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The Business Planning Process: 6 Steps To Creating a New Plan

The Business Planning Process 6 Steps to Create a New Plan

In this article, we will define and explain the basic business planning process to help your business move in the right direction.

What is Business Planning?

Business planning is the process whereby an organization’s leaders figure out the best roadmap for growth and document their plan for success.

The business planning process includes diagnosing the company’s internal strengths and weaknesses, improving its efficiency, working out how it will compete against rival firms in the future, and setting milestones for progress so they can be measured.

The process includes writing a new business plan. What is a business plan? It is a written document that provides an outline and resources needed to achieve success. Whether you are writing your plan from scratch, from a simple business plan template , or working with an experienced business plan consultant or writer, business planning for startups, small businesses, and existing companies is the same.

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The Better Business Planning Process

The business plan process includes 6 steps as follows:

  • Do Your Research
  • Calculate Your Financial Forecast
  • Draft Your Plan
  • Revise & Proofread
  • Nail the Business Plan Presentation

We’ve provided more detail for each of these key business plan steps below.

1. Do Your Research

Conduct detailed research into the industry, target market, existing customer base,  competitors, and costs of the business begins the process. Consider each new step a new project that requires project planning and execution. You may ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are your business goals?
  • What is the current state of your business?
  • What are the current industry trends?
  • What is your competition doing?

There are a variety of resources needed, ranging from databases and articles to direct interviews with other entrepreneurs, potential customers, or industry experts. The information gathered during this process should be documented and organized carefully, including the source as there is a need to cite sources within your business plan.

You may also want to complete a SWOT Analysis for your own business to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and potential risks as this will help you develop your strategies to highlight your competitive advantage.

2. Strategize

Now, you will use the research to determine the best strategy for your business. You may choose to develop new strategies or refine existing strategies that have demonstrated success in the industry. Pulling the best practices of the industry provides a foundation, but then you should expand on the different activities that focus on your competitive advantage.

This step of the planning process may include formulating a vision for the company’s future, which can be done by conducting intensive customer interviews and understanding their motivations for purchasing goods and services of interest. Dig deeper into decisions on an appropriate marketing plan, operational processes to execute your plan, and human resources required for the first five years of the company’s life.

3. Calculate Your Financial Forecast

All of the activities you choose for your strategy come at some cost and, hopefully, lead to some revenues. Sketch out the financial situation by looking at whether you can expect revenues to cover all costs and leave room for profit in the long run.

Begin to insert your financial assumptions and startup costs into a financial model which can produce a first-year cash flow statement for you, giving you the best sense of the cash you will need on hand to fund your early operations.

A full set of financial statements provides the details about the company’s operations and performance, including its expenses and profits by accounting period (quarterly or year-to-date). Financial statements also provide a snapshot of the company’s current financial position, including its assets and liabilities.

This is one of the most valued aspects of any business plan as it provides a straightforward summary of what a company does with its money, or how it grows from initial investment to become profitable.

4. Draft Your Plan

With financials more or less settled and a strategy decided, it is time to draft through the narrative of each component of your business plan . With the background work you have completed, the drafting itself should be a relatively painless process.

If you have trouble writing convincing prose, this is a time to seek the help of an experienced business plan writer who can put together the plan from this point.

5. Revise & Proofread

Revisit the entire plan to look for any ideas or wording that may be confusing, redundant, or irrelevant to the points you are making within the plan. You may want to work with other management team members in your business who are familiar with the company’s operations or marketing plan in order to fine-tune the plan.

Finally, proofread thoroughly for spelling, grammar, and formatting, enlisting the help of others to act as additional sets of eyes. You may begin to experience burnout from working on the plan for so long and have a need to set it aside for a bit to look at it again with fresh eyes.

6. Nail the Business Plan Presentation

The presentation of the business plan should succinctly highlight the key points outlined above and include additional material that would be helpful to potential investors such as financial information, resumes of key employees, or samples of marketing materials. It can also be beneficial to provide a report on past sales or financial performance and what the business has done to bring it back into positive territory.

Business Planning Process Conclusion

Every entrepreneur dreams of the day their business becomes wildly successful.

But what does that really mean? How do you know whether your idea is worth pursuing?

And how do you stay motivated when things are not going as planned? The answers to these questions can be found in your business plan. This document helps entrepreneurs make better decisions and avoid common pitfalls along the way. ​

Business plans are dynamic documents that can be revised and presented to different audiences throughout the course of a company’s life. For example, a business may have one plan for its initial investment proposal, another which focuses more on milestones and objectives for the first several years in existence, and yet one more which is used specifically when raising funds.

Business plans are a critical first step for any company looking to attract investors or receive grant money, as they allow a new organization to better convey its potential and business goals to those able to provide financial resources.

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Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

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How to make a business plan

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Table of Contents

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

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

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

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

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

What is a business plan?

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

Products or services

Target market

Competitors

Marketing and sales strategies

Financial plan

Management team

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

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

Business plan vs. business model canvas

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

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

Key partnerships

Key activities

Key propositions

Customer relationships

Customer segments

Key resources

Cost structure

Revenue streams

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

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

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

Why is a business plan important?

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

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

Helps to define the business goals and objectives

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

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

Guides decision-making

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

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

Attracts investors and secures funding

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

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

Identifies potential challenges and risks

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

Is there enough demand for my product or service?

Will I have enough capital to start my business?

Is the market oversaturated with too many competitors?

What will happen if my marketing strategy is ineffective?

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

Provides a basis for measuring success

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

Are we where we want to be at this point?

Did we achieve our goals?

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

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

How to make a business plan step by step

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

1. Create an executive summary

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

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

2. Write your company description

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

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

3. Conduct a market analysis

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

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

What does the current market look like?

Who are your competitors?

What are they offering?

What will give you a competitive advantage?

Who is your target market?

What are they looking for and why?

How will your product or service satisfy a need?

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

4. Describe your products and services

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

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

5. Design a marketing and sales strategy

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

Pricing strategy

Advertising and promotional tactics

Sales channels

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

6. Determine budget and financial projections

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

Some details to include in this section are:

Startup costs

Revenue projections

Profit and loss statement

Funding you have received or plan to receive

Strategy for raising funds

7. Set the organization and management structure

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

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

8. Make an action plan

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

Types of business plans

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

Startup business plan

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

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

Strategic business plan

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

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

Operational business plan

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

Organizational structure

Staffing plan

Production plan

Quality control

Inventory management

Supply chain

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

Growth-business plan

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

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

One-page business plan

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

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

Best practices for how to make a good business plan

Here are some additional tips for creating a business plan:

Use a template

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

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

Be practical

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

Be specific

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

Be thorough with your research

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

Get input from others

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

Review and revise regularly

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

Create a winning business plan to chart your path to success

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

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

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

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The 4 Phases Needed to Develop a Successful Business Plan

Back view of freelancer man sitting in front of wall with strategy and creating a plan.

David Gordon

  • January 5, 2021
  • Type Articles

As they say in the military, “The enemy has a say.” The key to winning is adjusting. In 2021, expect COVID-19 will continue to impact the first half of the year, while the second half could represent different opportunities. Further, a new presidential administration, with its new initiatives, could impact your market looking toward 2022 and 2023.

This is where business planning comes into play.

Planning is about understanding the landscape, knowing what you want to achieve and then determining how to achieve it. It requires gathering information to understand your environment; determining current deployment; resources; where you can solicit assistance and then determining what you need to do (or procure) to give your team the resources needed to achieve the goal. Then, it is all about execution – developing a plan to achieve your future goals.

The phases of developing a plan include:

1. Introspection, Research & Insights

2. idea generation, 3. aggregation & execution, 4. ongoing evaluation and refinement.

While it sounds comprehensive, and it can be, it can also be streamlined. It all depends upon your organization, style and, if you use an outside facilitator, their ability to ask the right questions, understand your business/industry and add ideas.

This first step is critical. It is about gathering information: quantitative information and qualitative insights.

This can comprise macroeconomic information, marketplace information, industry insights and data analysis. The goal is to have a sense of where the economy and market are going while understanding your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), which comes from information gathering.

Understand your relationship with your market, your company, your customers, and the potential of each. Data can deliver these insights. Internal business intelligence data, combined with external economic data, can be powerful tools.

Some additional areas to consider include:

  • Do you “plan” expecting today’s COVID-19 environment or a different one? For how long?
  • What is your expectation of the market? Future macro trends and the potential opportunities that they can create? For example, how will the new presidential administration’s likely focus on clean energy and the climate impact your markets?
  • How have your processes been impacted?
  • More importantly, how are customers and their customers being impacted? What are their new expectations? What is their outlook?
  • What is your staff’s input?

As part of this process, “customer” insights can be beneficial. This should be 360-degree input. From end-customers/contractors, distributors (if you are a manufacturer), salespeople (and reps/RSMs), perhaps even employees or suppliers. Ask their opinion about the market, their opportunities, how “you” can improve and more. Those who contribute want you to succeed.

Next, ask departments how they can improve. How can “you/they” be easier to do business with? What additional value can each bring to their customers? What processes need to be improved? How can utilization, and productivity, increase? What is their value proposition, and the company’s, today and what could it be?

If you are in sales, the issues are the same, but focus on their goals and account package. Where are customer needs? Where are they going? What is your value proposition, according to your sales organization? How can you generate more? What do you need to be successful (or, more importantly, what does your company need to do to be more successful with your customers/in your territory?)

Ask what is important for account retention as well as for taking share. Then prioritize.

It is about asking for information, seeking opportunities, developing ideas, changing models and anticipating the future, becoming knowledgeable. Going into 2021, many companies will be more conservative with investments and will seek to reallocate funding. Focus and enhancing models will be critical. Opportunities abound.

Once you have gathered information and know the current and projected state, the next phase is identifying what strategies you want to continue. Conduct an idea generation exercise to determine what’s next.

This brainstorming exercise helps identify what new strategies will emerge. Consider what competitors are doing. Look at distributors/manufacturers in other industries or markets. Ask customers what would be of benefit to them.

Next it is about aggregating the ideas, developing a project plan and calendaring the activities to ensure time implementation.

For some initiatives, you may want advance time to present the strategy to your key suppliers or distributors to gather their input, or perhaps get their buy-in. For distributors, remember your 2021 earned co-op funds will probably decline, as they are based upon 2020 performance.

Gather the thoughts, determine the feasibility, gain budgetary insight and then prioritize. Inevitably, you cannot do everything. Every company is, at some point, resource-constrained.

An area that is challenging for most companies is ongoing evaluation of strategy with periodic reviews that allow the company to refine its strategy. It is like taking a road trip and finding out that there is construction on a segment of the highway. You can slow down or consider a detour/alternate route that enables you to continue. Adjustments are needed in plans. The key is achieving the end goal within the defined timeframe.

Reporting these metrics to various stakeholders also helps earn buy-in for future initiatives.

Strategic planning is a commitment to intentionally succeed. It is a leadership decision that reinforces to your staff that the company has a roadmap to achieve success and is committed to profitable growth. Involving your team helps develop a better “product” as well as earns their buy-in to the strategy, to implementation and to success.

Planning can be a process, or it can be a workshop. The key is, have a plan so you can be intentional in your actions.

David Gordon is president of Channel Marketing Group, a distribution strategy and marketing consulting firm helping distributors, manufacturers and representatives in the industrial and construction industries generate insights and ideas to drive growth. For more information on Channel Marketing Group, visit channelmkt.com . Reach Gordon at [email protected]

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What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

AJ Beltis

Published: June 07, 2023

In an era where more than 20% of small enterprises fail in their first year, having a clear, defined, and well-thought-out business plan is a crucial first step for setting up a business for long-term success.

Business plan graphic with business owner, lightbulb, and pens to symbolize coming up with ideas and writing a business plan.

Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan?

businessplan_0

In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement. Key staff who are responsible for achieving the goals may also be included in the business plan along with a timeline.

The business plan is an undeniably critical component to getting any company off the ground. It's key to securing financing, documenting your business model, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.

What is a business plan used for?

The purpose of a business plan is three-fold: It summarizes the organization’s strategy in order to execute it long term, secures financing from investors, and helps forecast future business demands.

Business Plan Template [ Download Now ]

businessplan_2

Working on your business plan? Try using our Business Plan Template . Pre-filled with the sections a great business plan needs, the template will give aspiring entrepreneurs a feel for what a business plan is, what should be in it, and how it can be used to establish and grow a business from the ground up.

Purposes of a Business Plan

Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons:

1. Securing financing from investors.

Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. This document is an entrepreneur's way of showing potential investors or lenders how their capital will be put to work and how it will help the business thrive.

All banks, investors, and venture capital firms will want to see a business plan before handing over their money, and investors typically expect a 10% ROI or more from the capital they invest in a business.

Therefore, these investors need to know if — and when — they'll be making their money back (and then some). Additionally, they'll want to read about the process and strategy for how the business will reach those financial goals, which is where the context provided by sales, marketing, and operations plans come into play.

2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals.

A business plan should leave no stone unturned.

Business plans can span dozens or even hundreds of pages, affording their drafters the opportunity to explain what a business' goals are and how the business will achieve them.

To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies — from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.

These explanations should ultimately lead to a business' break-even point supported by a sales forecast and financial projections, with the business plan writer being able to speak to the why behind anything outlined in the plan.

stages of business planning

Free Business Plan Template

The essential document for starting a business -- custom built for your needs.

  • Outline your idea.
  • Pitch to investors.
  • Secure funding.
  • Get to work!

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Free Business Plan [Template]

Fill out the form to access your free business plan., 3. legitimizing a business idea..

Everyone's got a great idea for a company — until they put pen to paper and realize that it's not exactly feasible.

A business plan is an aspiring entrepreneur's way to prove that a business idea is actually worth pursuing.

As entrepreneurs document their go-to-market process, capital needs, and expected return on investment, entrepreneurs likely come across a few hiccups that will make them second guess their strategies and metrics — and that's exactly what the business plan is for.

It ensures an entrepreneur's ducks are in a row before bringing their business idea to the world and reassures the readers that whoever wrote the plan is serious about the idea, having put hours into thinking of the business idea, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.

4. Getting an A in your business class.

Speaking from personal experience, there's a chance you're here to get business plan ideas for your Business 101 class project.

If that's the case, might we suggest checking out this post on How to Write a Business Plan — providing a section-by-section guide on creating your plan?

What does a business plan need to include?

  • Business Plan Subtitle
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • The Business Opportunity
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Target Market
  • Marketing Plan
  • Financial Summary
  • Funding Requirements

1. Business Plan Subtitle

Every great business plan starts with a captivating title and subtitle. You’ll want to make it clear that the document is, in fact, a business plan, but the subtitle can help tell the story of your business in just a short sentence.

2. Executive Summary

Although this is the last part of the business plan that you’ll write, it’s the first section (and maybe the only section) that stakeholders will read. The executive summary of a business plan sets the stage for the rest of the document. It includes your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.

3. Company Description

This brief part of your business plan will detail your business name, years in operation, key offerings, and positioning statement. You might even add core values or a short history of the company. The company description’s role in a business plan is to introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way.

4. The Business Opportunity

The business opportunity should convince investors that your organization meets the needs of the market in a way that no other company can. This section explains the specific problem your business solves within the marketplace and how it solves them. It will include your value proposition as well as some high-level information about your target market.

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5. Competitive Analysis

Just about every industry has more than one player in the market. Even if your business owns the majority of the market share in your industry or your business concept is the first of its kind, you still have competition. In the competitive analysis section, you’ll take an objective look at the industry landscape to determine where your business fits. A SWOT analysis is an organized way to format this section.

6. Target Market

Who are the core customers of your business and why? The target market portion of your business plan outlines this in detail. The target market should explain the demographics, psychographics, behavioristics, and geographics of the ideal customer.

7. Marketing Plan

Marketing is expansive, and it’ll be tempting to cover every type of marketing possible, but a brief overview of how you’ll market your unique value proposition to your target audience, followed by a tactical plan will suffice.

Think broadly and narrow down from there: Will you focus on a slow-and-steady play where you make an upfront investment in organic customer acquisition? Or will you generate lots of quick customers using a pay-to-play advertising strategy? This kind of information should guide the marketing plan section of your business plan.

8. Financial Summary

Money doesn’t grow on trees and even the most digital, sustainable businesses have expenses. Outlining a financial summary of where your business is currently and where you’d like it to be in the future will substantiate this section. Consider including any monetary information that will give potential investors a glimpse into the financial health of your business. Assets, liabilities, expenses, debt, investments, revenue, and more are all useful adds here.

So, you’ve outlined some great goals, the business opportunity is valid, and the industry is ready for what you have to offer. Who’s responsible for turning all this high-level talk into results? The "team" section of your business plan answers that question by providing an overview of the roles responsible for each goal. Don’t worry if you don’t have every team member on board yet, knowing what roles to hire for is helpful as you seek funding from investors.

10. Funding Requirements

Remember that one of the goals of a business plan is to secure funding from investors, so you’ll need to include funding requirements you’d like them to fulfill. The amount your business needs, for what reasons, and for how long will meet the requirement for this section.

Types of Business Plans

  • Startup Business Plan
  • Feasibility Business Plan
  • Internal Business Plan
  • Strategic Business Plan
  • Business Acquisition Plan
  • Business Repositioning Plan
  • Expansion or Growth Business Plan

There’s no one size fits all business plan as there are several types of businesses in the market today. From startups with just one founder to historic household names that need to stay competitive, every type of business needs a business plan that’s tailored to its needs. Below are a few of the most common types of business plans.

For even more examples, check out these sample business plans to help you write your own .

1. Startup Business Plan

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As one of the most common types of business plans, a startup business plan is for new business ideas. This plan lays the foundation for the eventual success of a business.

The biggest challenge with the startup business plan is that it’s written completely from scratch. Startup business plans often reference existing industry data. They also explain unique business strategies and go-to-market plans.

Because startup business plans expand on an original idea, the contents will vary by the top priority goals.

For example, say a startup is looking for funding. If capital is a priority, this business plan might focus more on financial projections than marketing or company culture.

2. Feasibility Business Plan

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This type of business plan focuses on a single essential aspect of the business — the product or service. It may be part of a startup business plan or a standalone plan for an existing organization. This comprehensive plan may include:

  • A detailed product description
  • Market analysis
  • Technology needs
  • Production needs
  • Financial sources
  • Production operations

According to CBInsights research, 35% of startups fail because of a lack of market need. Another 10% fail because of mistimed products.

Some businesses will complete a feasibility study to explore ideas and narrow product plans to the best choice. They conduct these studies before completing the feasibility business plan. Then the feasibility plan centers on that one product or service.

3. Internal Business Plan

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Internal business plans help leaders communicate company goals, strategy, and performance. This helps the business align and work toward objectives more effectively.

Besides the typical elements in a startup business plan, an internal business plan may also include:

  • Department-specific budgets
  • Target demographic analysis
  • Market size and share of voice analysis
  • Action plans
  • Sustainability plans

Most external-facing business plans focus on raising capital and support for a business. But an internal business plan helps keep the business mission consistent in the face of change.

4. Strategic Business Plan

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Strategic business plans focus on long-term objectives for your business. They usually cover the first three to five years of operations. This is different from the typical startup business plan which focuses on the first one to three years. The audience for this plan is also primarily internal stakeholders.

These types of business plans may include:

  • Relevant data and analysis
  • Assessments of company resources
  • Vision and mission statements

It's important to remember that, while many businesses create a strategic plan before launching, some business owners just jump in. So, this business plan can add value by outlining how your business plans to reach specific goals. This type of planning can also help a business anticipate future challenges.

5. Business Acquisition Plan

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Investors use business plans to acquire existing businesses, too — not just new businesses.

A business acquisition plan may include costs, schedules, or management requirements. This data will come from an acquisition strategy.

A business plan for an existing company will explain:

  • How an acquisition will change its operating model
  • What will stay the same under new ownership
  • Why things will change or stay the same
  • Acquisition planning documentation
  • Timelines for acquisition

Additionally, the business plan should speak to the current state of the business and why it's up for sale.

For example, if someone is purchasing a failing business, the business plan should explain why the business is being purchased. It should also include:

  • What the new owner will do to turn the business around
  • Historic business metrics
  • Sales projections after the acquisition
  • Justification for those projections

6. Business Repositioning Plan

businessplan_6 (1)

When a business wants to avoid acquisition, reposition its brand, or try something new, CEOs or owners will develop a business repositioning plan.

This plan will:

  • Acknowledge the current state of the company.
  • State a vision for the future of the company.
  • Explain why the business needs to reposition itself.
  • Outline a process for how the company will adjust.

Companies planning for a business reposition often do so — proactively or retroactively — due to a shift in market trends and customer needs.

For example, shoe brand AllBirds plans to refocus its brand on core customers and shift its go-to-market strategy. These decisions are a reaction to lackluster sales following product changes and other missteps.

7. Expansion or Growth Business Plan

When your business is ready to expand, a growth business plan creates a useful structure for reaching specific targets.

For example, a successful business expanding into another location can use a growth business plan. This is because it may also mean the business needs to focus on a new target market or generate more capital.

This type of plan usually covers the next year or two of growth. It often references current sales, revenue, and successes. It may also include:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Growth opportunity studies
  • Financial goals and plans
  • Marketing plans
  • Capability planning

These types of business plans will vary by business, but they can help businesses quickly rally around new priorities to drive growth.

Getting Started With Your Business Plan

At the end of the day, a business plan is simply an explanation of a business idea and why it will be successful. The more detail and thought you put into it, the more successful your plan — and the business it outlines — will be.

When writing your business plan, you’ll benefit from extensive research, feedback from your team or board of directors, and a solid template to organize your thoughts. If you need one of these, download HubSpot's Free Business Plan Template below to get started.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Business Planning

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by subject matter experts.

Updated on June 08, 2023

Get Any Financial Question Answered

Table of contents, what is business planning.

Business planning is a crucial process that involves creating a roadmap for an organization to achieve its long-term objectives. It is the foundation of every successful business and provides a framework for decision-making, resource allocation, and measuring progress towards goals.

Business planning involves identifying the current state of the organization, determining where it wants to go, and developing a strategy to get there.

It includes analyzing the market, identifying target customers, determining a competitive advantage, setting financial goals, and establishing operational plans.

The business plan serves as a reference point for all stakeholders , including investors, employees, and partners, and helps to ensure that everyone is aligned and working towards the same objectives.

Importance of Business Planning

Business planning plays a critical role in the success of any organization, as it helps to establish a clear direction and purpose for the business. It allows the organization to identify its goals and objectives, develop strategies and tactics to achieve them, and establish a framework of necessary resources and operational procedures to ensure success.

Additionally, a well-crafted business plan can serve as a reference point for decision-making, ensuring that all actions taken by the organization are aligned with its long-term objectives.

It can also facilitate communication and collaboration among team members, ensuring that everyone is working towards a common goal.

Furthermore, a business plan is often required when seeking funding or investment from external sources, as it demonstrates the organization's potential for growth and profitability. Overall, business planning is essential for any organization looking to succeed and thrive in a competitive market.

Business Planning Process

Step 1: defining your business purpose and goals.

Begin by clarifying your business's purpose, mission, and long-term goals. These elements should align with the organization's core values and guide every aspect of the planning process.

Step 2: Conducting Market Research and Analysis

Thorough market research and analysis are crucial to understanding the industry landscape, identifying target customers, and gauging the competition. This information will inform your business strategy and help you find your niche in the market.

Step 3: Creating a Business Model and Strategy

Based on the insights from your market research, develop a business model that outlines how your organization will create, deliver, and capture value. This will inform the overall business strategy, including identifying target markets, value propositions, and competitive advantages.

Step 4: Developing a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan details how your organization will promote its products or services to target customers. This includes defining marketing objectives, tactics, channels, budgets, and performance metrics to measure success.

Step 5: Establishing Operational and Financial Plans

The operational plan outlines the day-to-day activities, resources, and processes required to run your business. The financial plan projects revenue, expenses, and cash flow, providing a basis for assessing the organization's financial health and long-term viability.

Step 6: Reviewing and Revising the Business Plan

Regularly review and update your business plan to ensure it remains relevant and reflects the organization's current situation and goals. This iterative process enables proactive adjustments to strategies and tactics in response to changing market conditions and business realities.

Business Planning Process

Components of a Business Plan

Executive summary.

The executive summary provides a high-level overview of your business plan, touching on the company's mission, objectives, strategies, and key financial projections.

It is critical to make this section concise and engaging, as it is often the first section that potential investors or partners will read.

Company Description

The company description offers a detailed overview of your organization, including its history, mission, values, and legal structure. It also outlines the company's goals and objectives and explains how the business addresses a market need or problem.

Products or Services

Describe the products or services your company offers, emphasizing their unique features, benefits, and competitive advantages. Detail the development process, lifecycle, and intellectual property rights, if applicable.

Market Analysis

The market analysis section delves into the industry, target market, and competition. It should demonstrate a thorough understanding of market trends, growth potential, customer demographics, and competitive landscape.

Marketing and Sales Strategy

Outline your organization's approach to promoting and selling its products or services. This includes marketing channels, sales tactics, pricing strategies, and customer relationship management .

Management and Organization

This section provides an overview of your company's management team, including their backgrounds, roles, and responsibilities. It also outlines the organizational structure and any advisory or support services employed by the company.

Operational Plan

The operational plan describes the day-to-day operations of your business, including facilities, equipment, technology, and personnel requirements. It also covers supply chain management, production processes, and quality control measures.

Financial Plan

The financial plan is a crucial component of your business plan, providing a comprehensive view of your organization's financial health and projections.

This section should include income statements , balance sheets , cash flow statements , and break-even analysis for at least three to five years. Be sure to provide clear assumptions and justifications for your projections.

Appendices and Supporting Documents

The appendices and supporting documents section contains any additional materials that support or complement the information provided in the main body of the business plan. This may include resumes of key team members, patents , licenses, contracts, or market research data.

Components of a Business Plan

Benefits of Business Planning

Helps secure funding and investment.

A well-crafted business plan demonstrates to potential investors and lenders that your organization is well-organized, has a clear vision, and is financially viable. It increases your chances of securing the funding needed for growth and expansion.

Provides a Roadmap for Growth and Success

A business plan serves as a roadmap that guides your organization's growth and development. It helps you set realistic goals, identify opportunities, and anticipate challenges, enabling you to make informed decisions and allocate resources effectively.

Enables Effective Decision-Making

Having a comprehensive business plan enables you and your management team to make well-informed decisions, based on a clear understanding of the organization's goals, strategies, and financial situation.

Facilitates Communication and Collaboration

A business plan serves as a communication tool that fosters collaboration and alignment among team members, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same objectives and understands the organization's strategic direction.

Benefits of Business Planning

Business planning should not be a one-time activity; instead, it should be an ongoing process that is continually reviewed and updated to reflect changing market conditions, business realities, and organizational goals.

This dynamic approach to planning ensures that your organization remains agile, responsive, and primed for success.

As the business landscape continues to evolve, organizations must embrace new technologies, methodologies, and tools to stay competitive.

The future of business planning will involve leveraging data-driven insights, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics to create more accurate and adaptive plans that can quickly respond to a rapidly changing environment.

By staying ahead of the curve, businesses can not only survive but thrive in the coming years.

Business Planning FAQs

What is business planning, and why is it important.

Business planning is the process of setting goals, outlining strategies, and creating a roadmap for your company's future. It's important because it helps you identify opportunities and risks, allocate resources effectively, and stay on track to achieve your goals.

What are the key components of a business plan?

A business plan typically includes an executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management structure, product or service line, marketing and sales strategies, and financial projections.

How often should I update my business plan?

It is a good idea to review and update your business plan annually, or whenever there's a significant change in your industry or market conditions.

What are the benefits of business planning?

Effective business planning can help you anticipate challenges, identify opportunities for growth, improve decision-making, secure financing, and stay ahead of competitors.

Do I need a business plan if I am not seeking funding?

Yes, even if you're not seeking funding, a business plan can be a valuable tool for setting goals, developing strategies, and keeping your team aligned and focused on achieving your objectives.

stages of business planning

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide , a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University , where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon , Nasdaq and Forbes .

Related Topics

  • Business Continuity Planning (BCP)
  • Business Exit Strategies
  • Buy-Sell Agreements
  • Capital Planning
  • Change-In-Control Agreements
  • Cross-Purchase Agreements
  • Decision Analysis (DA)
  • Employee Retention and Compensation Planning
  • Endorsement & Sponsorship Management
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Entity-Purchase Agreements
  • Family Business Continuity
  • Family Business Governance
  • Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs) and Buy-Sell Agreements
  • Human Resource Planning (HRP)
  • Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP II)
  • Plan Restatement

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Module 3: Planning and Mission

The planning cycle, learning outcomes.

  • Explain the stages of the planning cycle.
  • Explain why the planning cycle is an essential part of running a business.

Organizations have goals they want to achieve, so they must consider the best way of reaching their goals and must decide the specific steps to be taken. However, this is not a linear, step-by-step process. It is an iterative process with each step reconsidered as more information is gathered. As organizations go through the planning, they may realize that a different approach is better and go back to start again.

Remember that planning is only one of the management functions and that the functions themselves are part of a cycle. Planning, and in fact all of the management functions, is a cycle within a cycle. For most organizations, new goals are continually being made or existing goals get changed, so planning never ends. It is a continuing, iterative process.

In the following discussion, we will look at the steps in the planning cycle as a linear process. But keep in mind that at any point in the process, the planner may go back to an earlier step and start again.

Stages in the Planning Cycle

The stages of the planning cycle in boxes with arrows pointing from one step to another: Define objectives; Develop premises; Evaluate alternatives; Identify resources; Establish tasks; and Determine tracking and evaluation methods

The stages in the planning cycle

Define objectives

The first, and most crucial, step in the planning process is to determine what is to be accomplished during the planning period. The vision and mission statements provide long-term, broad guidance on where the organization is going and how it will get there. The planning process should define specific goals and show how the goals support the vision and mission. Goals should be stated in measurable terms where possible. For example, a goal should be “to increase sales by 15 percent in the next quarter” not “increase sales as much as possible.”

Develop premises

Planning requires making some assumptions about the future. We know that conditions will change as plans are implemented and managers need to make forecasts about what the changes will be. These include changes in external conditions (laws and regulations, competitors’ actions, new technology being available) and internal conditions (what the budget will be, the outcome of employee training, a new building being completed). These assumptions are called the plan premises. It is important that these premises be clearly stated at the start of the planning process. Managers need to monitor conditions as the plan is implemented. If the premises are not proven accurate, the plan will likely have to be changed.

Evaluate alternatives

There may be more than one way to achieve a goal. For example, to increase sales by 12 percent, a company could hire more salespeople, lower prices, create a new marketing plan, expand into a new area, or take over a competitor. Managers need to identify possible alternatives and evaluate how difficult it would be to implement each one and how likely each one would lead to success. It is valuable for managers to seek input from different sources when identifying alternatives. Different perspectives can provide different solutions.

Identify resources

Next, managers must determine the resources needed to implement the plan. They must examine the resources the organization currently has, what new resources will be needed, when the resources will be needed, and where they will come from. The resources could include people with particular skills and experience, equipment and machinery, technology, or money. This step needs to be done in conjunction with the previous one, because each alternative requires different resources. Part of the evaluation process is determining the cost and availability of resources.

Plan and implement tasks

Management will next create a road map that takes the organization from where it is to its goal. It will define tasks at different levels in the organizations, the sequence for completing the tasks, and the interdependence of the tasks identified. Techniques such as Gantt charts and critical path planning are often used to help establish and track schedules and priorities.

Determine tracking and evaluation methods

It is very important that managers can track the progress of the plan. The plan should determine which tasks are most critical, which tasks are most likely to encounter problems, and which could cause bottlenecks that could delay the overall plan. Managers can then determine performance and schedule milestones to track progress. Regular monitoring and adjustment as the plan is implemented should be built into the process to assure things stay on track.

Practice Question

The planning cycle: essential part of running a business.

Following the planning cycle process assures the essential aspects of running a business are completed. In addition, the planning process itself can have benefits for the organization. The essential activities include the following:

  • Maintaining organizational focus: Defining specific goals requires managers to consider the vision, mission, and values of the organization and how these will be operationalized. The methods and selected goals can demonstrate that the vision, mission, and values statements are working documents that are not just for show but prescribe activities.
  • Encouraging diverse participation: Planning activities provide an opportunity for input from different functions, departments, and people. Some organizations establish planning committees that intentionally include people from diverse backgrounds to bring new perspectives into the planning process.
  • Empowering and motivating employees: When people are involved in developing plans they will be more committed to the plans. Allowing diverse input into the planning cycle empowers people to contribute and motivates them to support the outcomes.

PRactice Question

There are several stages, or steps, in the planning process. It is not unusual to have to repeat steps as conditions change. This process is essential to a business to maintain focus, gather diverse opinions, and empower and motivate employees.

  • The Planning Cycle. Authored by : John/Lynn Bruton and Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Image: Stages in the Planning Cycle. Authored by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution

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  • What is strategic planning? A 5-step gu ...

What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

Julia Martins contributor headshot

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. In this article, we'll guide you through the strategic planning process, including why it's important, the benefits and best practices, and five steps to get you from beginning to end.

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. The strategic planning process informs your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals.

Strategic planning helps you clearly define your company’s long-term objectives—and maps how your short-term goals and work will help you achieve them. This, in turn, gives you a clear sense of where your organization is going and allows you to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. Think of it this way—if your goals and objectives are your destination on a map, your strategic plan is your navigation system.

In this article, we walk you through the 5-step strategic planning process and show you how to get started developing your own strategic plan.

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What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization’s mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives. The product of the planning cycle is a strategic plan, which is shared throughout the company.

What is a strategic plan?

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

A strategic plan is the end result of the strategic planning process. At its most basic, it’s a tool used to define your organization’s goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them.

Typically, your strategic plan should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your organizational goals, including your long-term goals and short-term, yearly objectives

Any plan of action, tactics, or approaches you plan to take to meet those goals

What are the benefits of strategic planning?

Strategic planning can help with goal setting and decision-making by allowing you to map out how your company will move toward your organization’s vision and mission statements in the next three to five years. Let’s circle back to our map metaphor. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Build a strong organizational culture by clearly defining and aligning on your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Align everyone around a shared purpose and ensure all departments and teams are working toward a common objective.

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go and achieve desired outcomes.

Promote a long-term vision for your company rather than focusing primarily on short-term gains.

Ensure resources are allocated around the most high-impact priorities.

Define long-term goals and set shorter-term goals to support them.

Assess your current situation and identify any opportunities—or threats—allowing your organization to mitigate potential risks.

Create a proactive business culture that enables your organization to respond more swiftly to emerging market changes and opportunities.

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process involves a structured methodology that guides the organization from vision to implementation. The strategic planning process starts with assembling a small, dedicated team of key strategic planners—typically five to 10 members—who will form the strategic planning, or management, committee. This team is responsible for gathering crucial information, guiding the development of the plan, and overseeing strategy execution.

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the planning process. 

Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment

Before you can define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders, like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future.

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services.

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether about the product, business practices, or the day-to-day company culture.

Consider different types of strategic planning tools and analytical techniques to gather this information, such as:

A balanced scorecard to help you evaluate four major elements of a business: learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 

Weaknesses:

What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 

Opportunities:

What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your company’s goals and objectives

To begin strategy development, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your vision, mission, and current position to identify and define your goals—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” “What’s the ideal future state of this company?” This can help you figure out which path you need to take to get there.

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents, such as:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose.

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision.

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company.

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market.

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years.

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in.

Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and determine performance metrics

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Take your current business position and strategy into account, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives, and build out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your plan should be created or revisited as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable. These KPIs will help you track progress and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Implement and share your plan

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Strategy implementation involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to the strategic plan, so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and the overall strategy map. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management platform .  

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process, to ensure all team members understand the strategic plan and how to implement it effectively. 

Define what “success” looks like by mapping your strategic plan to key performance indicators.

Ensure that the actions outlined in the strategic plan are integrated into the daily operations of the organization, so that every team member's daily activities are aligned with the broader strategic objectives.

Utilize tools and software—like a work management platform—that can aid in implementing and tracking the progress of your plan.

Regularly monitor and share the progress of the strategic plan with the entire organization, to keep everyone informed and reinforce the importance of the plan.

Establish regular check-ins to monitor the progress of your strategic plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

Once you’ve created and implemented your new strategic framework, the final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Remember, your strategic plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to revisit and update the plan if your company changes directions or makes new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan. Make sure to review your plan regularly—meaning quarterly and annually—to ensure it’s still aligned with your organization’s vision and goals.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever, even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

Build a smarter strategic plan with a work management platform

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

A work management platform plays a pivotal role in this process. It acts as a central hub for your strategic plan, ensuring that every task and project is directly tied to your broader company goals. This alignment is crucial for visibility and coordination, allowing team members to see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s success. 

By leveraging such a platform, you not only streamline workflow and enhance team productivity but also align every action with your strategic objectives—allowing teams to drive greater impact and helping your company move toward goals more effectively. 

Strategic planning FAQs

Still have questions about strategic planning? We have answers.

Why do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics that will help your company be successful.

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed.

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What is a strategic planning template?

A strategic planning template is a tool organizations can use to map out their strategic plan and track progress. Typically, a strategic planning template houses all the components needed to build out a strategic plan, including your company’s vision and mission statements, information from any competitive analyses or SWOT assessments, and relevant KPIs.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. business plan?

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, you should create a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements?

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose.

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose.

A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. company objectives?

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a business case?

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a project plan?

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

What’s the difference between strategic management vs. strategic planning?

A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives.

Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you will achieve your big-picture goals, strategic management also helps you organize your resources and figure out the best action plans for success. 

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Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

stages of business planning

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Understanding Business Plans

Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

How to Write a Business Plan

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

Common Elements of a Business Plan

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How Often Should a Business Plan Be Updated?

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.

The Bottom Line

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

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Business Planning Process: Create a Business Plan That Works

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Free Business Startup Checklist

Radhika Agarwal

  • December 15, 2023

Business Planning Process

If you are planning to start or grow your business, you might have heard about the importance of the business planning process countless times. And yes, it is necessary to have a plan. After all, it’ll be your roadmap to success.

But how would you go about it? Where will you start? And most importantly is there a tried and tested process that can make your job easier? What if we told you there is such a process?

And through this article, we’ll walk you through everything from what is business planning to the steps of the business planning process .

What is Business Planning?

Business planning is the process of giving structure to your business idea. It acts as a roadmap to your business journey, helps you get through obstacles, and maximizes opportunities.

It also helps you set realistic goals and pursue the same with a structured action plan.

Moreover, through a business plan, you can analyze your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and understand how that would impact your company while dealing with market competition and how your strengths would help you achieve your goal.

Above all, doing business with a well-written business plan increases your chances of success.

Steps of the Business Planning Process

Although there’s no sole right way to go about the process of planning your business, here’s a compilation of steps that’ll make your planning process faster and easier.

1. Carry out your research

Carry out your Research

The first step to creating a business plan is to do thorough research about the business and industry you are trying to get into. Tap into all the information you can get about your target audience, potential customer base, competitors, market and industry trends, cost of business, etc.

You can give a form to your research by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are your goals?
  • Where does your business stand currently?
  • What are the prevailing market trends?
  • What strategies is your competitor following?

You can find your answers by conducting market surveys , talking to customers and industry experts, designing good questionnaires, reading articles, blogs, and news updates about your industry and related ones, and so on.

Also, it is a good practice to conduct a SWOT analysis for your company to understand how your company’s strengths and weaknesses would help you stand apart from your competitors based on the current market statistics.

2. Make a Framework

Make a Framework

Once you’re done with your research the next step is to make a framework or a set of strategies for your business based on your research and business goals. You can either design strategies from scratch or reframe previously tried and tested successful strategies to fit your business goals.

But remember that you’ll have to tweak strategies to fit your unique competitive advantages and goals. Hence, strategies that are already being used can act as a good foundation, but it is essential to remember that you’ll have to expand upon them or improvise them for your business.

This step can be completed by taking a deep dive into your customer’s buying motivations and challenges that your product can help solve. Based on that, make a marketing plan, operations plan, and cost structure for your business at least for the first few years of your business.

3. Formulate your Financial Forecasts

Formulate your Financial Forecasts

No matter how tedious finances might seem, they are an integral part of any business. When you map out your finances it is essential to note down all the costs you’ll incur as you grow and run your business for the next five years and what would be your potential revenue, and if or not it would leave room for profit.

You can get your financial forecast by adding your financial assumptions to a financial system which will give you your cash flow statements and give you an idea of what amount of funds you’ll need to start and run your business for the first year.

This step is especially helpful if you want to acquire funding for your business. Nonetheless, it helps you prepare to deal with the financial aspects of your business.

A financial statement essentially provides details of a company’s expenses and profits. It also provides an overview of the company’s current financial stance, including its assets and liabilities.

Through this section try to write down and explain how you plan to use your investments and how would the same give a return.

4. Draft a Plan

Draft a Plan

As you’re done with creating business strategies and planning your finances, it is time to draft your business plan and compile everything into a single document. As you are done with all the technical aspects, this step should feel relatively easy.

But if you need help drafting a business plan and making it look presentable, you can subscribe to business plan software that comes with predesigned templates and tools to make your work easier .

5. Recheck and Improvise

Recheck and Improvise

Now as you’re done with writing your plan, it is a good idea to give it enough time to edit it. Check for any unclear sentences, irrelevant phrases, or confusing terms.

Take suggestions from your team members who are familiar with the functioning of your business. Finally, proofread for any grammar or punctuation errors. One of the most popular and useful pieces of editing advice is to put your work aside for a while and then look at it with fresh eyes to edit it better.

6. Create an Impressive Business Plan Presentation

Create an Impressive Business Plan Presentation

Now, as you’re done with writing your business plan, it is time to create a presentation that leaves an excellent impression on your audience. Highlight all the important and relevant points.

Also, add references for your investors like your financial reports , resumes of your key team members, snippets of your marketing plan, and past sales reports to have a well-rounded presentation.

It is true that starting a business is intimidating. It includes a bunch of emotions, chaotic ideas, and a will to take risks. (Risks are a part and parcel of starting a business, no matter how much you plan, but yes planning helps you prepare for it.) But in the end, all of us know that all of it is worth it if you have a profitable business in the end.

And business planning is something that takes you one step closer to your idea of success. Moreover, a plan keeps you going in the face of challenges and adversities, and helps you push yourself a little harder to achieve your dreams when things get tougher.

Above all, a business plan helps you take action and turn ideas into a real and functioning business. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start planning !

And while you’re at it, to check out Upmetrics’s business planning software to make business planning easier and faster.

Build your Business Plan Faster

with step-by-step Guidance & AI Assistance.

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About the Author

stages of business planning

Radhika is an economics graduate and likes to read about every subject and idea she comes across. Apart from that she can discuss her favorite books to lengths( to the point you\'ll start feeling a little annoyed) and spends most of her free time on Google word coach.

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The 5 steps of the strategic planning process

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Starting a project without a strategy is like trying to bake a cake without a recipe — you might have all the ingredients you need, but without a plan for how to combine them, or a vision for what the finished product will look like, you’re likely to end up with a mess. This is especially true when working with a team — it’s crucial to have a shared plan that can serve as a map on the pathway to success.

Creating a strategic plan not only provides a useful document for the future, but also helps you define what you have right now, and think through and outline all of the steps and considerations you’ll need to succeed.

What is strategic planning?

While there is no single approach to creating a strategic plan, most approaches can be boiled down to five overarching steps:

  • Define your vision
  • Assess where you are
  • Determine your priorities and objectives
  • Define responsibilities
  • Measure and evaluate results

Each step requires close collaboration as you build a shared vision, strategy for implementation, and system for understanding performance.

Related: Learn how to hold an effective strategic planning meeting

Why do I need a strategic plan?

Building a strategic plan is the best way to ensure that your whole team is on the same page, from the initial vision and the metrics for success to evaluating outcomes and adjusting (if necessary) for the future. Even if you’re an expert baker, working with a team to bake a cake means having a collaborative approach and clearly defined steps so that the result reflects the strategic goals you laid out at the beginning.

The benefits of strategic planning also permeate into the general efficiency and productivity of your organization as a whole. They include: 

  • Greater attention to potential biases or flaws, improving decision-making 
  • Clear direction and focus, motivating and engaging employees
  • Better resource management, improving project outcomes 
  • Improved employee performance, increasing profitability
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration, fostering team efficiency 

Next, let’s dive into how to build and structure your strategic plan, complete with templates and assets to help you along the way.

Before you begin: Pick a brainstorming method

There are many brainstorming methods you can use to come up with, outline, and rank your priorities. When it comes to strategy planning, it’s important to get everyone’s thoughts and ideas out before committing to any one strategy. With the right facilitation , brainstorming helps make this process fair and transparent for everyone involved.  

First, decide if you want to run a real-time rapid ideation session or a structured brainstorming . In a rapid ideation session, you encourage sharing half-baked or silly ideas, typically within a set time frame. The key is to just get out all your ideas quickly and then edit the best ones. Examples of rapid ideation methods include round robin , brainwriting , mind mapping , and crazy eights . 

In a structured brainstorming session, you allow for more time to prepare and edit your thoughts before getting together to share and discuss those more polished ideas. This might involve brainstorming methods that entail unconventional ways of thinking, such as reverse brainstorming or rolestorming . 

Using a platform like Mural, you can easily capture and organize your team’s ideas through sticky notes, diagrams, text, or even images and videos. These features allow you to build actionable next steps immediately (and in the same place) through color coding and tagging. 

Whichever method you choose, the ideal outcome is that you avoid groupthink by giving everyone a voice and a say. Once you’ve reached a consensus on your top priorities, add specific objectives tied to each of those priorities.

Related: Brainstorming and ideation template

1. Define your vision

Whether it’s for your business as a whole, or a specific initiative, successful strategic planning involves alignment with a vision for success. You can think of it as a project-specific mission statement or a north star to guide employees toward fulfilling organizational goals. 

To create a vision statement that explicitly states the ideal results of your project or company transformation, follow these four key steps: 

  • Engage and involve the entire team . Inclusivity like this helps bring diverse perspectives to the table. 
  • Align the vision with your core values and purpose . This will make it familiar and easy to follow through. 
  • Stay grounded . The vision should be ambitious enough to motivate and inspire yet grounded enough to be achievable and relevant.
  • Think long-term flexibility . Consider future trends and how your vision can be flexible in the face of challenges or opportunities. 

For example, say your vision is to revolutionize customer success by streamlining and optimizing your process for handling support tickets. It’s important to have a strategy map that allows stakeholders (like the support team, marketing team, and engineering team) to know the overall objective and understand the roles they will play in realizing the goals. 

This can be done in real time or asynchronously , whether in person, hybrid, or remote. By leveraging a shared digital space , everyone has a voice in the process and room to add their thoughts, comments, and feedback. 

Related: Vision board template

2. Assess where you are

The next step in creating a strategic plan is to conduct an assessment of where you stand in terms of your own initiatives, as well as the greater marketplace. Start by conducting a resource assessment. Figure out which financial, human, and/or technological resources you have available and if there are any limitations. You can do this using a SWOT analysis.

What is SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is an exercise where you define:

  • Strengths: What are your unique strengths for this initiative or this product? In what ways are you a leader?
  • Weaknesses: What weaknesses can you identify in your offering? How does your product compare to others in the marketplace?
  • Opportunities: Are there areas for improvement that'd help differentiate your business?
  • Threats: Beyond weaknesses, are there existing potential threats to your idea that could limit or prevent its success? How can those be anticipated?

For example, say you have an eco-friendly tech company and your vision is to launch a new service in the next year. Here’s what the SWOT analysis might look like: 

  • Strengths : Strong brand reputation, loyal customer base, and a talented team focused on innovation
  • Weaknesses : Limited bandwidth to work on new projects, which might impact the scope of its strategy formulation 
  • Opportunities : How to leverage and experiment with existing customers when goal-setting
  • Threats : Factors in the external environment out of its control, like the state of the economy and supply chain shortages

This SWOT analysis will guide the company in setting strategic objectives and formulating a robust plan to navigate the challenges it might face. 

Related: SWOT analysis template

3. Determine your priorities and objectives

Once you've identified your organization’s mission and current standing, start a preliminary plan document that outlines your priorities and their corresponding objectives. Priorities and objectives should be set based on what is achievable with your available resources. The SMART framework is a great way to ensure you set effective goals . It looks like this:  

  • Specific: Set clear objectives, leaving no room for ambiguity about the desired outcomes.
  • Measurable : Choose quantifiable criteria to make it easier to track progress.
  • Achievable : Ensure it is realistic and attainable within the constraints of your resources and environment.
  • Relevant : Develop objectives that are relevant to the direction your organization seeks to move.
  • Time-bound : Set a clear timeline for achieving each objective to maintain a sense of urgency and focus.

For instance, going back to the eco-friendly tech company, the SMART goals might be: 

  • Specific : Target residential customers and small businesses to increase the sales of its solar-powered device line by 25%. 
  • Measurable : Track monthly sales and monitor customer feedback and reviews. 
  • Achievable : Allocate more resources to the marketing, sales, and customer service departments. 
  • Relevant : Supports the company's growth goals in a growing market of eco-conscious consumers. 
  • Time-bound : Conduct quarterly reviews and achieve this 25% increase in sales over the next 12 months.

With strategic objectives like this, you’ll be ready to put the work into action. 

Related: Project kickoff template

4. Define tactics and responsibilities

In this stage, individuals or units within your team can get granular about how to achieve your goals and who'll be accountable for each step. For example, the senior leadership team might be in charge of assigning specific tasks to their team members, while human resources works on recruiting new talent. 

It’s important to note that everyone’s responsibilities may shift over time as you launch and gather initial data about your project. For this reason, it’s key to define responsibilities with clear short-term metrics for success. This way, you can make sure that your plan is adaptable to changing circumstances. 

One of the more common ways to define tactics and metrics is to use the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) method. By outlining your OKRs, you’ll know exactly what key performance indicators (KPIs) to track and have a framework for analyzing the results once you begin to accumulate relevant data. 

For instance, if our eco-friendly tech company has a goal of increasing sales, one objective might be to expand market reach for its solar-powered products. The sales team lead would be in charge of developing an outreach strategy. The key result would be to successfully launch its products in two new regions by Q2. The KPI would be a 60% conversation rate in those targeted markets.  

Related: OKR planning template  

5. Manage, measure, and evaluate

Once your plan is set into motion, it’s important to actively manage (and measure) progress. Before launching your plan, settle on a management process that allows you to measure success or failure. In this way, everyone is aligned on progress and can come together to evaluate your strategy execution at regular intervals.

Determine the milestones at which you’ll come together and go over results — this can take place weekly, monthly, or quarterly, depending on the nature of the project.

One of the best ways to evaluate progress is through agile retrospectives (or retros) , which can be done in real time or asynchronously. During this process, gather and organize feedback about the key elements that played a role in your strategy. 

Related: Retrospective radar template

Retrospectives are typically divided into three parts:

  • What went well.
  • What didn’t go well.
  • New opportunities for improvement.

This structure is also sometimes called the “ rose, thorn, bud ” framework. By using this approach, team members can collectively brainstorm and categorize their feedback, making the next steps clear and actionable. Creating an action plan during a post-mortem meeting is a crucial step in ensuring that lessons learned from past projects or events are effectively translated into tangible improvements. 

Another method for reviewing progress is the quarterly business review (QBR). Like the agile retrospective, it allows you to collect feedback and adjust accordingly. In the case of QBRs, however, we recommend dividing your feedback into four categories:

  • Start (what new items should be launched?).
  • Stop (what items need to be paused?).
  • Continue (what is going well?).
  • Change (what could be modified to perform better?).

Strategic planners know that planning activities continue even after a project is complete. There’s always room for improvement and an action plan waiting to be implemented. Using the above approaches, your team can make room for new ideas within the existing strategic framework in order to track better to your long-term goals.

Related: Quarterly business review template

Conclusions

The beauty of the strategic plan is that it can be applied from the campaign level all the way up to organizational vision. Using the strategic planning framework, you build buy-in , trust, and transparency by collaboratively creating a vision for success, and mapping out the steps together on the road to your goals.

Also, in so doing, you build in an ability to adapt effectively on the fly in response to data through measurement and evaluation, making your plan both flexible and resilient.

Related: 5 Tips for Holding Effective Post-mortems

Why Mural for strategic planning

Mural unlocks collaborative strategic planning through a shared digital space with an intuitive interface, a library of pre-fab templates, and methodologies based on design thinking principles.

Outline goals, identify key metrics, and track progress with a platform built for any enterprise.

Learn more about strategic planning with Mural.

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

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17.2: The Planning Process

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Learning Objectives

  • Outline the planning and controlling processes.

Planning is a process. Ideally, it is future-oriented, comprehensive, systematic, integrated, and negotiated. 11 It involves an extensive search for alternatives and analyzes relevant information, is systematic in nature, and is commonly participative. 12 The planning model described in this section breaks the managerial function of planning into several steps, as shown in Figure 17.2.1. Following this step-by-step procedure helps ensure that organizational planning meets these requirements.

A flowchart shows the five steps in the planning process.

Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): The Planning Process Source: Adapted from H. Koontz and C. O’Donnell, 1972. Principles of management: An analysis of managerial functions . New York: McGraw-Hill, 113.

Step 1: Developing an Awareness of the Present State

According to management scholars Harold Koontz and Cyril O’Donnell, the first step in the planning process is awareness. 13 It is at this step that managers build the foundation on which they will develop their plans. This foundation specifies an organization’s current status, pinpoints its commitments, recognizes its strengths and weaknesses, and sets forth a vision of the future. Because the past is instrumental in determining where an organization expects to go in the future, managers at this point must understand their organization and its history. It has been said—“The further you look back, the further you can see ahead.” 14

Step 2: Establishing Outcome Statements

The second step in the planning process consists of deciding “where the organization is headed or is going to end up.” Ideally, this involves establishing goals. Just as your goal in this course might be to get a certain grade, managers at various levels in an organization’s hierarchy set goals. For example, plans established by a university’s marketing department curriculum committee must fit with and support the plans of the department, which contribute to the goals of the business school, whose plans must, in turn, support the goals of the university. Managers, therefore, develop an elaborate network of organizational plans, such as that shown in Figure 17.2.2, to achieve the overall goals of their organization.

An illustration shows an example of a network of organizations plans.

Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Network of Organization Plans (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC-BY 4.0 license)

Goal vs. Domain Planning

Outcome statements can be constructed around specific goals or framed in terms of moving in a particular direction toward a viable set of outcomes. In goal planning , people set specific goals and then create action statements. 15 For example, freshman Kristin Rude decides that she wants a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry (the goal). She then constructs a four-year academic plan that will help her achieve this goal. Kristin is engaging in goal planning. She first identifies a goal and then develops a course of action to realize her goal.

Another approach to planning is domain/directional planning, in which managers develop a course of action that moves an organization toward one identified domain (and therefore away from other domains). 16 Within the chosen domain may lie a number of acceptable and specific goals. For example, high-school senior Neil Marquardt decides that he wants to major in a business-related discipline in college. During the next four years, he will select a variety of courses from the business school curriculum yet never select a major. After selecting courses based on availability and interest, he earns a sufficient number of credits within this chosen domain that enables him to graduate with a major in marketing. Neil never engaged in goal planning, but in the end, he will realize one of many acceptable goals within an accepted domain.

The development of the Post-it® product by the 3M Corporation demonstrates how domain planning works. In the research laboratories at 3M, efforts were being made to develop new forms and strengths of cohesive substances. One result was cohesive material with no known value because of its extremely low cohesive level. A 3M division specialist, Arthur L. Fry, frustrated by page markers falling from his hymn book in church, realized that this material, recently developed by Spencer F. Silver, would stick to paper for long periods and could be removed without destroying the paper. Fry experimented with the material as page markers and note pads—out of this came the highly popular and extremely profitable 3M product Scotch Post-it®. Geoff Nicholson, the driving force behind the Post-it® product, comments that rather than get bogged down in the planning process, innovations must be fast-tracked and decisions made whether to continue or move on early during the product development process. 17

A photo shot directly from the above shows a set of stationery items including, papers, highlighters, pens, and sticky labels.

Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): Post-it® notes, a 3M product, are often used to create and edit shared documents, such as a company strategic plan. How might technology that allows multiple people to share and edit documents such as Word or PowerPoint files affect the sales of Post-it® products? (Credit: Kevin Wen/ flickr/ Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

Situations in which managers are likely to engage in domain planning include (1) when there is a recognized need for flexibility, (2) when people cannot agree on goals, (3) when an organization’s external environment is unstable and highly uncertain, and (4) when an organization is starting up or is in a transitional period. In addition, domain planning is likely to prevail at upper levels in an organization, where managers are responsible for dealing with the external environment and when task uncertainty is high. Goal planning (formulating goals compatible with the chosen domain) is likely to prevail in the technical core, where there is less uncertainty.

Hybrid Planning

Occasionally, the coupling of domain and goal planning occurs, creating a third approach, called hybrid planning. In this approach, managers begin with more general domain planning and commit to moving in a particular direction. As time passes, learning occurs, uncertainty is reduced, preferences sharpen, and managers are able to make the transition to goal planning as they identify increasingly specific targets in the selected domain. Movement from domain planning to goal planning occurs as knowledge accumulates, preferences for a particular goal emerge, and action statements are created.

Consequences of Goal, Domain, and Hybrid Planning

Setting goals not only affects performance directly, but also encourages managers to plan more extensively. That is, once goals are set, people are more likely to think systematically about how they should proceed to realize the goals. 18 When people have vague goals, as in domain planning, they find it difficult to draw up detailed action plans and are therefore less likely to perform effectively. When studying the topic of motivation, you will learn about goal theory. Research suggests that goal planning results in higher levels of performance than does domain planning alone. 19

Step 3: Premising

In this step of the planning process, managers establish the premises, or assumptions, on which they will build their action statements. The quality and success of any plan depend on the quality of its underlying assumptions. Throughout the planning process, assumptions about future events must be brought to the surface, monitored, and updated. 20

Managers collect information by scanning their organization’s internal and external environments. They use this information to make assumptions about the likelihood of future events. As Kristin considers her four-year pursuit of her biochemistry major, she anticipates that in addition to her savings and funds supplied by her parents, she will need a full-time summer job for two summers in order to cover the cost of her undergraduate education. Thus, she includes finding full-time summer employment between her senior year of high school and her freshman year and between her freshman and sophomore years of college as part of her plan. The other two summers she will devote to an internship and finding postgraduate employment—much to mom and dad’s delight! Effective planning skills can be used throughout your life. The plan you develop to pay for and complete your education is an especially important one.

Step 4: Determining a Course of Action (Action Statements)

In this stage of the planning process, managers decide how to move from their current position toward their goal (or toward their domain). They develop an action statement that details what needs to be done, when, how, and by whom. The course of action determines how an organization will get from its current position to its desired future position. Choosing a course of action involves determining alternatives by drawing on research, experimentation, and experience; evaluating alternatives in light of how well each would help the organization reach its goals or approach its desired domain; and selecting a course of action after identifying and carefully considering the merits of each alternative.

Step 5: Formulating Supportive Plans

The planning process seldom stops with the adoption of a general plan. Managers often need to develop one or more supportive or derivative plans to bolster and explain their basic plan. Suppose an organization decides to switch from a 5-day, 40-hour workweek (5/40) to a 4-day, 40-hour workweek (4/40) in an attempt to reduce employee turnover. This major plan requires the creation of a number of supportive plans. Managers might need to develop personnel policies dealing with payment of daily overtime. New administrative plans will be needed for scheduling meetings, handling phone calls, and dealing with customers and suppliers.

Planning, Implementation, and Controlling

After managers have moved through the five steps of the planning process and have drawn up and implemented specific plans, they must monitor and maintain their plans. Through the controlling function (to be discussed in greater detail later in this chapter), managers observe ongoing human behavior and organizational activity, compare it to the outcome and action statements formulated during the planning process, and take corrective action if they observe unexpected and unwanted deviations. Thus, planning and controlling activities are closely interrelated (planning ➨ controlling ➨ planning...). Planning feeds controlling by establishing the standards against which behavior will be evaluated during the controlling process. Monitoring organizational behavior (the control activity) provides managers with input that helps them prepare for the upcoming planning period—it adds meaning to the awareness step of the planning process.

Influenced by total quality management (TQM) and the importance of achieving continuous improvement in the processes used, as well as the goods and services produced, organizations such as IBM-Rochester have linked their planning and controlling activities by adopting the Deming cycle (also known as the Shewhart cycle).

It has been noted on numerous occasions that many organizations that do plan fail to recognize the importance of continuous learning. Their plans are either placed on the shelf and collect dust or are created, implemented, and adhered to without a systematic review and modification process. Frequently, plans are implemented without first measuring where the organization currently stands so that future comparisons and evaluations of the plan’s effectiveness cannot be determined. The Deming cycle, shown in Figure 17.2.4, helps managers assess the effects of planned action by integrating organizational learning into the planning process. The cycle consists of four key stages: (1) Plan—create the plan using the model discussed earlier. (2) Do—implement the plan. (3) Check—monitor the results of the planned course of action; organizational learning about the effectiveness of the plan occurs at this stage. (4) Act—act on what was learned, modify the plan, and return to the first stage in the cycle, and the cycle begins again as the organization strives for continuous learning and improvement.

An illustration depicts the Deming cycle.

Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\): The Deming (Shewhart) Cycle (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC-BY 4.0 license)

concept check

  • What are the five steps in the planning process?
  • What is the difference between goal, domain, and hybrid planning?
  • How are planning, implementation, and controlling related?

The 7 Steps of the Business Planning Process: A Complete Guide

stages of business planning

In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive guide to the seven steps of the business planning process, and discuss the role of Strikingly website builder in creating a professional business plan.

Step 1: Conducting a SWOT Analysis

The first step in the business planning process is to conduct a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This analysis will help you understand your business's internal and external environment, and it can help you identify areas of improvement and growth.

Strengths and weaknesses refer to internal factors such as the company's resources, capabilities, and culture. Opportunities and threats are external factors such as market trends, competition, and regulations.

You can conduct a SWOT analysis by gathering information from various sources such as market research, financial statements, and feedback from customers and employees. You can also use tools such as a SWOT matrix to visualize your analysis.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a framework for analyzing a business's internal and external environment. The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths and weaknesses include internal factors such as the company's resources, capabilities, and culture. Opportunities and threats are external factors such as market trends, competition, and regulations.

A SWOT analysis can help businesses identify areas of improvement and growth, assess their competitive position, and make informed decisions. It can be used for various purposes, such as business planning, product development, marketing strategy, and risk management.

Importance of Conducting a SWOT Analysis

Conducting a SWOT analysis is crucial for businesses to develop a clear understanding of their internal and external environment. It can help businesses identify their strengths and weaknesses and uncover new opportunities and potential threats. By doing so, businesses can make informed decisions about their strategies, resource allocation, and risk management.

A SWOT analysis can also help businesses identify their competitive position in the market and compare themselves to their competitors. This can help businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors and develop a unique value proposition.

Example of a SWOT Analysis

Here is an example of a SWOT analysis for a fictional business that sells handmade jewelry:

  • Unique and high-quality products
  • Skilled and experienced craftsmen
  • Strong brand reputation and customer loyalty
  • Strategic partnerships with local boutiques
  • Limited production capacity
  • High production costs
  • Limited online presence
  • Limited product variety

Opportunities

  • Growing demand for handmade products
  • Growing interest in sustainable and eco-friendly products
  • Opportunities to expand online presence and reach new customers
  • Opportunities to expand product lines
  • Increasing competition from online and brick-and-mortar retailers
  • Fluctuating consumer trends and preferences
  • Economic downturns and uncertainty
  • Increased regulations and compliance requirements

This SWOT analysis can help the business identify areas for improvement and growth. For example, the business can invest in expanding its online presence, improving its production efficiency, and diversifying its product lines. The business can also leverage its strengths, such as its skilled craftsmen and strategic partnerships, to differentiate itself from its competitors and attract more customers.

Step 2: Defining Your Business Objectives

Once you have conducted a SWOT analysis, the next step is to define your business objectives. Business objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that align with your business's mission and vision.

Your business objectives can vary depending on your industry, target audience, and resources. Examples of business objectives include increasing sales revenue, expanding into new markets, improving customer satisfaction, and reducing costs.

You can use tools such as a goal-setting worksheet or a strategic planning framework to define your business objectives. You can also seek input from your employees and stakeholders to ensure your objectives are realistic and achievable.

stages of business planning

What is Market Research?

Market research is an integral part of the business planning process. It gathers information about a target market or industry to make informed decisions. It involves collecting and analyzing data on consumer behavior, preferences, and buying habits, as well as competitors, industry trends, and market conditions.

Market research can help businesses identify potential customers, understand their needs and preferences, and develop effective marketing strategies. It can also help businesses identify market opportunities, assess their competitive position, and make informed product development, pricing, and distribution decisions.

Importance of Market Research in Business Planning

Market research is a crucial component of the business planning process. It can help businesses identify market trends and opportunities, assess their competitive position, and make informed decisions about their marketing strategies, product development, and business operations.

By conducting market research, businesses can gain insights into their target audience's behavior and preferences, such as their purchasing habits, brand loyalty, and decision-making process. This can help businesses develop targeted marketing campaigns and create products that meet their customers' needs.

Market research can also help businesses assess their competitive position and identify gaps in the market. Businesses can differentiate themselves by analyzing their competitors' strengths and weaknesses and developing a unique value proposition.

Different Types of Market Research Methods

Businesses can use various types of market research methods, depending on their research objectives, budget, and time frame. Here are some of the most common market research methods:

Surveys are a common market research method that involves asking questions to a sample of people about their preferences, opinions, and behaviors. Surveys can be conducted through various channels like online, phone, or in-person surveys.

  • Focus Groups

Focus groups are a qualitative market research method involving a small group to discuss a specific topic or product. Focus groups can provide in-depth insights into customers' attitudes and perceptions and can help businesses understand the reasoning behind their preferences and behaviors.

Interviews are a qualitative market research method that involves one-on-one conversations between a researcher and a participant. Interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing and can provide detailed insights into a participant's experiences, perceptions, and preferences.

  • Observation

Observation is a market research method that involves observing customers' behavior and interactions in a natural setting such as a store or a website. Observation can provide insights into customers' decision-making processes and behavior that may not be captured through surveys or interviews.

  • Secondary Research

Secondary research involves collecting data from existing sources, like industry reports, government publications, or academic journals. Secondary research can provide a broad overview of the market and industry trends and help businesses identify potential opportunities and threats.

By combining these market research methods, businesses can comprehensively understand their target market and industry and make informed decisions about their business strategy.

Step 3: Conducting Market Research

Market research should always be a part of your strategic business planning. This step gathers information about your target audience, competitors, and industry trends. This information can help you make informed decisions about your product or service offerings, pricing strategy, and marketing campaigns.

stages of business planning

There are various market research methods, such as surveys, focus groups, and online analytics. You can also use tools like Google Trends and social media analytics to gather data about your audience's behavior and preferences.

Market research can be time-consuming and costly, but it's crucial for making informed decisions that can impact your business's success. Strikingly website builder offers built-in analytics and SEO optimization features that can help you track your website traffic and audience engagement.

Step 4: Identifying Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience is essential in the business planning process. Your target audience is the group of people who are most likely to buy your product or service. Understanding their needs, preferences, and behaviors can help you create effective marketing campaigns and improve customer satisfaction.

You can identify your target audience by analyzing demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data. Demographic data include age, gender, income, and education level. Psychographic data includes personality traits, values, and lifestyle. Behavioral data includes buying patterns, brand loyalty, and online engagement.

Once you have identified your target audience, you can use tools such as buyer personas and customer journey maps to create a personalized and engaging customer experience. Strikingly website builder offers customizable templates and designs to help you create a visually appealing and user-friendly website for your target audience.

What is a Target Audience?

A target audience is a group most likely to be interested in and purchase a company's products or services. A target audience can be defined based on various factors such as age, gender, location, income, education, interests, and behavior.

Identifying and understanding your target audience is crucial for developing effective marketing strategies and improving customer engagement and satisfaction. By understanding your target audience's needs, preferences, and behavior, you can create products and services that meet their needs and develop targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with them.

Importance of Identifying Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience is essential for the success of your business. By understanding your target audience's needs and preferences, you can create products and services that meet their needs and develop targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with them.

Here are reasons why identifying your target audience is important:

  • Improve customer engagement. When you understand your target audience's behavior and preferences, you can create a more personalized and engaging customer experience to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Develop effective marketing strategies. Targeting your marketing efforts to your target audience creates more effective and efficient marketing campaigns that can increase brand awareness, generate leads, and drive sales.
  • Improve product development. By understanding your target audience's needs and preferences, you can develop products and services that meet their specific needs and preferences, improving customer satisfaction and retention.
  • Identify market opportunities. If you identify gaps in the market or untapped market segments, you can develop products and services to meet unmet needs and gain a competitive advantage.

Examples of Target Audience Segmentation

Here are some examples of target audience segmentation based on different demographic, geographic, and psychographic factors:

  • Demographic segmentation. Age, gender, income, education, occupation, and marital status.
  • Geographic segmentation. Location, region, climate, and population density.
  • Psychographic segmentation. Personality traits, values, interests, and lifestyle.

Step 5: Developing a Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a strategic roadmap that outlines your marketing objectives, strategies, tactics, and budget. Your marketing plan should align with your business objectives and target audience and include a mix of online and offline marketing channels.

Marketing strategies include content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and paid advertising. Your marketing tactics can include creating blog posts, sharing social media posts, sending newsletters, optimizing your website for search engines, and running Google Ads or Facebook Ads.

To create an effective marketing plan , research your competitors, understand your target audience's behavior, and set clear objectives and metrics. You can also seek customer and employee feedback to refine your marketing strategy.

Strikingly website builder offers a variety of marketing features such as email marketing, social media integration, and SEO optimization tools. You can also use the built-in analytics dashboard to track your website's performance and monitor your marketing campaign's effectiveness.

What is a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is a comprehensive document that outlines a company's marketing strategy and tactics. It typically includes an analysis of the target market, a description of the product or service, an assessment of the competition, and a detailed plan for achieving marketing objectives.

A marketing plan can help businesses identify and prioritize marketing opportunities, allocate resources effectively, and measure the success of their marketing efforts. It can also provide the marketing team with a roadmap and ensure everyone is aligned with the company's marketing goals and objectives.

Importance of a Marketing Plan in Business Planning

A marketing plan is critical to business planning. It can help businesses identify their target audience, assess their competitive position, and develop effective marketing strategies and tactics.

Here are a few reasons why a marketing plan is important in business planning:

  • Provides a clear direction. A marketing plan can provide a clear direction for the marketing team and ensure everyone is aligned with the company's marketing goals and objectives.
  • Helps prioritize marketing opportunities. By analyzing the target market and competition, a marketing plan can help businesses identify and prioritize marketing opportunities with the highest potential for success.
  • Ensures effective resource allocation. A marketing plan can help businesses allocate resources effectively and ensure that marketing efforts are focused on the most critical and impactful activities.
  • Measures success. A marketing plan can provide a framework for measuring the success of marketing efforts and making adjustments as needed.

Examples of Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Here are some examples of marketing strategies and tactics that businesses can use to achieve their marketing objectives:

  • Content marketing. Creating and sharing valuable and relevant content that educates and informs the target audience about the company's products or services.
  • Social media marketing. Leveraging social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to engage with the target audience, build brand awareness, and drive website traffic.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing the company's website and online content to rank higher in search engine results and drive organic traffic.
  • Email marketing. Sending personalized and targeted emails to the company's email list to nurture leads, promote products or services, and drive sales.
  • Influencer marketing. Partnering with influencers or industry experts to promote the company's products or services and reach a wider audience.

By using a combination of these marketing strategies and tactics, businesses can develop a comprehensive and effective marketing plan that aligns with their marketing goals and objectives.

Step 6: Creating a Financial Plan

A financial plan is a detailed document that outlines your business's financial projections, budget, and cash flow. Your financial plan should include a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement, and it should be based on realistic assumptions and market trends.

To create a financial plan, you should consider your revenue streams, expenses, assets, and liabilities. You should also analyze your industry's financial benchmarks and projections and seek input from financial experts or advisors.

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Strikingly website builder offers a variety of payment and e-commerce features, such as online payment integration and secure checkout. You can also use the built-in analytics dashboard to monitor your revenue and expenses and track your financial performance over time.

What is a Financial Plan?

A financial plan is a comprehensive document that outlines a company's financial goals and objectives and the strategies and tactics for achieving them. It typically includes a description of the company's financial situation, an analysis of revenue and expenses, and a projection of future financial performance.

A financial plan can help businesses identify potential risks and opportunities, allocate resources effectively, and measure the success of their financial efforts. It can also provide a roadmap for the finance team and ensure everyone is aligned with the company's financial goals and objectives.

Importance of Creating a Financial Plan in Business Planning

Creating a financial plan is a critical component of the business planning process. It can help businesses identify potential financial risks and opportunities, allocate resources effectively, and measure the success of their financial efforts.

Here are some reasons why creating a financial plan is important in business planning:

  • Provides a clear financial direction. A financial plan can provide a clear direction for the finance team and ensure everyone is in sync with the company's financial goals and objectives.
  • Helps prioritize financial opportunities. By analyzing revenue and expenses, a financial plan can help businesses identify and prioritize financial opportunities with the highest potential for success.
  • Ensures effective resource allocation. A financial plan can help businesses allocate resources effectively and ensure that financial efforts are focused on the most critical and impactful activities.
  • Measures success. A financial plan can provide a framework for measuring the success of financial efforts and making adjustments as needed.

Examples of Financial Statements and Projections

Here are some examples of financial statements and projections that businesses can use in their financial plan:

  • Income statement. A financial statement that shows the company's revenue and expenses over a period of time, typically monthly or annually.
  • Balance sheet. A financial statement shows the company's assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific time, typically at the end of a fiscal year.
  • Cash flow statement. A financial statement that shows the company's cash inflows and outflows over a period of time, typically monthly or annually.
  • Financial projections. Forecasts of the company's future financial performance based on assumptions and market trends. This can include revenue, expenses, profits, and cash flow projections.

Step 7: Writing Your Business Plan

The final step in the business planning process is to write your business plan. A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines your business's mission, vision, objectives, strategies, and financial projections.

A business plan can help you clarify your business idea, assess the feasibility of your business, and secure funding from investors or lenders. It can also provide a roadmap for your business and ensure that you stay focused on your goals and objectives.

Importance of Writing a Business Plan

Writing a business plan is an essential component of the business planning process. It can help you clarify your business idea , assess the feasibility of your business, and secure funding from investors or lenders.

Here are some reasons why writing a business plan is important:

  • Clarifies your business idea. Writing a business plan can help you clarify your business idea and understand your business's goals, objectives, and strategies.
  • Assesses the feasibility of your business. A business plan can help you assess the feasibility of your business and identify potential risks and opportunities.
  • Secures funding. A well-written business plan can help you secure funding from investors or lenders by demonstrating the potential of your business and outlining a clear path to success.
  • Provides a roadmap for your business. A business plan can provide a roadmap and ensure that you stay focused on your goals and objectives.

Tips on How to Write a Successful Business Plan

Here are some tips on how to write a business plan successfully:

  • Start with an executive summary. The executive summary is a brief business plan overview and should include your business idea, target market, competitive analysis, and financial projections.
  • Describe your business and industry. Provide a detailed description of your business and industry, including your products or services, target market, and competitive landscape.
  • Develop a marketing strategy. Outline your marketing strategy and tactics, including your target audience, pricing strategy, promotional activities, and distribution channels.
  • Provide financial projections. Provide detailed financial projections, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, as well as assumptions and risks.
  • Keep it concise and clear. Keep your business plan concise and clear, and avoid using jargon or technical terms that may confuse or intimidate readers.

Role of Strikingly Website Builder in Creating a Professional Business Plan

stages of business planning

Strikingly website builder can play a significant role in creating a professional business plan. Strikingly provides an intuitive and user-friendly platform that allows you to create a professional-looking website and online store without coding or design skills.

Using Strikingly, you can create a visually appealing business plan and present it on your website with images, graphics, and videos to enhance the reader's experience. You can also use Strikingly's built-in templates and a drag-and-drop editor to create a customized and professional-looking business plan that reflects your brand and style.

Strikingly also provides various features and tools that can help you showcase your products or services, promote your business, and engage with your target audience. These features include e-commerce functionality, social media integration, and email marketing tools.

Let’s Sum Up!

In conclusion, the 7 steps of the business planning process are essential for starting and growing a successful business. By conducting a SWOT analysis, defining your business objectives, conducting market research, identifying your target audience, developing a marketing plan, creating a financial plan, and writing your business plan, you can set a solid foundation for your business's success.

Strikingly website builder can help you throughout the business planning process by offering a variety of features such as analytics, marketing, e-commerce , and business plan templates. With Strikingly, you can create a professional and engaging website and business plan that aligns with your business objectives and target audience.

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stages of business planning

11.4 The Business Plan

Learning objectives.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the different purposes of a business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a brief business plan
  • Describe and develop the components of a full business plan

Unlike the brief or lean formats introduced so far, the business plan is a formal document used for the long-range planning of a company’s operation. It typically includes background information, financial information, and a summary of the business. Investors nearly always request a formal business plan because it is an integral part of their evaluation of whether to invest in a company. Although nothing in business is permanent, a business plan typically has components that are more “set in stone” than a business model canvas , which is more commonly used as a first step in the planning process and throughout the early stages of a nascent business. A business plan is likely to describe the business and industry, market strategies, sales potential, and competitive analysis, as well as the company’s long-term goals and objectives. An in-depth formal business plan would follow at later stages after various iterations to business model canvases. The business plan usually projects financial data over a three-year period and is typically required by banks or other investors to secure funding. The business plan is a roadmap for the company to follow over multiple years.

Some entrepreneurs prefer to use the canvas process instead of the business plan, whereas others use a shorter version of the business plan, submitting it to investors after several iterations. There are also entrepreneurs who use the business plan earlier in the entrepreneurial process, either preceding or concurrently with a canvas. For instance, Chris Guillebeau has a one-page business plan template in his book The $100 Startup . 48 His version is basically an extension of a napkin sketch without the detail of a full business plan. As you progress, you can also consider a brief business plan (about two pages)—if you want to support a rapid business launch—and/or a standard business plan.

As with many aspects of entrepreneurship, there are no clear hard and fast rules to achieving entrepreneurial success. You may encounter different people who want different things (canvas, summary, full business plan), and you also have flexibility in following whatever tool works best for you. Like the canvas, the various versions of the business plan are tools that will aid you in your entrepreneurial endeavor.

Business Plan Overview

Most business plans have several distinct sections ( Figure 11.16 ). The business plan can range from a few pages to twenty-five pages or more, depending on the purpose and the intended audience. For our discussion, we’ll describe a brief business plan and a standard business plan. If you are able to successfully design a business model canvas, then you will have the structure for developing a clear business plan that you can submit for financial consideration.

Both types of business plans aim at providing a picture and roadmap to follow from conception to creation. If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept.

The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, dealing with the proverbial devil in the details. Developing a full business plan will assist those of you who need a more detailed and structured roadmap, or those of you with little to no background in business. The business planning process includes the business model, a feasibility analysis, and a full business plan, which we will discuss later in this section. Next, we explore how a business plan can meet several different needs.

Purposes of a Business Plan

A business plan can serve many different purposes—some internal, others external. As we discussed previously, you can use a business plan as an internal early planning device, an extension of a napkin sketch, and as a follow-up to one of the canvas tools. A business plan can be an organizational roadmap , that is, an internal planning tool and working plan that you can apply to your business in order to reach your desired goals over the course of several years. The business plan should be written by the owners of the venture, since it forces a firsthand examination of the business operations and allows them to focus on areas that need improvement.

Refer to the business venture throughout the document. Generally speaking, a business plan should not be written in the first person.

A major external purpose for the business plan is as an investment tool that outlines financial projections, becoming a document designed to attract investors. In many instances, a business plan can complement a formal investor’s pitch. In this context, the business plan is a presentation plan, intended for an outside audience that may or may not be familiar with your industry, your business, and your competitors.

You can also use your business plan as a contingency plan by outlining some “what-if” scenarios and exploring how you might respond if these scenarios unfold. Pretty Young Professional launched in November 2010 as an online resource to guide an emerging generation of female leaders. The site focused on recent female college graduates and current students searching for professional roles and those in their first professional roles. It was founded by four friends who were coworkers at the global consultancy firm McKinsey. But after positions and equity were decided among them, fundamental differences of opinion about the direction of the business emerged between two factions, according to the cofounder and former CEO Kathryn Minshew . “I think, naively, we assumed that if we kicked the can down the road on some of those things, we’d be able to sort them out,” Minshew said. Minshew went on to found a different professional site, The Muse , and took much of the editorial team of Pretty Young Professional with her. 49 Whereas greater planning potentially could have prevented the early demise of Pretty Young Professional, a change in planning led to overnight success for Joshua Esnard and The Cut Buddy team. Esnard invented and patented the plastic hair template that he was selling online out of his Fort Lauderdale garage while working a full-time job at Broward College and running a side business. Esnard had hundreds of boxes of Cut Buddies sitting in his home when he changed his marketing plan to enlist companies specializing in making videos go viral. It worked so well that a promotional video for the product garnered 8 million views in hours. The Cut Buddy sold over 4,000 products in a few hours when Esnard only had hundreds remaining. Demand greatly exceeded his supply, so Esnard had to scramble to increase manufacturing and offered customers two-for-one deals to make up for delays. This led to selling 55,000 units, generating $700,000 in sales in 2017. 50 After appearing on Shark Tank and landing a deal with Daymond John that gave the “shark” a 20-percent equity stake in return for $300,000, The Cut Buddy has added new distribution channels to include retail sales along with online commerce. Changing one aspect of a business plan—the marketing plan—yielded success for The Cut Buddy.

Link to Learning

Watch this video of Cut Buddy’s founder, Joshua Esnard, telling his company’s story to learn more.

If you opt for the brief business plan, you will focus primarily on articulating a big-picture overview of your business concept. This version is used to interest potential investors, employees, and other stakeholders, and will include a financial summary “box,” but it must have a disclaimer, and the founder/entrepreneur may need to have the people who receive it sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) . The full business plan is aimed at executing the vision concept, providing supporting details, and would be required by financial institutions and others as they formally become stakeholders in the venture. Both are aimed at providing a picture and roadmap to go from conception to creation.

Types of Business Plans

The brief business plan is similar to an extended executive summary from the full business plan. This concise document provides a broad overview of your entrepreneurial concept, your team members, how and why you will execute on your plans, and why you are the ones to do so. You can think of a brief business plan as a scene setter or—since we began this chapter with a film reference—as a trailer to the full movie. The brief business plan is the commercial equivalent to a trailer for Field of Dreams , whereas the full plan is the full-length movie equivalent.

Brief Business Plan or Executive Summary

As the name implies, the brief business plan or executive summary summarizes key elements of the entire business plan, such as the business concept, financial features, and current business position. The executive summary version of the business plan is your opportunity to broadly articulate the overall concept and vision of the company for yourself, for prospective investors, and for current and future employees.

A typical executive summary is generally no longer than a page, but because the brief business plan is essentially an extended executive summary, the executive summary section is vital. This is the “ask” to an investor. You should begin by clearly stating what you are asking for in the summary.

In the business concept phase, you’ll describe the business, its product, and its markets. Describe the customer segment it serves and why your company will hold a competitive advantage. This section may align roughly with the customer segments and value-proposition segments of a canvas.

Next, highlight the important financial features, including sales, profits, cash flows, and return on investment. Like the financial portion of a feasibility analysis, the financial analysis component of a business plan may typically include items like a twelve-month profit and loss projection, a three- or four-year profit and loss projection, a cash-flow projection, a projected balance sheet, and a breakeven calculation. You can explore a feasibility study and financial projections in more depth in the formal business plan. Here, you want to focus on the big picture of your numbers and what they mean.

The current business position section can furnish relevant information about you and your team members and the company at large. This is your opportunity to tell the story of how you formed the company, to describe its legal status (form of operation), and to list the principal players. In one part of the extended executive summary, you can cover your reasons for starting the business: Here is an opportunity to clearly define the needs you think you can meet and perhaps get into the pains and gains of customers. You also can provide a summary of the overall strategic direction in which you intend to take the company. Describe the company’s mission, vision, goals and objectives, overall business model, and value proposition.

Rice University’s Student Business Plan Competition, one of the largest and overall best-regarded graduate school business-plan competitions (see Telling Your Entrepreneurial Story and Pitching the Idea ), requires an executive summary of up to five pages to apply. 51 , 52 Its suggested sections are shown in Table 11.2 .

Are You Ready?

Create a brief business plan.

Fill out a canvas of your choosing for a well-known startup: Uber, Netflix, Dropbox, Etsy, Airbnb, Bird/Lime, Warby Parker, or any of the companies featured throughout this chapter or one of your choice. Then create a brief business plan for that business. See if you can find a version of the company’s actual executive summary, business plan, or canvas. Compare and contrast your vision with what the company has articulated.

  • These companies are well established but is there a component of what you charted that you would advise the company to change to ensure future viability?
  • Map out a contingency plan for a “what-if” scenario if one key aspect of the company or the environment it operates in were drastically is altered?

Full Business Plan

Even full business plans can vary in length, scale, and scope. Rice University sets a ten-page cap on business plans submitted for the full competition. The IndUS Entrepreneurs , one of the largest global networks of entrepreneurs, also holds business plan competitions for students through its Tie Young Entrepreneurs program. In contrast, business plans submitted for that competition can usually be up to twenty-five pages. These are just two examples. Some components may differ slightly; common elements are typically found in a formal business plan outline. The next section will provide sample components of a full business plan for a fictional business.

Executive Summary

The executive summary should provide an overview of your business with key points and issues. Because the summary is intended to summarize the entire document, it is most helpful to write this section last, even though it comes first in sequence. The writing in this section should be especially concise. Readers should be able to understand your needs and capabilities at first glance. The section should tell the reader what you want and your “ask” should be explicitly stated in the summary.

Describe your business, its product or service, and the intended customers. Explain what will be sold, who it will be sold to, and what competitive advantages the business has. Table 11.3 shows a sample executive summary for the fictional company La Vida Lola.

Business Description

This section describes the industry, your product, and the business and success factors. It should provide a current outlook as well as future trends and developments. You also should address your company’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives. Summarize your overall strategic direction, your reasons for starting the business, a description of your products and services, your business model, and your company’s value proposition. Consider including the Standard Industrial Classification/North American Industry Classification System (SIC/NAICS) code to specify the industry and insure correct identification. The industry extends beyond where the business is located and operates, and should include national and global dynamics. Table 11.4 shows a sample business description for La Vida Lola.

Industry Analysis and Market Strategies

Here you should define your market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends, and sales potential. You’ll want to include your TAM and forecast the SAM . (Both these terms are discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis .) This is a place to address market segmentation strategies by geography, customer attributes, or product orientation. Describe your positioning relative to your competitors’ in terms of pricing, distribution, promotion plan, and sales potential. Table 11.5 shows an example industry analysis and market strategy for La Vida Lola.

Competitive Analysis

The competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy as it relates to the competition. You want to be able to identify who are your major competitors and assess what are their market shares, markets served, strategies employed, and expected response to entry? You likely want to conduct a classic SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and complete a competitive-strength grid or competitive matrix. Outline your company’s competitive strengths relative to those of the competition in regard to product, distribution, pricing, promotion, and advertising. What are your company’s competitive advantages and their likely impacts on its success? The key is to construct it properly for the relevant features/benefits (by weight, according to customers) and how the startup compares to incumbents. The competitive matrix should show clearly how and why the startup has a clear (if not currently measurable) competitive advantage. Some common features in the example include price, benefits, quality, type of features, locations, and distribution/sales. Sample templates are shown in Figure 11.17 and Figure 11.18 . A competitive analysis helps you create a marketing strategy that will identify assets or skills that your competitors are lacking so you can plan to fill those gaps, giving you a distinct competitive advantage. When creating a competitor analysis, it is important to focus on the key features and elements that matter to customers, rather than focusing too heavily on the entrepreneur’s idea and desires.

Operations and Management Plan

In this section, outline how you will manage your company. Describe its organizational structure. Here you can address the form of ownership and, if warranted, include an organizational chart/structure. Highlight the backgrounds, experiences, qualifications, areas of expertise, and roles of members of the management team. This is also the place to mention any other stakeholders, such as a board of directors or advisory board(s), and their relevant relationship to the founder, experience and value to help make the venture successful, and professional service firms providing management support, such as accounting services and legal counsel.

Table 11.6 shows a sample operations and management plan for La Vida Lola.

Marketing Plan

Here you should outline and describe an effective overall marketing strategy for your venture, providing details regarding pricing, promotion, advertising, distribution, media usage, public relations, and a digital presence. Fully describe your sales management plan and the composition of your sales force, along with a comprehensive and detailed budget for the marketing plan. Table 11.7 shows a sample marketing plan for La Vida Lola.

Financial Plan

A financial plan seeks to forecast revenue and expenses; project a financial narrative; and estimate project costs, valuations, and cash flow projections. This section should present an accurate, realistic, and achievable financial plan for your venture (see Entrepreneurial Finance and Accounting for detailed discussions about conducting these projections). Include sales forecasts and income projections, pro forma financial statements ( Building the Entrepreneurial Dream Team , a breakeven analysis, and a capital budget. Identify your possible sources of financing (discussed in Conducting a Feasibility Analysis ). Figure 11.19 shows a template of cash-flow needs for La Vida Lola.

Entrepreneur In Action

Laughing man coffee.

Hugh Jackman ( Figure 11.20 ) may best be known for portraying a comic-book superhero who used his mutant abilities to protect the world from villains. But the Wolverine actor is also working to make the planet a better place for real, not through adamantium claws but through social entrepreneurship.

A love of java jolted Jackman into action in 2009, when he traveled to Ethiopia with a Christian humanitarian group to shoot a documentary about the impact of fair-trade certification on coffee growers there. He decided to launch a business and follow in the footsteps of the late Paul Newman, another famous actor turned philanthropist via food ventures.

Jackman launched Laughing Man Coffee two years later; he sold the line to Keurig in 2015. One Laughing Man Coffee café in New York continues to operate independently, investing its proceeds into charitable programs that support better housing, health, and educational initiatives within fair-trade farming communities. 55 Although the New York location is the only café, the coffee brand is still distributed, with Keurig donating an undisclosed portion of Laughing Man proceeds to those causes (whereas Jackman donates all his profits). The company initially donated its profits to World Vision, the Christian humanitarian group Jackman accompanied in 2009. In 2017, it created the Laughing Man Foundation to be more active with its money management and distribution.

  • You be the entrepreneur. If you were Jackman, would you have sold the company to Keurig? Why or why not?
  • Would you have started the Laughing Man Foundation?
  • What else can Jackman do to aid fair-trade practices for coffee growers?

What Can You Do?

Textbooks for change.

Founded in 2014, Textbooks for Change uses a cross-compensation model, in which one customer segment pays for a product or service, and the profit from that revenue is used to provide the same product or service to another, underserved segment. Textbooks for Change partners with student organizations to collect used college textbooks, some of which are re-sold while others are donated to students in need at underserved universities across the globe. The organization has reused or recycled 250,000 textbooks, providing 220,000 students with access through seven campus partners in East Africa. This B-corp social enterprise tackles a problem and offers a solution that is directly relevant to college students like yourself. Have you observed a problem on your college campus or other campuses that is not being served properly? Could it result in a social enterprise?

Work It Out

Franchisee set out.

A franchisee of East Coast Wings, a chain with dozens of restaurants in the United States, has decided to part ways with the chain. The new store will feature the same basic sports-bar-and-restaurant concept and serve the same basic foods: chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and the like. The new restaurant can’t rely on the same distributors and suppliers. A new business plan is needed.

  • What steps should the new restaurant take to create a new business plan?
  • Should it attempt to serve the same customers? Why or why not?

This New York Times video, “An Unlikely Business Plan,” describes entrepreneurial resurgence in Detroit, Michigan.

  • 48 Chris Guillebeau. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future . New York: Crown Business/Random House, 2012.
  • 49 Jonathan Chan. “What These 4 Startup Case Studies Can Teach You about Failure.” Foundr.com . July 12, 2015. https://foundr.com/4-startup-case-studies-failure/
  • 50 Amy Feldman. “Inventor of the Cut Buddy Paid YouTubers to Spark Sales. He Wasn’t Ready for a Video to Go Viral.” Forbes. February 15, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestreptalks/2017/02/15/inventor-of-the-cut-buddy-paid-youtubers-to-spark-sales-he-wasnt-ready-for-a-video-to-go-viral/#3eb540ce798a
  • 51 Jennifer Post. “National Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs.” Business News Daily . August 30, 2018. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6902-business-plan-competitions-entrepreneurs.html
  • 52 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition . March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf
  • 53 “Rice Business Plan Competition, Eligibility Criteria and How to Apply.” Rice Business Plan Competition. March 2020. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2020%20RBPC%20Eligibility%20Criteria%20and%20How%20to%20Apply_23Oct19.pdf; Based on 2019 RBPC Competition Rules and Format April 4–6, 2019. https://rbpc.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs806/f/2019-RBPC-Competition-Rules%20-Format.pdf
  • 54 Foodstart. http://foodstart.com
  • 55 “Hugh Jackman Journey to Starting a Social Enterprise Coffee Company.” Giving Compass. April 8, 2018. https://givingcompass.org/article/hugh-jackman-journey-to-starting-a-social-enterprise-coffee-company/

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Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
  • Authors: Michael Laverty, Chris Littel
  • Publisher/website: OpenStax
  • Book title: Entrepreneurship
  • Publication date: Jan 16, 2020
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/1-introduction
  • Section URL: https://openstax.org/books/entrepreneurship/pages/11-4-the-business-plan

© Jan 4, 2024 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.

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The Planning Cycle

A planning process for medium-sized projects.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

stages of business planning

The Planning Cycle brings together all the aspects of planning a one-off, medium-sized project into a single, coherent process.

For example, let’s say your business is growing so rapidly that you need to relocate to a larger office. Great news. But the job of planning and organizing the move has fallen to you. Maybe not such great news!

You will need to consider whether the move is viable, and think about criteria for suitable premises. You’ll have to factor in costs, timings, and how to minimize business downtime.

So, where do you start? Try the Planning Cycle.

What Is the Planning Cycle?

The Planning Cycle is an eight-step process that you can use to plan any small-to-medium sized project: moving to a new office, developing a new product, or planning a corporate event, for example.

The tool enables you to plan and implement fully considered, well-focused, robust, practical, and cost-effective projects. It also helps you to learn from any mistakes you make, and to feed this knowledge back into your future planning and decision making.

The Planning Cycle offers a framework for projects up to a certain level of complexity. For larger projects that involve many people over a long period of time, you may need to use a more formal approach.

These approaches have similar structures to the Planning Cycle, but they tend to require more documentation, and are often integrated within a wider organizational context. Our article, Project Management Phases and Processes , tells you more about them.

For shorter projects that need a fast turnaround, you should also consider Agile Project Management .

Figure 1: The Planning Cycle

stages of business planning

Project Planning Steps

The Planning Cycle has eight steps, as outlined below.

1. Analyze Your Situation

First, clarify what you need to do. An office move, for example, would require you to find the right premises, with appropriate access and parking.

Gather as much information as possible at this stage. This will help you to formulate a more detailed and robust plan further down the line.

Start by examining your current position, and deciding how you can improve it. There are a number of techniques that can help you to do this.

One option is to carry out a SWOT Analysis . This will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your position, and the opportunities and threats that you face.

Another method is Risk Analysis , which will help you to spot potential pitfalls and weaknesses in your organization that may affect your plan, and identify any external risks. You can then use your findings to plan how you will neutralize or mitigate those risks.

For example, ask yourself whether your project is a response to pressure from customers, competitors, or new technology. Or perhaps your company is growing, and you need to make changes as a result. Pressures may arise from changes in the economy, new legislation, people's attitudes, or government.

You can also pick from a whole range of creativity tools to work out where you can make improvements Simplexity Thinking is a particularly powerful tool that helps to foster creativity and solve even the toughest problems.

2. Identify the Aim of Your Plan

When you've completed a realistic analysis of your situation, and the opportunities for change, the next step is to precisely define the aim of your plan. This sharpens your focus, and stops you from wasting effort on irrelevant issues.

Express your aim in one simple sentence, so that it's clear in your mind. If this proves difficult, try asking yourself questions like:

  • What do I want the future to look like?
  • What benefit do I want to give to our customers?
  • What returns do I need?
  • What standards do I want to achieve?
  • What are my organization's core values?

You can present this aim as a Vision Statement or Mission Statement .

Vision statements express the benefit that an organization will provide to its customers. For example, Nike’s vision is to "Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)"

Mission statements explain how the vision will be achieved. For example, the mission statement for The Bristol Myers Squibb pharmaceutical company is "To discover, develop, and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases."

3. Explore Your Options

By this stage, you should have a good understanding of your situation and what you want your project to achieve. The next step is to work out how to do it!

At this stage, it's useful to generate as many ideas as possible. Again, creativity tools can help you with this. You may be tempted to grasp at the first idea that comes to mind, but if you spend some time weighing up your options you may come up with less obvious but better solutions. Or you may build on your best ideas by using elements of others.

4. Select the Best Option

When you've explored your ideas, you need to decide which one to pursue. If you have the necessary time and resources, you might decide to do detailed planning, costing, and risk assessment work for each one. But chances are you won't have this luxury.

Instead, use tools like Decision Matrix Analysis and Decision Trees to help you to make the final selection. Use Decision Matrix Analysis to decide between different options when you need to consider a range of different factors. Decision Trees enable you to think through the likely outcomes of following different courses of action.

5. Detailed Planning

With your final decision made, you need to establish the most efficient and effective way to achieve your aim. This determines who will do what, when, where, how, why, and at what cost.

Techniques like Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis can be useful when working out priorities, deadlines, and how to allocate resources.

Consider how you will monitor the progress and performance of your plan, too. When robust reporting, quality assurance, and cost controls are in place, you can quickly identify and correct potential deviations from the plan.

A good plan also identifies risks and suggests contingencies. This allows you to respond effectively to setbacks or crises. You should also consider transitional arrangements – how will you keep things going while you implement the plan?

6. Evaluate the Plan and Its Impact

The next stage is to review your plan and decide whether you should implement it. It’s crucial to be objective here – even if you've done a lot of work to reach this stage, it may still not be worth your while to pursue the project.

This can be frustrating, but it's better to reach this conclusion now rather than after you have invested valuable time and resources – and your reputation – in its success. The evaluation stage gives you the opportunity to either investigate better options, or to accept that no plan is needed.

Depending on the circumstances, there are several methods you can use to evaluate your plan.

  • Quantitative Pros and Cons is a simple technique that involves listing the plus points in one column and the minus points in another. Each point can be allocated a positive or negative score.
  • Use Cost/Benefit Analysis to decide whether the plan makes financial sense. Add up all the costs involved, and compare them with the expected benefits.
  • Force Field Analysis gives you a "big picture" view of the factors for and against your plan. This enables you to see where you can make adjustments that will help your plan to succeed.
  • A Cash Flow Forecast enables you to ensure that you have sufficient resources for your plan, and to assess whether the project is viable. A good cash flow forecast spreadsheet lets you vary your assumptions and investigate the effects.
  • Finally, Six Thinking Hats helps you to get a rounded view of your plan and its implications by asking you to evaluate your plan from six different perspectives: rational, emotional, optimistic, pessimistic, practical, and creative.

If your analysis shows that the plan will not give sufficient benefit, or if the negatives outweigh the positives, return to an earlier stage in the planning cycle to explore other options. Alternatively, you may conclude that the project is impractical and abandon the process altogether.

7. Implement Change

Once you have finalized your proposal, and you're confident that it will deliver, it's time to put it into action.

If you've followed the previous steps closely then your plan should also explain how to implement it! It should also show how you will monitor its progress and execution.

8. Close the Plan and Review

All being well, your project is now complete and it was a huge success! Now it's time to close it down and assess what you've learned. Look back over the planning process and assess it carefully to see what could be improved or refined in the future.

If you'll likely carry out many similar projects, it may be worth developing a standard Post-Implementation Review . This is a list of points to consider during the planning review. It helps to ensure that you don't overlook any important aspects of the process.

The review should address key questions such as: did the project solve the original problem? Could it deliver even bigger benefits? And what lessons did you learn that you can apply to future projects?

The Planning Cycle enables you to make viable, robust plans, and to avoid making costly mistakes. It’s suitable for any small- to medium-sized project, in most business areas. It has eight steps:

1. Analyze your situation.

2. Identify the aim of your plan.

3. Explore your options.

4. Select the best option.

5. Detailed planning.

6: Evaluate your plan and its impact.

7. Implement change.

8. Close the plan.

Follow these steps carefully, and your project stands a good chance of success.

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What Are the Stages of a Business Plan?

Telangana Dalit Bandhu Scheme

Discover the essential stages of a business plan, including executive summary, market analysis, company description, product or service offering, and more. Learn how to create a successful business plan today.

The stages of a business plan is a document that outlines a company’s goals, strategies, and objectives. A well-crafted business plan can be a roadmap for success, helping entrepreneurs to identify potential problems and opportunities and to create a plan to achieve their goals.

Table of Contents

Stages of Business

Here are the main stages of a typical business plan:

Executive summary

 This is a brief business plan overview, highlighting key points, such as the company’s mission, objectives, products or services, and target market.

Company Description

This section should describe the company’s history, current status, and future plans. It should also provide information on the company’s management team, legal structure, and location.

Market Analysis

This section should include research on the company’s target market, competition, and industry trends. This information can help entrepreneurs to identify the market opportunity, understand the competitive landscape, and develop strategies for marketing and sales.

Product or Service line

This section should describe the company’s products or services, including their unique features and benefits. Entrepreneurs should also consider the pricing strategy, manufacturing and production processes, and any intellectual property or patents associated with their products or services.

Marketing and Sales

This section should outline the company’s marketing and sales strategies, including how they plan to promote their products or services, how they will reach their target market, and how they will measure the success of their marketing campaigns.

This section should describe the company’s operations, including inventory management, manufacturing, and distribution. Entrepreneurs should also consider their staffing needs, the development of standard operating procedures, and any relevant legal and regulatory requirements.

Financial Projections

This section should include the company’s financial projections, including sales forecasts, cash flow statements, and profit and loss statements. It should also provide information on the company’s funding needs, such as startup costs and ongoing expenses.

This section can include any additional information that supports the business plan, such as market research, resumes of key personnel, and legal or regulatory documents.

Pros & Cons of Business Plan

The stages of a business plan are valuable tools for entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a business. However, there are pros and cons to consider when creating a business plan.

Clear Roadmap

A business plan provides a clear roadmap for entrepreneurs to follow, helping them to identify their goals, strategies, and objectives.

Helps Secure Funding

A well-crafted business plan can help entrepreneurs secure funding from investors or lenders. It demonstrates that the entrepreneur has done their research and has a clear plan for success.

Helps to Identify Potential Problems

By conducting a thorough market analysis and considering potential risks and challenges, entrepreneurs can identify problems before they arise and develop strategies to address them.

Ensures Consistency

 A business plan ensures that everyone involved is on the same page, working towards the same goals and objectives.

Provides a Measure of Success

A business plan includes financial projections, which can help entrepreneurs measure their success and adjust as needed.

Time-Consuming

Creating a business plan can be a time-consuming process, which can be a challenge for entrepreneurs who are already busy with other aspects of their business.

Limited Flexibility

A business plan can be restrictive, as it outlines specific strategies and goals that may not be easily adjusted if circumstances change.

Not a Guarantee of Success

Even with a well-crafted business plan, there is no guarantee of success. External factors, such as changes in the market or economy, can impact the success of a business.

There may be costs associated with creating a business plan, such as hiring a consultant or purchasing software.

Incomplete Information

Despite conducting thorough research, entrepreneurs may not have access to the information needed to make accurate projections and assumptions in their business plans.

How Can we Help You?

Vakilsearch is an online legal services platform that provides various legal solutions for businesses and individuals. Here are some ways in which Vakilsearch can help:

  • Business registration: Vakilsearch can help businesses with the process of registering their business, including incorporation, trademark registration, and other legal requirements.
  • Legal compliance: Vakilsearch can help businesses stay compliant with various legal requirements, such as tax filing, legal documentation, and regulatory compliance.
  • Intellectual property: Vakilsearch can help businesses protect their intellectual property, such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents, through registration and other legal means.
  • Legal advice: Vakilsearch can provide legal advice on various matters, including contracts, disputes, and legal issues related to starting or running a business.
  • Online documentation: Vakilsearch offers a range of online legal documentation services, including the creation of legal documents such as agreements, contracts, and other legal forms.
  • Startup solutions: Vakilsearch can help startups with various legal solutions, including incorporation, fundraising, legal compliance, and more.
  • Notary services: Vakilsearch offers online notary services, making it easy and convenient for individuals and businesses to get documents notarized.

Vakilsearch is a one-stop shop for businesses and individuals looking for legal solutions. By leveraging technology, Vakilsearch makes it easy and convenient for clients to access legal services and solutions that are affordable and efficient.

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Artificial intelligence in strategy

Can machines automate strategy development? The short answer is no. However, there are numerous aspects of strategists’ work where AI and advanced analytics tools can already bring enormous value. Yuval Atsmon is a senior partner who leads the new McKinsey Center for Strategy Innovation, which studies ways new technologies can augment the timeless principles of strategy. In this episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast, he explains how artificial intelligence is already transforming strategy and what’s on the horizon. This is an edited transcript of the discussion. For more conversations on the strategy issues that matter, follow the series on your preferred podcast platform .

Joanna Pachner: What does artificial intelligence mean in the context of strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: When people talk about artificial intelligence, they include everything to do with analytics, automation, and data analysis. Marvin Minsky, the pioneer of artificial intelligence research in the 1960s, talked about AI as a “suitcase word”—a term into which you can stuff whatever you want—and that still seems to be the case. We are comfortable with that because we think companies should use all the capabilities of more traditional analysis while increasing automation in strategy that can free up management or analyst time and, gradually, introducing tools that can augment human thinking.

Joanna Pachner: AI has been embraced by many business functions, but strategy seems to be largely immune to its charms. Why do you think that is?

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Yuval Atsmon: You’re right about the limited adoption. Only 7 percent of respondents to our survey about the use of AI say they use it in strategy or even financial planning, whereas in areas like marketing, supply chain, and service operations, it’s 25 or 30 percent. One reason adoption is lagging is that strategy is one of the most integrative conceptual practices. When executives think about strategy automation, many are looking too far ahead—at AI capabilities that would decide, in place of the business leader, what the right strategy is. They are missing opportunities to use AI in the building blocks of strategy that could significantly improve outcomes.

I like to use the analogy to virtual assistants. Many of us use Alexa or Siri but very few people use these tools to do more than dictate a text message or shut off the lights. We don’t feel comfortable with the technology’s ability to understand the context in more sophisticated applications. AI in strategy is similar: it’s hard for AI to know everything an executive knows, but it can help executives with certain tasks.

When executives think about strategy automation, many are looking too far ahead—at AI deciding the right strategy. They are missing opportunities to use AI in the building blocks of strategy.

Joanna Pachner: What kind of tasks can AI help strategists execute today?

Yuval Atsmon: We talk about six stages of AI development. The earliest is simple analytics, which we refer to as descriptive intelligence. Companies use dashboards for competitive analysis or to study performance in different parts of the business that are automatically updated. Some have interactive capabilities for refinement and testing.

The second level is diagnostic intelligence, which is the ability to look backward at the business and understand root causes and drivers of performance. The level after that is predictive intelligence: being able to anticipate certain scenarios or options and the value of things in the future based on momentum from the past as well as signals picked in the market. Both diagnostics and prediction are areas that AI can greatly improve today. The tools can augment executives’ analysis and become areas where you develop capabilities. For example, on diagnostic intelligence, you can organize your portfolio into segments to understand granularly where performance is coming from and do it in a much more continuous way than analysts could. You can try 20 different ways in an hour versus deploying one hundred analysts to tackle the problem.

Predictive AI is both more difficult and more risky. Executives shouldn’t fully rely on predictive AI, but it provides another systematic viewpoint in the room. Because strategic decisions have significant consequences, a key consideration is to use AI transparently in the sense of understanding why it is making a certain prediction and what extrapolations it is making from which information. You can then assess if you trust the prediction or not. You can even use AI to track the evolution of the assumptions for that prediction.

Those are the levels available today. The next three levels will take time to develop. There are some early examples of AI advising actions for executives’ consideration that would be value-creating based on the analysis. From there, you go to delegating certain decision authority to AI, with constraints and supervision. Eventually, there is the point where fully autonomous AI analyzes and decides with no human interaction.

Because strategic decisions have significant consequences, you need to understand why AI is making a certain prediction and what extrapolations it’s making from which information.

Joanna Pachner: What kind of businesses or industries could gain the greatest benefits from embracing AI at its current level of sophistication?

Yuval Atsmon: Every business probably has some opportunity to use AI more than it does today. The first thing to look at is the availability of data. Do you have performance data that can be organized in a systematic way? Companies that have deep data on their portfolios down to business line, SKU, inventory, and raw ingredients have the biggest opportunities to use machines to gain granular insights that humans could not.

Companies whose strategies rely on a few big decisions with limited data would get less from AI. Likewise, those facing a lot of volatility and vulnerability to external events would benefit less than companies with controlled and systematic portfolios, although they could deploy AI to better predict those external events and identify what they can and cannot control.

Third, the velocity of decisions matters. Most companies develop strategies every three to five years, which then become annual budgets. If you think about strategy in that way, the role of AI is relatively limited other than potentially accelerating analyses that are inputs into the strategy. However, some companies regularly revisit big decisions they made based on assumptions about the world that may have since changed, affecting the projected ROI of initiatives. Such shifts would affect how you deploy talent and executive time, how you spend money and focus sales efforts, and AI can be valuable in guiding that. The value of AI is even bigger when you can make decisions close to the time of deploying resources, because AI can signal that your previous assumptions have changed from when you made your plan.

Joanna Pachner: Can you provide any examples of companies employing AI to address specific strategic challenges?

Yuval Atsmon: Some of the most innovative users of AI, not coincidentally, are AI- and digital-native companies. Some of these companies have seen massive benefits from AI and have increased its usage in other areas of the business. One mobility player adjusts its financial planning based on pricing patterns it observes in the market. Its business has relatively high flexibility to demand but less so to supply, so the company uses AI to continuously signal back when pricing dynamics are trending in a way that would affect profitability or where demand is rising. This allows the company to quickly react to create more capacity because its profitability is highly sensitive to keeping demand and supply in equilibrium.

Joanna Pachner: Given how quickly things change today, doesn’t AI seem to be more a tactical than a strategic tool, providing time-sensitive input on isolated elements of strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: It’s interesting that you make the distinction between strategic and tactical. Of course, every decision can be broken down into smaller ones, and where AI can be affordably used in strategy today is for building blocks of the strategy. It might feel tactical, but it can make a massive difference. One of the world’s leading investment firms, for example, has started to use AI to scan for certain patterns rather than scanning individual companies directly. AI looks for consumer mobile usage that suggests a company’s technology is catching on quickly, giving the firm an opportunity to invest in that company before others do. That created a significant strategic edge for them, even though the tool itself may be relatively tactical.

Joanna Pachner: McKinsey has written a lot about cognitive biases  and social dynamics that can skew decision making. Can AI help with these challenges?

Yuval Atsmon: When we talk to executives about using AI in strategy development, the first reaction we get is, “Those are really big decisions; what if AI gets them wrong?” The first answer is that humans also get them wrong—a lot. [Amos] Tversky, [Daniel] Kahneman, and others have proven that some of those errors are systemic, observable, and predictable. The first thing AI can do is spot situations likely to give rise to biases. For example, imagine that AI is listening in on a strategy session where the CEO proposes something and everyone says “Aye” without debate and discussion. AI could inform the room, “We might have a sunflower bias here,” which could trigger more conversation and remind the CEO that it’s in their own interest to encourage some devil’s advocacy.

We also often see confirmation bias, where people focus their analysis on proving the wisdom of what they already want to do, as opposed to looking for a fact-based reality. Just having AI perform a default analysis that doesn’t aim to satisfy the boss is useful, and the team can then try to understand why that is different than the management hypothesis, triggering a much richer debate.

In terms of social dynamics, agency problems can create conflicts of interest. Every business unit [BU] leader thinks that their BU should get the most resources and will deliver the most value, or at least they feel they should advocate for their business. AI provides a neutral way based on systematic data to manage those debates. It’s also useful for executives with decision authority, since we all know that short-term pressures and the need to make the quarterly and annual numbers lead people to make different decisions on the 31st of December than they do on January 1st or October 1st. Like the story of Ulysses and the sirens, you can use AI to remind you that you wanted something different three months earlier. The CEO still decides; AI can just provide that extra nudge.

Joanna Pachner: It’s like you have Spock next to you, who is dispassionate and purely analytical.

Yuval Atsmon: That is not a bad analogy—for Star Trek fans anyway.

Joanna Pachner: Do you have a favorite application of AI in strategy?

Yuval Atsmon: I have worked a lot on resource allocation, and one of the challenges, which we call the hockey stick phenomenon, is that executives are always overly optimistic about what will happen. They know that resource allocation will inevitably be defined by what you believe about the future, not necessarily by past performance. AI can provide an objective prediction of performance starting from a default momentum case: based on everything that happened in the past and some indicators about the future, what is the forecast of performance if we do nothing? This is before we say, “But I will hire these people and develop this new product and improve my marketing”— things that every executive thinks will help them overdeliver relative to the past. The neutral momentum case, which AI can calculate in a cold, Spock-like manner, can change the dynamics of the resource allocation discussion. It’s a form of predictive intelligence accessible today and while it’s not meant to be definitive, it provides a basis for better decisions.

Joanna Pachner: Do you see access to technology talent as one of the obstacles to the adoption of AI in strategy, especially at large companies?

Yuval Atsmon: I would make a distinction. If you mean machine-learning and data science talent or software engineers who build the digital tools, they are definitely not easy to get. However, companies can increasingly use platforms that provide access to AI tools and require less from individual companies. Also, this domain of strategy is exciting—it’s cutting-edge, so it’s probably easier to get technology talent for that than it might be for manufacturing work.

The bigger challenge, ironically, is finding strategists or people with business expertise to contribute to the effort. You will not solve strategy problems with AI without the involvement of people who understand the customer experience and what you are trying to achieve. Those who know best, like senior executives, don’t have time to be product managers for the AI team. An even bigger constraint is that, in some cases, you are asking people to get involved in an initiative that may make their jobs less important. There could be plenty of opportunities for incorpo­rating AI into existing jobs, but it’s something companies need to reflect on. The best approach may be to create a digital factory where a different team tests and builds AI applications, with oversight from senior stakeholders.

The big challenge is finding strategists to contribute to the AI effort. You are asking people to get involved in an initiative that may make their jobs less important.

Joanna Pachner: Do you think this worry about job security and the potential that AI will automate strategy is realistic?

Yuval Atsmon: The question of whether AI will replace human judgment and put humanity out of its job is a big one that I would leave for other experts.

The pertinent question is shorter-term automation. Because of its complexity, strategy would be one of the later domains to be affected by automation, but we are seeing it in many other domains. However, the trend for more than two hundred years has been that automation creates new jobs, although ones requiring different skills. That doesn’t take away the fear some people have of a machine exposing their mistakes or doing their job better than they do it.

Joanna Pachner: We recently published an article about strategic courage in an age of volatility  that talked about three types of edge business leaders need to develop. One of them is an edge in insights. Do you think AI has a role to play in furnishing a proprietary insight edge?

Yuval Atsmon: One of the challenges most strategists face is the overwhelming complexity of the world we operate in—the number of unknowns, the information overload. At one level, it may seem that AI will provide another layer of complexity. In reality, it can be a sharp knife that cuts through some of the clutter. The question to ask is, Can AI simplify my life by giving me sharper, more timely insights more easily?

Joanna Pachner: You have been working in strategy for a long time. What sparked your interest in exploring this intersection of strategy and new technology?

Yuval Atsmon: I have always been intrigued by things at the boundaries of what seems possible. Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s second law is that to discover the limits of the possible, you have to venture a little past them into the impossible, and I find that particularly alluring in this arena.

AI in strategy is in very nascent stages but could be very consequential for companies and for the profession. For a top executive, strategic decisions are the biggest way to influence the business, other than maybe building the top team, and it is amazing how little technology is leveraged in that process today. It’s conceivable that competitive advantage will increasingly rest in having executives who know how to apply AI well. In some domains, like investment, that is already happening, and the difference in returns can be staggering. I find helping companies be part of that evolution very exciting.

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Exit Planning

Secure your company’s future: 4 steps for CEOs to create a successful exit plan

creating an exit plan

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Economists have forecasted the potential of a long, deep and far-reaching global Great Depression starting in 2030. Meanwhile, the baby boomer generation hit “ peak 65 ” in 2024, resulting in an influx of CEO and key leadership retirements.

With this possibility looming on the horizon, it’s no surprise that 23% of CEOs are planning to exit their business, according to Q3 2023 Vistage CEO Confidence Index . Of those, more than half plan to do so within the next five years.

Whether they are one of the CEOs planning their exit or sale, or simply forecasting their next five years of business, organizations should always have a succession plan at the ready.

This is a broad, comprehensive strategy focused on ensuring continuous operations and strategic leadership development. It requires a variety of facets and considerations, including an exit plan — a strategy created to facilitate the transition between the current and incoming CEO. An exit plan becomes particularly critical when an exit is imminent, but it’s always relevant.

When not executed well, a CEO transition can have dire effects for an organization. However, a strategically executed exit plan can create seamless continuity, and ensure the new CEO is positioned to sustain growth and achieve success. It can also increase retention , maintain productivity and eliminate potential vulnerabilities .

To optimize an exit plan, CEOs should consider four factors, in order:

1. Timeline

The further in advance a CEO can begin to plot their transition, the better. What activities are required six months out are much more expedited than when a CEO first considers retiring.

Either way, leaders should have a plan detailing when to identify their successor and how long they will need to offboard. The timeline should factor in whether the new CEO will be an internal promotion, which will require some degree of training and development, or an external hire, which will require a search and onboarding process.

2. Communication strategy

Next, leaders need to begin considering their plan for communicating this news throughout the organization. The changing of leaders can be unsettling; employees may feel anxious about the unknown of “starting over” with a new leader.

How the news is communicated — both in terms of the existing leader leaving and the new leader coming in — is a very delicate matter. It’s critical to have already thought of answers to anticipated employee questions. Each contributor, regardless of level or title, should know how this change will impact them and their role.

3. Knowledge transfer

Once the transition is initiated, there is a lot of work to be done. CEOs are charged with helping their predecessor understand the organization as it stands today — challenges, opportunities, weaknesses and strengths — and assimilate to the organization’s culture.

While the new CEO may ultimately determine they want to make changes, it is the current CEO’s job to help establish some degree of continuity. Some CEOs stay on as a board member or in an advisory role for a while after leaving to help oversee a smooth transition.

4. Personal plan

While CEOs are often very busy planning this transition, they must pause and fine-tune their next steps. Some may find it helpful to build in a time for reflection before making any big decisions post-exit.

As the Baby Boomer generation begins to leave the workplace at historic levels, many may be grappling with whether they are ready to dive into retirement head-first, consult part-time, mentor or join advisory boards.

Either way, CEOS need to contemplate their next move, just as much as they consider the future of their company.

Transitions, when done poorly, can leave an organization without direction, relying on a new leader to establish a sense of culture. They can break down trust and result in a mass exodus.

An exit plan is a mission-critical consideration with the power to ramp the company up for its next chapter and create a lasting legacy. Every leader should remember: A transition isn’t complete at 5:00 p.m. on the CEO’s last day — it’s only final once the organization is smoothly moving in the right direction under new leadership.

This article first appeared in Inc.

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Tags:   Best Practices , exit planning , exit strategy

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Council News logo

Riverside Stage 3 Business Case prepared for future funding

Published: 16 May 2024 12:53pm

At its 13 May Ordinary Meeting, Council supported the final business case and concept designs for a major entertainment and convention centre and First Nations cultural centre located at the third stage of Riverside.

The business case, which was funded through the NSW Government, reflects the spirit and intent of the Riverside Masterplan that was undertaken in 2010 and has been informed through extensive stakeholder and community engagement.

The business case notes the outcomes of the community engagement that took place at the end of 2023 asking the community to provide feedback on the Riverside Stage 3 and Civic Theatre augmentation concepts.

The results of the community engagement showed strong support for both the Riverside plan and the Civic Theatre concept, with 1089 surveys and responses submitted.

Of the community responses received, 52 per cent indicated support for the Civic Theatre and 45 per cent for Riverside, with three per cent of participants not supporting either project.

Executive Manager, Regional Activation – Projects Fiona Hamilton said the feedback provided demonstrates the community strongly support both projects.

“We received over 1000 submissions from the community that showed support for both projects, and both projects will rely heavily on State and Commonwealth funding to progress to detailed design and implementation,” Ms Hamilton said.

In July 2023, a detailed business case was prepared for a major entertainment and conferencing centre and First Nations Cultural Centre.

Three development scenarios are outlined in the business case, including the concurrent development of both the major entertainment and conferencing centre and cultural facility as well as the development of each as standalone projects.

In line with this, a separate business case, business plan and prospectus have been developed to support the First Nations Cultural Centre.

Council will now explore funding opportunities to progress the project to detailed design.

The draft Civic Theatre Performing Arts Masterplan public exhibition period closed on Friday 10 May 2024.

More than 200 submissions received from the community are currently being collated and results are to be reported back to Council for consideration at a later date.

To view the Riverside Stage 3 Business Case visit our Have Your Say Wagga Wagga website .

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    Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment. Before you can define where you're going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

  9. Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One

    Business Plan: A business plan is a written document that describes in detail how a business, usually a new one, is going to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written plan from a ...

  10. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  11. How to write a business plan in 7 easy steps

    Step 1: Executive summary. Your executive summary is an opening section that kick-starts your business plan. It briefly outlines the key points of your business. The goal here is to explain what ...

  12. Business Planning Process: 6 Steps to a Winning Business Plan

    1. Carry out your research. The first step to creating a business plan is to do thorough research about the business and industry you are trying to get into. Tap into all the information you can get about your target audience, potential customer base, competitors, market and industry trends, cost of business, etc.

  13. The 5 steps of the strategic planning process

    Determine your priorities and objectives. Define responsibilities. Measure and evaluate results. Each step requires close collaboration as you build a shared vision, strategy for implementation, and system for understanding performance. Related: Learn how to hold an effective strategic planning meeting.

  14. 17.2 The Planning Process

    Step 1: Developing an Awareness of the Present State. According to management scholars Harold Koontz and Cyril O'Donnell, the first step in the planning process is awareness. 13 It is at this step that managers build the foundation on which they will develop their plans. This foundation specifies an organization's current status, pinpoints its commitments, recognizes its strengths and ...

  15. 17.2: The Planning Process

    The Deming cycle, shown in Figure 17.2.4, helps managers assess the effects of planned action by integrating organizational learning into the planning process. The cycle consists of four key stages: (1) Plan—create the plan using the model discussed earlier. (2) Do—implement the plan. (3) Check—monitor the results of the planned course of ...

  16. Business Life Cycle

    The business life cycle is the progression of a business in phases over time and is most commonly divided into five stages: launch, growth, shake-out, maturity, and decline. The cycle is shown on a graph with the horizontal axis as time and the vertical axis as dollars or various financial metrics. In this article, we will use three financial ...

  17. The 7 Steps of the Business Planning Process: A Complete Guide

    The first step in the business planning process is to conduct a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This analysis will help you understand your business's internal and external environment, and it can help you identify areas of improvement and growth.

  18. Strategic Planning: What Are the 7 Stages to the Process?

    7 stages of strategic planning. Consider the following seven steps to help you create effective, actionable plans: 1. Understand the need for a strategic plan. The first and perhaps most important step of the planning process is understanding that there's a need for a plan. In terms of management, this means that you need to be aware of the ...

  19. The 3 stages of planning a business: tips for success

    The three stages of planning a business include numerous options, but they typically all include a strategic, business and action plan. These are the three key pillars of planning. You can find more information about them below: 1. A strategic plan. A strategic plan is essential for a new business. It outlines the company's purpose, mission and ...

  20. 11.4 The Business Plan

    An in-depth formal business plan would follow at later stages after various iterations to business model canvases. The business plan usually projects financial data over a three-year period and is typically required by banks or other investors to secure funding. The business plan is a roadmap for the company to follow over multiple years.

  21. The Planning Cycle

    The Planning Cycle brings together all the aspects of planning a one-off, medium-sized project into a single, coherent process. For example, let's say your business is growing so rapidly that you need to relocate to a larger office. Great news. But the job of planning and organizing the move has fallen to you. Maybe not such great news!

  22. What Are the Stages of a Business Plan?

    1,379 3 mins read. Discover the essential stages of a business plan, including executive summary, market analysis, company description, product or service offering, and more. Learn how to create a successful business plan today. The stages of a business plan is a document that outlines a company's goals, strategies, and objectives.

  23. Navigating The Entrepreneurial Ladder: The Four Stages Of Successful

    The four stages of successful business growth. 1. Startup: Planting the seeds. When you first start your business, you wear most or all of the hats. A startup is a spirited adventure driven by ...

  24. 6 Stages of Business Ownership

    Financing. Business planning. Hiring. Staff management. Creating new products and services. At this stage, business owners should focus on building a strong professional network and identifying partners such as bankers, accountants and attorneys. It's also wise to seek out a mentor who is farther along in the entrepreneurial process — doing ...

  25. AI strategy in business: A guide for executives

    Yuval Atsmon: We talk about six stages of AI development. The earliest is simple analytics, which we refer to as descriptive intelligence. Companies use dashboards for competitive analysis or to study performance in different parts of the business that are automatically updated. Some have interactive capabilities for refinement and testing.

  26. Succession planning at all stages

    The middle stage may have a long runway for succession planning. It blends the practicality of having plans in place in case of a sudden, unplanned exit and looking ahead at the course and growth of your business over the long haul. Do. Revisit plans put in place at the start of your business to make sure they're still relevant.

  27. Introduction to Business Succession Planning

    Step 1: Building your team. Like other complex and multifaceted processes, business succession planning is a team sport. Business owners will want to assemble a group of trusted professionals that may include a financial advisor, certified public accountant, business valuation expert, insurance advisor, investment banker and business broker.

  28. 4 Steps for CEOs to Create an Exit Plan

    Economists have forecasted the potential of a long, deep and far-reaching global Great Depression starting in 2030. Meanwhile, the baby boomer generation hit "peak 65" in 2024, resulting in an influx of CEO and key leadership retirements. With this possibility looming on the horizon, it's no surprise that 23% of CEOs are planning to exit their business, according to Q3 2023 Vistage CEO ...

  29. Riverside Stage 3 Business Case prepared for future funding

    Published: 16 May 2024 12:53pm. At its 13 May Ordinary Meeting, Council supported the final business case and concept designs for a major entertainment and convention centre and First Nations cultural centre located at the third stage of Riverside. The business case, which was funded through the NSW Government, reflects the spirit and intent of ...

  30. 2024 technology industry outlook

    Our 2024 technology industry outlook explores some of the trends and strategies we expect tech leaders to focus on this year—and beyond: Angling for a comeback, with help from cloud, AI, and cybersecurity. Enterprise spending on software and IT services—particularly artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and cybersecurity technology—is ...