Every business plan should include the following elements:
- Executive Summary: Start off with an overview of your company's purpose and goals, and why you believe it will be successful.
- Company Overview and Objectives: Now you can take a deep dive into the problem your company wants to solve, how it will do so, and any competitive advantages it has.
- Market Opportunities: This is the evaluation of your target market, target audience, market trends, and competition.
- Marketing and Sales: Explain how you plan to grow and market your company.
- Management Team and Operations: Here's where you explain who will lead your company and how it will be structured.
- Financial Analysis: Include forecasted expenditures, income, cash flow, etc. Break your projections down by quarter or month. If your business is already running, include things like your balance sheet, income statement, cash-flow statement, operating budget, etc.
- Funding Request: If you're going after funding, explain how much you'll need and what you'll need it for, in detail. Clarify how far in terms of months or years this funding will carry you. Don't forget to include how you plan to pay back this debt down the road.
- Appendix: This is where you include supporting materials such as résumés, images, credit history, patents, permits, licenses, letters of reference, etc.
While knowing what to include is incredibly helpful, what can be even more helpful is seeing some examples of actual business plans.
Examples can give you the inspiration you need as you start writing your own business plan.
Here are my favorite resources that showcase really good business plans.
At Bplans, you'll find more than 500 business-plan samples tailored to specific industries, including:
- Online and offline retail stores
- Medical and health care
- Restaurants, cafés, and bakeries
- Pet services
- Beauty salons and day spas
- And many more
LivePlan is another place you can find some inspiration to write your own business plan.
It has hundreds of examples across industries.
It also have 10 professionally designed themes that you can use to make your business plan look extra polished.
3. ACCA Global
ACCA Global has three downloadable, fictional business plans.
You'll find one for an airport café, another for a stone-importing business, and a third for a fuel-efficiency business.
4. U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a complete guide to business plans, as well as a deep dive into the difference between a traditional business plan and a lean-startup business plan.
Discover a traditional business plan for a consulting firm, and a lean-startup business plan for a toy company.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also connects you with free business-plan counselors if you need further guidance.
There's only one sample business plan here, but it's a good one.
Shopify created a sample business plan for a fictional organic denim and apparel company, and it's definitely worth a look.
Now that you've got some ideas and inspiration, you can make a unique business plan for your company by communicating your unique vision for your product, your target audience, and your go-to-market strategy.