How To Write A Business Plan

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

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

Pick a Business Plan

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

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

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

Traditional Business Plan

Executive Summary

Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company's leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

Company Description

Your company description provides detailed information about your company. Go into detail about the problems your business solves. Be specific, and list out the consumers, organization, or businesses your company plans to serve. Explain the competitive advantages that will make your business a success.

Market Analysis

You will need a good understanding of your industry outlook and target market. Competitive research will show you what other businesses are doing and what their strengths are. In your market research, look for trends and themes. Now is the time to answer these questions.

Organization and Management

Describe the legal structure of your business. State whether your business is a C or an S corporation, general or limited partnership, or if you are a sole proprietor or LLC. Use an organizational chart to lay out who is in charge of what in your company. Show how each person is unique experience will contribute to the success of your venture.

Marketing and Sales

There is no single way to approach a marketing strategy. Your strategy should evolve and change to fit your unique needs. Your goal in this section is to describe how you will attract and retain customers. You will also describe how a sale will actually happen. You will refer to this section later when you make financial projections, so make sure to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales strategies.

Service or Product Line

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

Funding Request

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

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

Funding Projections

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

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

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


Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company's leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

Executive Summary

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

Business Plan Tool

The SBA's Business Plan Tool provides you with a step-by-step guide to create your business plan. You can save your plan online and update it any time, or download it as a PDF file.