What is a business plan?

  • A startup business plan serves several purposes. It can help convince investors or lenders to finance your business. It can persuade partners or key employees to join your company. Most importantly, it serves as a roadmap guiding the launch and growth of your new business.


    Writing a business plan is an opportunity to carefully think through every step of starting your company so you can prepare for success. This is your chance to discover any weaknesses in your business idea, identify opportunities you may not have considered, and plan how you will deal with challenges that are likely to arise. Be honest with yourself as you work through your business plan. Don’t gloss over potential problems; instead, figure out solutions.


    A good business plan is clear and concise. A person outside of your industry should be able to understand it. Avoid overusing industry jargon or terminology.


    Most of the time involved in writing your plan should be spent researching and thinking. Make sure to document your research, including the sources of any information you include.


    Avoid making unsubstantiated claims or sweeping statements. Investors, lenders and others reading your plan will want to see realistic projections and expect your assumptions to be supported with facts.


    This template includes instructions for each section of the business plan, followed by corresponding fillable worksheet/s.


    The last section in the instructions, “Refining Your Plan,” explains ways you may need to modify your plan for specific purposes, such as getting a bank loan, or for specific industries, such as retail.


    Proofread your completed plan (or have someone proofread it for you) to make sure it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors and that all figures are accurate.

    TASK: Imagine you are a young entrepreneur and you want to start a small company that offers local tours of the main landmarks in your town/city. Create the first part of your business plan for the company - the Executive summary. Follow the model below.

    Executive Summary


    The Executive Summary is the most important part of your business plan. Often, it’s the only part that a prospective investor or lender reads before deciding whether or not to read the rest of your plan. It should convey your enthusiasm for your business idea and get readers excited about it, too.



    The Executive Summary should briefly explain each of the below.


    1. An overview of your business idea (one or two sentences).
    2. A description of your product and/or service. What problems are you solving for your target customers?
    3. Your goals for the business. Where do you expect the business to be in one year, three years, five years?
    4. Your proposed target market. Who are your ideal customers?
    5. Your competition and what differentiates your business. Who are you up against, and what unique selling proposition will help you succeed?
    6. Your management team and their prior experience. What do they bring to the table that will give your business a competitive edge?
    7. Financial outlook for the business. If you’re using the business plan for financing purposes, explain exactly how much money you want, how you will use it, and how that will make your business more profitable. - optional


    Limit your Executive Summary to one or two pages in total.






    1. What is the Company? - tagline, slogan, 2-second pitch

    2. Management Team/Bio - Who am I giving money to?

    - Industry experience

    - Team (go heavy on the team, it's what they flip to right away)

    - Interesting/ Unique

    - Advisory Board

    - Education (use the connections, even from high school)

    - Regional

    - Sports/ Interests/ Skills 

    3. Operation/ User experience - How does it work?

    - What is it that you do? How does it work?

    Explain in under 6 steps

    Front End: What is the customer going to see?

    Back End: Technology

    - What does the world look like after your product is in place?

    4. Marketplace - Where does this belong?

    - you have to become an expert in this industry, you HAVE to know everything (facts, numbers)

    5. Market Strategy/ Roadmap - how quickly will I know if I'll make or lose money

    - hypotheses you want to test

    - how are you going to get people to come?

    - list of people you've talked to, as customers, + their feedback

    - what milestones to hit to make this company a success

    - keep it simple, explain it like to a 2-year-old,

    6. Competition - Why hasn't this been done?

    - be careful, an idea without a competitor means there's not enough traction

    - try to find competitors even if it's loosely connected, highlight strengths + weaknesses, 4-5 max competitors

    - show that it's a healthy space, not a brand new space

    - what could be a competitor? try to find people you think could acquire you

    - industry competitors (not exactly what you're doing, but in your space, could do what you do with some capital)

    7. Revenue - What are the numbers 

    How are you going to make money? - revenue stream: core/ ancillary

    - core revenue stream has to be clearly defined

    What are your costs?

    8. The Ask - How much do you need

    - X amount of money to do the things in the roadmap, to fund user experience,

    - simple, basic BE CLEAR

    - hire with equity and options, hire slow and fire fast

    - don't mention the deal, (structuring) has to get them excited, don't throw people off

    The ME Test: test it against yourself

    The WE Test: go out into the world