive Advantage

Investors need to know that your new company can compete in your field. When you’re presenting your market analysis, be sure to show what problem your service is designed to solve. You’ll also need to describe the obstacles that might keep other companies from taking some of your market share.

Let’s say you’re starting a business as a freelance digital marketing consultant. Here’s how you might lay out your company’s competitive analysis:

  • Problem your business solves:  Companies without a strong online presence aren’t able to reach broad demographics and market segments like those that can market online efficiently.
  • Barriers to entry for competitors:  You have an advanced OMCP (Online Marketing Certified Professional) certification that requires 5,000 hours of experience and additional training. Your competitors don’t have the experience or qualifications that you have.

Back up any claims you make with actual research. For the above example, you could explain that landing pages are underutilized in most digital marketing plans. While they have the highest conversion rate, companies use them less than other types of registration forms, like pop-ups. With your skill set, you can help companies use landing pages to increase conversions.

There might be many other obstacles that could lock out competitors. You might reference things like high material costs, intellectual property your company owns, or a unique geographical area you service.

Financials That Add Up

The ultimate goal of an investor is to make money. They want to know how much profit they can expect for the amount of ownership they buy. The more specific you can be, the better. Project how much revenue you’ll expect to generate in the  next five years , and break it down further than that if you can (e.g., monthly income).

There are a lot of factors that influence the revenue your company will make. When you’re  projecting your company’s future earnings , take into account things like your expenses, your price points, and how often you think your target customers will buy from you. Compensate for the future costs of growing your new business. If you’re an artist, for example, you might plan to move into a larger studio after two years. You can’t predict the future, so you’ll adjust your financial projections as your business runs.

Before you can sell part of your company to an investor, you’ll need to estimate what your company is worth. There are several methods for evaluating your business’ worth. One way is to research the amount that similar businesses have sold for recently. Still, accurately valuing your company can be complicated. It might be best to seek the help of a qualified business appraiser. Potential investors will need to agree on your valuation.

Investors want to see finances that make sense. If you tell an investor that they can expect to make $500,000 in five years by purchasing 15% of your company, you’d better have the numbers on your financial statement to back it up.

Attracting Investor Attention

To make the most of their money, investors look for businesses with smart leadership, clear goals, solid financial plans and records, and a competitive edge. If you want backing, you need to communicate that your business idea has all four components. Drafting a great business plan is the first step toward getting an investor’s attention.

That doesn’t mean it’s the only way to get on an investor’s radar. Methods like networking are still important and can help you build the right connections to get your business funded. In fact, venture capital firms rarely let business owners they don’t have mutual connections with to the pitch deck. Use every strategy you can.

You love running your small business, but it seems like the work is never-ending.   ZenBusiness  has great resources that will make taking on your administration much easier. This is your dream; don’t let extra paperwork take the fun out of it.

Investor-Ready Business Plan FAQs

How do you write a business plan for an investor?

Clearly lay out the amount an investor can expect to make, the direction your company is headed, how your services will be successful, and the qualifications of your team. These elements will help inspire the confidence of an investor.

What does the business plan show to your investors?

A good business plan shows investors that you’re for real. You’ve taken the time to meticulously plan out your future successful business and you’ll be more likely to make them a profit.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a roadmap for every aspect of your business. It introduces your company, staff, and product. It also analyzes your market research and explains the company’s financial situation.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional .

Written by Team ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness has helped people start, run, and grow over 500,000 dream companies . The editorial team at ZenBusiness has over 20 years of collective small business publishing experience and is composed of business formation experts who are dedicated to empowering and educating entrepreneurs about owning a company.

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investor startup business plan

How to make a business plan

Strategic planning in Miro

Table of Contents

How to make a good business plan: step-by-step guide.

A business plan is a strategic roadmap used to navigate the challenging journey of entrepreneurship. It's the foundation upon which you build a successful business.

A well-crafted business plan can help you define your vision, clarify your goals, and identify potential problems before they arise.

But where do you start? How do you create a business plan that sets you up for success?

This article will explore the step-by-step process of creating a comprehensive business plan.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document that outlines a business's objectives, strategies, and operational procedures. It typically includes the following information about a company:

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

A business plan serves as a roadmap for a company's success and provides a blueprint for its growth and development. It helps entrepreneurs and business owners organize their ideas, evaluate the feasibility, and identify potential challenges and opportunities.

As well as serving as a guide for business owners, a business plan can attract investors and secure funding. It demonstrates the company's understanding of the market, its ability to generate revenue and profits, and its strategy for managing risks and achieving success.

Business plan vs. business model canvas

A business plan may seem similar to a business model canvas, but each document serves a different purpose.

A business model canvas is a high-level overview that helps entrepreneurs and business owners quickly test and iterate their ideas. It is often a one-page document that briefly outlines the following:

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

On the other hand, a Business Plan Template provides a more in-depth analysis of a company's strategy and operations. It is typically a lengthy document and requires significant time and effort to develop.

A business model shouldn’t replace a business plan, and vice versa. Business owners should lay the foundations and visually capture the most important information with a Business Model Canvas Template . Because this is a fast and efficient way to communicate a business idea, a business model canvas is a good starting point before developing a more comprehensive business plan.

A business plan can aim to secure funding from investors or lenders, while a business model canvas communicates a business idea to potential customers or partners.

Why is a business plan important?

A business plan is crucial for any entrepreneur or business owner wanting to increase their chances of success.

Here are some of the many benefits of having a thorough business plan.

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

A business plan encourages you to think critically about your goals and objectives. Doing so lets you clearly understand what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.

A well-defined set of goals, objectives, and key results also provides a sense of direction and purpose, which helps keep business owners focused and motivated.

Guides decision-making

A business plan requires you to consider different scenarios and potential problems that may arise in your business. This awareness allows you to devise strategies to deal with these issues and avoid pitfalls.

With a clear plan, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions aligning with their overall business goals and objectives. This helps reduce the risk of making costly mistakes and ensures they make decisions with long-term success in mind.

Attracts investors and secures funding

Investors and lenders often require a business plan before considering investing in your business. A document that outlines the company's goals, objectives, and financial forecasts can help instill confidence in potential investors and lenders.

A well-written business plan demonstrates that you have thoroughly thought through your business idea and have a solid plan for success.

Identifies potential challenges and risks

A business plan requires entrepreneurs to consider potential challenges and risks that could impact their business. For example:

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

By identifying these potential challenges, entrepreneurs can develop strategies to mitigate risks and overcome challenges. This can reduce the likelihood of costly mistakes and ensure the business is well-positioned to take on any challenges.

Provides a basis for measuring success

A business plan serves as a framework for measuring success by providing clear goals and financial projections . Entrepreneurs can regularly refer to the original business plan as a benchmark to measure progress. By comparing the current business position to initial forecasts, business owners can answer questions such as:

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

If not, why not, and what do we need to do?

After assessing whether the business is meeting its objectives or falling short, business owners can adjust their strategies as needed.

How to make a business plan step by step

The steps below will guide you through the process of creating a business plan and what key components you need to include.

1. Create an executive summary

Start with a brief overview of your entire plan. The executive summary should cover your business plan's main points and key takeaways.

Keep your executive summary concise and clear with the Executive Summary Template . The simple design helps readers understand the crux of your business plan without reading the entire document.

2. Write your company description

Provide a detailed explanation of your company. Include information on what your company does, the mission statement, and your vision for the future.

Provide additional background information on the history of your company, the founders, and any notable achievements or milestones.

3. Conduct a market analysis

Conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry, competitors, and target market. This is best done with a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Next, identify your target market's needs, demographics, and behaviors.

Use the Competitive Analysis Template to brainstorm answers to simple questions like:

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

These questions should give you valuable insights into the current market and where your business stands.

4. Describe your products and services

Provide detailed information about your products and services. This includes pricing information, product features, and any unique selling points.

Use the Product/Market Fit Template to explain how your products meet the needs of your target market. Describe what sets them apart from the competition.

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

Outline how you plan to promote and sell your products. Your marketing strategy and sales strategy should include information about your:

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

The Go to Market Strategy Template is a great way to visually map how you plan to launch your product or service in a new or existing market.

6. Determine budget and financial projections

Document detailed information on your business’ finances. Describe the current financial position of the company and how you expect the finances to play out.

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

Define how your company is structured and who will be responsible for each aspect of the business. Use the Business Organizational Chart Template to visually map the company’s teams, roles, and hierarchy.

As well as the organization and management structure, discuss the legal structure of your business. Clarify whether your business is a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or LLC.

8. Make an action plan

At this point in your business plan, you’ve described what you’re aiming for. But how are you going to get there? The Action Plan Template describes the following steps to move your business plan forward. Outline the next steps you plan to take to bring your business plan to fruition.

Types of business plans

Several types of business plans cater to different purposes and stages of a company's lifecycle. Here are some of the most common types of business plans.

Startup business plan

A startup business plan is typically an entrepreneur's first business plan. This document helps entrepreneurs articulate their business idea when starting a new business.

Not sure how to make a business plan for a startup? It’s pretty similar to a regular business plan, except the primary purpose of a startup business plan is to convince investors to provide funding for the business. A startup business plan also outlines the potential target market, product/service offering, marketing plan, and financial projections.

Strategic business plan

A strategic business plan is a long-term plan that outlines a company's overall strategy, objectives, and tactics. This type of strategic plan focuses on the big picture and helps business owners set goals and priorities and measure progress.

The primary purpose of a strategic business plan is to provide direction and guidance to the company's management team and stakeholders. The plan typically covers a period of three to five years.

Operational business plan

An operational business plan is a detailed document that outlines the day-to-day operations of a business. It focuses on the specific activities and processes required to run the business, such as:

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

The primary purpose of an operational business plan is to ensure that the business runs efficiently and effectively. It helps business owners manage their resources, track their performance, and identify areas for improvement.

Growth-business plan

A growth-business plan is a strategic plan that outlines how a company plans to expand its business. It helps business owners identify new market opportunities and increase revenue and profitability. The primary purpose of a growth-business plan is to provide a roadmap for the company's expansion and growth.

The 3 Horizons of Growth Template is a great tool to identify new areas of growth. This framework categorizes growth opportunities into three categories: Horizon 1 (core business), Horizon 2 (emerging business), and Horizon 3 (potential business).

One-page business plan

A one-page business plan is a condensed version of a full business plan that focuses on the most critical aspects of a business. It’s a great tool for entrepreneurs who want to quickly communicate their business idea to potential investors, partners, or employees.

A one-page business plan typically includes sections such as business concept, value proposition, revenue streams, and cost structure.

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

A template can help you organize your thoughts and effectively communicate your business ideas and strategies. Starting with a template can also save you time and effort when formatting your plan.

Miro’s extensive library of customizable templates includes all the necessary sections for a comprehensive business plan. With our templates, you can confidently present your business plans to stakeholders and investors.

Be practical

Avoid overestimating revenue projections or underestimating expenses. Your business plan should be grounded in practical realities like your budget, resources, and capabilities.

Be specific

Provide as much detail as possible in your business plan. A specific plan is easier to execute because it provides clear guidance on what needs to be done and how. Without specific details, your plan may be too broad or vague, making it difficult to know where to start or how to measure success.

Be thorough with your research

Conduct thorough research to fully understand the market, your competitors, and your target audience . By conducting thorough research, you can identify potential risks and challenges your business may face and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Get input from others

It can be easy to become overly focused on your vision and ideas, leading to tunnel vision and a lack of objectivity. By seeking input from others, you can identify potential opportunities you may have overlooked.

Review and revise regularly

A business plan is a living document. You should update it regularly to reflect market, industry, and business changes. Set aside time for regular reviews and revisions to ensure your plan remains relevant and effective.

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

Starting or growing a business can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, a well-written business plan can make or break your business’ success.

The purpose of a business plan is more than just to secure funding and attract investors. It also serves as a roadmap for achieving your business goals and realizing your vision. With the right mindset, tools, and strategies, you can develop a visually appealing, persuasive business plan.

Ready to make an effective business plan that works for you? Check out our library of ready-made strategy and planning templates and chart your path to success.

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Write your business plan

Business plans help you run your business.

A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.

Business plans can help you get funding or bring on new business partners. Investors want to feel confident they’ll see a return on their investment. Your business plan is the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.

Pick a business plan format that works for you

There’s no right or wrong way to write a business plan. What’s important is that your plan meets your needs.

Most business plans fall into one of two common categories: traditional or lean startup.

Traditional business plans are more common, use a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. They tend to require more work upfront and can be dozens of pages long.

Lean startup business plans are less common but still use a standard structure. They focus on summarizing only the most important points of the key elements of your plan. They can take as little as one hour to make and are typically only one page.

Traditional business plan

write traditional plan

Lean startup plan

A lean business plan is quicker but high-level

Traditional business plan format

You might prefer a traditional business plan format if you’re very detail-oriented, want a comprehensive plan, or plan to request financing from traditional sources.

When you write your business plan, you don’t have to stick to the exact business plan outline. Instead, use the sections that make the most sense for your business and your needs. Traditional business plans use some combination of these nine sections.

Executive summary

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

Company description

Use your company description to provide detailed information about your company. Go into detail about the problems your business solves. Be specific, and list out the consumers, organization, or businesses your company plans to serve.

Explain the competitive advantages that will make your business a success. Are there experts on your team? Have you found the perfect location for your store? Your company description is the place to boast about your strengths.

Market analysis

You'll need a good understanding of your industry outlook and target market. Competitive research will show you what other businesses are doing and what their strengths are. In your market research, look for trends and themes. What do successful competitors do? Why does it work? Can you do it better? Now's the time to answer these questions.

Organization and management

Tell your reader how your company will be structured and who will run it.

Describe the  legal structure  of your business. State whether you have or intend to incorporate your business as a C or an S corporation, form a general or limited partnership, or if you're a sole proprietor or limited liability company (LLC).

Use an organizational chart to lay out who's in charge of what in your company. Show how each person's unique experience will contribute to the success of your venture. Consider including resumes and CVs of key members of your team.

Service or product line

Describe what you sell or what service you offer. Explain how it benefits your customers and what the product lifecycle looks like. Share your plans for intellectual property, like copyright or patent filings. If you're doing  research and development  for your service or product, explain it in detail.

Marketing and sales

There's no single way to approach a marketing strategy. Your strategy should evolve and change to fit your unique needs.

Your goal in this section is to describe how you'll attract and retain customers. You'll also describe how a sale will actually happen. You'll refer to this section later when you make financial projections, so make sure to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales strategies.

Funding request

If you're asking for funding, this is where you'll outline your funding requirements. Your goal is to clearly explain how much funding you’ll need over the next five years and what you'll use it for.

Specify whether you want debt or equity, the terms you'd like applied, and the length of time your request will cover. Give a detailed description of how you'll use your funds. Specify if you need funds to buy equipment or materials, pay salaries, or cover specific bills until revenue increases. Always include a description of your future strategic financial plans, like paying off debt or selling your business.

Financial projections

Supplement your funding request with financial projections. Your goal is to convince the reader that your business is stable and will be a financial success.

If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral you could put against a loan, make sure to list it now.

Provide a prospective financial outlook for the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets. For the first year, be even more specific and use quarterly — or even monthly — projections. Make sure to clearly explain your projections, and match them to your funding requests.

This is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business.  

Use your appendix to provide supporting documents or other materials were specially requested. Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts.

Example traditional business plans

Before you write your business plan, read the following example business plans written by fictional business owners. Rebecca owns a consulting firm, and Andrew owns a toy company.

Lean startup format

You might prefer a lean startup format if you want to explain or start your business quickly, your business is relatively simple, or you plan to regularly change and refine your business plan.

Lean startup formats are charts that use only a handful of elements to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. They’re useful for visualizing tradeoffs and fundamental facts about your company.

There are different ways to develop a lean startup template. You can search the web to find free templates to build your business plan. We discuss nine components of a model business plan here:

Key partnerships

Note the other businesses or services you’ll work with to run your business. Think about suppliers, manufacturers, subcontractors, and similar strategic partners.

Key activities

List the ways your business will gain a competitive advantage. Highlight things like selling direct to consumers, or using technology to tap into the sharing economy.

Key resources

List any resource you’ll leverage to create value for your customer. Your most important assets could include staff, capital, or intellectual property. Don’t forget to leverage business resources that might be available to  women ,  veterans ,  Native Americans , and  HUBZone businesses .

Value proposition

Make a clear and compelling statement about the unique value your company brings to the market.

Customer relationships

Describe how customers will interact with your business. Is it automated or personal? In person or online? Think through the customer experience from start to finish.

Customer segments

Be specific when you name your target market. Your business won’t be for everybody, so it’s important to have a clear sense of whom your business will serve.

List the most important ways you’ll talk to your customers. Most businesses use a mix of channels and optimize them over time.

Cost structure

Will your company focus on reducing cost or maximizing value? Define your strategy, then list the most significant costs you’ll face pursuing it.

Revenue streams

Explain how your company will actually make money. Some examples are direct sales, memberships fees, and selling advertising space. If your company has multiple revenue streams, list them all.

Example lean business plan

Before you write your business plan, read this example business plan written by a fictional business owner, Andrew, who owns a toy company.

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7 Things Investors Are Looking for in a Business Plan

7 Things Investors Are Looking for in a Business Plan

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A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s mission, goals, finances, revenue, and market data.

The primary purpose of a business plan is to convince banks and/or investors to loan you money, but there are several other benefits.

Business plans help create accountability within an organization, offer a holistic view of the company, and can repeatedly be used as a frame of reference.

Ultimately, a business plan mitigates risk. It summarizes all business areas and details how those areas ( marketing , operations) impact growth.

And there’s no way around it; if you want to fund from an investor, especially if you’re just starting your business , you need a business plan.

Any entrepreneur would be lucky to meet with an angel investor or venture capitalist. But the initial pitch, meeting, and presentation are all the tip of the iceberg.

What comes next is most important.

The potential investor will want a detailed business plan and will conduct due diligence to ensure you’re a worthy investment. With that in mind, here’s what investors are looking for in a business plan:

Strong Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first portion of your business plan and should be captivating enough to give a solid first impression.

Think of your executive summary as your website landing page. If visitors come to your website and can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the next best thing.

Your executive summary should introduce the company and explain what you do and what makes you unique. It gives investors a complete overview of your business and should summarize key details in other business plan sections. This section is typically one page long and should be written last.

Start your executive summary by introducing yourself; follow up with an explanation of why your business matters and how it fills a gap in the market or solves a particular problem. Take a business plan example for inspiration for writing a practical executive summary.

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Complete Financial Forecast

Whether you have no sales or are generating revenue in the hundreds of thousands, every investor will scrutinize your financial plan to determine financial feasibility accurately. This section of your plan needs to be fully fleshed out and leave no grey area or room for further questions.

It’s essential to put yourself in the shoes of an investor. Based on your financial outlook, do you see yourself as a risky or promising investment? Your financial forecast should include the following:

Projected profit and loss statement Projects how much revenue you’ll generate and the profit you’ll make on those sales

Break-even analysis A detailed look at how many products you need to sell to cover fixed and variable production costs

Projected balance sheet Estimate of total assets and liabilities

Cash flow statement Details all cash inflows and outflows

Business ratios Calculations that illustrate the relationship between items (i.e., total sales and the number of employees).

To accurately build out your financial forecast, you must assess your market share (your market research section is also crucial to investors). Start from the bottom by highlighting your total addressable market and the percentage you’ll be targeting. Then you can dive a little deeper by outlining your segmented addressable market and share of the market. Investing sites can also help you better perceive the state of the market and other data for a more accurate forecast.

Want free financial templates for your business plan?

You will find a terrific collection of important templates, including a SWOT analysis, sales forecast template, profit and loss template, cash flow template, and balance sheet template, in this comprehensive guide on how to write a business plan.

investor startup business plan

Customer Acquisition Costs

Investors want to know how much it will cost to acquire new customers.

Understanding your customer acquisition costs (CAC) helps you grow healthy and scalable and shows investors that you know exactly what it takes to get a customer on board.

Knowing your CAC is more important than ever; the cost of acquiring new customers has increased by 60% over the past five years .

Customer acquisition costs are determined by examining the total cost of sales and marketing necessary to acquire new customers. You can calculate your CAC by dividing the total cost of marketing and sales by the number of customers acquired.

Your CAC can also help simplify your decision-making process, optimize your marketing strategies to focus on customer lifetime value, and paint a complete picture of your payback period (the amount of time it takes to recover the cost of an investment).

Strong Execution

A business plan is like an image. And as the age-old saying goes, “An image is worth a thousand words.”

Similarly, your business plan reveals much about who you are as a business owner. Let’s say that you have strong sales and an optimistic financial forecast. Is your business plan missing the necessary documentation and data points that support this? Is it rife with grammatical errors and improper formatting?

Execution is telling. How you communicate your business and your mission is just as important as the details within the plan. A hastily written or ambiguous business plan will result in more questions and hesitance.

If you can’t take the time to write a solid business plan, what else will you take shortcuts on?

The Financial Ask & Answer

The financial ask and answer addresses two crucial questions: How much money are you asking for, and what will you do with it?

The investment you’re seeking should be clear in your business plan (typically mentioned in the executive summary and expounded upon in the financial plan). How you intend to use the money should also be clear and logical.

Investors need to know that you’ll spend their money responsibly and that there’s proof that how you spend the money will result in revenue growth. Every dollar should be allocated to a specific destination for a good reason.

For instance, you cannot ask for a $500,000 investment without explaining how and why you arrived at this number. The business plan in the below example of a functional company called Culina states how much they’re asking for and why. In this case, Culina is raising $15 million to ramp up hardware manufacturing, improve UX and UI, expand marketing efforts, and fulfill pre-orders before the holiday season.

section of business plan

Strong Management

Your business plan should prove that you have a strong management team.

Many investors run their portfolios with a people-first mentality. This means that who you are is just as important as what you offer. Your business plan’s “Management” or “Team” section is great for humanizing your company and highlighting your strengths.

What makes your team especially capable of running and guiding this business toward profitability? What’s your background? Have you won any awards or participated in any incubator programs? Do you have relevant experience (either in running a business or working in the industry)?

Answer these questions to show investors that you’re uniquely qualified to lead.

Thorough Understanding of Your Market

Is there a market for your product or service, how can you reach your market, and what share of the market do you have a stronghold on?

Demonstrating a thorough understanding of your market and target demographic is crucial. Many businesses have failed because they didn’t conduct market research or speak to their customers and clients. Product validation should precede fundraising efforts.

“Market size” is a basic number that every investor looks for. Your competitive analysis , market research, metrics, and customer surveys should all be factored into the equation.

If you’re struggling to understand your market and position, you can start by gathering primary data from the Census and Labor Bureau. Many industries also have formal associations and publish their research online. You can purchase these studies or commission a market research firm to spearhead your research.

An interested investor can make or break your business and should be taken seriously. You wouldn’t rush through an Ivy League college application and shouldn’t submit a hastily written business plan.

Take the time to detail every aspect of your business and consider working with a business plan writer to ensure you communicate your message effectively. If an investor is impressed with your business plan, chances are you’ll score pivotal funding.

investor startup business plan

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Free Startup Business Plan Templates and Examples

By Joe Weller | May 6, 2020

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In this article, we’ve rounded up a variety of the top, professionally designed startup business plan templates, all of which are free to download in PDF, Word, and Excel formats.

Included on this page, you’ll find a one-page startup business plan template , a business plan outline template for startups , a startup business planning template with a timeline , and a sample startup business plan .

Startup Business Plan Template

investor startup business plan

Download Startup Business Plan Template - Word

Word | Smartsheet

This startup business plan template contains the essential components you need to convey your business idea and strategy to investors and stakeholders, but you can customize this template to fit your needs. The template provides room to include an executive summary, a financial overview, a marketing strategy, details on product or service offerings, and more.

One-Page Startup Business Plan Template

One Page Business Plan For Start Up Template

Download One-Page Startup Business Plan Template

Excel | Word | PDF

This one-page business plan is ideal for startup companies that want to document and organize key business concepts. The template offers an easy-to-scan layout that’s ideal for investors and stakeholders. Use this plan to create a high-level view of your business idea and as a reference as you flesh out a more detailed roadmap for your business.

For additional resources, visit " Free One-Page Business Plan Templates with a Quick How-To Guide ."

Simple Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Template for Startups

Simple Fill In The Blank Business Plan Template

Download Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Business Plan Template for Startups

This comprehensive fill-in-the-blank business plan template is designed to guide entrepreneurs through the process of building a startup business plan. This template comes with a customizable cover page and table of contents, and each section includes sample content that you can modify to fit the needs of your business. For more fill-in business templates, read our  "Free Fill-In-the-Blank Business Plan Templates"  article.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

This Lean business plan template takes a traditional business plan outline and extracts the most essential elements. Use this template to outline your company and industry overview, convey the problem you are solving, identify customer segments, highlight key performance metrics, and list a timeline of key activities.

Business Plan Outline Template for Startups

Simple Business Plan Outline Template

Download Business Plan Outline Template for Startups

You can use this business plan outline as a basis to create your own business plan. This template contains all the elements of a traditional business plan, including a title page, a table of contents, and information on what to include in each section. Simplify or expand this outline based on the size and needs of your startup business.

Startup Business Planning Template with Timeline

Simple Business Planning Template with Timeline

Download Startup Business Planning Template with Timeline

Excel | Smartsheet

As you create your business plan, this business planning template doubles as a schedule and timeline to track the progress of key activities. This template enables you to break down your plan into phases and provides space to include key tasks and dates for each task. For a visual timeline, shade in the cells according to each task’s start and end dates. The timeline ensures that your plan stays on track.

Business Plan Rubric Template for Startups

investor startup business plan

Download Business Plan Rubric Template for Startups

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

If you’re starting a business and want to keep all your ducks in a row, use this rubric to evaluate and score each aspect of your startup business plan. You can tailor this template to the needs of your specific business, and can also highlight areas of your plan that require improvement or expansion. Use this template as a tool to make sure your plan is clear, articulate, and organized. A sharp, insightful, well thought-out plan will definitely get the attention of potential investors and partners.

For additional resources to help support your business planning efforts, check out “Free Startup Plan, Budget, and Cost Templates.”

What’s the Best Business Plan Template for Startups?

The template you choose for your startup business depends on a number of factors, including the size and specific needs of your company. Moreover, as your business grows and your objectives change, you will need to adjust your plan (and possibly your choice of template) accordingly. 

Some entrepreneurs find it useful to use a Lean business plan template design in order to jot down a business concept and see if it’s feasible before pursuing it further. Typically one to three pages, a Lean business plan template encourages you to highlight core ideas and strategic activities and remain focused on key points.

Other entrepreneurs prefer a template with a more traditional business plan design, which allows you to go into greater detail and ensure you include every detail. A traditional plan can range from 10 to 100 pages and cover both the high-level and granular particulars of your overall concept, objectives, and strategy.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the following section outlines the minimum that your business plan template should include in order to gain buy-in from potential investors.

What to Include in a Startup Business Plan

Whether you choose to use a template to develop your startup business plan or decide to write one from scratch, you need to include the following elements:

  • An overview of your company and the industry in which it operates
  • The problem you are solving and the proposed solution
  • A description of your product or service offerings, including key features
  • The existing alternatives that customers use and your competitive advantage
  • The target customer segments and the channels you will use to reach them
  • The cost structure and revenue streams associated with your business
  • A financial plan, including sales and revenue projections (ideally 3-5 years)
  • If applicable, the financial requirements to get your business running, including how you will source and allocate funds

Each of the following sections provides an example of a business plan that you can use for reference as you develop your own.

One-Page Lean Business Plan Example

This Lean business plan example displays a visually appealing and scannable one-page illustration of a business plan. It conveys the key strategies you need to meet your main objectives. Each element of this concise plan provides stakeholders and potential investors with links to resources that support and expand upon the plan’s details, and it can also serve as an investor pitch deck.

One Page Business Plan Example

Startup Business Plan Sample

This business plan sample contains all the aspects of a standard business plan. Using a fictional food truck business as the basis for a startup business plan, this sample will give you all the ideas you need to make your plan outstanding.

Basic Business Plan Sample

Download Startup Business Plan Sample - PDF

When the time comes that you need more space to lay out your goals and strategies, choose from our variety of  free simple business plan templates . You can learn how to write a successful simple business plan  here . 

Visit this  free non-profit business plan template roundup  or of you are looking for a business plan template by file type, visit our pages dedicated specifically to  Microsoft Excel ,  Microsoft Word , and  Adobe PDF  business plan templates. Read our articles offering  free 30-60-90-day business plan templates  to find more tailored options.

Top 10 Tips to Create a Startup Business Plan

Putting together a business plan can be overwhelming and time consuming, especially if you aren’t sure where to begin. Below, we share tips you can use to help simplify the process of developing a startup business plan of your own. 

  • Use a business plan template, or begin with a business plan outline that provides all the elements of a standard plan to get your ideas down on paper in a structured manner. (You can choose from the selection of templates above.)  
  • Remove sections from your outline that aren’t relevant or that aren’t necessary to launch and operate your business.
  • Compile the data you have gathered on your business and industry, including research on your target market and product or service offerings, details on the competitive landscape, and a financial plan that anticipates the next three to five years. Use that information to fill in the sections of your plan outline. 
  • Get input and feedback from team members (e.g., finance, marketing, sales) and subject matter experts to ensure that the information you’ve included in the plan is accurate.
  • Make certain that the objectives of your plan align with marketing, sales, and financial goals to ensure that all team members are moving in the same direction.
  • Although this section of the plan comes first, write the executive summary last to provide an overview of the key points in your business plan.
  • Prepare a pitch deck for potential clients, partners, or investors with whom you plan to meet in order to share vital information about your business, including what sets you apart and the direction you are headed. 
  • Who are the founders and management executives, and what relevant experience do they bring to the table?
  • What is the problem you are solving, and how is your solution better than what currently exists? 
  • What’s the size of the market, and how much market share do you plan to capture?
  • What are the trends in your market, and how are you applying them to your business?
  • Who are your direct competitors, and what is your competitive advantage?
  • What are the key features of your product or service that set it apart from alternative offerings, and what features do you plan to add in the future?
  • What are the potential risks associated with your business, and how do you plan to address them?
  • How much money do you need to get your business running, and how do you plan to source it?
  • With the money you source, how do you plan to use it to scale your business?
  • What are the key performance metrics associated with your business, and how will you know when you’re successful?
  • Revisit and modify your plan on a regular basis as your goals and strategies evolve.
  • Use a work collaboration tool that keeps key information across teams in one place, allows you to track plan progress, and captures updates in real time.

Successfully Implement Your Startup Business Plan with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

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

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

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

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

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  • Sample Business Plans

Investment Company Business Plan

Executive summary image

The possibility for substantial financial gains is one of the main advantages of an investment company. As the company expands and gains customers, it has the potential to generate large fees and commissions based on investment portfolios.

Are you looking for the same rewards? Then go on with planning everything first.

Need help writing a business plan for your investment company? You’re at the right place. Our investment company business plan template will help you get started.

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Free Business Plan Template

Download our free business plan template now and pave the way to success. Let’s turn your vision into an actionable strategy!

  • Fill in the blanks – Outline
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How to Write An Investment Company Business Plan?

Writing an investment company business plan is a crucial step toward the success of your business. Here are the key steps to consider when writing a business plan:

1. Executive Summary

An executive summary is the first section planned to offer an overview of the entire business plan. However, it is written after the entire business plan is ready and summarizes each section of your plan.

Here are a few key components to include in your executive summary:

Introduce your Business:

Start your executive summary by briefly introducing your business to your readers.

Market Opportunity:

Products and services:.

Highlight the investment company services you offer your clients. The USPs and differentiators you offer are always a plus.

Marketing & Sales Strategies:

Financial highlights:, call to action:.

Ensure your executive summary is clear, concise, easy to understand, and jargon-free.

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2. Business Overview

The business overview section of your business plan offers detailed information about your company. The details you add will depend on how important they are to your business. Yet, business name, location, business history, and future goals are some of the foundational elements you must consider adding to this section:

Business Description:

Describe your business in this section by providing all the basic information:

Describe what kind of investment company you run and the name of it. You may specialize in one of the following investment businesses:

  • Mutual fund companies
  • Venture capital funds
  • Private equity funds
  • Asset management companies
  • Pension fund managers
  • Describe the legal structure of your investment company, whether it is a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, or others.
  • Explain where your business is located and why you selected the place.

Mission Statement:

Business history:.

If you’re an established investment company, briefly describe your business history, like—when it was founded, how it evolved over time, etc.

Future Goals:

This section should provide a thorough understanding of your business, its history, and its future plans. Keep this section engaging, precise, and to the point.

3. Market Analysis

The market analysis section of your business plan should offer a thorough understanding of the industry with the target market, competitors, and growth opportunities. You should include the following components in this section.

Target market:

Start this section by describing your target market. Define your ideal customer and explain what types of services they prefer. Creating a buyer persona will help you easily define your target market to your readers.

Market size and growth potential:

Describe your market size and growth potential and whether you will target a niche or a much broader market.

Competitive Analysis:

Market trends:.

Analyze emerging trends in the industry, such as technology disruptions, changes in customer behavior or preferences, etc. Explain how your business will cope with all the trends.

Regulatory Environment:

Here are a few tips for writing the market analysis section of your investment company business plan:

  • Conduct market research, industry reports, and surveys to gather data.
  • Provide specific and detailed information whenever possible.
  • Illustrate your points with charts and graphs.
  • Write your business plan keeping your target audience in mind.

4. Products And Services

The product and services section should describe the specific services and products that will be offered to customers. To write this section should include the following:

Describe your services:

Mention the investment company services your business will offer. This list may include services like,

  • Portfolio management
  • Financial planning
  • Investment research and analysis
  • Wealth management
  • Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds

Investment advisory services:

Additional services:.

In short, this section of your investment business plan must be informative, precise, and client-focused. By providing a clear and compelling description of your offerings, you can help potential investors and readers understand the value of your business.

5. Sales And Marketing Strategies

Writing the sales and marketing strategies section means a list of strategies you will use to attract and retain your clients. Here are some key elements to include in your sales & marketing plan:

Unique Selling Proposition (USP):

Define your business’s USPs depending on the market you serve, the equipment you use, and the unique services you provide. Identifying USPs will help you plan your marketing strategies.

Pricing Strategy:

Marketing strategies:, sales strategies:, customer retention:.

Overall, this section of your investment company business plan should focus on customer acquisition and retention.

Have a specific, realistic, and data-driven approach while planning sales and marketing strategies for your investment business, and be prepared to adapt or make strategic changes in your strategies based on feedback and results.

6. Operations Plan

The operations plan section of your business plan should outline the processes and procedures involved in your business operations, such as staffing requirements and operational processes. Here are a few components to add to your operations plan:

Staffing & Training:

Operational process:, equipment & software:.

Include the list of equipment and software required for investment business, such as servers & data storage, network equipment, trading platforms, customer relationship management software, portfolio management software, etc.

Adding these components to your operations plan will help you lay out your business operations, which will eventually help you manage your business effectively.

7. Management Team

The management team section provides an overview of your investment business’s management team. This section should provide a detailed description of each manager’s experience and qualifications, as well as their responsibilities and roles.

Founders/CEO:

Key managers:.

Introduce your management and key members of your team, and explain their roles and responsibilities.

Organizational structure:

Compensation plan:, advisors/consultants:.

Mentioning advisors or consultants in your business plans adds credibility to your business idea.

This section should describe the key personnel for your investment company, highlighting how you have the perfect team to succeed.

8. Financial Plan

Your financial plan section should provide a summary of your business’s financial projections for the first few years. Here are some key elements to include in your financial plan:

Profit & loss statement:

Cash flow statement:, balance sheet:, break-even point:.

Determine and mention your business’s break-even point—the point at which your business costs and revenue will be equal.

Financing Needs:

Be realistic with your financial projections, and make sure you offer relevant information and evidence to support your estimates.

9. Appendix

The appendix section of your plan should include any additional information supporting your business plan’s main content, such as market research, legal documentation, financial statements, and other relevant information.

  • Add a table of contents for the appendix section to help readers easily find specific information or sections.
  • In addition to your financial statements, provide additional financial documents like tax returns, a list of assets within the business, credit history, and more. These statements must be the latest and offer financial projections for at least the first three or five years of business operations
  • Provide data derived from market research, including stats about the industry, user demographics, and industry trends.
  • Include any legal documents such as permits, licenses, and contracts.
  • Include any additional documentation related to your business plan, such as product brochures, marketing materials, operational procedures, etc.

Use clear headings and labels for each section of the appendix so that readers can easily find the necessary information.

Remember, the appendix section of your investment firm business plan should only include relevant and important information supporting your plan’s main content.

The Quickest Way to turn a Business Idea into a Business Plan

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This sample investment company business plan will provide an idea for writing a successful investment company plan, including all the essential components of your business.

After this, if you still need clarification about writing an investment-ready business plan to impress your audience, download our investment company business plan pdf .

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Frequently asked questions, why do you need an investment company business plan.

A business plan is an essential tool for anyone looking to start or run a successful investment business. It helps to get clarity in your business, secures funding, and identifies potential challenges while starting and growing your business.

Overall, a well-written plan can help you make informed decisions, which can contribute to the long-term success of your investment company.

How to get funding for your investment company?

There are several ways to get funding for your investment company, but self-funding is one of the most efficient and speedy funding options. Other options for funding are:

Small Business Administration (SBA) loan

Crowdfunding, angel investors.

Apart from all these options, there are small business grants available, check for the same in your location and you can apply for it.

Where to find business plan writers for your investment company?

There are many business plan writers available, but no one knows your business and ideas better than you, so we recommend you write your investment company business plan and outline your vision as you have in your mind.

What is the easiest way to write your investment company business plan?

A lot of research is necessary for writing a business plan, but you can write your plan most efficiently with the help of any investment company business plan example and edit it as per your need. You can also quickly finish your plan in just a few hours or less with the help of our business plan software .

About the Author

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Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, 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.

investor startup business plan

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A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

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

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

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

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

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

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Investment Company Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

investment company business plan

Investment Company Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their investment companies. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through an investment company business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What is an Investment Company Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your investment company as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan for an Investment Company

If you’re looking to start an investment company, or grow your existing investment company, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your investment company in order to improve your chances of success. Your business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Investment Companies

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for an investment company are bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Investors, grants, personal investments, and bank loans are the most common funding paths for investment companies.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

How to write a business plan for an investment company.

If you want to start an investment company or expand your current one, you need a business plan. Below we detail what you should include in each section of your own business plan:

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of investment company you are operating and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have an investment company that you would like to grow, or are you operating investment companies in multiple markets?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your business plan. For example, give a brief overview of the investment company industry. Discuss the type of investment company you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.  

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of investment company you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of investment companies:

  • Closed-End Funds Investment Company : this type of investment company issues a fixed number of shares through a single IPO to raise capital for its initial investments.
  • Mutual Funds (Open-End Funds) Investment Company: this type of investment company is a diversified portfolio of pooled investor money that can issue an unlimited number of shares.
  • Unit Investment Trusts (UITs) Investment Company: this type of investment company offers a fixed portfolio, generally of stocks and bonds, as redeemable units to investors for a specific period of time.

In addition to explaining the type of investment company you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of investments made, number of client positive reviews, reaching X amount of clients invested for, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the investment industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the investment industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your business plan:

  • How big is the investment industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your investment company? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: companies or employees in specific industries, couples with double income, families with kids, small business owners, etc.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of investment company you operate. Clearly, couples with families and double income would respond to different marketing promotions than corporations, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other investment companies.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes robo investors and advisors, company 401Ks, etc. You need to mention such competition as well.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other investment companies with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be investment companies located very close to your location.

investment competition

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What types of clients do they serve?
  • What type of investment company are they and what certifications do they have?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide better investment strategies?
  • Will you provide services that your competitors don’t offer?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For an investment company, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of company that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to an investment company, will you provide insurance products, website and app accessibility, quarterly or annual investment reviews, and any other services?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location of your company. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your investment company located in a busy retail district, a business district, a standalone office, etc. Discuss how your location might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your investment company marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertising in local papers and magazines
  • Commercials and billboards
  • Reaching out to websites
  • Social media marketing
  • Local radio advertising

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your investment company, including researching the stock market, keeping abreast of all investment industry knowledge, updating clients on any new activity, answering client phone calls and emails, networking to attract potential new clients.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to land your Xth client, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your investment business to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your investment company’s ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing investment companies. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing an investment company or successfully advised clients who have achieved a successful net worth.  

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you take on one new client at a time or multiple new clients? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets : Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your investment company, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

business costs

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing an investment company:

  • Cost of investor licensing..
  • Cost of equipment and supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office location lease or list of clients that you have acquired.  

Putting together a business plan for your investment company is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the investment industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful investment company.  

Investment Company Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my investment company business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Investment Company Business Plan.

What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of investment company you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have an investment company that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of investment companies?

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How to Write a Startup Business Plan

May 28, 2022 - 10 min read

Yuvika Iyer

A startup business plan is an outline of your ideas and strategies for what you’ll need to do to start, manage, and even complete your startup’s mission. Creating one might sound simple enough, but because it’s a startup’s roadmap for success, it can be a complex document to create. 

Writing a business plan can make a world of difference for entrepreneurs who desire external funding. It involves determining your target customers, understanding what makes them tick, and figuring out how to reach them through marketing campaigns. 

In this blog post, we’ve explained why you should have a startup business plan, different types of startup business plans, and we’ve included 12 of the most effective tips for writing a startup business plan. If you’re ready to start with now, we have a product launch template to get you started quickly. 

What is a startup business plan?

A startup business plan is a written document that outlines your ideas and strategies for launching, managing, and eventually exiting your new venture. 

A well-constructed business plan can be crucial to the success of any entrepreneurial endeavor . As you prepare your proposal, keep in mind that it will evolve as you learn more about your market.

To start, create an outline of the most important items you'd like feedback on before writing anything down officially.

Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want?
  • Why does my company exist?
  • How will I make money?
  • What are my long-term goals?

A detailed business plan helps you set milestones for measuring success. You can share the plan with investors who may want some reassurance on the viability of their investment in your company.

The best way to create a successful startup business plan is by including everything in an organized and easy-to-read document — marketing strategies, financial projections, team bios, timelines, and more.

What is a lean startup business plan?

A lean startup business plan is a method for developing products that relies on iterative experimentation to reduce uncertainty. 

It has been used by companies such as Google , Amazon, and Facebook in the early stages of their development, and involves testing your idea with real customers early in development.

Lean startups are less likely to fail because they have tested their product or service with live feedback from consumers. Doing this allows them to make changes quickly without wasting resources on something no one wants.

The goal is not to build an extensive business plan but rather a "lean" one that can be changed based on customer feedback and then re-evaluated in regular intervals until it reaches market potential — or fails.

A lean startup business plan is a strategy that focuses on getting a product in front of customers as quickly and cheaply as possible. Use the lean startup business plan to validate your ideas before wasting time and resources.

Why do you need a small startup business plan?

A small startup business plan is one of the most important steps in building a company. Apart from helping you to focus on company goals, it aids in obtaining feedback from potential partners and keeps the team on the same page.

The best thing about starting small? You can change course at any time! If you need help developing or tweaking your small startup business plan, use this guide for entrepreneurs to get started.

You've built a product and you're ready to take the next step, but what's your plan? First, you need a strategy in place. Do you know how much money it will cost, or where exactly that funding should come from? What about marketing strategies for getting customers in the door? 

Mobile image promo promo

You’ll also need to find ways to retain them afterwards so they keep coming back again and again (and spending more).

product launch startup template

Obtain external funding

If you want to get funding from lenders or investors, you need a startup business plan. Lenders want to make sure they're investing in a company that will last and grow.

A well-organized idea shows passion for its purpose and outlines clear goals for helping customers. At the same time, having an exit strategy is also important.

Making a plan for when things don’t pan out as desired lets investors understand how much value there can be while giving customers (and yourself) peace of mind.

Understand your target market

One key piece of your business plan is knowing how to conduct a market analysis. To do this, consider the industry, target market, and competitors. 

Are there any market trends or competitor factors that can affect your business? Review them closely and get ready to make required changes to your business plan.

Prioritize high ROI strategies

In business, ROI is important. Any business that doesn’t generate as much cash as it burns is likely to fail.

With a startup business plan in place, the strategies with the highest ROI become crystal clear. You'll know exactly what to tackle first and how to prioritize the rest of your tasks.

Accelerate financial health

Business plans are not crystal balls, but they can help forecast your financial health. Planning for expenses is vital to keep operations steady and identify problems as soon as possible. 

Cash flow projections can help you see if goals are achievable or highlight upcoming issues that need correction before it's too late.

How to write a small startup business plan

Use this guide for entrepreneurs to develop or tweak a startup business plan. By following this easy six-step process, you'll soon have a clear path to startup success.

1. Clarify the startup vision, mission, and values

The first step to writing a startup business plan is understanding the startup itself.

Once you know what your startup does, ask yourself why. What is the startup's mission? What problem will it help customers solve? The startup's mission statement helps define its reason for existing.

It’s usually expressed in a simple sentence, but can also be written as a short paragraph.

Try to answer these questions: What does your startup do? How will it make money? How quickly do you hope it will grow? Are there any significant milestones or deadlines that need to be met?

2. Outline the executive summary

Now that you have an idea for your startup, its mission, and a vision in mind, it's time to write your startup business plan executive summary.

Keep it simple and precise. Begin by writing a one-sentence startup business plan introduction that showcases the core customer need/pain point and how you propose to solve it.

3. Develop startup goals and milestones

Next, write down the milestones and goals for your startup business plan. This is a crucial step that many entrepreneurs forget when they're starting out.

Do you want to focus on getting new customers? Or attaining a specific revenue number?  Without clear short-term goals, it can be hard to know how to prioritize startup tasks.

4. Write a company description

Answer the two fundamental questions — who are you and what will you do? Then, give an introduction to why you're in business.

Provide a summary of introspective goals, clarifying intangible aspects such as values or cultural philosophies. Make sure to mention:

  • Proposed business structure (limited partnership, sole proprietorship, incorporated company, or a general partnership)
  • Business model
  • Business vision and mission statement
  • Background information of your team members

investor startup business plan

5. Conduct market analysis

Choosing the right market is crucial to your organization’s success. There are different kinds of products and services that a business can offer and each has particular requirements for a successful market fit.

If you choose one that doesn't have a large enough customer base or is not profitable enough, your company may end up struggling for every sale.

Ensure that there is a clear market niche — an ideal audience of customers with a need or a pain point that your business can help solve.

6. Develop startup partnerships and resources

When you're launching a small startup, one of the most important things that your business needs is capital. There are several ways to get going on this front.

When thinking about sources of funding for startups , consider startup grants, startup loans, startup investors, and startup accelerators.

7. Write a startup marketing plan and startup budget

Your startup business plan is almost complete! All that's left is to create a startup marketing plan and budget. Your startup marketing plan will help you define your company’s target audience and brand image.

The startup budget is an integral part of any startup that helps you take the guesswork out of writing expenses.

Examples of startup business plans

Business plans differ based on the nature of the business, target market, competitive advantage, delivery of product/service, scope, and size.

Though the core business plan template remains the same, the content and flow change. Here is an example of an accounting firm's business plan:

Vision statement

At our company, ABC Accounting Services LLC, we work hard to provide the best service and build a strong team. Our vision is for this brand to be recognized as #1 throughout NYC by both smaller businesses and larger corporations.

Our values are reflected in all that we do: integrity (ethical behavior), service (giving top priority to clients' needs), excellence ("doing it right"), teamwork (working together).

Executive summary

ABC Accounting Services LLC is the premier accounting firm in New York City and will handle various financial services. We specialize in audits, bookkeeping, tax preparation/compliance work, and budgeting assistance with high-quality consulting.

Business structure

ABC Accounting Services LLC will be structured as an LLC — a Limited Liability Company in the state of New York. It will provide accounting, bookkeeping, taxation, auditing, and compliance-related services to small, medium, and large enterprises situated in New York City.

Marketing strategy and competitive advantages

Despite the fact that there are many established accounting services firms in our industry, we have a great chance of becoming successful because of the high demand for financial consulting. 

Often, small businesses don't need full-time employees but would rather hire an accounting service provider like us to handle their bookkeeping and tax returns on time every year.

It is best to find a unique niche or carve out your own market in the financial consulting services industry. If you're able to create an identifiable brand identity for your accounting business, then you will likely see less competition from other firms.

Startup milestones

ABC Accounting Services LLC will focus on delivering an exceptional client experience to grow the business and expand market share.

Startup business plan template

Here's a template you can follow when creating your startup business plan:

investor startup business plan

Top tips for writing a startup business plan

The following tips will help you create a compelling startup business plan without getting overwhelmed.

Know your audience

To write an effective business plan, tailor your language and level of detail to match the audience reading it. 

Have a simple and clear goal

If you have a goal of securing funding for your business, it will be an uphill task with lots of work and research.

Simplifying and breaking down bigger goals into smaller, actionable tasks will assist you in getting through them faster.

Spend time researching

Avoid assuming anything about your target audience, product/service, or the market need.

Spending adequate time and effort on research from primary and secondary sources will help you develop an accurate business plan.

Build a startup toolkit

The process of creation becomes easier if you have the right startup tools and software by your side. Pick the right ones that will help you in your journey.

Keep it precise

Short and easy-to-read business plans are best kept within 20 pages. If you have additional documents, consider adding them as appendices or provide a link if available online.

Ensure tonal consistency

Keep the tone consistent by having just one author write your startup business plan. Otherwise, be sure to edit it thoroughly before you finalize it.

Add reference points

All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative data points.

Be ready to pivot

A business plan should be fluid and flexible. Think of it as an evolving document that will continue to change over time.

How to create a business plan with Wrike

A good business plan is a powerful tool and can be a key predictor of future progress, but simply filling in a startup business plan won’t help you achieve success. You need to create action steps with accountability that will help you reach your goals. 

Wrike’s project management software can help your organization deliver successful projects and maximize individual and team productivity, and our product launch template can help you turn your startup business plan goals into actionable steps. 

Start a free trial of Wrike today to see how it can help to simplify work, showcase progress to stakeholders, and achieve startup success.

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika is a freelance writer who specializes in recruitment and resume writing.

Related articles

How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)

How to Write a Business Case (With Example & Template)

A business plan is a straightforward document. In it, you’ll include market research, your overall goals for the business, and your strategies for achieving those goals.  But what is a business case and why do you need one if a business plan outlines everything else? A business case takes a closer look at a specific problem and how you can solve it. Think of a business case as the reason you create a project you’re going to manage in the first place.  The article provides a step-by-step guide on how to write a successful business case, including a checklist for identifying problems, researching solutions, and presenting to stakeholders. As a bonus, we’ll show you how to use Wrike to manage your product business cases with a requirements management template or implement them with a project scheduling template. What is a business case? A business case is a project you’ll assemble for identifying, addressing, and solving a specific business problem.  The key to a business case is the change it creates in your business. Developing a business case starts with identifying a problem that needs a permanent solution. Without that lasting change, a business case is only an observation about what’s going wrong. A complete business case addresses how a company can alter its strategy to fix that problem. Front-to-back, a business case is a complete story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It typically looks like this: Beginning: Someone identifies a problem within the business and presents the business case to the key decision-makers. Middle: With the project go-ahead, the company launches an internal team to address the business case and deliver results. End: The team delivers a presentation on the changes made and their long-term effects. In short, a business case is the story of a problem that needs solving.   Examples of business cases The problem for many companies is that they can turn a blind eye to challenges that are right in front of their faces. This is even the case when the company has a compelling product to sell. Consider the example of Febreze. In the mid-1990s, a researcher at Procter & Gamble was working with hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin. His wife noticed that his clothes no longer smelled like cigarettes, which was a frequent complaint. P&G had something of a miracle product on its hands. However, their approach was wrong. They initially marketed Febreze as a way to eliminate embarrassing smells. Predictably, the product flopped.  But P&G stuck at it. They had a potential business case on their hands: a highly marketable product proved difficult to market. What was going wrong? Working on the business case from beginning to end provided the answer. After some focus group testing, P&G found out that few consumers recognized the nasty odors they were used to. Instead, they learned to use a different business case for Febreze: it was a cleaning product now, a way to make the house smell nice when the floors are vacuumed and the counters are wiped clean. They gave it its own pleasant smell and fashioned it into a cleaning product. And because it worked so well, so did the campaign.  That’s an example of a business case overall. But let’s get specific: developing a business case is easier when you have a template to look at. Let’s build an example using a made-up company, ABC Widgets, and a hypothetical business case. Let’s call our business case example “Operation Super Widgets”: Business Case: ABC Widgets Section 1: Summary Briefly describe the problem and the opportunities.  ABC Widgets’ latest widget, the Super Widget, is suffering from supply issues, requiring higher shipping costs to procure the necessary resources, and eating into profits. We need to switch to a new supplier to restore the viability of the Super Widget. Section 2: Project Scope This section should include the following: Financial appraisal of the situation. Super Widgets are now 20% more expensive to produce than in the year prior, resulting in -1% profits with each Super Widget sold. Business objectives. To get revenues back up, we need to restore profit margins on Cost Per Unit Sold for every Super Widget back to 2020 levels. Benefits/limitations. Restoring Cost Per Unit Sold will restore 5% of sagging revenues. However, we are limited to three choices for new Super Widget suppliers. Scope and impact. We will need to involve supply chain managers and Super Widget project management teams, which may temporarily reduce the number of widgets we’re able to produce, potentially resulting in $25,000 in lost revenue. Plan. Project Management Teams A and B will take the next two weeks to get quotes from suppliers and select one while integrating an immediate plan to bring in new Super Widget parts for manufacturing within four weeks. Organization. Team Member Sarah will take the lead on Operation Super Widget Profit. Both teams will report to Sarah. This is a bare-bones example of what a business case might look like, but it does hit on the key points: what’s the problem, how can you fix it, what’s the plan to fix it, and what will happen if you succeed? How do you write and develop a business case? When writing your own business case, the above example is a good guide to follow as you get started with the basics.  But, once you’re more familiar with the nuts and bolts, it’s also worth being prepared for some potential roadblocks you could face along the way.  Challenges of writing a good business case Why don’t more companies create a business case? It might come down to a lack of good communication. Many people don’t even know how to write a business case, let alone present one. “The idea may be great, but if it’s not communicated well, it won’t get any traction,” said Nancy Duarte, communication and author who wrote The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. The key challenge, notes Duarte, is taking abstract business concepts (like lagging numbers) and turning them into an immediately recognizable problem. After all, if a company already had perfect awareness that it was making a mistake, it likely would find a way to stop the error in its tracks.  A business case is challenging because it usually means you’ll have to persuade someone that change is needed. And change can be difficult. In a thriving business, it’s especially problematic because it’s easy to point to the bottom line and say that whatever the company is doing is already working. How do you present a business case? The tips and examples above give you some nice remedies for creating a business case without the typical problems. But you’ll still want to present a business case with the straightforward proposals and numbers you’d associate with any new project.  Essentially, it all comes down to how well your business case can persuade the decision-makers. That’s why you shouldn’t just build a case off of raw numbers. The bottom line might be a compelling argument, but it’s not always what “clicks.”  If you’re presenting a business case, you’re a salesperson. And not every sale is a matter of precise logic. It’s also about emotion—the story of why something’s gone wrong and what needs doing if you’re going to overcome it.  The art of a good business case is the art of persuasion. Keep these specific points in mind as you craft one of your own: Point to an example of a bad business case and liken it to the present case. No one likes the idea of watching themselves walk into a mistake. Presenting an example of a business that made the same mistake your company is making and then translating it into the present moment is a compelling way to craft a business case that makes ears perk up. Build a narrative. Nancy Duarte pointed out that in one business case, a client convinced a CEO to follow through with a project by using simple illustrations. It’s not that the idea of adding illustrations to the business case was so great. It’s that the illustrations were able to tell a compelling story about why the case needed to go through. Distill the idea into an elevator pitch. Try this exercise: get your business case down to one sentence. If you can’t explain it any more simply than that, your business case might not be as memorable as it needs to be to sway decision-makers. Use analogies to drive the point home. Let’s say you discovered a problem in a growing business. Overall, revenues are good — but you’ve noticed an associated cost that has the potential to explode in the future and tank the business. But it’s not compelling to use dollars and cents when the business is doing so well. Instead, consider introducing the business case with a simple analogy: “Without repair, every leaky boat eventually sinks.” You now have their attention. Use the numbers to drive the point home, but not to make the point. If you’re presenting a business case to decision-makers, remember that it’s not only the logic of your argument that will convince people — it’s how persuasive you can be. Business case checklist Before you can check “learn how to write a business case” off your list, you have to know the essentials. Make sure you include the following elements in your business case checklist (and, of course, your business case itself): Reasons. This should be the most compelling part of your business case. You can tell a story here. And the most compelling stories start with a loss or a complication of some sort. What is the threat to the business that needs remedy? What are the reasons for moving forward? Potential courses of action. It’s not a complete story until we know the next chapter. A business case isn’t just about the problem — it’s about rectifying a problem through the solution. Recommend a few specific courses of action to help spur discussion about what to do next. Risks and benefits. Not every solution is going to be perfectly clean. There are going to be solutions with downsides. There are going to be costs along with the benefits. Make sure to include each of these to give a clear and complete picture. This is the time to manage expectations — but also the time to inspire action. Cost. What’s it going to cost to complete the project? The people making the decisions need to know the bottom line figure to assess which business cases to prioritize. Timeline. A good project isn’t only measured in dollars but in days, weeks, and months. What is the expected timeline for the business case? How quickly can the problem meet its solution?  With every business case, specificity is key. A vague timeline won’t help — a timeline with specific weekly milestones looks more achievable. To make your business case more compelling, always look for the specific details that tie your story together. Business case template A business case template is a document that outlines the key elements of a business case in a structured format. By using a standardized template, companies can ensure that all relevant information is captured and shared in a clear and consistent manner. Depending on the size of your business and the scope of your project, your business case template can be as detailed or as simple as you like. For a smaller project, you can use a one-pager to get started, detailing the main points of your project, which include: Executive summary: An overview of your project, its goals, and the benefits of completing it for your business Team and stakeholders: A list of the relevant people involved in your project, and their contact information SWOT analysis: An analysis of how your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats weigh up against your competitors Risk analysis: An overview of the kind of risks that are involved with your project and how you may avoid them Budget and financial plan: Details of your budget and where you may secure financing for your project Project plan: A schedule of how you plan to implement your project and what tasks are involved Let's see what that might look like. Executive summary   Team and stakeholders   SWOT analysis   Risk analysis   Budget   Project plan   How to write a business case with Wrike Wrike’s project management software can step in and turn a business case from the seedling of an idea to a full-fledged initiative.  The requirements management pre-built template can help you document and track project requirements in a structured manner. The template includes sections for capturing stakeholder requirements and business cases, as well as any constraints that may affect the project’s success. By using this template, you can ensure that all necessary requirements are identified and that potential issues are addressed early in the project planning process. If you want to move from the business case description to the actual implementation faster, consider using the project scheduling template. This template can help you create a detailed project timeline with milestones, identify task dependencies, and assign resources. By utilizing this template, you can ensure that the project is realistically achievable and meets all business needs, giving stakeholders confidence in the project’s success.

Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

Learn how to create an operational plan that will help your business succeed. Check out our guide to everything you need to know about operational planning.

What Is a PMIS and How Does it Work?

What Is a PMIS and How Does it Work?

Discover how a PMIS can help your team deliver high-quality projects faster in this in-depth guide. Learn what is PMIS and how you can set one up.

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550+ Free Sample Business Plans

550+ Business Plan Examples to Launch Your Business

550+ Free Sample Business Plans

Need help writing your business plan? Explore over 550 industry-specific business plan examples for inspiration.

Find your business plan example

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Accounting, Insurance & Compliance Business Plans

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Education Business Plans

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Business plan template: There's an easier way to get your business plan done.

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Events Business Plans

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Medical & Health Business Plans

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Nonprofit Business Plans

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Real Estate & Rentals Business Plans

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Technology Business Plans

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View all sample business plans

Example business plan format

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

Executive summary

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

Your executive summary should include a summary of the problem you are solving, a description of your product or service, an overview of your target market, a brief description of your team, a summary of your financials, and your funding requirements (if you are raising money).

Products & services

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

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

Market analysis

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

Competition

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

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

Marketing & sales

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

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

Milestones & metrics

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

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

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

Company & team

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

Financial projections

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

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

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

Types of business plans explained

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

Traditional business plan

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

Business model canvas

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

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

One-page business plan

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

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

Growth planning

Growth planning is more than a specific type of business plan. It's a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, forecast, review, and refine based on your performance.

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

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

Download a free sample business plan template

Ready to start writing your own plan but aren't sure where to start? Download our free business plan template that's been updated for 2024.

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

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

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

Choose a business plan example from a similar type of company

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

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

Use a business plan example as a guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare to pitch your business

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

Your pitch deck and pitch presentation are likely some of the first things that an investor will see to learn more about your company. So, you need to be informative and pique their interest. Luckily we have a round-up of real-world pitch deck examples used by successful startups that you can review and reference as you build your pitch.

For more resources, check out our full Business Pitch Guide .

Ready to get started?

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

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

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Blog Feature Updates Startup Business Plans 101: Your Path to Success

Startup Business Plans 101: Your Path to Success

Written by: Jay Nair Jul 24, 2023

investor startup business plan

It’s time — you’ve got a promising idea and you’re now prepared to invest the necessary effort to turn it into reality. Startup business plans are vital hack tools that will guide you through your entrepreneurial journey and a business venture with clarity and purpose.

Though vital, business planning doesn’t have to be a chore. Business plans for lean startups and solopreneurs can simply outline the business concept, sales proposition, target customers and sketch out a plan of action to bring the product or service to market. These plans will serve as strategic documents outlining your company’s vision, mission statements, business objectives, target market, financial forecasts and growth strategies.

To simplify the creation of a robust business plan as an entrepreneur, you can harness the power of a business plan maker . This invaluable tool streamlines the process and ensures a polished and well-organized presentation.  Startup business plan templates provide pre-designed frameworks that can be customized to suit your specific industry needs, saving valuable time and effort while preserving the essential structure of a comprehensive business plan.

Ready to begin? Let’s go!

investor startup business plan

Just so you know, some of our business plan templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign-up is always free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor.

Click to jump ahead:

  • Laying the foundation of your startup business plan
  • Business plan executive summary
  • Writing your business description
  • Marketing & sales strategies
  • Startup operational plans
  • Financial plans – forecasting and projections
  • Team and management
  • Appendix and supporting documents

FAQs on startup business plans

  • Use Venngage to create your startup business plan

Preparation and research: 6 steps to laying the foundation of your startup business plan

  • What problem does your product or service solve? 
  • Who are your target customers? 
  • What differentiates your offering from existing solutions in the market? 

This self-reflection will help you establish a clear direction for your startup.

  • Next, conduct market research to gather valuable insights about your target market , including demographics, preferences, and purchasing behavior . This data will enable you to tailor your product or service to meet the specific needs of your customers. Identify trends, industry growth projections, and any potential barriers or challenges you may encounter.
  • Competitive analysis is another critical aspect of preparation and research. Study your competitors to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies. Analyze their pricing, marketing tactics, customer experience, and product/service features. This analysis will allow you to identify gaps in the market and position your startup to offer a unique value proposition .
  • Financial research is equally important during this phase. Calculate the costs associated with starting and operating your business , including overhead expenses, production costs, marketing expenses, and employee salaries. Assess potential revenue streams and estimate your expected sales. This financial analysis will help you determine the feasibility of your business idea and outline a realistic financial plan.
  • Additionally, gather information about legal and regulatory requirements that apply to your industry and location . Understand the necessary permits, licenses, and certifications you need to operate legally. Complying with these regulations from the outset will prevent potential setbacks or legal issues in the future.
  • Finally, organize your findings and insights into a coherent business plan. Create your business plan outline , list your business plan goals, strategies, target market, competitive analysis, marketing plan, financial projections and any other relevant information. This compilation will serve as a roadmap for your startup, guiding your decisions and actions moving forward.

You’ve just encountered a wealth of information and are well on your way to becoming a seasoned business owner! This can sometimes feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, take a moment to breathe deeply and remember how far you’ve come. You’ve got this!

To help you condense and organize your essential points, I have brilliant one-page samples of business plan layouts and templates that will capture everything in a concise format.

investor startup business plan

Knowing when to use a one-page business plan versus a more comprehensive plan depends on various factors. A one-page business plan is ideal for providing a quick overview, saving time, and internal planning. However, it may not suffice for detailed information, complex business models, or meeting external stakeholders’ expectations.

Ultimately, consider the purpose, audience, and complexity of your business when deciding whether to utilize a one-page business plan or opt for a more detailed approach.

Executive Summary: Your Startup’s Elevator Pitch

First impressions are crucial, and a concise yet comprehensive executive summary is your chance to grab potential investors’ attention.

To create a compelling elevator pitch, consider the following key elements:

Problem Statement : Clearly articulate the problem or pain point that your startup addresses. Emphasize the significance of the problem and the potential market size

Solution : Concisely describe your innovative solution or product that solves the identified problem. Highlight its unique features or benefits that differentiate it from existing alternatives.

Target Market : Define your ideal customer segment and outline the market potential. Demonstrate a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs, preferences, and behavior.

Competitive Advantage : Showcase the competitive edge that sets your startup apart from competitors. This could include intellectual property, strategic partnerships, cost advantages, or disruptive technology.

Business Model : Briefly explain how your startup generates revenue and sustains profitability. Outline your monetization strategy, pricing model, and any recurring revenue streams .

Traction and Milestones : Highlight any significant achievements or milestones reached by your startup. This could include customer acquisitions, partnerships, product development progress, or market validation.

Team : Showcase the expertise and qualifications of your founding team or business partners. Highlight key members and their relevant experiences demonstrating their ability to execute the business plan.

I can sense your eagerness to dive right in! To expedite your progress, I’m excited to present you with a collection of meticulously crafted executive summary templates. These templates have been thoughtfully designed and structured by Venngage designers, ensuring seamless integration into your thorough business plan. All you need to do is infuse them with your brilliant startup ideas, and you’ll be well on your way to success!

investor startup business plan

Now, remember that there’s still a ton of work to be done. Let’s take a moment to regroup and ensure we’re on the right track. Before diving into the process of writing your business plan , it’s imperative to gather a wealth of essential information. Conducting comprehensive research is key, and it should encompass the following aspects:

How to assess your target audience

To gain comprehensive insights into your potential user base, creating a user persona report is invaluable. This persona guide report will help you develop a detailed understanding of various user profiles, enabling you to tailor your products or services to meet their specific needs and preferences.

investor startup business plan

Understanding Your Market and Competition

Analyze your market and any trends relevant to your startup. Research your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and identify what differentiates your offering from the competition.

investor startup business plan

Developing a Unique Value Proposition

A business Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is a concise statement that communicates the unique advantage a product or service offers over competitors, addressing a specific problem or need. It highlights the distinctive value and benefits customers can expect, helping businesses attract and retain customers by differentiating themselves in the market.

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the cornerstone of your startup, defining what sets you apart from your competitors. A strong UVP focuses on the specific benefits and solutions your startup offers to customers.

investor startup business plan

Company Description: Painting the Picture

Your company description allows you to showcase your startup’s unique features and provide more in-depth details about your business. This section should include:

The Purpose of the Company Description

Clarify the purpose of your business, your goals and how your startup is uniquely positioned to achieve them.

Essential Information to Include

Include details such as your company’s legal structure, location and a brief history of any founders or key personnel.

Showcase Your Company’s Unique Features

Emphasize the unique aspects of your startup, explaining how these features translate into a competitive advantage.

Allow me to provide you with a dash of inspiration to ignite the momentum for your startup business plan:

investor startup business plan

When it comes to showcasing your company’s unique features, keep in mind that it is essential to emphasize and highlight the distinctive aspects of your startup . Clearly articulate how these features set your company apart from competitors and translate into a tangible competitive advantage . 

Whether it’s through cutting-edge technology, innovative business models, exceptional customer service, or a combination of factors, conveying the value and impact of these unique features is crucial. By effectively communicating the benefits they bring to customers, investors, and partners, you can demonstrate the significance of your offerings and differentiate yourself in the market.

Product/Service Line: What You’re Bringing to the Table

This section highlights the finer details of your product or service offerings:

Detailing Your Product/Service Offerings

Provide a thorough description of your products/services, highlighting key features and their intended use.

investor startup business plan

Highlighting Features, Benefits, and Solutions

Demonstrate how your startup’s offerings solve specific problems or address customer needs through an analysis of product features and associated benefits.

investor startup business plan

Defining Your Pricing and Revenue Model

Outline your startup’s pricing strategy and how it aligns with the overall business model. Detail any plans for scaling or expanding your revenue sources in the future.

investor startup business plan

Presenting Your Market Research Findings

Share insights from your market research, including target customer demographics, market size, and growth potential.

investor startup business plan

Identifying Market Trends and Opportunities

Discuss current trends, emerging opportunities, and how your startup will capitalize on these developments.

investor startup business plan

Marketing and Sales Strategies: Spreading the Word

Developing a robust marketing and sales strategy plan aligns with your overall business strategy and ensures steady growth. Marketing planning will be an essential part of your journey once you’ve got your business plan tight-knit! Also, creating a marketing strategy can be the most fun part of your business plan!

Developing a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy & Plan

  • Outline Specific Marketing Goals : Clearly define your marketing objectives, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales . Set measurable targets to track progress.
  • Identify Target Audience : Conduct thorough market research to identify your ideal customer profiles. Understand their demographics, behaviors, preferences, and pain points. Tailor your marketing messages to resonate with their needs.
  • Select Effective Marketing Channels : Consider both digital and traditional channels that align with your target audience and marketing goals. This may include online advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email campaigns, print media, events, or partnerships.
  • Craft Compelling Messages : Develop persuasive and consistent messaging that highlights the unique value proposition of your products or services. Clearly communicate how your offerings solve customer problems or improve their lives.

investor startup business plan

5 Tips for Effective Sales Techniques and Growth Strategies + free templates

  • Define Your Sales Strategy : Outline the approach and tactics your sales team will use to reach and convert customers. This may involve direct sales, channel partnerships, online sales, or a combination of strategies. Specify your sales process, including lead generation, qualification, nurturing, and closing.
  • Expand Your Customer Base : Identify opportunities to expand your customer reach. Consider targeting new customer segments, entering new geographic markets, or exploring untapped market niches. Develop strategies to attract and engage these potential customers.
  • Penetrate New Markets : Assess the feasibility of expanding into new markets or verticals. Market research will help you understand the dynamics, competition, and customer needs in these markets. Adapt your marketing and sales strategies accordingly to effectively penetrate and capture market share.
  • Innovate Products/Services : Continuously evaluate and enhance your product or service offerings to meet evolving customer demands. Identify areas for innovation or improvement and develop a roadmap for launching new features, versions, or complementary offerings.
  • Perform a SWOT analysis : By conducting a sales SWOT analysis , you will gather valuable insights to enhance your department’s performance. This analysis involves evaluating your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, enabling you to identify areas for improvement and capitalize on advantageous factors in the market.

Here’s a hack to get you organized – Get right into it with the help of these growth strategy templates and strategic planning templates :

investor startup business plan

Operational Plan: How Your Startup Will Run

Define an efficient and scalable operational plan, keeping in mind the following points:

Defining an Efficient and Scalable Plan

Outline the day-to-day operations, including processes, timelines, and necessary resources.

Legal Considerations for Your Startup Business

Identify any legal requirements or considerations, such as licenses, permits, or regulations that may apply to your startup.

Key Elements of Supply Chain Management and Logistics

Discuss supply chain and logistical aspects relevant to your business. Include details on how you plan to manage and scale these processes.

Here’s a kickstart on how you can structure your operating plans:

investor startup business plan

Financial Projections: Crunching the Numbers

A startup’s financial projections are vital in securing investor buy-in. This section should address:

The Importance of Financial Forecasting and Budgeting

Explain the significance of accurate financial forecasting, budgeting, and the assumptions made in your projections.

Identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Highlight the KPIs used to gauge your business’s financial health and growth trajectory.

Outlining Funding Requirements

Detail the amount and type of funding your startup requires , including how the funds will be allocated and how this investment positions the company for growth.

investor startup business plan

Team and Management Structure: Building Your Dream Team

Your startup’s success depends on the people behind it. This section should cover:

Tips for Building the Right Team

Share your strategy for assembling a skilled team that supports your startup’s vision and growth trajectory.

Founders’ Background and Roles

Provide an overview of the founders’ backgrounds, their roles within the company, and how their skills contribute to the startup’s success.

Organizational Structure and Key Management Personnel

Outline your startup’s organizational structure, including any key management personnel who play a pivotal role in day-to-day operations.

Appendices and Supporting Documents: Backing Up Your Plan

Include any other relevant supporting documents, such as:

  • Research data, market analysis, or competitor analyses.
  • Financial statements, budgeting or forecasting data, and other financial documentation.
  • Legal documents, agreements or contracts, and any patent or trademark information.

Finally, remember to review and update your business plan regularly as the industry, market, and competitive landscape evolve!

1. Why is a business plan essential for a startup?

A startup business plan is crucial for a startup because it provides a framework for strategic decision-making, facilitates financial planning, helps assess risks, aligns teams, communicates your vision, and ensures effective resource allocation. 

2. What should a startup business plan include?

A startup business plan should include:

  • Vision and Direction : Set clear goals and objectives, and outline strategies to achieve them. With a well-defined plan, you will stay focused, make informed decisions, and ensure alignment with your vision.
  • Market Analysis : A business plan necessitates thorough market research to understand your target market, identify competition, and assess product/service demand. These insights enable you to tailor offerings, meet customer needs, and gain a competitive edge.
  • Financial Planning : By constructing a financial roadmap through projected statements such as income, cash flow, and balance sheets, a business plan unveils the expected revenues, expenses, and profitability. This comprehensive planning not only anticipates challenges and sets realistic goals but also serves as a magnet for attracting investors and securing funding.
  • Risk Assessment : Devise strategies for risk mitigation and contingency planning. By proactively doing this, you can significantly enhance the likelihood of success by anticipating and effectively addressing potential obstacles.
  • Communication and Team Alignment : From fostering effective communication with both internal and external stakeholders to aligning team members and showcasing your startup’s unique value proposition, a business plan plays a crucial role. It enables you to articulate target market insights, competitive advantages, and growth strategies to potential investors, partners, and employees.
  • Resource Allocation : A business plan helps you identify the resources required to launch and operate your startup successfully. It includes an assessment of your human resources, technology needs, infrastructure requirements, and other key resources. By understanding your resource needs, you can allocate them effectively, ensuring that you have the necessary assets to execute your business strategy.
  • Adaptability and Flexibility : Your business plan should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and adapt to new circumstances. Startups operate in dynamic environments, and a well-designed plan allows you to monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, and make adjustments as needed. This agility enables you to seize new opportunities and navigate challenges effectively.

3. What is the ideal length for a startup business plan?

The optimal length for a startup business plan typically depends on the specific requirements and intended audience, but a concise and focused plan of around 20 to 30 pages is often recommended.

4. How to write a good startup business plan?

To write a good and effective startup plan, include an executive summary, company description, market analysis, detailed products/services description and a clear marketing and sales strategy. Also incorporate a comprehensive financial plan, outline your organizational structure, and demonstrates your team’s expertise and capabilities. Your plan should be well-researched, concise, and compelling, with a focus on your company’s unique value proposition and market opportunity, making it attractive to investors and stakeholders.

Utilizing Venngage templates & other tools for success

A visually appealing and professional business plan needn’t be a daunting task. Leverage tools like Venngage Business Plan Maker for effective templates that cater to various industries and streamline the process. 

  • Leveraging Venngage for Visually Appealing and Professional Business Plans

Venngage offers a range of templates designed specifically for business plans, allowing you to craft a polished and visually engaging plan without any design experience. Simply choose a template, customize it to suit your startup’s branding, and populate it with your content.

  • Exploring Additional Resources and Tools for Entrepreneurs. In addition to Venngage, several other resources and tools can assist entrepreneurs in crafting the perfect business plan. Examples include:
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) – Offers guidance on writing business plans and provides templates and resources for each section.
  • SCORE – A nonprofit organization providing mentorship, workshops, and other resources for entrepreneurs.
  • Industry-specific resources – Research relevant professional organizations, industry publications, and blogs to stay up to date on industry trends and insights.

Embarking on the entrepreneurial path may present formidable challenges, yet it offers abundant rewards in various aspects. Embrace the art of continuous learning, delving not only into the essence of your business idea but also immersing yourself in the vast world that surrounds it. Cultivate a genuine passion for understanding every facet of your enterprise, for it is through this journey of exploration that you will uncover invaluable insights and experience the true fulfillment of entrepreneurship.

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How To Find The Right Investors To Fund Your Startup

  • 12 min read

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Jaclyn Robinson, Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Crunchbase

It’s a fact. About 90 percent of startups fail, which means only 10 percent survive. There are many factors that will transform your startup idea into the business you’ve always envisioned. You need a fantastic idea that is unique in your specific industry, not to mention investors for your startup. You need a business AND marketing plan. And, most importantly – you need knowledge on how to raise capital and find investors .

Find investors.

Find your next investor with Crunchbase, the all-in-one business prospecting solution.

Whether you’re crowdfunding or leaning toward the private investment market, choosing the right startup investors can make or break your company. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to find investors for a startup, including:

The different types of investors by company stage

Where and how to find investors for a startup, how to prepare your pitch.

  • How to know what you want from an investor
  • How Crunchbase can help you find investors for a startup

There are a variety of investment opportunities for you to consider when trying to acquire funding for your startup. Depending on where your business is at in its development, some funding options may make more sense than others.

How to Find the Right Investors to Fund Your Startup: Venture Capital Stages

When finding investors for your business, your company should seek to mix-and-match investment opportunities throughout the various stages to ensure that you have multiple, diverse capital streams. Here’s a deeper look at some typical private investment options based on company development stage as you get started:

All startups begin with an idea (or ideas). In this stage, the entrepreneur is still developing and fine-tuning the concept of the startup and needs funds to complete essential tasks such as creating a detailed business plan (they probably don’t even have a website yet). Funds in this early stage are typically raised through personal finances or close connections.

Bootstrapping

You are the investor. At the Idea Stage, it can be difficult for companies to go about raising funds and finding business investors, so in many cases, it falls to the founder to provide the initial startup capital. While it’s important to understand that investing your own money can be risky, it also allows for complete control of the business void of any outside influence or conflicting visions. Bootstrapping is a great option for building small businesses.

Group of people in building during Google's early days

Funding a startup with personal finances in the Idea Stage is also a way to safeguard yourself from debt should the venture not succeed (or doesn’t launch in the first place). As the business grows, however, it is likely that you will not be able to sustain it with your own money, and will eventually need to bring in outside investors to access additional financing.

Friends and Family

Most entrepreneurs receive substantial financial assistance from friends and family in the Idea Stage. These tend to be the true believers in your project or those who are closest to you and want to help make you successful. While ‘investors’ that are members of your close community tend to be easy to handle when you’re starting out (often because they are less involved in day-to-day operations), accepting money from those closest to you can bring about personal tension and stress. Friends and family may not follow up or be checking regularly for a return on their investment, but they be will anxious to get their money back (and then some) as the company grows.

Pre-Seed Stage

In this stage, the entrepreneur needs additional funds to sustain current growth and to perform tasks like market validation. An entrepreneur can continue to rely on funding options from the Idea Stage in addition to exploring some new external avenues as well.

Pre-Seed is still a relatively new phenomenon in capital fundraising that has come about as a response to investors dedicating less money to new ventures in the Seed Stage. Entrepreneurs are continuing to refine their approach to funding in this stage as it isn’t quite as established – new lessons and best practices are being discovered regularly.

Crowdfunding

The great thing about crowdfunding to find business investors is that it opens up the opportunity for investment to literally everyone. By using social media ( Facebook/Meta , LinkedIn ) and sites such as Kickstarter , GoFundMe and Indiegogo , you can pitch your business idea or product and connect with people around the world who can donate money – all without having to cede any equity in your company.

Crowdfunding is a hands-off approach to investment when it comes to impacting your actual day-to-day business operations. While crowdfunding may seem like a grassroots approach, many startups have received millions in donations from these sources.

Incubators / Accelerators

Businesses in the Pre-Seed Stage that show significant promise can apply to incubators or accelerators  to receive a number of benefits. In most cases, if your company is invited to participate in one of these programs, you can expect a state-of-the-art work environment, business mentorship, strong industry connections, and for the most promising ventures, seed funding.

Being accepted into a startup incubator or accelerator is very difficult as there is a significant amount of competition. Additionally, receiving funds is not a guarantee as many of these programs are designed to help founders and entrepreneurs grow their businesses by providing mentorship and resources other than money.

Jeff Bezos holding a book during the early days at Amazon

Angel Investment

Startup angel investors are part of the private sector. However, angel investors are usually individuals rather than private firms, so investments tend to be smaller – think $25,000 to $100,000.

These players invest in you with the expectation of a high return on investment (ROI) and may choose to play a larger role in the management of your startup by requesting input on daily operations. Angel investors may also ask for a seat on your board of directors. Many startups find angel investors on sites like Crunchbase or AngelList .

The Seed Stage marks the point in a company’s growth where all of the initial preparation comes to fruition and the business begins to acquire customers. For an entrepreneur, the challenge in this stage is to carve out a market share and to find a way to ensure repeated success.

At this stage, a Series A funding round to raise anywhere between $1M – $30M will need to take place, which typically leads an entrepreneur away from a check from individual investors and toward investment firms.

Venture Capitalists (VCs)

These investors are part of the private sector and have a pool of money to draw from corporations, foundations, pension funds, and organizations. Investments in businesses that are rapidly expanding or have the potential for substantial growth can average $7 million depending on a number of factors. Venture capital investments are more common for technology and biomedical companies.

These firms will play a more active role in your startup, as they will receive some equity in exchange for funding, and will help provide expertise in guiding you throughout your development stages. VCs for startups can be utilized in the early or late stages of development as some specialize in working with companies in the Seed Stage whereas others may prefer to work with more established businesses.

Venture capital is ever-changing and requires significant research prior to coming to terms with VC investors on a funding round for your startup. It’s a good idea to lean heavily on professional advice and counsel from legal and finance teams while meeting with interested investors.

Venture Debt

This type of funding is only available to those entrepreneurs whose company is already venture-backed. Venture debt funding is essentially a loan that you will have to repay, regardless of if the company is profitable, without having to give up any equity.

Repayment terms can vary, but three years is the average. Venture debt is a great tool for short-term financing, especially for companies who need to make a one-time purchase and simply don’t have enough capital on-hand at the time, such as a retailer re-stocking for their peak season. Entering into a venture debt agreement should not be taken lightly. Missing a single repayment could force the company into being sold or liquidated due to unfavorable default terms that are typical of this funding option.

SBA Microloans and Microlenders

If you’re looking for a smaller investment, a microloan may be your best option. The Small Business Administration (SBA), a government entity, offers a program that connects startups to private lenders for loans of up to $50,000. Other microlending nonprofits are also available and can offer loans averaging $12,000 to $13,000.

Microloans are ideal for startups – think flower subscription companies and independent bakeries – that are just in the beginning stages of building out their services and are in need of seed money. As far as how much input these investors may have, it can vary on a case-by-case basis. If you’re wanting total control of your business, be sure to clearly state your desired relationship and outline specific guidelines in the loan agreement.

Early Stage

In the Early Stage, entrepreneurs have established a sustainable sales model that has proven to provide the company with a consistent influx of revenue. Now, an entrepreneur must consider scaling the business to keep up with product or service demand.

To raise enough capital at this stage, an entrepreneur will begin a Series B funding round with larger, later-stage venture capitalists, super angel investors, or revenue-based financing options. Like a Series A funding round, a Series B ranges from $1M – $30M.

Super Angel Investor for Startups

These startup investors can be seen as a hybrid between a regular angel investor and a venture capitalist. Super angels deal in larger sums of money, like a venture capitalist, ranging from $250,000 – $500,000 per investment, and look to partner with emerging “top” companies in their early developmental stages, similar to a traditional angel investor.

Where super angels differ from other angel investors is that investing in companies is their primary profession rather than it being a side-stream of revenue. Super angels are known as serial investors are always looking for new, profitable opportunities to invest their funds. It is not uncommon for several super angels to pool resources and establish an investment group .       

Revenue-Based Financing

This type of funding is a good option for companies in the Early Stage that have demonstrated the ability to drive consistent revenue with high gross margins. With this model, a business receives upfront capital in exchange for giving up a fixed percentage of future revenue to the investor every month until the loan has been repaid in full.

two men holding Apple product from early company days

For entrepreneurs who do not want to further dilute the equity of their company, revenue-based financing allows them to obtain money without losing any control. Because repayments occur on a monthly basis; however, you may find that you have less capital in-hand each month as a result of this agreement.

Growth Stage

The Growth Stage signifies that a company has achieved and surpassed several startup milestones. It means they are looking to scale at an even greater rate by adding infrastructure and expanding operations.

For an entrepreneur in this stage, funding options can become more diverse as private equity firms and banks. Generally, private equity firms and banks are more risk-averse in the early stages. They look to invest in a proven entity. This round of funding is categorized as a Series C, which seeks $10M+ in the capital.  

Private Equity

Part of the private sector, private equity firms invest in startups or businesses through shares or ownership in the company. A private equity firm usually raises funds for investments through large third-party investors such as universities, charities, pension plans or insurance companies.

Startup private equity investors take a public company and make it private. This then results in 100 percent ownership of your business’ profits.

Essentially, a private equity firm has the capability to buy out your company.

Traditional bank loans can be a valuable financing option if you are able to secure favorable terms. Banks typically provide business startup loans with the lowest interest rates and will not be given equity in the company.

Bank loans do have an in-depth application process and require a strong credit rating. In extreme cases, a bank may mandate that you sign a personal guarantee on the loan. This means that they can recoup their losses from personal assets should there be a default on the repayment.

There is no shortage of funding options and ways to make money for your startup. Detailed research is required at every development stage. Ensure you’re making decisions based on your company’s goals.

Based on your company stage, you might have a good sense of what kind of investment you should seek, but you’re probably still thinking, “where can I find investors for my business?” It all boils down to one critical step: networking.

When you meet the right people, a wealth of opportunities can appear right before your eyes. If you’re beginning to strategize how to get investors for a startup, be sure to talk and network with people in your industry. Attend all the industry events possible, even if you think you’re underqualified or if your business doesn’t yet exist. You may or may not find investors, but you’ll definitely accrue knowledge from fellow startup owners or business veterans. Try to create relationships that may benefit you in the future – you never know when or where you might find investors for a startup business.

Find the right investors.

Identify the right investors for your business with Crunchbase.

Online resources such as Crunchbase Pro take valuable investor and business information and pair it with our extensive database so you can easily filter and review the information that is most relevant to your business . Using a company database tool takes the load off when conducting extensive research within your industry since it’s available all in one platform , versus having to open multiple tabs and platforms to fill in the gaps.

So, you’ve got the most amazing idea for a startup and you’re thinking about how to find investors for your small business. But you don’t have concrete business and marketing plans? Chances are, no one will invest in a hypothetical business without solid market research – they know better. You need to show demonstrated demand or need. Lastly, investors for your startup must see a clear action plan to reach success with established performance milestones along the way.

The key to getting your startup to take off is specificity and long-term planning. You need to include exact amounts of how much you need in investments as well as what you expect your ROI to be. You should know how many expenses you’ll have and details on your targeted consumers. And lastly, you should have an idea of how to market your product/service and a vision of how you want your startup to grow.

You also need to be highly knowledgeable in the field you are getting ready to enter. Know who your competitors are, the history of your industry, and the present state of success in the field. Potential investors will ask you questions during your presentation. You need to be able to thoughtfully and thoroughly answer them to have any chance at getting investors for your startup.

Overall, keep your sales pitch concise . Have some sort of PowerPoint or visual storyboard that’s about 10 to 15 slides maximum. Make sure the content in your presentation tells a compelling story but is no longer than 20 minutes. Your presentation should serve as a guide only, so don’t read it word for word. Remember that you must become an expert.

Know what investors you want for your startup

Before you reach out to potential startup investors, know exactly what you want relationship-wise.

Perhaps you want a guide through the process of creating a business. In that case, venture capitalists, angel investors, or private equity firms are likely more compatible with your startup funding. If your focus is purely to seek funding, you’re more suited for things like microloans or crowdfunding.

Knowing how to find an investor that is perfect for your business could bring your startup idea to life.

How Crunchbase can help you find an investor for startups

Save time and find venture investors who meet your exact needs with our Crunchbase Pro searches  that help you sort by some of the most common filters like the exact amount of money you need, the location of an investor and your specific industry.

With Crunchbase Pro , you can eliminate the guesswork and be sure that you always get the best search results to meet your criteria . You can also view a potential partner’s past investments all in one place. Fine-tune your search by adding layers of additional data with our trusted third-party apps. Then, create a list to get alerts when investors you’re interested in make new investments or are featured in the news. You can even find email addresses and contact data that can help you connect with target investors, all within Crunchbase.

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  • Originally published July 17, 2021, updated December 23, 2021

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AI for Small Businesses: Benefits and Tools to Drive Growth

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Rebecca Strehlow, Copywriter at Crunchbase

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

Rosalie Murphy

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

What is a business plan?

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. summarize how your company operates, 10. add any additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

A business plan outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them over the next three to five years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan that will offer a strong, detailed road map for your business.

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness

A business plan is a document that explains what your business does, how it makes money and who its customers are. Internally, writing a business plan should help you clarify your vision and organize your operations. Externally, you can share it with potential lenders and investors to show them you’re on the right track.

Business plans are living documents; it’s OK for them to change over time. Startups may update their business plans often as they figure out who their customers are and what products and services fit them best. Mature companies might only revisit their business plan every few years. Regardless of your business’s age, brush up this document before you apply for a business loan .

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

This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your business offers 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. This should contain basic 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, write a little about 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

investor startup business plan

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

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

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

» MORE: How to write a successful business plan for a loan

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.

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.

Include details about your sales and distribution strategies, including the costs involved in selling each product .

» 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.

Accounting software may be able to generate these reports for you. It may also help you calculate 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.

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.

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

Before the end of your business plan, summarize how your business is structured and outline each team’s responsibilities. This will help your readers understand who performs each of the functions you’ve described above — making and selling your products or services — and how much each of those functions cost.

If any of your employees have exceptional skills, you may want to include their resumes to help explain the competitive advantage they give you.

Finally, attach any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere. That might include:

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

Details of your personal and business credit history, if you’re seeking financing.

If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

How much do you need?

with Fundera by NerdWallet

We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Here are some tips to write a detailed, convincing business plan:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business bank loan or professional investment, someone will be reading your business plan closely. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors. 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. 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.

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How to find investors for small business: top 7 ways for a startup to get capital.

How to Find Investors for Small Business: Top 5 Ways for a Startup to Get Capital

As a small business owner , you’ve invested your own money. And you’ve ruled out applying to Shark Tank (at least for now). So how are you going to do raising that extra capital?

Small businesses need additional finance at key points in their development.  Startup funding and raising capital to grow to the next level are the most common reasons why small business owners look for investors.

Securing any investment accelerates your business decisions by boosting your bank balance. But an investor can also bring other resources—not least, a fresh pair of eyes and a whole other business brain focused on your business.

If this is the first time you’re seeking investment, you’re in the right place. As soon as you start searching “types of investors,” you’ll be swamped with definitions, in no particular order.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Top 7 Ways to Find Investors for a Business

What do investors look for, what is a fair percentage for an investor, what kind of investor do i need.

Here are our top 7 ways to find prospective investors for your small business:

1. Friends and Family

After investing personal funds, the most common source of startup funding is family and friends. It makes sense: You don’t have to go through the sometimes arduous processes required with other investments. And a major positive factor of investment rather than a loan is that you might be able to get more money upfront, and you won’t pay it back in installments.

Just like any other investors, your friends and family only see their money again if your business is profitable. So keep in mind that this is still a business venture. They hold a stake in the company, and they now face some risk, too. Depending on the size of the investment, they may also have some decision-making power.

Be sure to pitch your concept as you would to an outside investor. Present your business plan and give them some idea of when they can expect to see a return on their investment. If they’re new to investing, explain the risks involved.

There is a downside to mixing a personal and business relationship. This isn’t just a financial risk . You really need to think through the consequences of a worst-case scenario before you try raising capital from friends and family. There are other ways to raise capital. Your friends and family aren’t replaceable.

investor startup business plan

2. Small Business Loans

When you’re seeking funding, a small business loan might be the best option.

Your local bank is the obvious first port of call. You’re more likely to be successful if you’re a more established business so that they can see your track record of growth. Banks need extensive financial details before they grant any loan application. So make sure your paperwork is perfect.

The Small Business Administration, or SBA, is a United States government agency designed to help small businesses.

Although the agency does not lend money out itself, it has a lender match tool on its website, to help businesses find lenders that the SBA has already approved. Certain small business administration loads are guaranteed, with generous repayment terms and lower interest rates.

The main downside of a business loan is that you’ll be paying it back in installments, regardless of how well your business performs, and probably with interest.

3. Small Business Grants

A huge variety of state, federal, and nonprofit grants are available in the U.S. The eligibility criteria are all different. Some are specifically for entrepreneurs, startups, or small businesses. Others are only open to certain sectors or are designed to support a particular group of people (like veterans).

In some cases, you get resources and mentoring in addition to the money.

You don’t have to pay back a small business grant. Amazing, isn’t it? But you will have to be very precise in your application to ensure you meet all the grant eligibility criteria.

The SBA offers grants, and is a good place to start looking. You can search for federal grants at Grants.gov and state and federal grants at USGrants.org.

4. Angel Investors

Angel funding comes from wealthy individuals who are professional investors. They invest their own money and usually look for investment opportunities in the early stages of a business. Generally, angel investors are looking for growth potential to see a good return on their investment.

If you get an angel investor on board, they’re likely to contribute enough so that no other investors are needed. Which keeps the equity split clearer than if you have many investors. These private investors often take on passion projects that they really connect with. But your business plan must also be airtight—you have to know your numbers.

Any angel investor is likely to want to participate in the day-to-day development of a business. Which means you get another expert working on your business. But it also means that you need to be prepared to relinquish some control.

 To help you find angel investors that are a good match for your business, start here:

  • Angel Capital Association: Lists angels by state
  • Angel Investment Network: More than 300,000 potential investors in one place
  • Pipeline Angels: Funding for businesses owned by women

5. Venture Capital Firms

Venture capital comes from venture capital firms. Limited partners invest in these companies. Then the venture capital firm itself invests in carefully selected small businesses. They expect equity in exchange for their investment and a say in the direction of your business.

Venture capital firms seek equity investment in businesses with the potential for huge, quick growth. Venture capitalists’ ultimate aim is to get your business to the point where it’s big enough to be bought by a bigger corporation or to go public. It’s important to remember this when you’re seeking investment, as this may not align with your business goals.

Going to a venture capital firm is a step up from other types of investment. You don’t need them until your business is established and ready to expand, perhaps into a riskier venture. If you have a plan for change that might be a game changer, and you need the money to make your move, now’s the time to look for interested venture capitalists.

But VC firms do sometimes invest in startups, so don’t rule them out.

Typically, the amounts invested by venture capitalists are much higher than that of angel investors. They can invest millions. But only if they anticipate a high return on investment.

6. Connections in Your Field of Work

Prospective investors are everywhere. You just have to find them. Networking opportunities aren’t just for new business. You might just meet other entrepreneurs that are the perfect investor for your company.

Other Businesses

Chances are, you already know people in a similar line of work as yours. Perhaps you can connect with them to see if they have any recommendations on who may be interested in investing in your company. Turn up at industry trade shows with your investors pitch ready to go.

This research process might take up quite a bit of your time, as you’re unlikely to find willing investors from just one phone call. You may have to call a lot of people or attend industry events to network. But, if you keep digging, you just might be introduced to that certain someone who likes your business plan or product enough to invest in it.

Schools that offer certificates, diplomas, or degrees in your field are also a possible way to reach potential investors. This is because often, the professors who teach the programs invite guests in to speak on certain subjects. Typically, these guests are experts in their field. Perhaps you can see if the professors or someone in the department will reach out to these guests on your behalf, to set up an introduction.

7. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding websites are online platforms that help entrepreneurs raise money. Individuals and companies can run crowdfunding campaigns that aim to attract multiple investors.

This is a relatively new way to find investors that provide the initial funding to kick-start your new company. People that are enthusiastic about a new product or service can donate money to startup funds. Each crowdfunding campaign has a target amount that must be reached by a certain date. Otherwise, you don’t receive any of the promised funds.

Following are a few of the most popular types of crowdfunding.

Reward-Based Crowdfunding Platforms

This is where contributors are asked for relatively small amounts of money, in return for some type of reward from the startup.

For example, Dave’s Drones is a startup company looking for funds for a new product, a 4K drone with artificial intelligence technology. Each investor who pledges $600 will get a free drone when the product launches 18 months from now (at a retail value of $900). Those who pledge $750, get the drone, two extra batteries, and an extended warranty.

This is a win-win, because the business’s at-cost charge to send each investor the product upon release will likely be a lot less than $600. The investor—assuming the business is successful—is getting a great deal. And you don’t lose any ownership of your business.

Indiegogo and Kickstarter are two examples of reward-based crowdfunding platforms.

Peer-to-Peer Lending (or Debt-Based Crowdfunding)

Peer-to-peer businesses facilitate loans by matching people or businesses needing money, with investors.

Applicants fill out an online form, and the peer-to-peer lending facility provides a credit score to potential investors, who can then decide whether to lend money or not.

The investors receive their money back monthly, plus interest. In this way, they do not own any of the businesses they are providing funds to. The easiest analogy here is that of a bank loan, except that the borrower is paying less interest than would be typically paid back to a bank, and an investor is earning a higher return than he would have received through a regular savings account or other bank investment product. There are risks, though, as the investor’s money is not protected by the government.

Examples of peer-to-peer lending organizations are Lending Club and Prosper.

Equity Crowdfunding

This is a type of crowdfunding where investors take some ownership in the company, typically through shares. Although their original investment is not paid back, they will receive a share of the profits if the company does well.

The amounts invested are not small, typically they starts in the thousands. The rewards can also be much greater than a typical investment, but equity-based crowdfunding is also riskier because there is no guarantee on return. Startups typically don’t pay out dividends or interest in the early days, and there are fewer legal protections.This option is more appropriate for a larger company.

An example of an equity-based crowdfunding platform is OurCrowd.

investor startup business plan

Investors look at a lot of things when deciding whether to put their money—or their company’s money—into another business. Such as:

  • Unique idea or product. Is the product or idea unique? If not, are the features unique? If not, why will this sell?
  • Solid business plan. Does the plan include market analysis and product execution?
  • Education and experience. Does the management team have the education and experience to achieve the objective?
  • Financial data. This includes cash-flow, expenses, profitability, projections—all the hard data.

Details, Details, Details

Your investors will want you to be able to answer all their questions about your business plan and performance. You’ll need to be prepared to talk about your failures and vulnerabilities, as well as your success so far. This gives the investor confidence in you as the founder and makes them more likely to trust you with their money.

You will likely want to have your balance sheet , income state You’ll need to be able to explain exactly what you intend to do with the money they’re investing. They will also want to know how they can get their money out of the business when the time comes.

The amount of a company’s ownership given to an investor is often directly related to how much money that investor is willing to put into it. There are so many different variables in every business, there is no one answer when determining a percentage. Every deal is bespoke.

Keep in mind, though, that with investors, the capital outlay will not be worth it to them, if the percentage is too low. Offering business investors 5% is likely to be meaningless because this gives them little return even if the company is successful. It will also take them a long time just to recoup their original investment, let alone start to make any profit. To attract investors, you need to show them where they’re getting a good return.

Finding investors is difficult. Finding the right investors for your situation is even trickier. Do you need a business partner, venture capitalist, or crowdfunding investor? Or something else Do you need an investor at all?

Whatever your decision it’s vital that you do your due diligence on any individual or company that’s investing in you. Look at their track record and other investments. How involved do they want to be in your company? Beyond funding, can they provide value through their networks or expertise? Investing is a two-way street and a relationship that can last years, so evaluating how that relationship will play out is worth an investment of your time, too.

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Claire McCabe

About the author

Claire is a freelance writer living in the UK and can be found online at Copy Content Writer Claire loves working with words, thoroughly enjoys the research part of her job, and approaches it with the integrity and scepticism necessary to deliver authoritative writing.

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Written by Mary Kate Miller | January 16, 2024

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Your idea is killer, now how do you find investors? Every business needs funding—some more than others. Many new small businesses are able to launch by bootstrapping, but sooner or later you might need capital to take your business to the next level.

You may find yourself wondering how to find small business investors and where to find them. As a new founder, you might need to know where to find angel investors and how to attract their attention. A more mature business might ask the same question about venture capital.

We’re going to run you through the best strategies for finding and securing investors. Because the truth is that finding investors was always half the battle. If your business isn’t in investment shape, then you’re not going to get very far. In this guide, we’ll cover both. First, we’ll outline the best ways to find investors—because we know that’s why you came and we won’t make you wait. Then, we’ll outline everything you need to know to prepare your business to make it appealing enough to secure an investment.

Table of Contents

Bootstrapping

Friends and family, angel investors, venture capital, crowdfunding, small business loans, how to find investors in the real world.

Preparing to Be Investment-Worthy

Prepare to Adjust Your Expectations

How to Find Investors from Founders Who’ve Done It

The top business investment types.

What options do you have for funding? These are the most common ways to raise capital for a new business.

Foundr plus dollar trail build business banner

Bootstrapping is the process of self-financing your own business. While you likely won’t be able to finance your business entirely on your own without a substantial financial safety net, it’s often the best place to start—even and especially if you plan to see additional investment down the line.

Potential investors want to see that a small business owner has skin in the game. They want to see that you’ve believed in your business enough to invest your own money into it. Why should someone else believe in you with their money if you haven’t first shown belief in the idea yourself?

Jeremy Halpern, a partner at Nutter and an angel investor for many businesses in the food and beverage industry, told Business.com , “When a CEO founder is at personal risk, and their success is directly tied to the success of their company, they are more apt to persist, to innovate and to adopt a run-through-brick-walls mentality.”

Realistically assess your personal financial situation and see if there is any way—even a small way—that you can invest in your own idea. Perhaps it needs a website and you can front the hosting and design costs for such. The extent to which you’re invested in your idea, relative to your financial situation, will be taken into consideration by outside investors. If you spend 10% of your worth on it, then you will be in a better position to ask them for 10% of their investment ability.

Don’t Skip: How to Start a Startup (Advice from Those Who’ve Done It)

Pros of Bootstrapping

  • Freedom and ownership of your business.
  • The ability to grow sustainably.
  • Bootstrapping puts emphasis on the customer instead of the investors.

Cons of Bootstrapping

  • It’s all on you.
  • Slow growth.
  • Little room for error.
  • Profitability wins out over innovation.
  • No up-front financial and business support.

Why Funding Doesn't Define Your Success | Christina Stembel

Once you’ve exhausted your own resources, consider whether your existing relationships with friends or family might be funding possibilities. It should be easier to convince someone who already knows you to invest in your idea than a complete stranger. Be prepared to give them your business plan and answer their questions. Then hone your material with the information their inquiries and responses illuminated and thank your lucky stars that you got this preparation time before approaching strangers.

Many small business owners turn to friends and family to invest in their idea. Friends and family funding is one of the most accessible methods to raise capital. You won’t have to go through the same rigorous process that you would with private investors or VC firms, and you already have the necessary connections and introductions.

A few notes on friends and family funding: the biggest perk of friends and family funding can also be its biggest risk. It’s not an established industry. Your friends and family likely aren’t professional investors, so they won’t put you through your paces in the same way a business angel might when you’re requesting funding. The flip side of this is that the same “handshake deal” vibe that makes the money easy to get can also make the business relationship complicated in the future.

Set yourself up for success by clearly outlining what your friends and family will receive in return for their investment. Will they receive equity? If so, how much? Do they expect to be repaid? If so, what’s the time frame and what interest (if any) will be paid?

Put it all in writing. And a word to the wise—if your relationship isn’t on solid ground to begin with, maybe don’t ask that person to invest. You have other options. Business funding isn’t worth jeopardizing your relationships.

Hopefully, by working within your own relationships first, you’ve realized that there is more to an individual than the money they can bring to your project. Getting feedback from others is valuable.

Being introduced to people within their own networks is a gift. Do not look past the value inherent in relationships just to pursue cash or you’ll rob yourself of opportunities to grow as a professional and hone your idea.

Pros of Friends and Family

  • The buy-in of people who care about you the most.
  • Support without business strings attached.
  • Freedom while having a safety net.

Cons of Friends and Family

  • Can alter relationships if the business fails.
  • In some cases, can put more pressure on you to be successful.

Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest their own money into fledgling businesses, often in exchange for equity. The benefits of angel funding are that it can provide you with substantial capital to develop and grow your business. So, how do you secure an angel investment? Here are our tips:

  • Network with local investors. Sometimes the answers you need are closest to home. Network as much as you can in your local area. Go to local startup events, chamber of commerce meetings, and fundraisers.
  • Check out angel investor networks. There are several angel investor networks online. The Angel Investment Network is the largest online community of angel investors with 300,000+ investors. You can also find networks that are geared towards specific business types of entrepreneur demographics. Pipeline Angels is dedicated to funding women-owned businesses, and AngelList is designed to fund tech startups.
  • Reach out to successful entrepreneurs in your area. Successful entrepreneurs have capital, know how to recognize a good business opportunity, and understand what it takes to run a successful business, AKA the recipe for a great angel investor.

Pros of Angel Investors

  • A boost of capital without much meddling in your day-to-day.
  • Typically, angel investors like to stay behind the scenes.
  • You only have to report to a select few investors.
  • Angel investors tend to have closer relationships with founders.

Cons of Angel Investors

  • Can also be aloof and set unreasonable expectations.
  • Lack of complete ownership of your business.
  • If your business is successful later, you’ll end up earning less.

Venture capital is a form of private equity that typically invests during later stages of startup growth , either in exchange for equity or a convertible note (a type of bond that can be converted to common stock or cash, once the company has more established value). A venture capital firm looks for startups with massive growth potential so they can gain a solid and expedient return on investment.

Securing venture capital is highly competitive, and it typically comes with a lot of pressure, so you want to consider this option carefully before pursuing it. Only pursue funding from a private equity firm if your business is in a position to scale and grow rapidly. The ultimate goal of venture capital is to invest in businesses that either can go public or get acquired by a major corporation.

If that sounds like a fit for your business, here are some ways to find venture capital investment:

  • Research venture capital firms invested in complementary businesses. You don’t want to seek out venture capital firms that have invested in your direct competitors (that would be a conflict of interest so they’d be unlikely to invest). Instead, research venture capital firms.
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has created novel investment opportunities for startups. Try connecting with venture capitalists on the platform.
  • Attend pitch events. Pitch events are a great way for entrepreneurs to connect with private equity firms. Research what pitch events are happening locally or virtually. Even if you don’t pitch, it’s worth it to attend for the networking opportunities.

Pros of Venture Capital

  • The investment to move fast and take risks.
  • You can hire better staff.
  • Networking and exposure.
  • Accountability.

Cons of Venture Capital

  • Less ownership and freedom.
  • VCs can pressure you to exit early.
  • Once you start with VCs, it doesn’t stop.
  • You’re subservient to your investors.

How Her Rejected Pitch Led to a Billion-Dollar Startup

Crowdfunding platforms allow you to finance the launch of a product or business with small investments from a large number of people. The benefit of crowdfunding is that it can give you access to the capital you need to manufacture your product or open your store, but on the flip side, you may also be required to fulfill a large number of orders as you’re still working out the kinks.

The way that crowdfunding works will depend on what type of crowdfunding platform you choose. Some platforms, like Kickstarter, work by offering perks along with purchases. Equity crowdfunding, on the other hand, offers private company securities to a group of investors. Each method has its pros and cons and you’ll want to thoroughly research each platform before you dive in.

Pros of Crowdfunding

  • Create buzz and engagement around your idea.
  • You’ll develop a loyal customer base from the start.
  • A financial goal to develop your idea.

Cons of Crowdfunding

  • Not every idea works.
  • Requires upfront marketing costs.
  • You owe promises to backers.

The final method of securing capital for your business is through small business loans. Small business loans come with a higher cost of capital—you’ll be expected to repay the loan with interest—but they also don’t require you to give up any equity in your business. US Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are the gold standard for small businesses loans. They have low rates and favorable terms. They’re also competitive and require a stack of paperwork to apply.

Still, it can be worth it. A small business loan allows you to maintain control over your business and protects you from the pressure a professional investor might bring early in the process.

Pros of Small Business Loans

  • A financial foundation to build upon.
  • Plenty of programs and support opportunities.

Cons of Small Business Loans

  • A loan is a loan. You’ve got to pay the piper eventually.
  • Government loans and programs involve red tape and paperwork.

Building an Empire During the 2008 Recession | Kendra Scott's Story

Events are one of the best ways to connect with prospective investors. You can attend an existing event or go bold and create your own.

Create an Event

If you have completed a business plan and exhausted your immediate circle of relationships, then you might be ready to create an event yourself to help build out your core team (either through adding partners or creating an advisory council). To conduct a successful event, you’ll need event planning skills, finances to fund the event, and a large enough network of potential startup business investors to invite.

Don’t fret. Most entrepreneurs do not have all of the elements necessary to create a successful event on their own. For this reason, and others, entrepreneurs can turn to an accelerator .

Tim Cartwright, the founder of Tamiami Angel Fund , encourages entrepreneurs to think along these lines. “An accelerator can be approached with an idea or concept and will provide you with the curriculum to create the business plan, build community with other entrepreneurs, and create a demo day for investors,” he says. By the time your demo day arrives, you will have not only accomplished the steps described herein but also had the benefit of completing them alongside others on a similar journey.

Attend an Event

A few words of caution before you run out and register for a conference: do not waste all your time at networking events. You could spend every week in a different city at a different trade show or conference. It’s easy to go overboard here. Don’t.

Be certain you’ve addressed the first elements covered here before going to events. Sure, you’re excited and cannot wait to get out there and see all those eyes widen and backs straighten when people learn of your “Great Big Idea.” Wait anyway. Do the first steps. Wide eyes and straight backs don’t hand over checks if you’re all talk.

When you’re ready to attend networking events, be strategic in choosing which are worth your time and money . Research is at your fingertips. Determine whether WebSummit, Money2020, TechCrunch Disrupt, SXSW, Collision, or other conferences are the gatherings best suited to receive your ideas.

Preparing Your Business to Be Investment-Worthy

Landing investment is tough. And the battle actually begins long before most new entrepreneurs realize it does. That’s because the pitch itself is just a tiny part of the process of getting funding, and there’s a long list of preparation that needs to happen well in advance in order to increase the likelihood, or even possibility, of receiving outside funding.

Investors expect you to have checked certain boxes before approaching them. When seeking funding, you’ll get questions as to whether you’ve checked these boxes and, if your answer is no, their response will be the same. We’re here to get you ready for that fateful day, so you can walk off with a smile on your face and a check in your hand. Before you approach angel funds, venture capitalists, or even friends and family, take these steps.

Write Your Business Plan

Writing your plan shows that you’ve thought past that flash of insight in the shower when your “Great Big Idea” hits. It also communicates respect to everyone you approach. It says, “I’m serious. I’ve taken the time to think this through.” If you have not created a business plan, then pick up your pen and put this on your to-do list right now. We’ve got a great article here on how to write a winning business plan.

As you work through the steps of creating a business plan, you’ll increase your knowledge and understanding of the industry. During that initial research phase, you will establish or expand your awareness of who is already in the niche you wish to enter. In determining the purpose of your business, you’ll also form a filter through distractions, so they’ll be less likely to waste your time and attention.

A potential business investor will see that you have carefully considered not only where your idea is today, but where it could be in the future and how it can overcome potential obstacles. Remember when writing your plan to leave room for adaptability, as you may be sending the finished product to an investor, to a bank, or even a potential business partner. Finally, take time in the plan to communicate why you are passionate about this particular idea. Let people know why you care and you might just find others who care as well.

What’s the Best Business Plan to Succeed as a Consultant?

Prove Your Concept

Writing a business plan shows you’ve thought through your concept. Now, have you tested whether it will work in real life? Some ideas look great on paper, and that’s the only place they should ever exist. Seasoned, serious investors will want to know that your idea works in real life. Assuming you haven’t bootstrapped a version of your business, are you passionate enough about your idea that you’ll devote time to building a prototype or testing out the concept? Can you join the likes of Steve Wozniak and turn your garage into a production space?

Build a prototype . Keep building until it works. The results of your testing will inform both your concept and your potential investor. Testing often uncovers flaws and loopholes in the original idea, allowing you to hone your business venture even further before bringing it up for investment consideration. It also gives you valuable data to include in the business plan. It may even uncover others who are working on a similar idea, giving you an opportunity to add business partners or at least be informed about your competition.

If your “Great Big Idea” is more a new how than a new what, then consider how you could prove your concept. For instance, maybe you have a better idea for how to represent musical artists and get them paid for use of their songs. Either create models on paper representing your concept or, better yet, find a handful of musical artists who will allow you to represent them in the new fashion you envision.

Allow yourself however many steps it takes to get your idea to a functioning prototype or proven concept. The process of doing so will prepare your idea for investment consideration and make you a better entrepreneur!

Consider a Cofounder

Perhaps you need a cofounder in your company, someone whose strengths complement your weaknesses. Are you strong on creativity but weak on finances? Seek out a financial expert who would be willing to be a cofounder or partner with you and handle those aspects of the business. You may have to give up some ownership to get this participation, but you will also gain invaluable expertise. Second, a cofounder may bring funding to the project either personally or through their network.

Form an Advisory Council

Maybe instead of a cofounder, you seek out professionals in your desired industry who would be willing to form an advisory council of sorts. This can be as few as 3 people who are willing to communicate with you and share their wisdom to help the next great thing come about in their industry. Their presence in your management structure could be the very thing that lets an investor know you are credible and investment-ready.

When forming an advisory council, consider what objections potential investors might raise and then find experts who will address those concerns. For instance, let’s say you want to fill a giant warehouse with trampolines and charge kids for entry. Perhaps a safety expert and a child development expert would make good members for your advisory council. Or maybe you want to create ergonomic office furniture. Approaching medical professionals or physical therapists for membership on your council would be a very wise step.

Practice Listening

When approaching strangers—even if you already think the person will be a good advisory council member, business partner, or investor—first ask for advice and then LISTEN.

Set aside whatever goal you brought to the conversation and actually hear what the person is saying. Ask questions about the advice you are being given until you understand how you can apply it to your business concept. Hear what they’re saying beneath the actual words they are saying. Are you hearing a willingness to help? Is the person conveying a genuine curiosity about you or your concept? If so, maybe you’ve found your business partner or advisor. Take a deep breath because you are about to make an ask, not for money, but for something even more valuable—time.

Get Clear on Your Ask

If you expect to find sincere interest in your idea, be prepared to communicate exactly what your request entails. Are you asking the person to be an advisory council member? A cofounder? A business partner? What will these roles mean for the person? Will there be daily emails? Monthly meetings? Phone calls? Will the person be expected to reach out to their circle of influence and bring those people into the mix? Don’t assume that your expectations are the same as others who may have approached this person for help. Speak clearly, communicate succinctly what you are asking the person to do with regard to you and your project. Here’s an example:

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. I know your time is valuable. You seem interested in what I’m working on, which makes me wonder if you’d consider being on an advisory council for this? It’d probably be a couple of emails per week and a phone call every month or so. I would bring you questions or ideas as I develop the concept further and expect you to give feedback on those from your place of experience and expertise.

Practice Your Pitch

You won’t be able to woo private investors like angel investors or venture capitalists without a solid pitch deck. Not sure where to start? Check out our guide on developing a million-dollar pitch deck .

Inside Daymond John’s Most Succesful Shark Tank Investment

Prepare to Adjust Your Expectations About the Investing Process

“It will take twice as long to raise the money you need as you hope,” Cartwright advises, “and you’ll probably need twice as much as you think.”

You’ve put in an enormous amount of work to get to this point. Now is not the time to lower numbers and hope that makes you more attractive to investors. Know what you need, and then add a margin for error. Educated investors expect such.

At this stage, if you have been networking and attending conferences while preparing yourself, it’s highly likely you have already been connected with several investors. Networking is one of the easiest ways to find people who are willing to invest capital in your business. If not, you can always Google and go in the cold.

Find out the names of the people involved in the funds you’re approaching and then research those people. Investors will absolutely be performing due diligence on you. It’s perfectly acceptable to do your own due diligence on them. After all, you’ve worked hard to create an attractive investment vehicle. Ask if they have invested in projects before that achieved success. If the person fails to list even one success story, you have some information to pause and consider.

Keep Learning: Business Startup Funding – A Beginner’s Guide

What will set you above all those other entrepreneurs approaching angel funds and venture capitalists? That’s different for each one. Some prefer to fund specific phases in a business’s life, others are targeted toward a specific industry or niche.

Learn from stories of successful founders who’ve raised money from investors in different ways:

  • How Hismile Transformed from Internet Sensation into a Category Contender
  • Michelle Zatlyn: A Silicon Valley Outsider Who Did the Impossible
  • How Mercury Co-founder Immad Akhund Finds Joy in Building Startups, Even If They’re Not His
  • Eat My Baby Co. Founder Turned Nostalgic Snacks into an Apparel Brand That Celebrates Heritage
  • How Holly Thaggard and Supergoop! Took Sun Protection Global
  • Kirin Sinha Is Leading the AR Charge With Illumix
  • Why Ethan Yong Left His Career to Build UmamiPapi Into a Chili Oil Sensation

Ready to Learn More?

We’re here to help entrepreneurs grow their knowledge base so they can grow their businesses. Check out our selection of comprehensive training from foundr+ to help you get started on everything from building an ecommerce business to growing your social media presence.

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About Mary Kate Miller

Mary Kate Miller writes about small business, real estate, and finance. In addition to writing for Foundr, her work has been published by The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, Bustle, and more. She lives in Chicago.

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How to invest in startups: 6 tips for getting started with little money

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Investing in startups can seem elusive and even out of reach for the average investor. In the old days, it probably wasn’t for you if you weren’t the type to wear a top hat and monocle. These days, however, it’s possible to invest in startups even if you don’t eat caviar and truffles.

It’s important to understand that while investing in a startup can help you buy your next McLaren or mega yacht, these investments can carry significant risks. Most startups fail, meaning you can lose your investment. These are long-term commitments that can take time to pay off. If that doesn’t scare you, these tips can help you learn how to invest in startups.

Tips for investing in startups

Investing in startups can seem challenging or even impossible, but there are several ways to dip your toes into this gold-plated pool. Here’s how to get started.

1. Define your goals

First, you should understand your goals and risk tolerance. Every investor has a unique set of goals, and returns aren’t always the driving factor. For instance, some investors seek high returns, while others look to maximize their social impact.

You must also determine your risk tolerance . What percentage of your portfolio are you willing to allocate to high-risk investments like startups? Younger investors usually have a long time horizon, which gives them more time to recover from losses. However, you must understand your own risk tolerance and willingness to tolerate potential losses in the short term in exchange for long-term success.

2. Research and analyze startups you are considering

Like most investment types, startups are diverse, with many companies and sectors to consider. Generally, it’s best to invest in sectors in which you have knowledge or passion, as this will help you evaluate potential opportunities more effectively.

When investing in a startup, you should understand the founder and team’s experience and track record. How will the company make money, and does it have a unique competitive advantage in the market? You should also understand the valuation and how it compares to startups at a similar stage.

3. Network with the community of startup founders

Networking with startup founders can help you get early access to potential investment opportunities. In addition, it can help you gain insights into emerging trends and market shifts within the industry.

There are many ways you might be able to network with the community of startup founders. You can attend industry-focused conferences or meetups or find local hackathons where developers and entrepreneurs collaborate on projects.

You can also network with startup founders online through platforms like LinkedIn, X and startup communities like Indie Hackups and Product Hunt. These platforms give you the opportunity to network with founders any time of year.

4. Consider joining an investment group

While you could invest in startups on your own, there is strength in numbers. There are many investment groups you could potentially join, allowing you to pool your money and knowledge with other investors.

For instance, you can join an angel investing group which focuses on early-stage startups, invest in a venture capital fund or join crowdfunding platforms like SeedInvest or Wefunder. Each of these groups has benefits and drawbacks, but in all cases, you’ll invest alongside others with unique insights to share.

5. Diversify your startup portfolio

As mentioned earlier, most startups will ultimately fail. This is the unfortunate reality of the startup landscape, so it’s best to anticipate that some will fail and not put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, diversify your portfolio so you’re not in trouble when the startup potentially fails.

6. Stay informed on trends

Things can change rapidly with startups, both with the companies themselves and their industries. Regularly keep yourself informed of any recent developments happening with the companies where you invest. While you may not be able to exit a bad investment, it will help you know where the company stands and perhaps identify future investment opportunities.

Bottom line

Investing in startups was once reserved for wealthy individuals but has since been democratized and opened up to larger numbers of people. If you want to invest in startups, ensure you clearly define your goals, adequately research them, and meet a variety of investors and founders. This will help you stay informed about potential investments and remain agile in a rapidly changing startup landscape.

Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.

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Guide to RIA Startup Costs

Advisors researching RIA startup costs.

Starting a registered investment advisor firm can mark the beginning of a new phase in your career if you’re ready to go independent. Assessing RIA startup costs is a key step in the planning process. Understanding some of the most important expenses you’ll need to pay can help you shape your startup budget.

Ready to grow your client base? SmartAsset AMP can help you connect with leads.

Average Cost to Start an RIA

On average, an advisor may need to invest anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 to start an RIA . The actual amount you’ll pay to launch an RIA is dependent on several variables, including your:

  • Registration status
  • State business formation requirements
  • Technology investments
  • Estimated first-year expenses
  • Marketing plans
  • Financing methods

Can you start an RIA for under $10,000? It’s possible if you’re starting the business alone and keeping your operating costs lean. For example, you might market yourself as an online-only RIA or meet with clients in a home office, eliminating the need to lease commercial space.

When in doubt about how much to budget for RIA startup costs, it’s better to overestimate. If your expenses come out lower than you anticipated, you can use any surplus cash to invest in growth. It’s more difficult to produce extra funds to cover startup expenses if you’ve significantly underestimated your needs.

RIA Startup Costs By the Numbers

The easiest way to understand what it costs to start an RIA is to break expenses down by category. Here are some of the most common costs you can expect when going independent.

Exam Registration Fees ($80 – $300)

You’ll need to hold a series 65 license to register as an independent advisor representative and start an RIA firm. You may substitute a Series 7 and Series 66 license for Series 65 if you haven’t been affiliated with a broker-dealer in the previous 24 months.

Each of these securities licenses requires passing an exam. The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam is a corequisite for the Series 7 exam.

Here are the fees you’ll pay to register for each one:

  • Securities Industry Essentials Exam: $80
  • Series 7: $300
  • Series 65: $187
  • Series 66: $177

Most states require registered advisors to take the Series 63 exam, as well. That exam has a fee of $147.

Note that these costs only apply to exam registration fees. You may incur additional expenses if you purchase study materials or exam prep courses.

Business Formation Expenses ($100 – $1,000)

You’ll need to form your business on paper when starting an RIA, and the cost can vary by state as well as your chosen structure. An RIA can be structured as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company (LLC) .

Assuming you go the LLC route, you may pay a fee to:

  • File LLC paperwork
  • Publish notice of the business formation if required by your state
  • Designate a registered agent, if your state requires one
  • Register a “doing business as” (DBA) name
  • Obtain a business license

You’ll also need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. You can do this for free through the IRS website.

If you’re not comfortable drafting a business plan for your RIA yourself, you might hire a consultant to do that for you. That can add to your total cost.

RIA Registration ($40 – $225*)

You’ll need to register your RIA with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or your state agency. Which one you register with depends on your assets under management (AUM).

  • If your AUM exceeds $110 million, you must register with the SEC.
  • If your AUM is less than $100 million, you’d typically register with the state.
  • If your AUM is between $100 and $110 million, you can choose SEC or state registration.

If you’re eligible for SEC registration, you’ll need to complete Form ADV and file it through IARD, the Investment Advisor Registration Depository. SEC registration requires a fee, which is also determined by your AUM. The fee is:

  • $40 for firms with less than $25 million in AUM
  • $150 for firms with AUM between $25 million and $100 million
  • $225 for firms with AUM exceeding $100 million

State fees vary. In North Carolina for instance, investment advisor representatives are required to pay a registration fee of $75 for each advisor in the firm. In New York, the filing fee is $200.

Checking with your state’s regulatory authority can give you an idea of which fees you’ll need to pay to register and the amount.

Errors and Omissions Insurance/Surety Bond ($200 – $5,000)

If your state requires you to carry errors and omissions insurance and/or have a surety bond, you’ll need to factor those into your RIA startup costs budget.

Errors and omissions insurance is designed to protect your firm from liability claims centering on negligence or inadequately performed services. A surety bond is intended to ensure that you perform services as an investment advisor following the law.

Marketing and Advertising ($0 – $5,000)

The amount you’ll spend to promote your new RIA can depend on how you plan to market it.

If you’re bringing a book of business with you, then you might focus on generating referrals through your existing client base first before launching an official marketing campaign. On the other hand, if you’re starting an RIA with zero AUM , then you may need to go all in with your marketing budget to gain traction.

Your marketing budget may include expenses for:

  • Professional website hosting, design and setup
  • Search engine optimization ( SEO ) services
  • Logo and branding design
  • Business cards
  • Social media management services, if you don’t plan to do this yourself
  • Digital ads
  • Print advertisements or billboards
  • Direct mail marketing costs

If marketing feels overwhelming or you’d prefer to spend time serving your clients, you might outsource to a third-party platform. SmartAsset AMP , for instance, can match you with leads and provide you with automation tools to help you nurture new client relationships.

Technology ($0 – $10,000)

You'll want to factor technology solutions into your RIA startup costs.

Tech tools can make it easier to start and grow an RIA. If you’re working with a limited startup budget, it’s important to consider which ones make the most sense to add to your tech stack .

At a minimum, you’ll need:

  • A good customer relationship management (CRM) software
  • Accounting software
  • Financial planning and portfolio management software

You may invest in an email marketing service if you plan to begin building a newsletter from day one. Cloud storage tools can help you organize and manage files, while collaboration tools can make it easier to communicate with members of your team.

Compliance software is another smart investment. You’ll need to name a chief compliance officer (CCO) for your firm, and having compliance software can make their job easier.

In addition to software, you may need to purchase computers, printers or scanners to outfit your office space. If you’re starting an RIA with employees, you’ll need desks, chairs and basic supplies, as well.

Other RIA Startup Costs ($0 – $35,000)

There are other expenses that you might pay to start an RIA that don’t necessarily fit into any single category. These expenses can include:

  • Hiring and training employees
  • Employee payroll
  • Opening and maintaining a business bank account
  • Origination fees, interest and monthly payments if you plan to apply for business loans
  • Lease expenses if you’re renting a commercial space
  • RIA custodian fees
  • Attorney’s fees or consulting fees if you get outside help to launch your RIA firm

State-registered RIAs may be subject to net worth and net capital requirements. Each state has different thresholds, but typical requirements are $10,000 and $35,000, respectively. States may require a surety bond for advisors who are unable to meet these requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much do you need to start an ria.

The amount you need to start an RIA may range from $10,000 to $50,000 or more. Your initial startup costs can depend on your registration status, state business formation laws and your overall business plan.

What Is the Minimum AUM to Start an RIA?

Generally, there is no minimum AUM to start an RIA. You can start an RIA with $0 if necessary. Keep in mind, however, that some RIA custodians may impose a minimum AUM rule to accept your firm as a client.

Is Starting an RIA Worth It?

Starting an RIA can be worth it if you’re seeking greater freedom in the kind of client experience you offer. As an independent RIA, you control every aspect of the business. If you’re not ready to become fully independent yet, you might consider working with an RIA aggregator . RIA aggregators provide advisors with the tools they need to serve their clients without the responsibilities associated with running an independent business.

Bottom Line

An advisor starting an RIA, having kept in mind RIA startup costs.

Starting an RIA can be an exciting prospect, but it’s important to know what you might spend going in. Once you’ve launched, it’s helpful to review your budget regularly to assess cash flow and look for opportunities to reduce spending.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • Marketing can take up a decent chunk of your RIA budget, and it’s to your advantage to ensure that your efforts produce results. Investing in an automated marketing service could make sense if you’d like to find new leads without typing up hours of your day. SmartAsset AMP helps match you with leads that fit your ideal client profile. You can nurture those leads using automated tools, while still having plenty of time to serve your clients. Get started today .
  • Once you know how much it will cost to start an RIA , the next step is figuring out how to pay for it. You might draw from your savings account if you’re able to do so, open a business credit card, or apply for a small business loan. If you’re considering financing your new business, take time to compare the options, including credit limits, repayment terms, fees and interest rates.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/shapecharge, ©iStock.com/MTStock Studio, ©iStock.com/FG Trade

More From Forbes

19 ways to begin an investment journey later in your career.

Forbes Finance Council

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Making your first investment late in your career can feel daunting. While the timeline for growth may be shorter, strategic investments can help build a robust financial portfolio even in the later stages of your professional life.

Here, 19 Forbes Finance Council members share the smartest avenues for late-career investing, such as low-risk bonds, dividend-paying stocks and real estate. With the right approach and careful planning, late investors can achieve financial security and enjoy the benefits of their investments well into retirement.

1. Focus On Investments That Align With Your Goals

Focus on investments that align with financial goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. It's never too late to start investing, and people can adjust their investment strategy to prioritize capital preservation and income generation. - Asli Erem , Various

2. Consider A Diversified Portfolio

For late-career investors, consider a diversified portfolio to include public market securities and alternative or private equities with a lens on tax efficiency. Alternatives could have a higher yield in a shorter period. If done well, this can significantly increase wealth, creating an exponential effect on accumulated wealth. For legacy wealth creation, consider insurance instruments. - John Garcia , Solyco Capital

3. Self-Assess Your Goals And Risk Appetite

It’s never too late to start making smart financial decisions. Start with a self-assessment of your current state: your assets and goals. Once determined, understand your own risk appetite and need for liquidity, and build a well-diversified portfolio to match. Get support where you need it. The key is to make informed decisions, stay disciplined and regularly review and adjust your strategy. - Ximena Alvarado , Relay Investments

Apple Brings Back iPhone 14 Pro For First Time At Lower Price Refurbished

Trump lashes out at robert de niro after actor calls him a ‘tyrant’ outside courthouse, trump trial prosecutor ends closing argument after nearly 5 hours jury instructions set for wednesday, 4. pay attention to risk and after-tax returns.

It's never too late. I have two recommendations: 1. Pay particular attention to the risk side of any investment. A shorter timeframe until retirement requires more attention to risk; and 2. Focus on the after-tax return. Later in career tends to mean higher income and higher tax rate. It's not just about seeking alpha on your investment, it's about the bottom-line after-tax return. Concentrate on after-tax alpha. - Alvina Lo , Wilmington Trust

Forbes Finance Council is an invitation-only organization for executives in successful accounting, financial planning and wealth management firms. Do I qualify?

5. Invest In Peer-To-Peer Networks

Late-career investors can invest in peer-to-peer networks. These platforms offer diversity, little initial investment and regular interest income. Starting later in life may shorten investment development time, but smart planning and risk management can still yield high returns and financial security in retirement. - Neil Anders , Trusted Rate, Inc.

6. Pay Off Debts First, Then Research Passive Income Streams

In life, there is always time to pursue your goals. Pay off your debts first. I would then research passive income-producing real estate opportunities. After building a real estate portfolio, look into alternative passive income sources. You could quit your full-time job and earn a lot of money through these channels; you never know. You only need to be driven and passionate. - Gomathy Periathiruvadi , Alita Systems

7. Diversify Investments Across Asset Classes

It's never too late to start investing! The power of compound interest can still benefit you. Diversify across asset classes for safety. The key is to begin now and make the most of your investments, regardless of when you start. - Sonya Thadhani Mughal , Bailard, Inc.

8. Fund Retirement Accounts First, Then High Yield Savings Accounts

No matter your age, no matter the amount, start with $100. First? Make sure you’re funding your retirement accounts, and that these accounts are invested, not sitting in cash. Second, take advantage of high interest rates by opening a High Yield Savings Account. Instead of keeping large amounts of cash in a regular savings account, with a HYSA you can earn over 4% interest on your money! - Crissi Cole , Penny Finance

9. Explore Opportunities In Infrastructure And Real Estate

It's worth considering exploring potential opportunities in the realms of infrastructure and real estate. In particular, investors may wish to explore the potential benefits offered by Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs), rental properties or Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). These options have the potential to provide a stable income stream and the opportunity for capital appreciation. - Pankaj Vasani , Cube Highways InvIT

10. Invest In Low-Cost Index Funds Or ETFs

Investing in low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can provide broad market exposure and diversification without the need for individual stock selection. These options can be a good choice for investors looking for a hands-off approach to investing. Investing in high-quality dividend-paying stocks can provide a source of passive income in retirement. - Abiodun Sowemimo , CapitalMetriQ Swift Bank

11. Leverage Your Existing Knowledge And Experience

Start by leveraging your existing knowledge and experience. We all have unique financial needs and goals, but we also have unique knowledge, such as a specific industry or market, or understanding of a sector as a customer. These insights will allow you to invest with intent and minimize risk. If you are involved in non-profits, look at impact investing. If you work in oil and gas, look at renewable energy. - Karim Nurani , Linqto

12. Consider Creating A Foundation

People often overlook the value of creating a foundation and investing from it. A foundation only pays 1.4% investment income tax compared to 30%-plus of individuals or companies. It's never too late to set up a foundation and invest in the most tax-efficient environment all while making a bigger impact in your community - Khurram Chohan , Together CFO

13. Broaden Investment Horizons With Alternatives

Asset classes, such as private equity and credit, can be good starting points due to the potential for higher returns and yield generation. Alternative investments offer unique diversification prospects that can complement public market assets. Though high minimums and illiquidity are key considerations, the growth of secondary markets has significantly broadened individual investor access. - Anna Fee , GoodFin

14. Consider Investing In Crypto

It is never too late to start anything. The best industry to start in terms of risk-reward in my opinion is crypto, as it is following many of the trends demonstrated by IT companies in the late 90s-early 2000s. Now is the best time to start, and the right place to start would be in getting a grasp on fundamental aspects of the technology and market psychology. - Tatiana Keller , CFST

15. Consult An Investment Professional

How late is too late to invest? If you've spent the better half of your career working for money, it's never too late to have your money work for you. Start with familiar options, consult an investment professional or consider investing in a side hustle to boost your income. Remember that investing is a business—and all businesses need a plan. - Mark Kane , Sunwise Capital

16. Complete A Risk Assessment And Establish Timelines

Step one: Begin by completing a risk tolerance questionnaire, such as Riskalyze, to gain insights into your risk preferences. Step Two: Establish clear timelines for your income needs. Step three: Based on your risk score, construct a portfolio that aligns with your risk tolerance and investment goals. - Anthony Williams , Mosaic Financial Associates

17. Maximize The Power Of Compound Interest

We are all going to start living longer. The need to save and invest is more important now. Open a 401(k), IRA or tax saving vehicle. Start investing in low-cost index funds and add to it every month. Einstein said that the power of compounding was the eighth wonder of the world! Saving, investing, re-investing and the power of compounding will get you far, even if you started investing late. - Paul Daneshrad , StarPoint Properties

18. Aim For Diversification And Rely On Experts

If starting late, aim for diversification and leveraging the expertise of career investors rather than trying to select individual stocks. Using Investment ISAs to invest in funds can both maximize tax-free investments and take advantage of the diversification and expertise of investment professionals. - Sabrina Castiglione , Pento

19. Start With Your Employer's Retirement Plan

It is never too late to begin investing. There is always time to make small progress to create a retirement plan for yourself and your family. The smartest place to invest if you are employed is your employer’s retirement plan. Your pre-tax contributions into an employer-sponsored plan lower your taxable income and may offer the advantage of an employer’s contribution matching into the plan. - Lindsey Allard , Beirne

The information provided here is not investment, tax, or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

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Google to invest $2 billion in Malaysian data center and cloud hub

Google plans to invest $2 billion in Malaysia, developing its first data center and a Google Cloud hub in the latest big foray by a U.S. tech giant in the Southeast Asian country

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Google plans to invest $2 billion in Malaysia, developing its first data center and a Google Cloud hub in the latest big foray by a U.S. tech giant in the Southeast Asian country.

The news follows Microsoft’s recent announcement that it would put $2.2 billion over the next four years into building Malaysia’s new cloud and artificial intelligence infrastructure.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim hailed Google’s investment as a sign of faith in Malaysia’s governance and economy. Anwar said Thursday that the investment is expected to add $3.2 billion to the economy and create 26,500 jobs by 2030.

The investments are a coup for Anwar as he seeks to consolidate his strength against a strong Islamic opposition.

Google said in a statement that the new hubs will be developed at a business park in central Malaysia’s Selangor state, to meet growing demand for cloud services and for artificial intelligence literacy programs for Malaysian students and educators.

Malaysia will be the 12th country to house a Google data center. The Malaysian Google Cloud hub — which will deliver services to large enterprises, startups and the public sector, will join 40 regions and 121 zones currently in operation around the world, it said.

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“This investment builds on our partnership with the government of Malaysia to advance its ‘Cloud First Policy,’ including best-in-class cybersecurity standards,” said Ruth Porat, Alphabet Inc.’s president and chief financial officer.

Anwar met with Porat and other business leaders during visits to the U.S. last year.

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Evers announces $100 million investment to boost startup businesses

investor startup business plan

Gov. Tony Evers has announced a $100 million effort to back startup businesses, which he called “the biggest public-private investment in Wisconsin startups and entrepreneurs in our state’s history.”

Evers announced the Wisconsin Investment Fund yesterday at Forward BIOLABS in Madison, a company that offers lab and office space for startups, along with WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes and officials from five venture capital firms selected for funding. 

Evers said the $100 million “is only the beginning” and that he expects the fund to grow significantly.

“As the businesses that receive these investments start to grow, the value of the fund will grow with them, and this will create new opportunities to help even more businesses expand,” Evers said. “In fact, over time, we expect the value of this fund to grow exponentially with a 10-to-one private-public investment ratio.”

The money will be used to invest in companies working in several areas, including technology, health care, agriculture and manufacturing. Hughes praised the investment, saying it will send a message to entrepreneurs that the state will support them. 

“The Wisconsin Investment Fund is literally planting a flag in the ground and saying ‘We want to support entrepreneurs who want to start here, who want to grow here, and most importantly, who want to stay here​​,’” Hughes said. 

Cardamom Health CEO Vivek Swaminathan, whose company will be among the first to receive Wisconsin Investment Fund money, said access to capital is critical for startups.

“Oftentimes, we’re trying to make decisions when we can finally afford to make them instead of when it’s really right for our business,” Swaminathan said. “And so we plan to use this kind of capital to hire employees, to improve our solutions and add more, whether it’s product or technology, and to continue to take care of our customers. And if we can do all of that, then we can grow our business and ultimately make a greater impact.”

The venture capital firms will invest at least $1 into startup companies for each dollar of public money they invest. The returns will then be reinvested into the fund to help it grow. The U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative will provide the $50 million that makes up the state’s portion of the $100 million. 

The largest allocation, $15 million, is going to Madison-based HealthX Ventures, led by veteran entrepreneur Mark Bakken. 

Bakken, the firm’s founder and managing partner, launched the VC firm in 2015 and has since grown it to 36 portfolio companies with more than $4.3 billion in market value, according to his Linkedin page . HealthX Ventures is focused on startups driving health care innovation with digital products, with joint headquarters in Madison and San Francisco. 

“We are proud to be a part of WEDC’s Wisconsin Investment Fund,” Bakken said in a statement. “Wisconsin has a strong healthcare ecosystem, and this fund will provide great opportunities for health-related startups in Wisconsin seeking to build off of it.” 

Committee members for the Wisconsin Investment Fund reviewed applications from 31 fund managers before making their selections, according to a release. Other recipient funds include: 

*Venture Investors Health Fund , with $12 million. Based in Madison and Milwaukee, this firm invests in early-stage health care innovations coming out of Midwest research universities such as UW-Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin. It’s focused on medical devices, therapeutics, digital health, and diagnostics. 

Managing Director David Arnstein says the fund’s goal is to “invest in the most promising healthcare investment opportunities in Wisconsin that will have a profound impact on human health.” 

*Serra Ventures of Champaign, Ill., with $7 million. This firm invests in early-stage, emerging and growth-stage tech companies in the Midwest region, though Evers’ release specifies the WIF dollars will only be used in Wisconsin. It has launched multiple funds focused on agriculture and food innovation. 

CEO and Managing Partner Tim Hoerr highlights the state’s “long and storied history in ag and food,” calling it a perfect fit for the firm’s latest fund, the Serra-Grondex Ag & Food Tech Fund II. 

“Our team at Serra looks forward to finding and funding the very best Wisconsin companies in the ag and food sector,” Hoerr said. 

*NVNG Investment Advisors , with $6 million. Standing for “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” the firm is co-founded by Carrie Thome and Grady Buchanan and has a presence in Madison and Milwaukee. 

“WEDC’s Wisconsin Investment Fund aligns very well with our vision of making Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem globally competitive, and we’re looking forward to making meaningful investments in promising startups across the state,” Thome said in a statement. 

*Idea Fund of La Crosse , with $5 million. With a focus on pre-revenue and early-stage tech companies across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, the firm targets software startups and has invested in 15 portfolio companies so far. 

Jon Horne, the firm’s managing director, says startup founders in the region can “succeed at the highest levels” with the right resources and opportunities. 

“This investment will help us drive more startup growth and success right here in Wisconsin,” he said. 

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is currently negotiating with a sixth fund manager for the final $5 million allocation, according to the release . 

Listen to a recent podcast with Horne. 

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WisBusiness.com

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