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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.



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

launching your 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 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


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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How to Start a Business: A Comprehensive Guide and Essential Steps

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Conducting Market Research

Crafting a business plan, reviewing funding options, understanding legal requirements, implementing marketing strategies, how much does it cost to start a business, what should i do before starting a business, what types of funding are available to start a business, do you need to write a business plan, the bottom line.

Building an effective business launch plan

launching your business plan

Starting a business in the United States involves a number of different steps, spanning legal considerations, market research, creating a business plan, securing funding, and developing a marketing strategy. It also entails decisions around a business’s location, structure, name, taxation, and registration.

This article covers the key steps involved in starting a business, as well as important aspects of the process for entrepreneurs to consider.

Key Takeaways

  • Entrepreneurs seeking to develop their own business should start by conducting market research to understand their industry space and competition, and to target customers.
  • The next step is to write a comprehensive business plan, outlining the company’s structure, vision, and strategy. Potential funders and partners may want to review the business plan in advance of signing any agreements.
  • Securing funding is crucial in launching a business. Funding can come in the form of grants, loans, venture capital, or crowdfunded money; entrepreneurs may also opt to self-fund instead of or in combination with any of these avenues.
  • Choosing a location and business structure can have many implications for legal aspects of business ownership, such as taxation, registration, and permitting, so it’s important to fully understand the regulations and requirements for the jurisdiction in which the business will operate. 
  • Another key aspect of launching a new business is having a strategic marketing plan that addresses the specifics of the business, industry, and target market.

Before starting a business, entrepreneurs should conduct market research to determine their target audience, competition, and market trends. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends researching demographic data around potential customers to understand a given consumer base and reduce business risk. It also breaks down common market considerations as follows:

  • Demand : Do people want or need this product or service?
  • Market size : How many people might be interested?
  • Economic indicators : These include income, employment rate, and spending habits of potential customers.
  • Location : Where are the target market and the business located?
  • Market saturation : How competitive is the business space, and how many similar offerings exist?
  • Pricing : What might a customer be willing to pay?

Market research should also include an analysis of the competition (including their strengths and weaknesses compared to those of the proposed business), market opportunities and barriers to entry, industry trends, and competitors’ market share .

There are various methods for conducting market research, and the usefulness of different sources and methodologies will depend on the nature of the industry and potential business. Data can come from a variety of sources: statistical agencies, economic and financial institutions, and industry sources, as well as direct consumer research through focus groups, interviews, surveys, or questionnaires.

A comprehensive business plan is like a blueprint for a business. It will help lay the foundation for business development and can assist in decision making, day-to-day operations, and growth. 

Potential investors or business partners may want to review and assess a business plan in advance of agreeing to work together. Financial institutions often request business plans as part of an application for a loan or other forms of capital. 

Business plans will differ according to the needs and nature of the company and only need to include what makes sense for the business in question. As such, they can vary in length and structure depending on their intended purpose. 

Business plans can generally be divided into two formats: traditional business plans and lean startup business plans. The latter is typically more useful for businesses that will need to adjust their planning quickly and frequently, as they are shorter and provide a higher-level overview of the company.

The process of funding a business can be as unique as the business itself—that is, it will depend on the needs and vision of the business and the current financial situation of the business owner. 

The first step in seeking funding is to calculate how much it will cost to start the business. Estimate startup costs by identifying a list of expenses and putting a number to each of them through research and requesting quotes. The SBA has a startup costs calculator for small businesses that includes common types of business expenses. 

From there, an entrepreneur will need to determine how to secure the required funding. Common funding methods include:

  • Self-funding , also known as bootstrapping  
  • Seeking funding from investors, also known as venture capital  
  • Raising money by crowdfunding
  • Securing a business loan
  • Winning a business grant

Each method will hold advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation of the business. It’s important to consider the obligations associated with any avenue of funding. For example, investors generally provide funding in exchange for a degree of ownership or control in the company, whereas self-funding may allow business owners to maintain complete control (albeit while taking on all of the risk). 

The availability of funding sources is another potential consideration. Unlike loans, grants do not have to be paid back—however, as a result, they are a highly competitive form of business funding. The federal government also does not provide grants for the purposes of starting or growing a business, although private organizations may. On the other hand, the SBA guarantees several categories of loans to support small business owners in accessing capital that may not be available through traditional lenders.

Whichever funding method (or methods) an entrepreneur decides to pursue, it’s essential to evaluate in detail how the funding will be used and lay out a future financial plan for the business, including sales projections and loan repayments , as applicable.  

Legally, businesses operating in the U.S. are subject to regulations and requirements under many jurisdictions, across local, county, state, and federal levels. Legal business requirements are often tied to the location and structure of the business, which then determine obligations around taxation, business IDs, registration, and permits.

Choosing a Business Location

The location—that is, the neighborhood, city, and state—in which a business operates will have an impact on many different aspects of running the business, such as the applicable taxes, zoning laws (for brick-and-mortar, or physical locations), and regulations.

A business needs to be registered in a certain location; this location then determines the taxes, licenses, and permits required. Other factors to consider when choosing a location might include:

  • Human factors : Such as the target audience for your business, and preferences of business owners and partners around convenience, knowledge of the area, and commuting distance
  • Regulations and restrictions : Concerning applicable jurisdictions or government agencies, including zoning laws
  • Regionally specific expenses : Such as average salaries (including required minimum wages), property or rental prices, insurance rates, utilities, and government fees and licensing
  • The tax and financial environment : Including income tax, sales tax, corporate tax, and property tax, or the availability of tax credits, incentives, or loan programs

Picking a Business Structure

The structure of a business should reflect the desired number of owners, liability characteristics, and tax status. Because these have legal and tax compliance implications , it’s important to fully understand and choose a business structure carefully and, if necessary, consult a business counselor, lawyer, and/or accountant.

Common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship : An unincorporated business that has just one owner, who pays personal income tax on profits
  • Partnership : Options include a limited partnership (LP) or a limited liability partnership (LLP)
  • Limited liability company (LLC) : A business structure that protects its owners from personal responsibility for its debts or liabilities
  • Corporation : Options include a C corp , S corp , B corp , closed corporation , or nonprofit

Getting a Tax ID Number

A tax ID number is like a Social Security number for a business. Whether or not a state and/or federal tax ID number is required for any given business will depend on the nature of the business, as well as the location in which the business is registered.

If a business is required to pay state taxes (such as income taxes and employment taxes), then a state tax ID will be necessary. The process and requirements around state tax IDs vary by state and can be found on individual states’ official websites. In some situations, state tax IDs can also be used for other purposes, such as protecting sole proprietors against identity theft.

A federal tax ID, also known as an employer identification number (EIN) , is required if a business:

  • Operates as a corporation or partnership
  • Pays federal taxes
  • Wants to open a business bank account
  • Applies for federal business licenses and permits
  • Files employment, excise, alcohol, tobacco, or firearms tax returns

There are further situations in which a business might need a federal tax ID number, specific to income taxation, certain types of pension plans, and working with certain types of organizations. Business owners can check with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about whether they need an EIN.

Registering a Business

Registration of a business will depend on its location and business structure, and can look quite different depending on the nature and size of the business. 

For example, small businesses may not require any steps beyond registering their business name with local and state governments, and business owners whose business name is their own legal name might not need to register at all. However, registration can include personal liability protection as well as legal and tax benefits, so it can be beneficial even if it’s not strictly required. 

Most LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and nonprofits are required to register at the state level and will require a registered agent to file on their behalf. Determining which state to register with can depend on factors such as:

  • Whether the business has a physical presence in the state
  • If the business often conducts in-person client meetings in the state
  • If a large portion of business revenue comes from the state
  • Whether the business has employees working in the state

If a business operates in more than one state, it may need to file for foreign qualification in other states in which it conducts business. In this case, the business would register in the state in which it was formed (this would be considered the domestic state), and file for foreign qualification in any additional states.

Some businesses may decide to register with the federal government if they are seeking tax-exempt status or trademark protection, but federal registration is not required for many businesses.

Overall registration requirements, costs, and documentation will vary depending on the governing jurisdictions and business structure.

Obtaining Permits

Filing for the applicable government licenses and permits will depend on the industry and nature of the business, and might include submitting an application to a federal agency, state, county, and/or city. The SBA lists federally regulated business activities alongside the corresponding license-issuing agency, while state, county, and city regulations can be found on the official government websites for each region.

Every business should have a marketing plan that outlines an overall strategy and the day-to-day tactics used to execute it. A successful marketing plan will lay out tactics for how to connect with customers and convince them to buy what the company is selling. 

Marketing plans will vary according to the specifics of the industry , target market, and business, but they should aim to include descriptions of and strategies around the following:

  • A target customer : Including market size, demographics, traits, and relevant trends
  • Unique value propositions or business differentiators : Essentially, an overview of the company’s competitive advantage with regard to employees, certifications, or offerings
  • A sales and marketing plan : Including methods, channels, and a customer’s journey through interacting with the business
  • Goals : Should cover different aspects of the marketing and sales strategy, such as social media follower growth, public relations opportunities, or sales targets
  • An execution plan : Should detail tactics and break down higher-level goals into specific actions
  • A budget : Detailing how much different marketing projects and activities will cost

The startup costs for any given business will vary greatly depending on the industry, business activity, and product or service offering. Home-based online businesses will usually cost less than those that require an office setting to meet with customers. The estimated cost can be calculated by first identifying a list of expenses and then researching and requesting quotes for each one. Use the SBA’s startup costs calculator for common types of expenses associated with starting a small business.

Entrepreneurs seeking to start their own business should fully research and understand all the legal and funding considerations involved, conduct market research, and create marketing and business plans. They will also need to secure any necessary permits, licenses, funding, and business bank accounts.

Startup capital can come in the form of loans, grants, crowdfunding, venture capital, or self-funding. Note that the federal government does not provide grant funding for the purposes of starting a business, although private sources do.

Business plans are comprehensive documents that lay out the most important information about a business. They are important references for the growth, development, and decision-making processes of a business, and financial institutions as well as potential investors and partners generally request to review them in advance of agreeing to provide funding or work together.

Starting a business is no easy feat, but research and preparation can help smooth the way. Having a firm understanding of the target market, competition, industry, business goals, business structure, funding requirements, tax and operating regulations, and marketing strategy, and conducting research and consulting experts where necessary, are all things that entrepreneurs can do to set themselves up for success.

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Market Research and Competitive Analysis .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Write Your Business Plan .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Loans .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Fund Your Business .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Pick Your Business Location .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Choose a Business Structure .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Get Federal and State Tax ID Numbers .”

Internal Revenue Service. “ Do You Need an EIN? ”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Register Your Business .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Apply for Licenses and Permits .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Marketing and Sales .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Grants .”

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How to Write a Business Plan in 2023 [Examples Included]

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So you have come up with a business idea that will turn your company into a Forbes 500 enterprise? Sounds great!

However, you are going to need much more than an idea. You will need to do some comprehensive research, create operational standpoints, describe your product, define your goals, and pave out a road map for future growth.

In other words, you are going to need a business plan.

A business plan is a document that precisely explains how you are going to make your startup a success. Without it, your chances of attracting funding and investments significantly decrease.

Do you want to learn how to create a winning business plan that will take your company to the next level? We created a guide that will help you do just that.

Let’s dive in.

What Is a Business Plan?

Why and when do you need a business plan, types of business plans (what to include in each).

  • How Do You Write a Business Plan?

Best Practices for Writing a Winning Business Plan

Business plan examples.

  • Monitor the Performance of Your Business with Databox


A business plan is a comprehensive document that defines how a business will achieve its goals. It is essentially a road map for growth that includes operational standpoints from all the key departments such as marketing, financial, HR, and others.

Startups use business plans to describe who they are, what they plan to do, and how they plan to achieve it. This is an extremely valuable document for attracting investors.

However, they are valuable for the company members as well. A good business plan keeps executive teams on the same page regarding the strategies they should implement to achieve their set objectives.

Related : Reporting to Investors: 6 Best Practices to Help Increase Funding

While business plans are especially useful for startups, each business should include them. In the best-case scenario, this plan will be updated from time to time and reviewed whether the goals of the company have been met.

The main things that investors want to check out in the business plan are:

  • Product-market fit – Have you researched the market demand for your products and services?
  • Team efficiency – Does your startup have devoted professionals that will work on achieving your goals?
  • Scalability – How probable is growth in sales volumes without proportional growth or fixed costs?

An organized business plan is essentially a blueprint of your goals and it showcases your abilities as an entrepreneur.

Related : Business Report: What is it & How to Write a Great One? (With Examples)

If you want to persuade venture capitalists and banking institutions to invest in your startup, you won’t be able to do it without a solid business plan. Following a clear business plan format is crucial, as it structures your plan in a way that is easily understandable and demonstrates your business’s potential. 

A business plan is helpful in two ways – it allows you to focus on the specific goals you set for the future and it provides external parties with evidence that you have done your research in advance.

But don’t just take our word for it – here are some of the things that researchers from Bplans found out when they were analyzing the benefits of business plans with the University of Oregon.

  • Companies that use business plans have recorded a 30% faster growth compared to those that didn’t use them.
  • Getting investments and loans is twice as likely to happen with the help of business plans.
  • There is a 129% increased chance for entrepreneurs to go past the ‘startup’ phase through business plans.

You should create a business plan before you decide to quit your regular job. It can help you realize whether you are ready or not.

Also, creating a business plan is helpful when:

  • You want to attract investments or funding from external parties
  • You want to find a new partner or co-founder
  • You want to attract talented professionals to join your startup
  • You need to change things up due to the slow growth

While creating a business plan is an important step, you first have to know how to differentiate all the different types. This will help you choose the one that is most suitable for your business.

Here are the most common types of business plans and what you should include in each.

One-Pager Business Plan

Startup business plan, internal business plan, strategic business plan, feasibility business plan.

The one-pager is a business plan that only includes the most important aspects of your business. It is essentially a simplified version of a traditional business plan.

When creating the one-pager business plan, your primary focus should be on making it easily understandable.

Since this business plan is rather short, you should avoid using lengthy paragraphs. Each section should be around 1-2 sentences long.

The things you should include in a one-pager business plan are:

  • The problem – Describe a certain problem your customers have and support the claim with relevant data.
  • The solution – How your products/services can solve the issue.
  • Business model – Your plan on how to make money. Include production costs, selling costs, and the price of the product.
  • Target market – Describe your ideal customer persona. Start with a broad audience and narrow it down by using TAM, SAM, and SOM models. This lets investors in on your thought process. To understand these models better, check out, for example, the importance of proper TAM evaluation for B2B startups .
  • Competitive advantage – How are you different from your competitors?
  • Management team – Include your business’s management structure.
  • Financial summary – This part should revolve around the most significant financial metrics (profit, loss, cash flow, balance sheet, and sales forecast).
  • Required funding – Define how much money you need to make your project a success.

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Related : Check out our comprehensive guide on writing a marketing plan report .

New businesses use startup business plans to outline their launching ideas and strategies to attract funding and investment opportunities. When creating startup business plans, you should primarily focus on the financial aspect and provide evidence that supports it (e.g. market research).

These are some of the main things that should be included:

  • Vision statement – Explain your vision for the company and include the overall business goals you will try to achieve.
  • Executive summary – A quick overview of what your company is about and what will make it successful. Make sure to include your products/services, basic leadership information, employees, and location.
  • Company description – A detailed overview of your company. Talk about the problems you will solve and be specific about customers, organizations, and growth plans. This is the place where you should state your business’s main advantages.
  • Market Analysis – Show investors that you have a good understanding of your industry and target market by providing a detailed market analysis. Try to point out certain trends, themes, or patterns that support your objective.
  • Organization and management – This section explains the structure and the management hierarchy. Also, describe the legal structure of your business.
  • Service or product line – Go into detail about the products and services you are going to sell. Explain the benefits they bring and share your intellectual property plans.
  • Marketing and sales – Talk about your marketing strategy and describe how you plan to attract new customers.
  • Financial projections – This section should be about convincing your readers why the business will be a financial success. Create a prospective financial outlook for the next few years and it includes forecasts.

An internal business plan is a document that specifically focuses on the activities within your company. While external business plans focus on attracting investors, internal business plans keep your team aligned on achieving goals.

Related : Internal vs. External Reporting: What Are the Differences?

This business plan can differentiate based on how specific you want it to be. For example, you can focus on a specific part of the business (e.g. financial department) or on the overall goals of the whole company.

Nonetheless, here are some things that should universally be included in all internal business plans:

  • Mission statement – Focus on the practical, day-to-day activities that your employees can undertake to achieve overall objectives.
  • Objectives – Provide specific goals that you want your company to achieve. Make the objectives clear and explain in which way they can be reached. Focus more on short-term objectives and set reasonable deadlines.
  • Strategies – Talk about the general activities that will help your team reach the set objectives. Provide research that will describe how these strategies will be useful in the long term.
  • Action plans – These plans revolve around particular activities from your strategy. For example, you could include a new product that you want to create or a more efficient marketing plan.
  • Sustainability – This refers to the general probability of achieving the goals you set in the internal report. Sometimes, plans may seem overly ambitious and you are going to have to make amends with certain things.

A strategic business plan is the best way to gain a comprehensive outlook of your business. In this document, forecasts are examined even further and growth goals tend to be higher.

By creating a strategic business plan, you will have an easier time aligning your key stakeholders around the company’s priorities.

Here is a quick overview of what a strategic business plan should include:

  • Executive summary – Since strategic business plans are generally lengthy, not all executives will have time to go through it. This is why you should include a quick overview of the plan through an executive summary, you can also create an executive summary template to make the step easily repeatable.
  • Vision statement – Describe what you wish to achieve in the long term.
  • Company overview – This refers to past achievements, current products/services, recent sales performances, and important KPIs.
  • Core values – This section should provide an explanation of what drives the business to do what it does.
  • Strategic analysis of internal and external environments – Talk about the current organizational structure, mission statements, and department challenges.
  • Strategic objectives – Go into detail about the short-term objectives your team should reach in a specific period. Make sure the objectives are clear and understandable.
  • Overall goals – This section should include operational goals, marketing goals, and financial goals.

A feasibility business plan is also known as a feasibility study. It essentially provides a foundation for what would be a full and comprehensive business plan. The primary focus of a feasibility plan is research.

The things you should include in a feasibility plan are:

  • Product demand – Is there a high demand for your product? Would customers be interested in buying it?
  • Market conditions – Determine the customer persona that would be interested in buying your products. Include demographic factors.
  • Pricing – Compare your desired price with the current pricing of similar products. Which price would make your service profitable?
  • Risks – Determine the risks of launching this new business.
  • Success profitability – Is there a good way to overcome the risks and make your company profitable?

How Do You Write a Business Plan Report?

As we explained in the previous heading, there are a few different types of business plan. Depending on the audience you are referring to, the language you use in the plan should be adjusted accordingly.

Nonetheless, there are certain key elements that should be included in all business plans, the only thing that will vary is how detailed the sections will be.

Include these elements in your business plan.

Executive summary

Company description, market opportunity and analysis, competitive landscape, target audience, describe your product or service, develop a marketing and sales strategy, develop a logistics and operations plan, financial projections, explain your funding request, compile an appendix for official documents.

An executive summary is a quick overview of the document as a whole that allows investors and key stakeholders to quickly understand all the pain points from the report.

It is the best way to layout all the vital information about your business to bank officials and key stakeholders who don’t have the time to go through the whole business plan.

If you summarize the sections well, the potential investors will jump into the sections they are most interested in to acquire more details.

You should write the executive summary last since you will then have a better idea of what should be included.

A good executive summary answers these questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you sell?
  • How profitable is it?
  • How much money do you need?

This section of the business plan aims to introduce your company as a whole. The things you include in the company description can vary depending on if you are only starting a business or you already have a developed company.

The elements included in this section are:

  • Structure and ownership – Talk about who the key shareholders in your company are and provide a full list of names. Also, mention details such as where the company is registered and what the legal structure looks like. In most countries, this is a legal requirement for AML regulations.
  • History – This segment is if you already have an existing company. Use this section to show your credibility. Include company milestones, past difficulties, and a precise date for how long your company has been operating.
  • Objectives – Describe the overall objectives of your company and how you plan to reach them.

Market analysis refers to creating your ideal customer persona and explaining why they would be interested in buying your products.

Market opportunities are the gaps that you found in the current industries and creating a way for your product to fill those gaps.

The most important step in this section is to create a target market (persona) through demographic factors such as location, income, gender, education, age, profession, and hobbies.

Make sure that your target market isn’t too broad since it can put off potential investors.

A good idea is to also include a detailed analysis of your competitors – talk about their products, strengths, and weaknesses.

Related : 12 Best Tools Marketers Use for Market Research

Although you may include a competitive analysis in the market analysis section, this segment should provide a more detailed overview.

Identify other companies that sell similar products to yours and create a list of their advantages and disadvantages. Learning about your competitors may seem overwhelming, but it’s an indispensable part of a good business plan.

Include a comparison landscape as well that defines the things that set you apart from the competitors. Describe the strengths of your product and show which problems it could solve.

Related : How to Do an SEO Competitive Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Use the target audience section to fully describe the details of your ideal customer persona. Include both demographic and psychographic factors.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the demographic characteristics of the people who will buy my product?
  • What are their desires?
  • What makes my product valuable to them?

Make sure to answer all of these questions to get in the mindset of your customers.

If you need more details on how to identify your target audience , check our full expert guide.

When talking about your products and services, be as precise as possible. Mention your target audience and the marketing channels you use for targeting this audience.

This section should reveal the benefits, life cycle, and production process of your products/services. Also, it is a good idea to include some pictures of your products if possible.

When describing your products, you should highlight:

  • Unique features
  • Intellectual property rights
  • What makes the product beneficial

Marketing is the blood flow to your business’s body. Without a good marketing and sales strategy, the chances of your product succeeding are very slim.

It’s always best to already have a marketing plan in place before launching your business. By identifying the best marketing channels, you will show your investors that you researched this topic in detail.

Some of the things you should include are:

  • Reach – Explain why a specific channel will be able to reach your target market
  • Cost – Is the marketing strategy going to be cost-effective? How much money do you plan on spending on the strategy?
  • Competition – Are your competitors already using this channel? If so, what will make your product stand out?
  • Implementation – Who will be taking care of the implementation process? Is it a marketing expert? Which suppliers did you reach out to?

Related : 14 Reasons Sales And Marketing Alignment Is Crucial for Skyrocketing Company Growth

This section should explain the details of how exactly your company is going to operate.

These are the things you should include:

  • Personnel plan – Define how many people you plan to employ and their roles. Also, if you plan on increasing your staff, you should explain what would be the cause of that.
  • Key assets – This refers to assets that will be crucial for your company’s operation.
  • Suppliers – Mention who your suppliers will be and what kind of relationship you have with them. Your investors will be interested in this part of the section since they want to be reassured that you are cooperating with respectable counterparties.

The financial projections section is one of the most important parts of your business plan. It includes a detailed overview of expected sales, revenue, profit, expenses, and all the other important financial metrics .

You should show your investors that your business will be profitable, stable, and that it has huge potential for cash generation.

Monthly numbers for the first year are crucial since this will be the most critical year of your company.

At the very least, you should provide:

  • Funding needs
  • Profit-and-loss statement forecast
  • Balance sheet forecast
  • Cash-flow statement forecast

Related : How to Write a Great Financial Report? Tips and Best Practices

When providing the funding request, be realistic. Explain why you need that exact amount of money and where it will be allocated.

Also, create both a best-case and worst-case scenario. New companies don’t have a history of generating profits which is why you will probably have to sell equity in the early years to raise enough capital.

This will be the final section of your business plan. Include any material or piece of information that investors can use to analyze the data in your report. 

Things that could be helpful are:

  • Local permits
  • Legal documents
  • Certifications that boost credibility
  • Intellectual properties or patents
  • Purchase orders and customer contracts

After reading the previous heading, you should have a clear idea of how to write a compelling business plan.

But, just to be sure, we prepared some additional information that can be very helpful.

Here are some of the best practices you should implement in your business plan according to the most successful companies.

Keep it brief

Make it understandable, be meticulous about money, design is important.

Generally, business plans will be around 10-20 pages long. Your main focus should be to cover the essentials that we talked about, but you don’t want to overdo it by including unnecessary and overwhelming information.

In business plan, less is more.

Create a good organizational outline of your sections. This will allow investors to easily navigate to the parts they are most interested in reading.

Avoid using jargon – everyone should be able to easily understand your business plan without having to Google certain terms. 

Make a list of all the expenses your business incurs. Financial information should be maximally precise since it will directly impact the investor’s decision to fund your business idea.

After you wrap up your business plan, take a day off and read it again. Fix any typos or grammatical errors that you overlooked the first time.

Make sure to use a professional layout, printing, and branding of your business plan. This is an important first impression for the readers of the document.

Now you know what a business plan is, how you can write it, and some of the best practices you can use to make it even better.

But, if you are still having certain difficulties coming up with a great business plan, here are a few examples that may be helpful.

HubSpot’s One-Page Business Plan

Bplan’s free business plan template, small business administration free business plan template.

This One-Page Business Plan was created by HubSpot and it can be a great way to start off your business plan journey on the right foot.

You already have fields such as Implementation Timeline, Required Funding, and Company Description created so you will just need to provide your specific information.

HubSpot's One-Page Business Plan

This free business plan template highlights the financial points of the startup. If your primary focus will be your business’ financial plan and financial statements, you can use this template to save up some time.

It can also be useful for making sure everyone in your company understands the current financial health and what they can do to improve it.

BPlan’s Free Business Plan Template

If you need additional inspiration to kick start your own business plan, you can check out this free template by small business administration .

You just have to decide which type of plan you want to create and then review the format of how it should look like.

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Monitor and Report on the Performance of Your Business with Databox

Tracking your company’s performance is an indispensable part of quality decision-making. It is crucial that you know how your business strategy is performing and whether it needs to be optimized in certain areas.

However, doing this manually will undoubtedly take a hefty amount of your valuable time. You will have to log into all of the different tools, copy-paste the data into your reports, and then analyze it. And this isn’t a one-time thing – you have to do it at least once a month.

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By using customizable dashboards from Databox, you will be able to connect data from all your different tools into one comprehensive report. Not only that, but you can also visualize the most important metrics to make your presentation to shareholders immensely more impactful.

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A business plan is a living, breathing document. We explain why you should write one and when you'll know it's time to update it.

 Business plan in notebook on a table

One of the cornerstones of launching a new business is writing a business plan. The plan is a roadmap to a business’s goals and outlines the steps to achieve them. The plan also serves as a sort of resume to put in front of loan officers, investors and partners to secure funding. Before you start plotting out your future, it’s important to think about all the components of a good business plan and why you want to have one.

To help you understand how to write a business plan, this guide will:

  • Explain why writing a business plan is important
  • Talk about when to write a plan
  • Outline what should be included in your business plan
  • Discuss different types of business plans and audiences for your plan
  • Talk about updating your business plan

Why you should write a business plan

There is a school of thought in the startup community that making mistakes and learning from them without a long-term plan in place is beneficial to a business, but there are certain instances in which a business plan is a necessity. One of them is securing financing.

If you need financing, a lender or investor will want to see how their money will be spent and how they’ll be paid back. A Palo Alto Software survey of 2,877 business owners found that of the 995 respondents who said they had a business plan, 36 percent secured a loan. Only 18 percent of the business that had not completed a business plan were able to secure a loan. The same held true for investments. Of those with a business plan, 36 percent secured investment capital compared to only 18 percent of those without a plan. While the business plan itself might not have been the only factor involved (for example, owners who completed a plan might be better organized), the survey also found that of those with a business plan, 64 percent experienced business growth, compared to 43 percent without a plan.

A business plan is certainly far from the only requirement to get a loan or investment, but it’s a good way to stand apart from the pack. It’s especially useful for newer businesses who don’t have the financial or credit history most lenders are looking for. Even the best business plan, though, won’t save a traditional loan application if you have a really poor credit score.

At the end of the day, you want to give your business the best chance of survival. The risks are still quite high and many new companies don’t make it. According to the most recent data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics , 56.3 percent of companies formed in 2011 were still in business five years later.

A business plan can give you a leg up on staying in business and launching a sustainable business to begin with. People who write formal business plans are 16 percent more likely to create viable businesses compared to almost identical entrepreneurs who don’t have a plan.

Defining your goal is a good place to start with your business plan. You should also determine the audience for your plan to guide you on what to include. Whether you need outside funding and how much business experience you have will factor into your decisions.

When to write a business plan

There are no absolutes when it comes to when you should write a business plan. Many people will create a plan right from the start to help them hash out their business idea. That’s a good option for most, since the plan can help clue you in on whether your idea has potential. Either way, be ready to revise your plan—frequently.

Attempting to write a business plan is an easy way to expose what you don’t know and should research, whether that be the product itself, the industry you want to enter, or what your competition and market looks like.

But, there are benefits to writing a plan even if your business is already up and running. A plan can help you develop your ideas on where the company is headed and what’s next for you in terms of products, services or even marketing endeavors. This is also a great way to set long- and short-term goals. And, of course, it’s useful for attracting funding if you need to grow your business or smooth out cash flow issues.

However, your business isn’t operating in a vacuum. You’ll need to make amendments, updates and, on top of that, your projections will need to be revised with new data. A business plan should be a detailed plan for a year, but also be able to broadly account for the next five years of your company’s future.

What to include in a business plan

Writing a business plan can seem overwhelming and it may be tempting to cut some of the sections. What your business plan looks like is largely dependent on your audience. For example, if the idea is to attract investors, document everything. Cash flow, expenses, projections—make a plan as detailed as possible to show due diligence without overburdening the reader.

If you are going to put in the work to build a business plan, make it work for different scenarios. Make a shorter version for angel investors and a longer version for the bank. And, if it’s to inform employees about where you see the business going, make sure the information is relevant to them. Your business plan should make it easy for the intended reader to see how being involved in the business relates to them, and to compel them to take a positive action.

Your business plan should make it easy for the intended reader to see how being involved in the business relates to them.

When to update your business plan

A business plan is a living document. That means you should update your plan at least once a year, though, in many cases, it may be beneficial to update it more often than that. This will also help you evaluate if you’re on track with the goals in your five-year plan, and also serve as a measurement of your successes or shortcomings. Regardless, always review your plan before you send it to someone new.

You may want to update your plan if your competitors change their prices or products, potentially causing you to reevaluate your own products and pricing. Sudden changes in the market, the economy or new regulations could also require you to update the projections in your business plan, as are relationship changes—i.e., you have a new vendor or supplier, or your terms or contracts have changed with those groups.

Of course the major reason to overhaul your business plan is if you are looking for a new round of financing or are ready to plot a new course for your company.

Creating a thoughtful and detailed business plan ensures that you will have a useful tool in helping launch or maintain a successful business, and updating it should be a fluid process.

See our Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Business Plan

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Business startup checklist: How to launch a startup step by step

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Here, we'll walk you through all the things you need to launch a startup. And you can download our business startup checklist to keep you on track as you take your first steps as a new business owner .

Checklist for starting a business

Image of Zapier's business startup checklist

1. Write a business plan

A business plan will help you nail down your goals and expectations and give you a roadmap for getting your company off the ground. If you plan to pitch investors or apply for a business loan, you'll need a business plan—most won't even consider a pitch unless there's a business plan attached.

Parts of a business plan

Depending on the complexity of your business idea, a business plan can be as short as a page or as big as a thick, data-packed document. No matter how simple or complex, every business plan should have at least a few key parts:

An executive summary , or a top-level outline of everything in the business plan.

A business description , including your company's structure, industry, value proposition , background information, and both short- and long-term business objectives.

A market analysis that evaluates where your business stands in relation to competitors, target customers, and industry trends.

A description of your products or services.

Financial projections like pricing and sales strategy, profit goals, and investor details.

An operational overview laying out the logistical "how"s of your business, including logistics, distribution, and production plans.

Business planning software

If you have any basic business experience or know-how, you can probably get through writing a business plan on your own, but if you're feeling totally lost or if you just want something to help move you through the steps more efficiently, business plan writing software might be the way to go. 

BizPlan and Enloop are two examples of business plan platforms with reasonable monthly costs. IdeaBuddy is another platform that's meant to be used earlier in the process when you're still fleshing out ideas to help develop and refine your business concept, then guide you toward a formalized plan. 

2. Estimate your startup costs

Calculating your startup costs will help you appeal to investors and estimate when your new business will start to become profitable. 

Types of startup costs

To begin, you'll need to calculate your exact startup costs. These may include:

One-time startup costs: state business registration fees, lease deposits, etc.

Labor costs: your salary plus worker salaries

Overhead costs: monthly office rent, utilities, taxes, computer equipment, production costs 

Spreadsheets are your friend with planning business finances—and we have a set of business budget templates to help you estimate monthly and one-time expenses for your business.

Start saving

Just like homeowners need an emergency fund for when the roof starts leaking, you also need an emergency fund for your new business. How much you need depends on the size of your operation and whether you're keeping your current job or going all-in on your new endeavor. It takes most startups at least a few months (and usually more) to become profitable, so if your startup is going to be your main source of income, you'll need at least a few months of operating expenses plus your own living expenses stashed away.

Find funding

Skip the family loan and second mortgage. Better loan options include the Small Business Association , your local bank, or new types of online lenders .

You might even start a crowdfunding campaign to generate cash—which is also a good way to test out your business idea's viability. Remember, though, that your purpose isn't to raise money. Your purpose is to create a viable business with products or services that genuinely help your customers.

3. Register your business

Before we dive into the details of business registration, a disclaimer: what we're providing here is a basic overview of the general requirements for most businesses in the United States. If you operate internationally or work in some niche industry like long-haul tobacco and airplane fuel shipping , these guidelines are one hundred percent guaranteed not to cover everything you need to know about registering your business. 

Even if your company is fairly small, there may be specific requirements in your state or county that aren't covered here. No matter what, make sure you do your own research with local and state governments or consult with a lawyer to determine the legal requirements that apply to you.

Pick a business structure

Business structures boil down to four main types: sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. For legal and tax purposes, decide which type you'll operate under—though you can always switch to a different business type as your company grows.

Sole proprietorships: This is the simplest type of business to start and run. It means that you are the company, and all assets and debts of the company are yours too. This also means you'll be personally liable for all business obligations like lawsuits or unpaid debts, so this is the riskiest business structure. 

Partnerships: T hese are like sole proprietorships, except there's more than one owner. Co-owners typically structure their business relationship with partnership operating agreements. Partners split the company's legal and financial obligations and also share in the profits.

Limited Liability Companies and Partnerships (LLCs and LLPs): When you form an LLC or LLP, you work as a "member" of the company, along with any company partners. If the company goes into debt or gets sued, your personal assets are protected. Compared to corporations, there's less paperwork and smaller startup costs.

Corporations: When you incorporate, you create a separate legal entity that owns all of the assets and liabilities for the company. Corporations are usually more attractive to outside investors—you can "go public" with an initial public offering (IPO) and raise money through selling stock in the company. 

Illustration of hands shaking, a person working alone in an office and a group of three individuals representing the four business structure types

Choose a business name

Start by writing down every single name that pops into your head, including the ridiculous names ( bad idea brainstorms work!). This will get your creativity flowing. Plus, you can pull elements that you like from the throwaway names and incorporate them into your more serious ideas.

If you plan to register a trademark on your business's name, keep in mind what can't be trademarked:

Any person's name who hasn't given expressed permission

Swears or other offensive content

Government flags and insignia

Your name also needs to meet the U.S. Trademark Office's requirements for "distinctiveness," which just means your trademark needs to be unique enough to avoid confusion between yourself and other similarly named businesses.

Register your company

All businesses except sole proprietors with no employees must register with the IRS and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is your company's federal tax identification, which you'll use when paying taxes, opening a bank account, applying for business licenses, and hiring employees. 

You may need to register your business with your state government. Use the Small Business Administration's state lookup tool to find information for your state. Similarly, contact your local government office to find out if additional registrations or permits are necessary.

4. Open accounts and obtain permits

With your business plan in hand, it's time to lay the operational and financial groundwork to get your company off the ground. 

Open a company bank account

Even if you run a sole proprietorship and your business is just you, life will be easier if you have a separate bank account to manage your business finances. If you want to accept credit card payments either online or in person, look into credit card payment processing services .

Get licenses and permits

In certain industries, you'll need licenses and permits in order to operate legally. This usually applies in industries where there's a risk of damage to the customer—think construction, hair salons, and financial consulting. Some municipalities also require home-based businesses to hold a "home occupation permit," so make sure you find out what licenses you need before you open your doors, no matter what industry you're in.

Find out if you need a Sales Tax Permit

If you sell physical products and you operate in a state that collects sales taxes, you likely need to register for a Sales Tax Permit. Most states administer these permits for free or for a nominal fee.

Illustrated table showing the common types of business licenses and permits

5. Set up a financial accounting system

Money can get complicated very quickly, so you want to have an automated system for financial accounting, budgeting, and documentation before you start making any sales. 

Basic bookkeeping 101

There are a number of bookkeeping records that small business owners need to update on a regular basis to keep their business finances in order. These tasks include:

Income statements

Balance sheets

Cash flow statements

Bills and invoices

Quarterly financial statements

Tax returns

Unless you're very confident in your skills with an Excel spreadsheet, you should invest in accounting software or consider hiring a part-time bookkeeper . Check out Zapier's list of the best accounting software for small businesses for some apps to try out.

Understand your tax liability

Business taxes are very different from employee taxes. The biggest difference is that small businesses are required to file taxes quarterly instead of annually. You need to have enough cash on hand to remit payment to the IRS every three months, which can take some getting used to.

If you have employees, you'll also need to keep in mind that employee taxes are paid to the government by the employer. If you've ever looked at your own pay stubs, you'll know that each includes a record of what taxes were taken out of your paycheck. Those taxes aren't taken by the government directly—they're taken out by the employer, who is then responsible for sending employees' taxes to the IRS.

6. Buy business insurance

As soon as you hire employees, open a physical location, or begin to scale your business, you'll need liability insurance of some sort. General liability insurance covers you in case someone is injured on your property or as a result of your company's activities.

Additional policies that are common for new businesses include:

Professional liability: Covers you in case an error or omission on your part costs your clients money.

Workers' compensation: Covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured while working. 

Business interruption insurance: Helps replace lost revenue if your business is forced to close temporarily due to a natural disaster or other event.

Property insurance: Covers your physical property, from company equipment to office or warehouse space.

7. Create a management system

For a single-person business, a management system can be as simple as a set of to-do lists for keeping track of budgets and schedules. Larger businesses will need to formalize processes for managing workflows, finances, schedules, team organization, and more.

Management setup

When getting your management system up and running, focus on the essentials. At a minimum, you'll need a structure for managing:

Calendars and scheduling

Customer communications

Budgets, invoices, and other financial documents

Industry-specific KPIs

Purchasing and order fulfillment

If you're starting with a team, you'll also want to put together an organizational chart . Determining each person's responsibilities will help eliminate confusion and oversights.

Invest in branding and marketing

The fun part, of course, comes at the very end of all the operational logistics. Take some time to think through your marketing strategy before launching your business. At a minimum, you'll need to start with a website, a logo, and social media accounts.

Establishing a brand identity

Start by thinking through how you want to come off to others as a brand. Usually, your brand voice will align closely with the industry you're in—financial and legal firms tend to be serious and authoritative, while creative agencies need to be witty and innovative.

Consistency is far more important than trying for fancy, versatile, or expensive branding. A company with a simple, casual tone and one or two brand colors and basic designs will do far better than a company that tries out a different tone with each social post.

List of things needed to start a business

Starting a business doesn't need to be an overwhelming undertaking. With a bit of organizational planning and this business startup checklist , you can get your company up and running quickly. Of course, the more tasks you automate on this list, the smoother everything will run, and the quicker you'll be able to start making sales. Learn more with this small business guide to automation .

Related reading:

Start a business: 22 low-cost business ideas  

9 books every small business owner should read

11 small business advertising ideas for your business

The best free small business software

20 free proposal templates to ace your pitch

This article was originally published in October 2016 by Melanie Pinola and has also had contributions from Amanda Pell. The most recent update was in May 2023.

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Amanda Pell

Amanda is a writer and content strategist who built her career writing on campaigns for brands like Nature Valley, Disney, and the NFL. When she's not knee-deep in research, you'll likely find her hiking with her dog or with her nose in a good book.

  • Small business
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Business plan template

If you’re looking for a way to start your business off on the right foot, a business plan template can help you establish the foundation for your strategy. Get started in a few clicks with Asana’s free business plan template.

Sign up to use this template.


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You’re pumped—you just thought of the greatest business idea ever. You want to get started, but you don’t have a plan laid out. You need a loan to get your idea off the ground, and the bank wants to see an in-depth business plan. We’re here to help.

What is a business plan template?

A business plan template is a framework that helps you solidify your ideas in an organized format. Our free business plan template walks you through how to create a new business from scratch, or re-imagine your existing business in a new market.

What components are included in a business plan template?

Our business plan template covers what an organization wants to achieve within three to five years. By using our template, you’ll have a place to capture all of the major information you need in order to complete your business plan. That includes:

Company description : Information like your executive summary , your company’s mission statement and vision, and your founder’s bio. 

Product and services: A high-level overview of what your company provides, including core products or services. This may also include how your product is developed, any potential screenshots or prototypes of your product, and pricing plans.

Marketing plan: How you plan to bring your product into market at a high level. You can add information like a SWOT analysis , target market research, and brand positioning in this section.

Financial plan: Important financial information such as balance sheets, a break-even analysis, and your cash flow projections. 

Management and organization information: Information on your company’s founders, executive team, and the board of directors.

How to use our free business plan template

Using Asana’s free business plan template is simple. Start by creating a new project with our free template. From there, add relevant information for your specific business plan in the sections provided in our template. If there’s more information you want to include in your business plan, you’re free to add sections, custom fields, or additional tasks to make this template fit your needs.

Integrated features

Goals . Goals in Asana directly connect to the work you’re doing to hit them, making it easy for team members to see what they’re working towards. More often than not, our goals live separate from the work that goes into achieving them. By connecting your team and company goals to the work that supports them, team members have real-time insight and clarity into how their work directly contributes to your team—and company—success. As a result, team members can make better decisions. If necessary, they can identify the projects that support the company’s strategy and prioritize work that delivers measurable results. 

Reporting . Reporting in Asana translates project data into visual charts and digestible graphs. By reporting on work where work lives, you can reduce duplicative work and cut down on unnecessary app switching. And, because all of your team’s work is already in Asana, you can pull data from any project or team to get an accurate picture of what’s happening in one place.

Milestones . Milestones represent important project checkpoints. By setting milestones throughout your project, you can let your team members and project stakeholders know how you’re pacing towards your goal. Use milestones as a chance to celebrate the little wins on the path towards the big project goal. 

Project Overview . Project Overview is your one-stop-shop for all important project context. Give your team a bird’s-eye view of the what, why, and how of your project work. Add a project description to set the tone for how you’ll work together in Asana. Then, share any important resources and context—like meeting details, communication channels, and project briefs—in one place.

Microsoft Teams . With the Microsoft Teams + Asana integration, you can search for and share the information you need without leaving Teams. Easily connect your Teams conversations to actionable items in Asana. Plus, create, assign, and view tasks during a Teams Meeting without needing to switch to your browser.

Slack . Turn ideas, work requests, and action items from Slack into trackable tasks and comments in Asana. Go from quick questions and action items to tasks with assignees and due dates. Easily capture work so requests and to-dos don’t get lost in Slack. 

Google Workplace . Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Google Workplace file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach any My Drive file with just a few clicks.

Gmail . With the Asana for Gmail integration, you can create Asana tasks directly from your Gmail inbox. Any tasks you create from Gmail will automatically include the context from your email, so you never miss a beat. Need to refer to an Asana task while composing an email? Instead of opening Asana, use the Asana for Gmail add-on to simply search for that task directly from your Gmail inbox. 

How do I create a business plan template?

Instead of taking the time to create a business plan from scratch, start the process off with Asana’s free template.To further customize your template, add evergreen information about your specific business, such as your business model, company name, address, mission statement, value proposition, or target audience. Adding these details to your template lets you avoid documenting this information from scratch every time you create a new business plan.

What components should I include in a business plan template?

Business plan templates typically contain five main sections: a company description, products and services, a marketing plan, basic management and organization information, and your current financial plan.

How long should my business plan be?

Short answer—as long as you need it to be. The long answer is that your business plan should have the answers to specific questions on how your business is run, from the perspective of an investor. The goal of a business plan is to highlight your business strategy for the next three to five years. This means any important operational, financial, and strategic information should be included. 

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Small business, big goals

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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

Accounting, Insurance & Compliance

Accounting, Insurance & Compliance Business Plans

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Children & Pets

Children & Pets Business Plans

  • Children's Education & Recreation
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Cleaning, Repairs & Maintenance

Cleaning, Repairs & Maintenance Business Plans

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Clothing & Fashion Brand

Clothing & Fashion Brand Business Plans

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Construction, Architecture & Engineering

Construction, Architecture & Engineering Business Plans

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Consulting, Advertising & Marketing

Consulting, Advertising & Marketing 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.

Entertainment & Recreation

Entertainment & Recreation Business Plans

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  • Film & Television
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Events Business Plans

  • Event Planning
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Farm & Agriculture

Farm & Agriculture Business Plans

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Finance & Investing

Finance & Investing Business Plans

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Fine Art & Crafts

Fine Art & Crafts Business Plans

Fitness & Beauty

Fitness & Beauty Business Plans

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Food and Beverage

Food and Beverage Business Plans

  • Bar & Brewery
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Hotel & Lodging

Hotel & Lodging Business Plans

  • Bed and Breakfast

Finish your plan faster with step-by-step guidance, financial wizards, and a proven format.

IT, Staffing & Customer Service

IT, Staffing & Customer Service Business Plans

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Manufacturing & Wholesale

Manufacturing & Wholesale Business Plans

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Medical & Health

Medical & Health Business Plans

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Nonprofit Business Plans

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  • Food & Housing Nonprofit
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Real Estate & Rentals

Real Estate & Rentals Business Plans

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Retail & Ecommerce

Retail & Ecommerce Business Plans

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Technology Business Plans

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  • Communication Technology

Transportation, Travel & Logistics

Transportation, Travel & Logistics 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.


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, just like you can leverage an example business plan template to write your plan, we also have a gallery of over 50 pitch decks for you to reference.

With this gallery, you have the option to view specific industry pitches or get inspired by real-world pitch deck examples.

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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launching your business plan

The Ultimate Business Launch Checklist for Getting Your Business Up and Running

Starting a business is becoming more of an option for a lot of people around the world.

According to a study from the Commerce Institute , Americans submitted 5.4 million new business applications in 2021 alone, with the number rising each year.

Every year more people see entrepreneurship as an option for their career. However, people often underestimate how difficult launching a business is.

Whether you're thinking of converting your passion for handmade products into a side business or leaving your full-time work to become an entrepreneur, launching a business is tough.

It takes more than simply having an idea to launch a business. You have a ton of little details to take care of, such as research, USPs, and business plan development.

That's why having a business launch checklist is so important. You can keep track of the many aspects of launching your business, stay organized, and feel like you have control of your career.

In this guide, we’ll explore all the basic steps you’ll need to take to start your own business quickly and efficiently using our business launch checklist.

Business Launch Checklist for 2022

Research competition and customers.

Before you plan your business launch, you’ll need to put pen to paper and research your business niche, products, services, and marketing.

Start by looking into ideas for your business name. From there, research your potential competitors within your chosen niche to get an idea of what pricing and key features should look like.

From there, research your competitors to generate ideas for your business and pricing models, additional features for your website, marketing efforts, and more.

With this information in mind, you can then start brainstorming how your brand will be different from your competitors. Remember, a strong brand presence and messaging are vital to standing out, especially if you choose a niche that has quite a lot of competition.

Get a Grasp on Your Market and Target Audience

Market research is a tool that successful business owners utilize to stay on top of trends, make wiser decisions, and preserve their company's competitive edge. Research is essential to comprehending your target audiences and boosting revenue, whether you're establishing or growing your organization.

The group of customers that a business intends to sell to or reach through marketing initiatives is known as a target market. The group or portion of the target market that is being advertised to is known as the target audience. As a result, the target audience becomes a more focused segment of the target market.

There are a few ways you can determine your target audience:

  • Analyze your target audience by demographics, such as age, location, interests, etc. You can build a Target Customer Persona, which is the individual that you think will benefit the most from your business’s offering and would be the most likely to buy.
  • Conduct market research through web searches and marketing intelligence tools to find potential trends.
  • Thoroughly analyze your competitors and the reviews their customers leave online.
  • Identify who would not benefit from your products to understand who you should not waste time marketing to.
  • Use platforms to analyze the customers that are coming to your websites after your business launches. This can show you where your leads are coming from.
  • Use tools like media kits, social media, and marketing analytics to reach your target audience.

Create a USP

A USP, or unique selling proposition, is a phrase that sums up what distinguishes your business. It explains to them why they ought to work with you rather than one of your rivals.

A single statement summarizing what makes your business special and useful to your target market is known as a USP. It is a succinct justification of why a consumer ought to choose you over one of your rivals.

The key differentiator of a business determines its brand, market positioning, marketing messages and strategies, and client interactions. The key to effective company planning is defining your unique selling proposition.

Your USP is crucial because it distinguishes you from the competition. It's essential for attracting new clients and keeping hold of devoted clients. Your unique selling proposition should be simple to comprehend for potential clients.

Remember that the core of your brand identity should be your USP. Everything should be informed by it, including your visual identity, content marketing, landing sites, email campaigns, and more.

Here are the stages to creating a USP:

  • Establish your target audience. Learn what advantages your intended clients are seeking.
  • Determine what distinguishes your products or service. Determine your competitors' offerings, how yours varies, and which marketing strategies are successful for other firms.
  • Place your USP to emphasize benefits. Emphasize the advantages of working with you. in a manner that appeals to your target audience.
  • Clarify and concisely state your USP. Be succinct, direct, and to the point.
  • Examine and update your USP. Verify its functionality, tweak as necessary, and test any fresh concepts.
  • Incorporate your USP into your marketing. Spread the word about what makes you unique.

Ensure that every member of your team, from sales to customer service, is aware of your unique selling proposition. Potential clients should be able to understand your USP from your team’s interactions with confidence. Invest some time and money in training so they can understand how to sell and express your USP.

Create Your Business Plan

Before you launch a business, a strong business plan may assist you in defining your strategy, seeing likely future obstacles, budgeting your launch finances, and assessing the overall sustainability and likeliness for the success of your business concept.

Start by putting everything you want to include in your plan into an executive strategy. This covers things like your company's idea, objectives, message, target market, financing, and more.

The next step in your company strategy is to analyze your present and future strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strengths. For your company strategy, you should also do competition analysis in terms of cost leadership, differentiation, and segmentation.

The administration and organization of your firm, your first product or service offering, client segmentation, logistics, operations, financing, and marketing should all be included in your business plan.

Check out our article on How to Set Up Systems for Your Business to learn more!

Craft a Marketing Plan

In addition to your business plan, you should also start working on your business marketing plan.

A marketing strategy defines your target market, the best ways to communicate with them, and analytical findings that will inform your future approach.

For businesses to coordinate their efforts and effectively gauge their effectiveness, a complete marketing plan is required. A unified plan optimizes the value of each campaign in the context of a cohesive strategy since marketing is a cumulative effort.

Find out where your target market is best reached online. Find ways to reach them at the right place at the right time. Utilize social media, email, and advertising in order to reach your target audience.

Check out our article on How to Create an Effective Marketing Plan to learn more!

Text Blaze's Business Launch Checklist Template

Feel free to use and customize these business launch checklists to help you keep track of everything during your business launch process.

Check out our Small Business Owners page for more templates you can use to launch your business today!

We hope this guide helped you understand the process of launching a business. Feel free to use and customize these templates to help launch your business effectively.

To launch a business successfully, you’ll need to take productivity very seriously. Boosting your productivity comes down to good time management, motivation, and the use of tools that can help. Text Blaze is a great tool for entrepreneurs who want to increase their productivity and get the most out of their business.

With Text Blaze, keyboard shortcuts help you create templates that you can use anywhere online. Whether you are doing research or creating a business plan, Text Blaze can help you eliminate repetitive typing forever. Give Text Blaze a try for free today!

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by Cydney Hatch • December 5, 2018

launching your business plan

How to Plan An Epic Business Launch: A Checklist

So you’re going to be in launch sequence soon, eh?

As this is an exciting time for any business, congrats! Whether it’s your business launch party, introducing new products or sharing big announcements, doing a business launch correctly will be key to your progressive success!

launching your business plan

Let’s be real, you have slaved over the new aspects of your business, so it’s important that you also put an equal amount of time into how you are going to share it with the world. As many get stuck in the creative stage and rarely put thought into launching, learning how to successfully will make or break your experience. (Because really, if it’s not launched well no one is ever even going to see it!)

So, to avoid some of the tragic disappointments that can come from a poor business launch, let’s learn how to create a business launch chuck full of hype, value and excitement!

How to Plan an Epic Business Launch

Before launching any aspect of a business, creative planning should be involved. Below, I’m going to share a checklist of things you should consider to ensure a successful start!

Create a Plan

Carefully planning any type of launch, particularly a business, is not limited to preparing a business/marketing plan. Bruce Bachenheimer, clinical professor of management and director of the Entrepreneurship Lab at Pace University,  recommends three planning methods to consider:

  • The Apprentice Model: Gaining direct industry experience
  • The Hired-Gun Approach: Partnering with experts who have in-depth knowledge and experience
  • The Ultra-Lean School of Hard Knocks Tactic: Figuring out a way to rapidly test and refine your model at a very reasonable cost

While writing a business plan  is certainly helpful, it’s helpful to train your mind to think about your business systematically.

If you don’t commit to in-depth preparation, launching a new business can be a very expensive lesson in failure. Just like you would not play a game of professional sports without months of prep, your business launches should also have that same type of effort put into it.

Feel Out If Customers are Ready

When launching your business or products, it’s important to understand if your potential customers have been groomed enough to understand and accept the launch. To understand this, ask the people you’ll be launching to.

You might have a business, product or idea that you know your target audience might need, but if they don’t understand the value of your offer, they probably won’t buy.

For example, if you are a business consulting business wanting to launch a new eBook tutorial on video ad marketing , you want to make sure your audience is ready for it. If you have not taken the time to stress the importance of video in ad marketing, people might not see the point in downloading your content.

To combat this, you need to utilize content marketing  to sell them on the idea of video ads so they understand the value to come in your launched product.

So, you will want to poll your audience on what they need from you NOW and create those or recognize pain points for your audience and begin talking about them so when you launch, they are primed to act.

Create a Pre-Launch Landing Page

While landing pages  are generally used to direct potential customers towards specific products and actions, you can also use them to create hype around the launch of your business, announcement or a new product.

If you are starting a business, don’t pressure yourself in the early stages to get a full website up. Instead, create a landing page with a countdown timer and an email list sign up that can keep interested viewers “in the know.” If you are a business just launching a new aspect, look to use landing pages to feature the new information or products!

Take a look at this example from Tapster. On their coming soon page they combine the allure of early access to their app with a chance to win a prize valued at $100:

launching your business plan

This landing page directs potential customers to Tapster to sign up and possibly win some cash. This helps Tapster gain insights into the types of people involved, who they are, how they can contact them regarding future things. More importantly, it also shares information customers might find helpful in learning about the app before it launches!

Give Out Freebies

One great way to create hype around a launch is to build up to it with a freebie. A freebie is simply content or a small gift that someone needs to opt-in for, or in other words, exchange their personal information in order to receive it. This helps serve a few purposes:

  • It allows you to collect a running email list for content
  • It allows you to develop lasting relationships that you can mature through education, time and effort.
  • It provides the potential customer with valuable information that will inspire them to act. When you prime an audience before a launch or sell, it makes them much more warmed up to the idea.

The more you can sink your hooks into people through d ownloads, cheat sheets and other content/items , the more time you have to educate and build momentum and gain an audience interested in what you’re talking about. For example, Liz Muroski does a great job at offering a lot of free materials that get people excited about new content they can read.

launching your business plan

For example, if you wanted to download her “Free Social Media Guide” she has a snazzy short blog post featuring the content and a link to download. The download link below took me to a signup sheet that helps her collect information from social media help seekers.

launching your business plan

The better you do this, the better your launch will be because people already see the quality of content, materials or products you output.

Host a Giveaway

Speaking of giving out freebies like above, giveaways are an awesome way to drum up some interest!

Why? Well, who doesn’t like to win something!

Now, the important step here is to make sure you have a giveaway that informs customers about your launch but also collects people’s information. Many businesses make the mistake of doing giveaways requiring just likes and follows but you lose so much when you do this! You want to keep tabs on people, you want to be able to communicate in the future and a simple follow does not do that.

An example of this can be KT Crabbs 2016-17 Wedding Photography Giveaway that helped jumpstart her wedding photography season.

launching your business plan

She does not do the typical “like this photo, tag three friends and like my account” type of giveaway most photographers do. Instead, she collects valuable information from potential clients she could use moving forward for future giveaways, newsletters or emails.

She states in her giveaway:

How to enter:

  • Follow me on instagram: @Ktcrabbphoto
  • E-mail [email protected] and share your wedding date, location of your event and a little bit about you, your fiance and details about your big day!
  • Top three will be selected to have phone/FaceTime interviews and the winning couple will be chosen by February 14th, 2016.

Thank you and I can’t wait to hear from you!

Like KT, a giveaway could be a physical product, digital download, discount or service. Make sure that the giveaway relates to what you are ultimately launching so that you have relevant people and hype around the launch.

You can easily set up a giveaway through Rafflecopter and add it into a blog post or you can create a giveaway on a social media account.

Connect with Industry Influencers 

You can obviously do this on your own, but a little help never hurts. This is where influencer marketing could be used!

People trust people, so influencer marketing is a way to build your business trust. When you align your business with an influencer, not only do they bring their loyal audience to your business, they also bring an audience that already trusts them and—by extension—you!

Influencers have the ability to drive traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure and sell your products to their “die hard” followers. An “ideal influencer” for your ecommerce business will be one that matches your brand’s tone, style, and mission . You are not just paying someone to say “buy this”—you want someone who can create meaningful content around your business and its objectives.

Ideally, you should already have running relationships with these individuals through your social and local interactions. If that’s not the case, you need to build these relationships way before a launch.

If you have influencers at your disposal, consider asking them to:

  • Create a story about your product
  • Share a review
  • Host a “meet and greet” at your launch party
  • Organize a social media contest/giveaway
  • Share  promoted content
  • Create visuals featuring your products or services
  • Film behind the scenes content
  • Create unique hashtags for them to use

For example, NatureBox is a healthy snack company that is known for their non-GMO, vegan and gluten free options. The company hired Barefoot Blonde , aka Amber Fillerup Clark, to represent their brand.

Amber took her kids out for a nice healthy picnic and took some pictures with the NatureBox snacks .

launching your business plan

The results were incredible. Besides the hundred of Instagram comments, the blog post that Amber published  about NatureBox received 319 comments.

Like Naturebox, you too can use influencers to create hype around your business!

Share Sneak Peeks and Teasers

We all love behind-the-scenes images and sneak peeks as it makes brands more tangible and authentic.

To connect with your audiences on a different level, invite them inside your business launch by sharing photos and ‘teasers’ on your blog and social media accounts. Not only does this create anticipation, it also creates more engagement and makes your business more personable.

One fashion blogger and apparel goddess is Dressed in La La who does a great job at letting fashionista’s see sneak peeks of new items to come into stock and keeping them updated, engaged and informed.

For example, her new “No Worries Sweater” was announced this week as not only a hot new item, but one that is limited in stock, never to be sold again once gone!

launching your business plan

Talk about some fashion “FOMO!” She then shared when it was live and gave viewers updates on the stock amounts and what was left. Needless to say, the sweaters flew off the shelves all because she connected with her market by making them feel exclusive.

launching your business plan

Between her marketing mixtures of sneak peeks, quality visuals, and feelings of urgency, she killed it! You too can create behind the scenes, sneak peeks and teasers to get people excited about your products or business launch.

Email Your People

It sounds simple and obvious, but do not underestimate the power of writing a simple email and sending it out to your full lists of people.

One thing I know for sure is that you can talk about something until you are blue in the face—you might even feel like people are sick of hearing from you—but there is still going to be a big number of people who miss your information somewhere along the line and still might be interested. Include everyone in your email communications!

With algorithms and just the business of life, people probably ignore or miss most of what you say and do, so be sure to exhaust all of your outlets of communication including email announcements and countdown to make sure you are reaching the largest possible audience.

PRO TIP:  In the weeks leading up to your launch, create a plan to stay top of mind!

In these emails, you can share sneak peeks, discounts, exciting visuals or exclusive behind-the-scenes videos that inspire a sense of excitement for the upcoming launch. Plan to send emails once a week, but on the week of the launch send one the day before and the morning of the launch.

launching your business plan

To add another personal touch, do not forget to create a “thank you” email to your people for making it (fingers crossed) a success. You can also include “what you missed” to recap information and have them download free content or a discount.

Blog Your Heart Out

Write a blog post that announces your product or service! Share enthusiasm, create exclusivity and be personable. Include telling the backstories, useful instructions and be sure to share links to the other articles you’ve written leading up to the launch topic.

Consider writing guest blog posts for added traffic and be sure you’re collaborating with sites that serve your target audience. Make sure you’re connecting with bloggers that promote their content well too so you’ll get good traffic numbers. Be sure to link to your site in your bio or at the end of the article so that it’s a page that someone can opt-into.

Make a list of at least 25 of your favorite blogs and do not be afraid to pitch creative topics they can gain value from.

Share Some Social Media Love

Blogging is a great option but another great way to promote your business launch, which seems obvious, is posting to social media . A great way to double dip between the two is to create a teaser on social media to collect hype and link it to a longer, more informative blog post!

Beautiful, right?

Test different voice, content, copy, visuals and website designs to see what people like to interact with. Some of the other important social media tactics you should focus on are also:

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are an intimate way to promote something typically they have high numbers of engagement.

Do not be afraid to get on camera and talk about what you are doing and what is to come from your business. People need to see the real face behind the business. This personal communication helps potential customers develop a sense of trust and connection with you, so rock Instagram stories with valuable content and visuals, including your beautiful face!

To learn more about IGTV and other Instagram story tactics click here for my article .

Facebook Live

Facebook Live, like Instagram, is another great interactive way to get the word out about your business launch. Many businesses have used this strategy to air Q&A sessions, tutorials, new product inventories as well as sharing reviews.

Facebook Live is another great way to add that personalized touch and let people know there is a real human behind the sales message wanting to connect, educate and help!

Social Video Use

People are much more likely to engage with a video than any other form of content, so it’s a good idea to include a video in your social media posts. Keep it short and sweet but informative, creative and engaging!

Be Shameless, Include Friends and Family

You might feel that awkward jerk in your stomach, but its okay to ask people to share your stuff!

Start with the people you know and move on to your email newsletter lists, former customers, etc. Simple encouragement can go a long way and you would be surprised, especially now many viral videos online end with “share with someone who needs this message”, “share with someone who would love this…”, etc.

By making friendly statements like, “Hey, feel free to forward this to your favorite shopping buddy” or something along those lines, it gives people permission to know that it’s acceptable. This mindset obviously will help get your content shared out with similar people who are already interested in your content.

Another way is to reach out to industry friends or peers and let them know that you have something exciting that their audience might be interested in.

Launch Mid Week (Typically)

Typically, it is best to plan a business launch mid week so your content has time to resonate. By launching on a Wednesday or Thursday, you have plenty of time to remind your audience about your new stuff earlier in the week so you can still create content to keep the excitement going at the end of the week.

This could vary based on your industry and your audience, but this is a fairly good rule of thumb for most creative entrepreneurs and bloggers.

Create “FOMO” By Limiting Quantities

If you’re launching a new product, consider offering a limited quantity to create a sense of urgency among your audience and create more of a demand.

Not only does this make your product more valuable, but if you sell out, you’ll create even more hype for your product the next go round. You see this commonly with apparel boutiques, specialty makeup lines, conferences/seminars to even services.

Understand Timing Is Everything

Timing is everything. As you put together your business launch strategy, you will need to think about pre-promotion, launch week, weekly follow up and campaign close.

Below is a rough estimate of where you should spend your time. Let’s break that timeline down in detail:

Pre-Promotion (2-4 weeks)

  • Create a media blast! Let everyone know you are going to launch! A great way to build hype is hosting a pre-launch private event. For example,  Restore Cryotherapy Salt Lake City did an exclusive one-day event where you could try their cryotherapy service for FREE!

launching your business plan

  • Post your launch date across all your personal social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram! Word of mouth matters because people need to know when and where they can access your business/product!
  • Setup Facebook Ads for Email Signups! Facebook is one of the best marketing platforms you can use before you launch your campaign. Target your ads based on your audience and try to get a good amount of email sign-ups. This will be helpful with sharing content later!
  • Send out media releases to local media resources! This will help you spread the good news! Restore Cryotherapy  did a GREAT job at this!
  • Display promotions that will help drive initial sales! Again, Restore Cryotherapy upon opening had “50% off #ivdriptherapy 20% off memberships.”

Launch Week

  • Send the message out. Let everyone know you have launched!
  • Post your launch across all your personal social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Make sure you share videos, live streaming, and photos to get the hype up.
  • Create great customer service. You want people who are interacting to have a great experience, which will then push them to share your product and services.
  • Display short-term promotions that will help drive initial sales.
  • Plan giveaways and involve other like-minded companies to donate gift cards and other products to sweeten the deal.

Follow Up & Running Weeks

  • Send weekly updates that include campaigns progress, special announcements, new rewards you have added or when a large donation has been made! It is also important to post a weekly update as supporters get concerned if they don’t receive an update on a campaign they have donated to.
  • Create updated content! This could include an update on how your campaign is performing, any new developments or achievements you have experienced or a simple thank you to those who have already donated. Be human and connect with your supporters.
  • Add limited time only rewards to attract new supporters or get old loyal supporters to donate again. Use “FOMO” words such as “limited time only”, “special rewards” and “special edition”.
  • Connect and get featured on local and online media platforms.

Project Closing

  • Countdown the last week till your campaign finishes on all of your social media accounts. Post something every day this week! Use phrases that create a sense of “FOMO” like, “only three days to go”, “only $200 off my goal!”

On top of a thoughtful timeline, think about how you can creatively launch your business or product during a time of the year that makes sense!

If you are launching an outdoor product to help someone camp, it doesn’t make sense to launch it in January when no one is typically camping. Think about how you can use holidays, months and seasons to promote your products and services.

Here’s to an Epic Business Launch

So there you have it, by considering the above checklist items, you can ensure having a pretty dang successful business launch that will greatly benefit your business.

I hope this inspires you to put the effort and energy into the launch process and I promise when you do, you will see a difference in the bottom line. When you put good stuff out, you receive it right on back. Hard work pays off if you do it well!

You’ve got this, and good luck in your future endeavors!

If you would like help planning your business launch and launch marketing, I would be happy to help! Be sure to reach out to me here !

How do you plan business launches? Are there other ways to create hype around your business? Share and inspire below!

Cydney Hatch

Cydney Hatch

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Product Launching Plan 101: Ultimate Guide to a Successful Launch

By Kate Eby | May 27, 2023

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Launching a new product can be daunting. From creating a buzz around your product to executing your marketing plan flawlessly, there are numerous aspects to consider. A launching plan can make or break your product's success and impact on the market, and it’s not always easy.

In fact, according to Harvard professor Clayton Christensen , more than 30,000 new consumer products are launched each year, yet 95 percent of them fail. However, with the right preparation and strategies in place, you can create a launching plan that lands you in the successful 5 percent.

In this post, we’ll review what a product launch plan is , the different types of product launches , and the various phases of a product launch , as well as guide you through the steps of creating an effective product launching plan that will help you stand out from the competition, attract your target audience, and ultimately drive sales.

What Is a Product Launch Plan?

A product launch plan is a detailed strategy that outlines the necessary steps and activities to successfully introduce a new product to the market. It typically includes a timeline, budget, marketing and advertising strategies, and sales goals. 

The plan is designed to create excitement and anticipation for the new product, generate interest from potential customers, and ensure a smooth and successful launch. A well-executed product launch plan can do the following:

  • Establish Clear Objectives: This ensures that everyone involved in the launch, from the marketing team to the sales team, is on the same page and is working toward the same goals.
  • Improve Internal Communication: By providing a clear roadmap and timeline for the launch, you’ll ensure that everyone involved knows what they need to do and when.
  • Increase Sales: By generating excitement around a product, building anticipation, and creating a sense of urgency, the launch can encourage customers to make a purchase and drive sales for your business.

Types of Product Launches 

It's crucial to have a launching plan in place, but you also need to decide how extensive you want the actual launch to be. 

Consider the following three types of product launches.

Soft Launch

A soft launch is a limited release of a product or service to a select group of customers or a specific geographic area to test and fine-tune the offering before a full-scale launch. 

Businesses use this strategy to gauge customer response, identify potential issues or bugs, and make necessary adjustments before a wider release. Soft launches are typically done with a reduced marketing budget and a smaller team to minimize risks and gather valuable feedback from early adopters.

Minimal Launch

A minimal launch refers to the process of launching a new product with the bare minimum features, functionalities, and resources required to validate the product idea and gather feedback from early adopters. It involves launching a product only with essential features and without any additional bells and whistles that are not necessary for the core functionality of the product. 

The goal of a minimal product launch is to test the product idea, gauge user interest, and refine the product based on customer feedback before investing more resources into its development. This approach is commonly used in Lean startup methodologies and can save startups time and money while ensuring they’re building a product that customers actually want.

Full-Scale Launch

A full-scale launch refers to the complete and official launch of a product, service, or project. It involves the deployment of all necessary resources, such as marketing, advertising, logistics, and technical support, to ensure a successful and impactful launch. 

The purpose of a full-scale launch is to create maximum awareness, generate interest, and drive sales of the product or service. It’s typically the final stage of a comprehensive planning and execution process and is intended to deliver desired outcomes for the organization.

Product Launch Phases

A strong product launching plan involves many different steps, from developing the right messaging and assets to empowering sales staff and maintaining momentum.

A product launch comprises three phases: pre-launch, launch, and post-launch.

The product launch phases include pre-launch, launch, and post-launch.

Phase 1: Pre-Launch

The pre-launch phase is the period before the official launch of a new product or service and is a crucial part of any launch. This is where you’ll do the majority of planning activities, including the following:

  • Set achievable goals
  • Become an expert on your product
  • Understand the target market
  • Develop a messaging strategy
  • Create a timeline
  • Make a budget
  • Plan promotional materials
  • Test your product

The duration of the pre-launch phase can vary depending on the product or service being launched, as well as the overall goals of the launch. However, a typical pre-launch can range from a few weeks to several months.

Overall, the pre-launch phase is a critical period that requires careful planning and execution to ensure a successful launch.

Phase 2: Launch

Simply put, the launch phase involves executing all of the planning you did during the pre-launch phase. This is when your product is finally out on the market. 

This phase is much shorter than pre-launch. Depending on how long you believe you need, it may take a day or a week.

Phase 3: Post-Launch

Even once you launch your product, there is still work to do. In the post-launch phase , you'll conduct a review and compile feedback and data to determine what went well and what didn't.

Doing so will help you to manage or improve your product so that it remains relevant to your market and maintains customer retention.

How to Create a Product Launch Plan in 9 Steps

Now that you understand the different phases of a launch, it’s time to delve deeper into the specifics. Follow the nine steps below for a successful launch.

Nine steps to creating a product launching plan.

1. Set Goals

Phase: Pre-launch

The first thing you’ll want to do when developing your launching plan is establish the objectives of the product launch and determine desired outcomes. Think about what your product team hopes to achieve throughout the process.  

Businesses often hope to achieve a variety of goals, including the following:

  • Building product awareness
  • Generating interest
  • Capturing new customers
  • Increasing sales 
  • Finding a product-market fit
  • Establishing a strong market position

Once you’ve determined your goals, list out the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each goal so you know what to measure for success. Remember: Good goals are clear, measurable, and have an expected time frame, and the best way to achieve that is by writing SMART goals . 

Pro tip: One of the easiest ways to get started setting and tracking your goals is to use a goal setting template that you can customize to suit your needs.

2. Do Your Research

Another crucial step in your launching plan is to conduct in-depth research on your target market, competitors, and industry. You should have a thorough understanding of the space in order to create an effective strategy that’ll engage your audience and win their business.

Here are some things businesses typically research during a pre-launch phase:

  • Market Demand: Conduct market research to determine if there is a need or demand for the product.
  • Competitive Landscape: Research the competition to understand their offerings and identify opportunities for differentiation.
  • Target Audience: Identify the target audience and research their needs, preferences, and pain points.
  • Marketing Channels: Research the most effective marketing channels to reach your target audience and create a marketing plan.
  • Product Features: Conduct user testing and research to ensure product features meet the needs of your target audience.

3. Develop a Messaging Strategy

Now that you have a better understanding of the space, you need to create a marketing communication plan that defines how you will execute the product launch. This means developing a messaging strategy that will resonate with your target market while demonstrating the value of your product. 

To do this, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Define Your Value Proposition: What makes your product unique? What benefits does it offer that your competitors don't? Your value proposition should be front and center in your messaging strategy. Make sure you can clearly articulate what sets your product apart and why it's worth paying attention to.
  • Craft Your Messaging Framework: Your messaging framework is a set of key messages you want to communicate to your audience. These messages should be concise, memorable, and aligned with your value proposition. Your messaging framework should guide all of your communications, from your website to your social media posts.
  • Choose Your Channels: Where does your audience spend their time online? Which social media platforms do they use? Which publications do they read? Do they attend events? Choose the channels that will be most effective in reaching your target audience, and tailor your messaging accordingly.

4. Develop a Budget

At this point, it’s time to develop a budget to ensure you’re managing costs and properly allocating resources. 

First, you’ll need to determine the scope of your product launch. You can do this by making a list of all the activities required for the successful launch of your product. This can include product development, marketing and advertising, PR, events, promotions, etc.

Next, assign resources (people, time, and money) to each activity. Determine the number of people required for each activity and estimate the amount of time each task will take. Then, assign budgets for each activity.

Remember that every product launch is different, and the budgeting process will vary depending on the product, target audience, and market conditions.

Pro tip: Use these Excel budget templates to track and manage your business expenses so you can make the best strategic decisions for your launching plan.

5. Create a Timeline

To ensure everything stays on track for the launch, you’ll need to create a  project timeline . Start by setting the launch date for your product, as this will be the anchor point for your entire timeline.

Next, identify the key milestones or events that need to happen in order to launch the product successfully. This may include tasks such as product development, testing, marketing, and sales. Make sure you estimate the time frames for each milestone. This will give you a rough idea of how long each task will take and help you identify any potential roadblocks or delays.

Additionally, you’ll need to identify any dependencies between tasks. Some tasks may need to be completed before others can begin, so it's important to factor this into your timeline.

6. Prepare Promotional Materials

Promotional materials are key to getting the word out and creating hype that gets people excited and talking about your product. This includes materials such as email newsletters, landing pages, videos, social media posts , and other assets, depending on what channels you plan to use. 

You’ll need to develop marketing materials for different parts of your product launch such as the teaser, announcement, and promotional content.

The teaser is essentially a hint, clue, or sneak peak that creates anticipation and excitement for your new product. It’s designed to generate interest among the target audience, without revealing too much about the product itself. 

Then there’s the actual announcement , which finally reveals what your new product is as well as any special features or benefits that may be of interest to the target audience. 

After announcing your new product, you can engage your target market and attract more customers by sharing promotional content like a giveaway or release date discount.

7. Launch the Product

Phase: Launch

Once your launch date finally arrives, it’s time to launch your product. This day should be an event — literally. Host in-person or online events like webinars or a live social chat to connect with your customers. 

During these events, you can show your customers live demos or invite influencers to try out your new product. You’ll also want to collaborate with your sales team to plan meetings and outreach the day of the launch to increase the momentum of your campaign.

8. Nurture Your Funnel

After your launch, you’ll have reached a lot of people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve landed a lot of sales. It often takes several touchpoints before someone is convinced to start moving through the sales funnel, so don’t lose your momentum. 

Continue to nurture those leads with emails, free trials, demos, blogs, and other promotional materials.

9. Monitor and Evaluate

Phase: Post-launch

Depending on when your launch phase has ended (typically within a week of the launch date), this will bring you to the post-launch phase. This is the time when you track the success of the product launch and evaluate your marketing performance .

Spend some time analyzing your results. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Did you meet the goals you made in the pre-launch phase? Why or why not?
  • How did customers feel about your product? Were they satisfied or were there things they wished were different?
  • Where did your campaign succeed and fail?
  • Did you fail to anticipate something? 
  • Did you learn anything?

As a good marketing project management practice, you should record your successes and failures. This will allow you to reflect on what went well and what didn’t so you can make changes or pivot strategies for next time based on your desired outcomes.

Create a Successful Product Launch Plan with Smartsheet for Marketing

The best marketing teams know the importance of effective campaign management, consistent creative operations, and powerful event logistics -- and Smartsheet helps you deliver on all three so you can be more effective and achieve more. 

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.

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launching your business plan

Self-Employment 101: A Guide to Starting the Process

A re you considering taking the path of entrepreneurship but feeling unsure where to begin? Well, you’re in the right place! Our guide below will go over some tips for starting the process of your self-employment journey and joining the 16 million Americans who identify as self-employed.

Keep reading to learn more about being self-employed.

Identify Your Passions and Interests

When you start a business, you have the chance to turn what you’re passionate about into a profitable venture. First, you will need to take some time to do some self-reflection. Think about what activities you enjoy and what you’re truly passionate about.

Also, think about the problems you enjoy solving, either for yourself or others. Most businesses emerge from addressing certain challenges. So, if there’s a problem you’re passionate about solving, this could be your starting point for your business venture.

Once you have some things in mind, it’s time to conduct some market research. You want to explore niches and industries that already exist. The goal is to find any gaps where your idea can fit in and help others.

Create a Business Plan

Creating a business plan is a critical step in starting any business. Briefly describe your business idea, its unique value proposition, and the problem it solves. Outline your short and long-term objectives and what you aim to achieve with the business.

You also want to define the purpose and mission of your business. Think about the legal structure of your business. The most common choices are sole proprietorship, LLC, and partnership.

It’s also important to analyze the industry your business will operate in and its current trends. Define your target audience and their specific needs in your business plan. You will also have to do a competitor analysis, where you evaluate who your competitors are along with their strengths and weaknesses.

Your business plan will need a section where you write all the details about your product or service. Highlight what makes your business product unique and different from anything else out there.

There should also be a section for your implementation plan. Create a timeline for launching your business where you include key milestones. Write down the tasks and responsibilities for you to implement the plan.

Keep in mind that the business plan you create will continue to evolve as you get started. You want to revisit this and adjust the plan as needed. Think of this plan as your roadmap that will help with day-to-day operations and even securing funding.

Legal and Practical Considerations

Once you have a business name and have decided on which legal structure is best, you will need to register your business. Depending on where you live, there are certain local, state, and federal authorities you will need to follow to stay legit. This is also where you have to see if your industry or location requires certain licenses or permits to operate legally.

For example, if your business deals with food, public health, or hazardous materials, you might need specific health and safety permits. If your business impacts the environment, then you will more than likely need environmental permits.

You can’t forget about Uncle Sam because self-employment taxes are a must to avoid any fines or legal issues in the future. You will have to keep track of all your income and expenses. It’s also a smart idea to estimate quarterly taxes because it will help you not fall behind when tax season comes around.

We recommend setting up an accounting system to help you manage all the money that comes in and out for business purposes. If you don’t have the time or are not good with finances, then you might want to consider hiring an accountant. There’s also the option to use accounting software that is linked to your bank account that does most of the sorting for you.

If you have a brand name, logo, or product that you feel people can easily use as their own, you might want to consider protecting it through copyrights and trademarks. Also, if you deal with sensitive information, then you want to use confidentiality agreements to help safeguard your data.

Marketing and Branding

The foundation of your business image is your brand identity. Part of your brand identity is your business logo, name, typography, and color scheme. The more consistent you are with these elements, the more you will create a strong and memorable presence where people start to associate your colors with your business.

For example, most people think of Target when they see red circles or Starbucks when they see a certain shade of green. The reason is that these brands have been very consistent with their color scheme throughout the years.

When you are working on your marketing, you want to identify what your unique selling proposition (USP) is. These are the things that set your business apart from the competition. When you highlight your own USP, it will help customers understand why they choose your products or services instead of your competitors.

You have to understand your target audience so that you can speak to them through your marketing. During your research, you have to identify where your target audience likes to spend their time. The goal is to show up where they are hanging out so that you can reach them.

This includes speaking to your target audience through social media platforms. This is a great place to meet and speak to your target audience.

Now You’re Familiar With Starting the Process

Taking on the task of becoming your own boss can be both exciting and challenging at the same time. Sometimes you will find yourself working a lot more than a 40-hour work week, but it’s satisfying because you are doing it for your own company instead of growing someone else’s company. As you can see, starting the process doesn’t have to be complicated.

Did our article help you out? We have more helpful guides, so make sure you check out the rest of our business section.

This article is published by NYTech in collaboration with Syndication Cloud.

Self-Employment 101: A Guide to Starting the Process

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Japan rail operator gives up plan to launch maglev train in 2027

Central Japan Railway's Tokyo-Nagoya route faces environmental disputes

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Central Japan Railway said Friday it has given up its plan to launch a new high-speed maglev train between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027, amid long-running environmental disputes.

"While we cannot predict the new opening date at this point, we will continue to aim to launch it as soon as possible," the company said in a document released ahead of a meeting of experts at the transport ministry.

The Linear Chuo Shinkansen project is intended to link Tokyo and Osaka with trains traveling up to 500 kilometers per hour. But a small area on the section between the capital and Nagoya has proved a stumbling block for the project, due mostly to opposition by the central prefecture of Shizuoka.

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu has opposed the project, expressing concerns about its environmental impact, and tunnel excavation work has not yet begun in the area.

Japan's bullet train network just became bigger with new stops

Japan maglev critic reelected in shizuoka, claiming green mandate, china unveils 600 kph superfast maglev train, japan maglev train project still stalled by environmental concerns, japan seeks to revive rail freight as trucking bottleneck looms, latest on transportation, brunei firm pitches 1,600 km high-speed rail linking indonesia, malaysia, singapore starts dual probes of baltimore bridge collapse, singapore-flagged container ship brings down baltimore bridge, sponsored content, about sponsored content this content was commissioned by nikkei's global business bureau..

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