A solid business plan is crucial for the success of any green, fresh startup. It’s a battle strategy to help small businesses navigate potential pitfalls in the road and set concise goals to guide their way forward toward creating a business.
This is why we’ve outlined the main goals and elements of winning startup business plan examples, as well as how to present a professional and well-organized summary of your newly- fledged company.
What is a Business Plan for Startups?
In order to create a good business plan, you need to first think of everything that goes into the exciting (if not mildly terrifying) journey of starting your own business. Startup business plans deviate from business plans for established companies because they lack a specific focus.
These plans may not set clear overall goals, review specific operations, evaluate new products or technologies, etc.). This type of business plan is more of a blueprint for establishing a strong foundation and fleshing out a startup’s operations.
What Does a Business Plan For Startups Do?
The best examples of a startup business plan should play up a company’s competitive advantages while identifying areas of improvement. They reveal strategies to leverage those strengths and weaknesses to drive the momentum forward, determine facets that can be further developed, and provide insight on the best path forward (considering a given company’s resources).
Even though this step in starting a business takes some time and effort, it’s undeniably imperative. How are you supposed to achieve the full potential of your ambitions without first understanding where you stand in the competitive landscape? As you go through the process of developing your business plan, you’ll get a firm grasp of your business, improve your chances of success, and reduce the risk of being surprised by roadblocks along the way.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Writing Your Business Plan
Before writing your business plan, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- Are you prepared for the responsibility of running your own business?
- What products or services will you be selling?
- On a scale of 1-10, how well would you say you know your competitive landscape?
- Have you considered franchises?
- Do you have a location for your company in mind? Will you have brick and mortar locations?
- Have you consulted with accountants, attorneys, bankers, etc?
- Do you know your financial standing, credit score, and your investment costs?
Answering these questions will help you become more familiar with the ins and outs of your business, as well as the business world as a whole.
Elements of a Strong Business Plan for Startups Sample
Incorporating these strategic elements into your startup business and pitch deck will help you get a scope of what lies ahead:
- Vesting – This refers to giving or earning a right to a present or future payment, asset, or benefit. It’s usually in reference to employee stock benefits.
- Business objectives – What are your overall goals?
- Mission statement – A mission statement addresses the “what” and “who” of a company. What do you do, and who do you do it with?
- Keys to success – There are five keys to success in terms of a business plan: strategic focus (leadership, management, planning), people (personnel, staff, and development), operations (internal processes), marketing (branding, customer relations), and finances (assets and facilities).
- Industry analysis – facilitates a company’s understanding of its position within the competitive landscape.
- Market analysis – quantitative and qualitative assessment of a market.
- Competitor analysis- a breakdown of competitors and their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
- Strategies – How do you create a detailed plan that achieves your goals?
- Marketing plan – outlines what you’re going to do to advertise your product or service. Consider your small business administration to guide your research.
- Management – How will you keep your team on the road to success, and what internal processes will you implement to stay on track?
- Financial pro formas – A pro forma financial statement is one based on certain assumptions and projections. A company might prepare projected balance sheets, income statements, and statements of cash flows to get a good look at their future.
- Break-even analysis – This analysis lets you determine what you need to sell, monthly or annually, to cover your costs of doing business, a.k.a your break-even point.
The Structure of a Business Plan for Startups
Business plans are not “one size fits all.” Depending upon your goals and industry, certain elements of your business plan take precedence over others as your business grows. Take what you know about your business operations and marketing strategy to tailor this business plan template for startups to fit your needs.
Here is the general structure for an example of a business plan for startups:
- Executive Summary: This aspect summarizes the elements of your business.
- Company Description: This introduces your audience to your company as well as the general concept of your business.
- Products and Services: This describes the products or services you will be providing, and how they align with the goals of your company.
- Marketing Plan: To market your products or services with the best positioning and to forecast your sales based on the findings of categories four, five, and six, in that order.
- Operational Plan: An operational plan explains how the business is run internally.
- Management & Organization: To introduce the management structure and personnel who will be running the day to day operations.
- Financial Plan: This includes your break-even analysis, projected profit and loss, investor interest, and an exit strategy.
- Appendices: Various tables that sum up everything you touched on in the business plan.
Keep it Clean
In order to ensure that your business plan for startup example is clear and easy to read, it’s important to consider these technical aspects of the document:
Typically, business owners bind their business plan into a booklet. Bonus points go to ones that have high-quality covers in rich, tasteful colors with a title on the front. The title page is better than a label if it’s laminated, or behind a transparent cover.
To help make your business plan more scannable to the eye, make sure to leave plenty of open or negative space between sections. Paragraphs, lines, and bullet points shouldn’t be too tightly spaced. Additionally, using a font with serifs is traditionally a safe approach as these fonts tend to be easier to digest.
Tabs and Titles
Each section of your business plan should be separated with indexed partitions that reflect the table of contents. Tabbed index partitions make it quicker to find information during presentations and pitches. Use colored partitions (preferably muted or soft colors) to organize the document even further! Also, who doesn’t like a little pop of color?
Charts and Tables
Charts and tables simplify your takeaways for a given section and also break up walls of text into smaller, more digestible sections. Charts will help you have faster recall of your key points and goals within your business plan. Instead of reading an entire section, you can simply review a well-organized graph.
Proofreading and Editing
Even the most trivial typos can have severely adverse consequences. Have all of your projections and numbers checked by an accountant before finalizing your business plan. It doesn’t hurt to have the text proofread by a copy editor, either. An accurate, easy-to-read, and well-organized business plan will show investors and partners how seriously you take your endeavor.
Business Plan Golden Rules
- Keep your business plan organized and easy to read, despite the seemingly overwhelming amount of information within.
- Create a professional, clean presentation of your business idea in order to convey your aptitude and competency.
- Place your emphasis in the right perspective and highlight the elements of your business model that are most crucial to your business.
- Always include a cover letter with your business plan. You never know who might receive your business plan after the initial pitch (staff members, higher-ups). You want to make sure everyone who could possibly read your business plan is always in the loop regarding the goals of your venture.
We get it — you’re busy. Sitting down and hashing out all the details that go into creating a business concept probably seems daunting and trivial.
However, creating an all-encompassing and thought-out business plan for your new startup is a pivotal first step that will help shape your road to success.
You don’t want to cut corners right off the bat; one of the main functions of a business plan is to help you envision the path forward and to address trouble areas before they arise.
A business plan is your roadmap to the business world and should be written before you even purchase branded stationery for your new company. Invest the time into formulating your business plan at the very beginning to increase the odds of achieving your goals for the future.