Ask any good sports coach how they win so many games, and they’ll tell you that each game they coach has its own strategy. In business, the same principle applies. You must prepare for combat before entering a market if you want to develop a strong firm that can outperform the competitors.
Business plans help you navigate the bumpy road of starting and building a business. Using one as a reference point along your journey will keep you on track to success. In addition, if your company strategy is interesting enough, it may persuade investors to fund you.
Business plans are mainly created to assist entrepreneurs in seeking capital, so they can start a new business. This contains all information that is needed to convince the potential investors of their professionalism and their great idea. Most likely, these documents contain information about the company’s financial or technical status, shareholders and founders, future plans, marketing strategies, and more.
You may desire to find an example of business plan, especially when you are inquisitive about this particular topic. Owing to the fact there are a lot of examples of business plan that could be shared on this site, it is likely for you to obtain one example here.
Business Plan Outline
The following is a sample of a business plan that we recommend. Because every firm is unique, the business plan must be customized to reflect that, this is more of a guideline than a formal template.
Each component of our business plan outline addresses a specific set of investor inquiries regarding your company. It also has a natural flow, making it perfect for both investors who want to study the plan from beginning to end and those who want to move into specific sections to explain specific topics.
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary, the opening section, is the most crucial. Potential investors will only look into the other portions of your plan for more information if they find this section appealing.
This section will be written last because it provides a summary of the remainder of the plan.
The executive summary’s goal is to pique your investor’s interest in under 5 minutes. Don’t try to tell everyone everything about your company. Make it succinct and to the point.
You must cover the following four points:
- Who You Really Are
- What You’re Selling
- How Big It Can Grow and How Profitable It Can Become
- How Much Do You Require
The purpose of this part is to provide an overview of the company and its management. Depending on whether you already have a business or are establishing one, the content of this section will differ slightly.
Ownership & Structure:
This is a mainly descriptive section, and the following are the key questions you must answer:
Who are the shareholders:
- As part of the anti-money laundering regulations, investors must verify the identity of the shareholders of every company in which they invest or lend money. Giving them the entire list allows them to run a fast sanity check and express any concerns they may have. If your reader is an equity investor, this information also informs him about the other stockholders. It’s also crucial to state whether any of your co-shareholders contributes more than simply money to the company (for example if one of your shareholders is an expert in your industry and also brings advice and credibility to the company).
- One of the anti-money laundering criteria is to know where the firm is registered and what its legal structure is. However, it also gives the reader an idea of the company’s size and the appropriate tax system. Some investors have geographical restrictions on investments, so they’ll verify if you’re eligible here as well.
This is where you would give the important highlights to date if you were drafting a business plan for an established company. The goal is to establish credibility and demonstrate to the reader that you run a viable firm. The following are the important points you should discuss:
- How long have you been in business: This is a reassuring factor for any investor because it demonstrates that your company is viable.
- Milestones of the company: You want to illustrate what has been accomplished thus far in terms of growth, product launches, and internationalization. If you’re looking for growth funding, this will help you establish credibility and demonstrate that you can carry out your plan.
- Past Difficulties: If the company has had challenges in the past (for example, due to a new entrant in the market or a sudden decline in demand) and you were able to turn things around and stay in business.
This is where you would describe (preferably using a map) the main location(s) of your business if you are developing a plan for a business where location is crucial (for example, a shop or a restaurant), or if you are managing a huge business with several stores or factories.
One of the most crucial sections of your company plan is this one. You must show that your team has extensive experience in your industry and the necessary skills to run your company.
If your team has any significant skill gaps, you should address and mitigate them here. It’s possible that you’re seeking someone with these abilities, or that you already have a board member or non-executive director who can help.
If you can, try to include some images. It’s always better when a name can be placed on a face! It also helps if you have an upcoming meeting with your investors.
Now that you’ve given a brief overview of the company, it’s time to get into the specifics of what it does.
3. Services and Products
The key to crafting a strong product and services section is to be specific about the product or service you’re selling, the client you’re trying to reach, and the channel you’re using to reach him.
Following this section, your reader will begin to speculate about the size, crowdedness, and profitability of your market, as well as the overall approach. You’d like to point him in the proper way, don’t you? So, instead of saying “I sell shoes,” say “I sell leather boots targeted at ladies aged 16-25 who purchase online.”
If at all possible, include images of your products.
Your reader has a good idea of who you are and what you do. It’s past time for you to demonstrate why this is a wonderful chance.
4. Market Research
This section is a synopsis of our article on how to conduct market analysis; for more information, please see the article.
The market analysis section’s goals are to demonstrate to investors that:
- The market is substantial enough to support a long-term enterprise.
- You have a good understanding of who your clients are and why they buy from you.
- Despite the competition, there is a market gap where your company will fit.
- The initial step in the analysis is to determine the market’s size.
Segmentation and Demographics
Your approach to the market will be determined by the kind of your business. If you’re running a small business, such as a coffee shop, you’ll need to look at the market on a local level (your town, your street). If you want to reach a larger audience, you’ll need to assess the market on a national or international scale.
When determining the size of your market, you must consider two factors:
The number of potential clients and the market’s value.
- The goal is to determine how fragmented your market is. If you’re in a market with a limited number of high-value clients, competing against more established competitors can be difficult, and your business is likely to be dependent on a small number of consumers, meaning that losing one could put your business at risk.
- Now, if you’re in a market with a lot of low-value clients, getting enough of them to reach the minimum volume required for your business to be profitable can be difficult and expensive. You want to be in a market with a lot of medium-value consumers, which means there are enough of them to give room for a few players and each one brings in a fair amount of money.
After you’ve calculated the market size, you’ll need to explain to your reader which market segments you consider to be your target market.
The type of people you want to attract inside the industry is referred to as the target market. You must identify the various market categories and explain who you are targeting and why. Customers might be divided into segments based on their purchasing habits or demographics. For instance, in the fashion industry, you can have:
- Women vs. Men
- Apparel with a low price compared. clothing with a high price
- In-store vs. online
- clothing, shoes, and accessories
This is the portion where you show that you understand your market. You understand what motivates people to purchase!
- You must outline your target customers’ purchasing habits. What makes a person buy something? Is there anything they require, such as food? Is it the product’s worth or the brand’s perception that matters? Etc.
- This study will be used later in your plan to explain your market positioning.
You must describe who your rivals are, where they are on the market, and what their strengths and shortcomings are in this section. Some of the topics you’ll need to go through include:
- Who are they, exactly? (name, brand, independent vs. affiliated with a larger organization, location)
- What size are they? (staffing levels, turnover, etc.)
- Which customer do they target? (segments)
- What are the distinguishing features of their services? (cost, additional services, etc.)
This section should be written concurrently with the Competitive Edge section of the Strategy section because the goal is to identify a weakness in your competitors’ positioning that your organization may exploit in its own market positioning.
The goal here is to demonstrate to investors that the risk of new rivals entering the market is low. As a result, if you’re developing a startup business plan, this section can be challenging because you must demonstrate that you will succeed when others will fail!
In this area, you must explain which regulations apply to your industry and how you plan to comply with them.
All of the sections of the business plan outline we’ve examined so far have been pretty descriptive; now things start to become a little more interesting.
Strategy is a large word for articulating your perspective on the market, how you want to tackle it, and why it should work.
The Competitive Edge sub-section is the initial portion of the strategy section, and it’s where you discuss your market positioning.
The competitive edge section is where you respond to the investor’s favorite question: “What sets you apart from the competition?”
Hopefully, you’ve built the framework for this part in the previous ones, orienting your market study in such a way that the reader is ready to accept your posture.
You must address the following factors in order to explain and defend your pricing strategy:
- Compare your pricing to those of your competitors.
- Demonstrate that you can make money at that level.
- Explain why you’ve set your price this way.
I won’t go into the first two points because they are self-evident, but I believe the third deserves a little more explanation. Setting a price is difficult, but there are a few methods you can use to help you.
The first step is to determine whether you have price control. It’s possible that you don’t have complete control over your prices. It can be difficult to explain a higher price to your clients if you are in a price-driven market when all of your competitors charge £9.90.
You must now come up with a figure if you have control over your prices. The following are the two main ways you might employ to accomplish this:
- Cost-plus pricing: Cost-plus pricing entails adding a percentage margin to the cost of the product or service being sold. This technique has the advantage of ensuring that you earn your profit on every sale. Your price may be below or beyond what clients are prepared to pay for a product or service, which is a disadvantage.
- Benefit-driven pricing: Benefit-driven pricing is assessing the profit generated by your product or service for the consumer and setting the price as a percentage of that profit. When your product or service provides a hard benefit (i.e., you can quantify how much money your consumer will save), it’s easier to do than when it provides a soft benefit (i.e. when you cannot easily quantify the value of the benefit as for example if it makes your customer save time). This method has the advantage of allowing you to maximize the price of your goods and services. The problem is that finding the optimal market price frequently necessitates experimenting with several price points.
Trying out different prices is often a smart idea. Compare the results in terms of sales and volume after one week with price A and one week with price B.
So, now we know who you’re going after and how you’ll price your goods. It’s now time to outline how you’ll reach out to those customers.
This is the area where we start to move away from the helicopter view of the market and focus on your plan’s implementation and execution strategy. As a result, you must demonstrate to your investor that you not only understand your market but also have a realistic plan to conquer it.
Getting into the mechanics of the implementation is the best method to demonstrate that your business strategy is viable. Your reader should get the impression that you’re set to go and that all he has to do now is press a button (or write you a check) to make it happen.
You must demonstrate in the marketing plan part that you have identified the appropriate channels to use to target your clients.
I use the term “channel” to refer to both the distribution network (online, owned stores, third-party network, door-to-door, etc.) and the communication medium (flyers, print advertising, online marketing, etc.).
You should begin by listing all of the potential possibilities, and then go into detail about the ones you selected, explaining why you believe they are the most important in terms of:
- Reach: Why do you believe you’ll be able to reach out to the majority of your potential clients via that channel?
- Cost: Why do you believe this will save money? What is the budget that you have set aside in your plan?
- Competition: Why do you believe that employing this channel will provide you an advantage over your competitors?
- Implementation: who is going to be responsible for that? What makes him so important? So far, which partners/suppliers have you contacted?
This part is where you define your company’s objectives. You are making a commitment to your investors, and you will be judged on your ability to meet these objectives. As a result, it’s critical that you take the time to identify goals that are:
- Relevant: i.e. goals that will have a real impact on the business
- Achievable: You don’t want to be known as a dreamer; instead, you want to be known as an entrepreneur who follows through on his business plan: you want to be able to tell your investors, “We said we’d acquire 1,000 customers by year’s end, and we got 1,200!”
- Measurable: Your ability to establish and focus on the main objectives to take your company to the next level will be assessed here. This will help you gain credibility with your investor and, in turn, influence his investment decision.
Being able to exceed these goals from a relationship standpoint will be critical if you want to generate more money in the future.
Risks and Countermeasures
The risks and mitigations section serves a single purpose: to help you anticipate any objections or doubts an investor could have about your plan or your ability to deliver it, and to demonstrate that:
- you are aware that this is a significant risk.
- So you gave it some thought,
- You have a backup plan in case something goes wrong.
It is critical to be open and honest in this part. If an investor notices a big risk in your plan that you haven’t revealed, he’ll think to himself, “I’m not convinced he knows this market as well as he claims,” which is a negative sign. You want to do everything you can to establish credibility and trust with your investors because if they begin to doubt you, they will begin to doubt the investment as well.
In this section, you’ll go over the specifics of how your business will run. The personnel plan is usually the first step.
You must explain how many individuals you will hire and what their roles will be in the personnel strategy section. If your team is expected to grow during the course of your business plan, it’s a good idea to clarify what will be the driving force. It’s possible that you’re planning a new store opening or that sales will allow you to hire more support employees.
If you own a store or a restaurant, it’s also a good idea to consider the staffing plan in relation to the hours of operation.
IP and Key Assets
This section’s goal is to detect and eliminate any operational risks that may occur on the asset side.
You must describe the assets and intellectual property that the company would be unable to operate without (for example, a delivery truck or a license), as well as the efforts you took to preserve them.
Your investor will want to see that you plan to do business with reputable counterparties and that you are not reliant on a single supplier in this section. As a result, you must describe who will be your key suppliers, your relationship with them (if any), and your backup plan in the event that one is replaced.
You must also include the key terms that you have negotiated with your suppliers (price, days of credit, delivery schedule, etc.).
Now that you’ve established how your business will run, it’s time to get down to business.
7. Financial Plan
This is the most important aspect of your business strategy. The tone of this part will be determined by the business plan’s intended recipient.
If your business plan is being read by a lender, you must demonstrate that your company will be steady, successful, and cash-generative, and that you will not take too many risks. If it’s an equity investor, you’ll need to demonstrate that your company can become large enough and cash-generative enough to make it easy to sell and meet its goal return.
A comprehensive set of financial statements (P&L, cash flow statement, and balance sheet) over three years, as well as a monthly cash flow statement, are required. It’s also a good idea to exhibit a monthly profit and loss statement and a balance sheet for the first year.
Investors prefer to see monthly numbers for the first year since it will be the most crucial year because:
- It is the year in which you are most susceptible
- and any delay or underperformance will have ramifications in years 2 and 3.
If you don’t have a history in finance, a professional tool to assist you with the financial forecast is recommended.
You will detail the sources and uses of finances needed to launch your business in this section.
The investor will consider how much money is needed and how much money the shareholders bring to the table. If you’re drafting a business plan for a retail bank, be sure to split the assets, inventory, and VAT on a distinct line because they frequently give loans tailored to each of these categories.
This section serves as a disclaimer. The key assumptions that underpin your financial forecasts must be identified. These are the assumptions that the investor will test (i.e. run scenarios on) in order to determine the viability of your plan and estimate potential risks and rewards.
Make an effort to discover assumptions on both the revenue and cost sides of the business. Let’s look at an e-commerce site as an example.
If you run an e-commerce site, your business’s profitability is typically determined by two factors:
- Average basket: The typical basket is the amount of money that one consumer is projected to spend on average.
- Customer acquisition cost: This is the amount of money you’ll have to spend on marketing to get one consumer
The first point is revenue-related, and it has the most impact on your strategy. This assumption has a one-to-one influence on your sales prediction, and even more so on your profit. The second is equally important because it has an impact on your profitability and potential to scale.
To further appreciate the effects of these two drivers, consider the following numerical example:
Here is an Example of a Business Plan:
|Things||Base case||Average basket impact||Customer acq. cost impact||Cumulative impact|
|Customer acq. cost||£8.00/cust.||£8.00/cust.||£8.80/cust.||£8.80/cust.|
|Total customer acq. cost||£8,000||£8,000||£8,800||£8,800|
As you can see from the table above, a 10% difference in price will cost you 30% of your profit, while a 10% difference in client acquisition cost will cost you 20% of your profit, and combined impacts will cut your profit by 50%!
These aren’t far-fetched possibilities. Assume your acquisition costs are tied to online pay-per-click advertising, and your average cost per click is £0.4. A conversion rate of 5% means that it takes 20 clicks to achieve one sale at an £8 cost per customer. With an average cost per client of £8.8, making a sale now takes 22 clicks. It only takes two more clicks to lose 20% of your profit!
The good news is that if you constructed a comprehensive financial model and identified these critical drivers, you can keep a careful eye on these two factors. You’ll probably get these wrong in your initial plan, but if you keep track of them, you’ll be able to easily alter your plan and get a new financial forecast. This will give you a better idea of how much money your company will produce or require. And it will enable you to foresee any potential issues with your investors, as well as plan what to do with any excess cash flow if things go better than expected.
It’s worth noting that I didn’t make the number of customers a critical assumption in my scenario. This is because I assumed that advertising was responsible for 100 percent of the traffic. This is peculiar to e-commerce sites: your site will most likely rank on page 20 of Google in its first year, and you will have to gain the majority of your visitors.
The sales forecast part of your company plan is arguably the second most critical. This part connects the market analysis, competitive advantage, marketing strategy, and price components. The goal is to develop and justify your sales forecast for the following three years.
Creating a sales forecast is a two-step process. You must first build the numbers from the bottom up, then use a top-down approach to sanity verify them. We recommend reading our sales projection article for a detailed how-to.
After you’ve created a realistic top line, you’ll need to concentrate on the costs.
8. Cost Structure
This section is all about assessing a company’s operational risk. Two essential concepts underpin the analysis: operating leverage and breakeven point.
Let’s start with the breakeven point, which is the minimum amount of sales required to break even.
There are two sorts of costs in every business: fixed and variable costs. The fixed costs, as their name implies, are costs that will be incurred regardless of sales volume. Consider the rent of a store. Variable costs are those that vary according to the level of activity. Consider the price of products sold in a store.
After that, the breakeven point is calculated by dividing the total amount of fixed costs by the variable cost margin.
Let’s have a look at an example. If a shop’s only fixed expense is its £2,000/month rent and it sells things it buys for £30/item at a price of £50/item, The stores therefore generate a profit of 50 – 30 = £20 on variable costs per item. This means it will have to sell 2,000 / 20 = 100 things to cover the rent. As a result, this store’s breakeven point is 100 products.
The direct implication is that the larger the fixed expenses, the more sales are required to pay them, and hence the higher the business risk. In layman’s terms, variable costs are excellent and fixed costs are terrible!
So, how about operating leverage? Operating leverage is related to operating profit elasticity, which is the effect of a 1% change in sales on operating profit. This appears to be difficult, but it is actually quite simple. The degree of fixed vs. variable costs, as well as the margin on variable costs, are two variables of operating leverage.
As we just saw, the more a company’s fixed expenditures are, the more sales it will need to break even. But it isn’t the end of the narrative. Consider two companies in the same field. Business A manufactures its goods in-house, whereas Business B outsources the manufacturing to a third party. As a result, while business A’s fixed costs (factory costs) are higher than business B’s, business A earns more on each sale than business B since it does not have to pay the supplier’s margin. As a result, a more operationally leveraged organization is expected to earn larger returns beyond its breakeven point.
The level of contribution is the second factor of operating leverage (or margin on variable costs). If your contribution is substantial, only a few sales are required to pay your fixed expenditures and begin making a profit. On the other hand, even a minor forecasting error can have a significant influence on your profit and cash flow.
The essential message here is that investors will evaluate your business’s operating risk based on the level of fixed vs. variable costs. They will want to see your breakeven point calculation expressed in units or days of sales.
Investors will also assess your capacity to take advantage of operating leverage. They will expect you to focus on sales and outsource as many services as possible if you are starting out in a niche where the market is uncertain. You’ll make less money, but you’ll need fewer sales to break even, de-risking the cost side of your firm to balance the risks on the revenue side. Now, if you’re a well-established company in a price-driven market, investors will expect you to do the exact opposite: only outsource services if it saves you money, and try to minimize margin frictions as much as possible by leveraging economies of scale to either increase your margin or lower your price to gain market share.
9. Financial Statements
You will present your financial statements in this part. You can include the annual financial statements here, along with monthly cash flow estimates, and the monthly balance sheet and profit and loss statement in the appendix.
You must take the reader through each statement’s important points:
- P&L: Revenues, growth, EBITDA, EBITDA margin, and any unique or one-time items are all included in the P&L.
- Cash flow statement: Operating cash flow, operating cash flow conversion (percent of EBITDA), any big investments, key debt repayments (if any), and any odd items are all included in the cash flow statement.
- Monthly cash flow statement: Any working capital fluctuations or seasonal peaks or troughs should be noted on the monthly cash flow statement.
- Balance sheet: Cash, debt, and equity levels are shown on the balance sheet.
You must balance your funding (have a positive cash position) and break even during the duration of your plan. You could also wish to mention a few other ratios. Working capital ratios (WC / sales, days of payables and receivables) can be mentioned in particular if your company has a substantial working capital requirement. If the strategy is for a bank, you can additionally include some credit ratios (debt/EBITDA, net debt/EBITDA, interest coverage ratio) or equity-focused ratios (operation cash flow/capital employed, revenues / total assets, dividend yield and dividend per share, if applicable).
This is where you should put any detailed information or backup documents you have. The appendix section’s purpose is to serve as a repository of documents that the investor can use to further research particular aspects of your business plan or as a starting point for his due diligence.
You’ve now mastered the fundamentals of developing a business plan. Now it’s time to get to work!
300+ Example of Business Plan
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Fitness & Beauty
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Food & Beverage
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Medical & Health
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- Furniture Store Business Plan
- Gas Station Store Business Plan
- Gift Shop Business Plan
- Grocery Store Business Plan
- Plant Nursery Business Plan
- Retail Business Plan
- Internet Business Plan
- Juice Bar Business Plan
- Liquor Store Business Plan
- Pet Store Business Plan
- Ecommerce Business Plan
- Edibles Business Plan
- Etsy Business Plan
- Farmers Market Business Plan
- Fashion Business Plan
- Firewood Business Plan
- Franchise Business Plan
- Thrift Store Business Plan
- Used Car Dealership Business Plan
- Vending Machine Business Plan
- Wig Business Plan
- Wine Shop Business Plan
- Soap Making Business Plan
- Casino Business Plan
- Shoe Store Business Plan
- Drop Shipping Business Plan
- Biodiesel Business Plan
- Clean Tech Business Plan
- Mobile App Business Plan
- Saas Business Plan
- Technology Business Plan
- YouTube Business Plan
Transportation, Travel & Lodging
- Airline Business Plan
- Bed and Breakfast Business Plan
- Resort Business Plan
- RV Park Business Plan
- Tow Truck Business Plan
- Transportation Business Plan
- Travel Agency Business Plan
- Truck Owner Operator Business Plan
- Trucking Business Plan
- Vacation Rental Business Plan
- Car Rental Business Plan
- Freight Broker Business Plan
- Gas Station Business Plan
- Glamping Business Plan
- Hotel Business Plan
- Hotshot Trucking Business Plan
- Import Export Business Plan
- Logistics Business Plan
- Box Truck Business Plan
- Charter Boat Business Plan
- Campground Business Plan
We hope that these business plan examples will help you get started on the correct track to turning your business idea into a full-fledged business. Keep in mind that these startup business plan samples are not a one-size-fits-all solution for every company, and certain details may differ. Remember this when you begin creating your business plan, and let us know if these startup business plan examples were useful in your startup journey in the comments section below.
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