BUSINESS PLANS

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overview

As an entrepreneur, you want to give your company the highest chance of success. One of the best ways to do this is by developing a business plan.  

A business plan is a document that clearly defines your company’s goals and how you will achieve them through each stage of your business.

This document not only helps take the guesswork out of running your company, but it can also give potential investors confidence in your venture.  There is no “right” way to write a business plan, so long as it contains all the information you need. However, most plans fall into one of two categories: traditional or lean startup.

lean startup business plans

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A lean startup business plan is a much less detailed document, typically a page in length. It includes a company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. 

Lean plans are ideal for businesses that are relatively straightforward or with a plan that is poised to change frequently.

While there are several types of lean startup templates, one of the most common is the Business Model Canvas. It is comprised of the following components:

  • Your company’s value proposition

  • Your target audience

  • How you and your customers will communicate with each other

  • Your cost structure, or whether you will focus on maximizing value or reducing cost

  • Key partnerships, activities, and resources that will help you gain a competitive advantage

traditional business plans

A traditional business plan is the more commonly used of the two formats. Traditional plans tend to be more comprehensive and detailed, often requiring multiple pages and more up-front work. 

Analytics

This business plan is ideal if you are planning to request funding from traditional sources, such as banks, who want to minimize financial risk.

 

While you can adjust the exact contents of your plan based on your company’s needs, a traditional business plan contains the following components:

  • Executive summary: your mission statement and a brief description of its product or service

  • Company description: the problem your business solves

  • Market analysis: your industry outlook and target audience, and how you are equipped to meet any challenges

  • Organization and management: the structure of your business, and who will run it

  • Service or product line: detailed description of your product or service

  • Marketing and sales: how you will attract and retain customers, as well as an overview of the sales process

  • Funding request: how much funding you’ll need, supported by financial projections

Explore your Options

Regardless of whether the level of business plan you think you will need, it’s important to explore your options and find a solution that works for your business. For more information, take a look at our top picks for developing a strong business plan.

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Best for: 

  • Small to medium sized business.

  • Business looking to apply for financing.

  • Comprehensive planning tools.

  • Financial planning help.

  • Testing business feasibility ideas.

Features:  

  • Step by step Custom Business Plan.

  • Over 500 sample plans/templates.

  • Highly rated software and customer service.

  • Membership plan; cancel anytime.

  • QuickBooks integration.

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Best for: 

  • Startups and mid-size businesses.

  • Bundling multiple services.

  • Companies looking to scale and grow.

 

Features:  

  • Customizable templates.

  • Financial planning tools.

  • Video tutorials.

  • Additional resources/partnerships.