Finance Strategists Logo

  • Creating a Small Business Financial Plan

example of financial plan for a business plan

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by subject matter experts.

Updated on September 02, 2023

Are You Retirement Ready?

Table of contents, financial plan overview.

A financial plan is a comprehensive document that charts a business's monetary objectives and the strategies to achieve them. It encapsulates everything from budgeting and forecasting to investments and resource allocation.

For small businesses, a solid financial plan provides direction, helping them navigate economic challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and ensure sustainable growth.

The strength of a financial plan lies in its ability to offer a clear roadmap for businesses.

Especially for small businesses that may not have a vast reserve of resources, prioritizing financial goals and understanding where every dollar goes can be the difference between growth and stagnation.

It lends clarity, ensures informed decision-making, and sets the stage for profitability and success.

Understanding the Basics of Financial Planning for Small Businesses

Role of financial planning in business success.

Financial planning is the backbone of any successful business endeavor. It serves as a compass, guiding businesses toward profitability, stability, and growth.

With proper financial planning, businesses can anticipate potential cash shortfalls, make informed investment decisions, and ensure they have the capital needed to seize new opportunities.

For small businesses, in particular, tight financial planning can mean the difference between thriving and shuttering. Given the limited resources, it's vital to maximize every dollar and anticipate financial challenges.

Through diligent planning, small businesses can position themselves competitively, adapt to market changes, and drive consistent growth.

Core Components of a Financial Plan for Small Businesses

Every financial plan comprises several core components that, together, provide a holistic view of a business's financial health and direction. These include setting clear objectives, estimating costs , preparing financial statements , and considering sources of financing.

Each component plays a pivotal role in ensuring a thorough and actionable financial strategy .

For small businesses, these components often need a more granular approach. Given the scale of operations, even minor financial missteps can have significant repercussions.

As such, it's essential to tailor each component, ensuring they address specific challenges and opportunities that small businesses face, from initial startup costs to revenue forecasting and budgetary constraints.

Setting Clear Small Business Financial Objectives

Identifying business's short-term and long-term financial goals.

Every business venture starts with a vision. Translating this vision into actionable financial goals is the essence of effective planning.

Short-term goals could range from securing initial funding and achieving a set monthly revenue to covering startup costs. These targets, usually spanning a year or less, set the immediate direction for the business.

On the other hand, long-term financial goals delve into the broader horizon. They might encompass aspirations like expanding to new locations, diversifying product lines, or achieving a specific market share within a decade.

By segmenting goals into short-term and long-term, businesses can craft a step-by-step strategy, making the larger vision more attainable and manageable.

Understanding the Difference Between Profitability and Cash Flow

Profitability and cash flow, while closely linked, are distinct concepts in the financial realm. Profitability pertains to the ability of a business to generate a surplus after deducting all expenses.

It's a metric of success and indicates the viability of a business model . Simply put, it answers whether a business is making more than it spends.

In contrast, cash flow represents the inflow and outflow of cash within a business. A company might be profitable on paper yet struggle with cash flow if, for instance, clients delay payments or unexpected expenses arise.

For small businesses, maintaining positive cash flow is paramount. It ensures that they can cover operational costs, pay employees, and reinvest in growth, even if they're awaiting payments or navigating financial hiccups.

Estimating Small Business Startup Costs (for New Businesses)

Fixed vs variable costs.

When embarking on a new business venture, understanding costs is paramount. Fixed costs remain consistent regardless of production levels. They include expenses like rent, salaries, and insurance . These are predictable outlays that don't fluctuate with business performance.

Variable costs , conversely, change in direct proportion to production or business activity. Think of costs associated with materials for manufacturing or commission for sales .

For a startup, delineating between fixed and variable costs aids in crafting a more dynamic budget, allowing for adaptability as the business scales and evolves.

One-Time Expenditures vs Ongoing Expenses

Startups often grapple with numerous upfront costs. From purchasing equipment and setting up a workspace to initial marketing campaigns, these one-time expenditures lay the foundation for business operations.

They differ from ongoing expenses like utility bills, raw materials, or employee wages that recur monthly or annually.

For a small business owner, distinguishing between these costs is critical. One-time expenditures often demand a larger chunk of initial capital, while ongoing expenses shape the monthly and annual budget.

By categorizing them separately, businesses can strategize funding needs more effectively, ensuring they're equipped to meet both immediate and recurrent financial obligations.

Funding Sources for Small Businesses

Personal savings.

This is often the most straightforward way to fund a startup. Entrepreneurs tap into their personal savings accounts to jumpstart their business.

While this method has the benefit of not incurring debt or diluting company ownership, it intertwines the individual's personal financial security with the business's fate.

The entrepreneur must be prepared for potential losses, and there's the evident psychological strain of putting one's hard-earned money on the line.

Loans can be sourced from various institutions, from traditional banks to credit unions . They offer a substantial sum of money that can be paid back over time, usually with interest .

The main advantage of taking a loan is that the entrepreneur retains full ownership and control of the business.

However, there's the obligation of monthly repayments, which can strain a business's cash flow, especially in its early days. Additionally, securing a loan often requires collateral and a sound credit history.

Investors, including angel investors and venture capitalists , offer capital in exchange for equity or a stake in the company.

Angel investors are typically high-net-worth individuals who provide funding in the initial stages, while venture capitalists come in when there's proven business potential, often injecting larger sums. The advantage is substantial funding without the immediate pressure of repayments.

However, in exchange for their investment, they often seek a say in business decisions, which might mean compromising on some aspects of the original business vision.

Grants are essentially 'free money' often provided by government programs, non-profit organizations, or corporations to promote innovation and support businesses in specific sectors.

The primary advantage of grants is that they don't need to be repaid, nor do they dilute company ownership. However, they can be highly competitive and might come with stipulations on how the funds should be used.

Moreover, the application process can be lengthy and requires showcasing the business's potential or alignment with the specific goals or missions of the granting institution.

Funding Sources for Small Businesses

Preparing Key Financial Statements for Small Businesses

Income statement (profit & loss).

An Income Statement , often termed as the Profit & Loss statement , showcases a business's financial performance over a specific time frame. It details revenues , expenses, and ultimately, profits or losses.

By analyzing this statement, business owners can pinpoint revenue drivers, identify exorbitant costs, and understand the net result of their operations.

For small businesses, this document is instrumental in making informed decisions. For instance, if a certain product line is consistently unprofitable, it might be prudent to discontinue it. Conversely, if another segment is thriving, it might warrant further investment.

The Income Statement, thus, serves as a financial mirror, reflecting the outcomes of business strategies and decisions.

Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet offers a snapshot of a company's assets , liabilities , and equity at a specific point in time.

Assets include everything the business owns, from physical items like equipment to intangible assets like patents .

Liabilities, on the other hand, encompass what the company owes, be it bank loans or unpaid bills.

Equity represents the owner's stake in the business, calculated as assets minus liabilities.

This statement is crucial for small businesses as it offers insights into their financial health. A robust asset base, minimal liabilities, and growing equity signify a thriving enterprise.

In contrast, mounting liabilities or dwindling assets could be red flags, signaling the need for intervention and strategy recalibration.

Cash Flow Statement

While the Income Statement reveals profitability, the Cash Flow Statement tracks the actual movement of money.

It categorizes cash flows into operating (day-to-day business), investing (buying/selling assets), and financing (loans or equity transactions) activities. This statement unveils the liquidity of a business, indicating whether it has sufficient cash to meet immediate obligations.

For small businesses, maintaining positive cash flow is often more vital than showcasing profitability.

After all, a business might be profitable on paper yet struggle if clients delay payments or unforeseen expenses emerge.

By regularly reviewing the Cash Flow Statement, small business owners can anticipate cash crunches and strategize accordingly, ensuring seamless operations irrespective of revenue cycles.

Preparing Key Financial Statements for Small Businesses

Small Business Budgeting and Expense Management

Importance of budgeting for a small business.

Budgeting is the financial blueprint for any business, detailing anticipated revenues and expenses for a forthcoming period. It's a proactive approach, enabling businesses to allocate resources efficiently, plan for investments, and prepare for potential financial challenges.

For small businesses, a meticulous budget is often the linchpin of stability, ensuring they operate within their means and avoid financial pitfalls.

Having a well-defined budget also fosters discipline. It curtails frivolous spending, emphasizes cost-efficiency, and sets clear financial boundaries.

For small businesses, where every dollar counts, a stringent budget is the gateway to financial prudence, ensuring that funds are utilized judiciously, fostering growth, and minimizing wastage.

Strategies for Reducing Costs and Optimizing Expenses

Bulk purchasing.

When businesses buy supplies in large quantities, they often benefit from discounts due to economies of scale . This can significantly reduce per-unit costs.

However, while bulk purchasing leads to immediate savings, businesses must ensure they have adequate storage and that the products won't expire or become obsolete before they're used.

Renegotiating Vendor Contracts

Regularly reviewing and renegotiating contracts with suppliers or service providers can lead to better terms and lower costs. This might involve exploring volume discounts, longer payment terms, or even bartering services.

Building strong relationships with vendors often paves the way for such negotiations.

Adopting Energy-Saving Measures

Simple changes, like switching to LED lighting or investing in energy-efficient appliances, can lead to long-term savings in utility bills. Moreover, energy conservation not only reduces costs but also minimizes the environmental footprint, which can enhance the business's reputation.

Embracing Technology

Modern software and technology can streamline business processes. Automation tools can handle repetitive tasks, reducing labor costs.

Meanwhile, data analytics tools can provide insights into customer preferences and behavior, ensuring that marketing budgets are used effectively and target the right audience.

Streamlining Operations

Regularly reviewing and refining business processes can eliminate redundancies and improve efficiency. This might mean merging roles, cutting down on unnecessary meetings, or simplifying supply chains. A leaner operation often translates to reduced expenses.

Outsourcing Non-core Tasks

Instead of maintaining an in-house team for every function, businesses can outsource tasks that aren't central to their operations.

For instance, functions like accounting , IT support, or digital marketing can be outsourced to specialized agencies, often leading to cost savings and access to expert skills.

Cultivating a Culture of Frugality

Encouraging employees to adopt a cost-conscious mindset can lead to collective savings. This can be fostered through incentives, regular training, or even simple practices like recycling and reusing office supplies.

When everyone in the organization is attuned to the importance of cost savings, the cumulative effect can be substantial.

Strategies for Reducing Costs and Optimizing Expenses in a Small Business

Forecasting Small Business Revenue and Cash Flow

Techniques for predicting future sales in a small business, past sales data analysis.

Historical sales data is a foundational element in any forecasting effort. By reviewing previous sales figures, businesses can identify patterns, understand seasonal fluctuations, and recognize the effects of past initiatives.

This information offers a baseline upon which to build future projections, accounting for known recurring variables in the business cycle .

Market Research

Understanding the larger market dynamics is crucial for accurate forecasting. This involves tracking industry trends, monitoring shifts in consumer behavior, and being aware of potential market disruptions.

For instance, a sudden technological advancement can change consumer preferences or regulatory changes might impact an industry.

Local Trend Analysis

For small businesses, localized insights can be especially impactful. Observing local competitors, understanding regional consumer preferences, or noting shifts in the local economy can offer precise data points.

These granular details, when integrated into a larger forecasting model, can enhance prediction accuracy.

Customer Feedback

Direct feedback from customers is an invaluable source of insights. Surveys, focus groups, or even informal chats can reveal customer sentiments, preferences, and potential future purchasing behavior.

For instance, if a majority of loyal customers express interest in a new product or service, it can be indicative of future sales potential.

Moving Averages

This technique involves analyzing a series of data points (like monthly sales) by creating averages from different subsets of the full data set.

For yearly forecasting, a 12-month moving average can be used to smooth out short-term fluctuations and highlight longer-term trends or cycles.

Regression Analysis

Regression analysis is a statistical tool used to identify relationships between variables. In sales forecasting, it can help understand how different factors (like marketing spend, seasonal variations, or competitor actions) relate to sales figures.

Once these relationships are understood, businesses can predict future sales based on planned actions or expected external events.

Techniques for Predicting Future Sales in a Small Business

Understanding the Cash Cycle of Business

The cash cycle encompasses the time it takes for a business to convert resource investments, often in the form of inventory, back into cash.

This involves the processes of purchasing inventory, selling it, and subsequently collecting payment. A shorter cycle implies quicker cash turnarounds, which are vital for liquidity.

For small businesses, a firm grasp of the cash cycle can aid in managing cash flow more effectively.

By identifying bottlenecks or delays, businesses can strategize to expedite processes. This might involve renegotiating payment terms with suppliers, offering discounts for prompt customer payments, or optimizing inventory levels to prevent overstocking.

Ultimately, understanding and optimizing the cash cycle ensures that a business remains liquid and agile.

Preparing for Seasonality and Unexpected Changes

Seasonality affects many businesses, from the ice cream vendor witnessing summer surges to the retailer bracing for holiday shopping frenzies.

By analyzing historical data and market trends, businesses can prepare for these cyclical shifts, ensuring they stock up, staff appropriately, and market effectively.

Small businesses, often operating on tighter margins , need to be especially vigilant. Beyond seasonality, they must also brace for unexpected changes – a local construction project obstructing store access, a sudden competitor emergence, or unforeseen regulatory changes.

Building a financial buffer, diversifying product or service lines, and maintaining flexible operational strategies can equip small businesses to weather these unforeseen challenges with resilience.

Securing Small Business Financing and Capital

Role of debt and equity financing.

When businesses seek external funding, they often grapple with the debt vs. equity conundrum. Debt financing involves borrowing money, typically via loans. While it doesn't dilute ownership, it necessitates regular interest payments, potentially impacting cash flow.

Equity financing, on the other hand, entails selling a stake in the business to investors. It might not demand regular repayments, but it dilutes ownership and might influence business decisions.

Small businesses must weigh these options carefully. While loans offer a structured repayment plan and retained control, they might strain finances if the business hits a rough patch.

Equity financing, although relinquishing some control, might bring aboard strategic partners, offering expertise and networks in addition to funds.

The optimal choice hinges on the business's financial health, growth aspirations, and the founder's comfort with sharing control.

Choosing Between Different Types of Loans

A staple in the lending arena, term loans offer businesses a fixed amount of capital that is paid back over a specified period with interest. They're often used for significant one-time expenses, such as purchasing machinery, real estate , or even business expansion.

With predictable monthly payments, businesses can plan their budgets accordingly. However, they might require collateral and a robust credit history for approval.

Lines of Credit

Unlike term loans that provide funds in a lump sum, a line of credit grants businesses access to a pool of funds up to a certain limit.

Businesses can draw from this line as needed, only paying interest on the amount they use. This makes it a versatile tool, especially for managing cash flow fluctuations or unexpected expenses. It serves as a financial safety net, ready for use whenever required.

As the name suggests, microloans are smaller loans designed to cater to businesses that might not need substantial amounts of capital. They're particularly beneficial for startups, businesses with limited credit histories, or those in need of a quick, small financial boost.

Since they are of a smaller denomination, the approval process might be more lenient than traditional loans.

Peer-To-Peer Lending

A contemporary twist to the traditional lending model, peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms connect borrowers directly with individual lenders or investor groups.

This direct model often translates to quicker approvals and competitive interest rates as the overheads of traditional banking structures are removed. With technology at its core, P2P lending can offer a more user-friendly, streamlined process.

However, creditworthiness still plays a pivotal role in determining interest rates and loan amounts.

Crowdfunding and Alternative Financing Options

In an increasingly digital age, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo have emerged as viable financing avenues.

These platforms enable businesses to raise small amounts from a large number of people, often in exchange for product discounts, early access, or other perks. This not only secures funds but also validates the business idea and fosters a community of supporters.

Other alternatives include invoice financing, where businesses get an advance on pending invoices, or merchant cash advances tailored for businesses with significant credit card sales.

Each financing mode offers unique advantages and constraints. Small businesses must meticulously evaluate their financial landscape, growth trajectories, and risk appetite to harness the most suitable option.

Small Business Tax Planning and Management

Basic tax obligations for small businesses.

Navigating the maze of taxation can be daunting, especially for small businesses. Yet, understanding and fulfilling tax obligations is crucial.

Depending on the business structure—whether sole proprietorship , partnership , LLC , or corporation—different tax rules apply. For instance, while corporations are taxed on their earnings, sole proprietors report business income and expenses on their personal tax returns.

In addition to income taxes, small businesses may also be responsible for employment taxes if they have employees. This covers Social Security , Medicare , federal unemployment, and sometimes state-specific taxes.

There might also be sales taxes, property taxes, or special state-specific levies to consider.

Consistently maintaining accurate financial records, being aware of filing deadlines, and setting aside funds for tax obligations are essential practices to avoid penalties and ensure compliance.

Advantages of Tax Planning and Potential Deductions

Tax planning is the strategic approach to minimizing tax liability through the best use of available allowances, deductions, exclusions, and breaks.

For small businesses, effective tax planning can lead to significant savings.

This might involve strategies like deferring income to a later tax year, choosing the optimal time to purchase equipment, or taking advantage of specific credits available to businesses in certain sectors or regions.

Several potential deductions can reduce taxable income for small businesses. These include expenses like rent, utilities, business travel, employee wages, and even certain meals.

By keeping abreast of tax law changes and actively seeking out eligible deductions, small businesses can optimize their financial landscape, ensuring they're not paying more in taxes than necessary.

Importance of Hiring a Tax Professional or Accountant

While it's feasible for small business owners to manage their taxes, the intricate nuances of tax laws make it beneficial to consult professionals.

An experienced accountant or tax consultant can not only ensure compliance but can proactively recommend strategies to reduce tax liability.

They can guide businesses on issues like whether to classify someone as an employee or a contractor, how to structure the business for optimal taxation, or when to make certain capital investments.

Beyond just annual tax filing, these professionals offer year-round counsel, helping businesses maintain clean financial records, stay updated on tax law changes, and plan for future financial moves.

The investment in professional advice often pays dividends , saving businesses from costly mistakes, penalties, or missed financial opportunities.

Regularly Reviewing and Adjusting the Small Business Financial Plan

Setting checkpoints and milestones.

Like any strategic blueprint, a financial plan isn't static. It serves as a guiding framework but should be flexible enough to adapt to evolving business realities.

Setting regular checkpoints— quarterly , half-yearly, or annually—can help businesses assess whether they're on track to meet their financial objectives.

Milestones, such as reaching a specific sales target, launching a new product, or expanding into a new market, offer tangible markers of progress. Celebrating these victories can bolster morale, while any shortfalls can serve as lessons, prompting strategy tweaks. F

or small businesses, where agility is an asset, regularly revisiting the financial plan ensures that the business remains aligned with its overarching financial goals while being responsive to the dynamic marketplace.

Using Financial Ratios to Monitor Business Health

Financial ratios offer a distilled snapshot of a business's health. Ratios like the current ratio ( current assets divided by current liabilities ) can shed light on liquidity, indicating whether a business can meet short-term obligations.

The debt-to-equity ratio , contrasting borrowed funds with owner's equity, offers insights into the business's leverage and potential financial risk.

Profit margin , depicting profitability relative to sales, can highlight operational efficiency. By consistently monitoring these and other pertinent ratios, small businesses can glean actionable insights, understanding their financial strengths and areas needing attention.

In a realm where early intervention can stave off major financial setbacks, these ratios serve as vital diagnostic tools, guiding informed decision-making.

Pivoting Strategies Based on Financial Performance

In the ever-evolving world of business, flexibility is paramount. If financial reviews indicate that certain strategies aren't yielding anticipated results, it might be time to pivot.

This could involve tweaking product offerings, revising pricing strategies, targeting a different customer segment, or even overhauling the business model.

For small businesses, the ability to pivot can be a lifeline. It allows them to respond swiftly to market changes, customer feedback, or internal challenges.

A robust financial plan, while offering direction, should also be pliable, accommodating shifts in strategy based on real-world performance. After all, in the business arena, adaptability often spells the difference between stagnation and growth.

Creating a Small Business Financial Plan

Bottom Line

Financial foresight is integral for the stability and growth of small businesses. Effective revenue and cash flow forecasting, anchored by historical sales data and enhanced by market research, local trends, and customer feedback, ensures businesses are prepared for future demands.

With the unpredictability of the business environment, understanding the cash cycle and preparing for unforeseen challenges is essential.

As businesses contemplate external financing, the decision between debt and equity and the myriad of loan types, should be made judiciously, keeping in mind the business's health, growth aspirations, and risk appetite.

Furthermore, diligent tax planning, with professional guidance, can lead to significant financial benefits. Regular reviews using financial ratios allow businesses to gauge their performance, adapt strategies, and pivot when necessary.

Ultimately, the agility to adapt, guided by a well-structured financial plan, is pivotal for businesses to thrive in a dynamic marketplace.

Creating a Small Business Financial Plan FAQs

What is the importance of a financial plan for small businesses.

A financial plan offers a structured roadmap, guiding businesses in making informed decisions, ensuring growth, and navigating financial challenges.

How do forecasting revenue and understanding cash cycles aid in financial planning?

Forecasting provides insights into expected income, aiding in budget allocation, while understanding cash cycles ensures effective liquidity management.

What are the core components of a financial plan for small businesses?

Core components include setting objectives, estimating startup costs, preparing financial statements, budgeting, forecasting, securing financing, and tax management.

Why is tax planning vital for small businesses?

Tax planning ensures compliance, optimizes tax liabilities through available deductions, and helps businesses save money and avoid penalties.

How often should a small business review its financial plan?

Regular reviews, ideally quarterly or half-yearly, ensure alignment with business goals and allow for strategy adjustments based on real-world performance.

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

  • Average Cost of a Certified Financial Planner
  • Benefits of Having a Financial Planner
  • Cash Flow Management
  • Cash Flow-Based Financial Planning
  • Charitable Financial Planning
  • Debt Reduction Strategies
  • Divorce Financial Planning
  • Education Planning
  • Fee-Only Financial Planning
  • Financial Contingency Planning
  • Financial Planner Fee Structure
  • Financial Planner for Retirement
  • Financial Planning Pyramid
  • Financial Planning Tips
  • Financial Planning Trends
  • Financial Planning and Analysis
  • Financial Planning and Investment
  • Financial Planning for Allied Health Professionals
  • Financial Planning for Married Couples
  • Financial Planning for Military Families
  • Financial Planning for Retirement
  • Financial Planning for Startups
  • Financial Planning vs Budgeting
  • Financial Tips for Young Adults
  • How to Build a 5-Year Financial Plan
  • Limitations of Financial Planning
  • Military Spouse Financial Planning
  • The Function of a Financial Planner
  • When Do You Need a Financial Planner?

Ask a Financial Professional Any Question

Meet top certified financial advisors near you, our recommended advisors.

example of financial plan for a business plan

Claudia Valladares

WHY WE RECOMMEND:

Fee-Only Financial Advisor Show explanation

Bilingual in english / spanish, founder of wisedollarmom.com, quoted in gobanking rates, yahoo finance & forbes.

IDEAL CLIENTS:

Retirees, Immigrants & Sudden Wealth / Inheritance

Retirement Planning, Personal finance, Goals-based Planning & Community Impact

example of financial plan for a business plan

Taylor Kovar, CFP®

Certified financial planner™, 3x investopedia top 100 advisor, author of the 5 money personalities & keynote speaker.

Business Owners, Executives & Medical Professionals

Strategic Planning, Alternative Investments, Stock Options & Wealth Preservation

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.

Fact Checked

At Finance Strategists, we partner with financial experts to ensure the accuracy of our financial content.

Our team of reviewers are established professionals with decades of experience in areas of personal finance and hold many advanced degrees and certifications.

They regularly contribute to top tier financial publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Morning Star, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, Marketwatch, Investopedia, TheStreet.com, Motley Fool, CNBC, and many others.

This team of experts helps Finance Strategists maintain the highest level of accuracy and professionalism possible.

Why You Can Trust Finance Strategists

Finance Strategists is a leading financial education organization that connects people with financial professionals, priding itself on providing accurate and reliable financial information to millions of readers each year.

We follow strict ethical journalism practices, which includes presenting unbiased information and citing reliable, attributed resources.

Our goal is to deliver the most understandable and comprehensive explanations of financial topics using simple writing complemented by helpful graphics and animation videos.

Our writing and editorial staff are a team of experts holding advanced financial designations and have written for most major financial media publications. Our work has been directly cited by organizations including Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Investopedia, Forbes, CNBC, and many others.

Our mission is to empower readers with the most factual and reliable financial information possible to help them make informed decisions for their individual needs.

How It Works

Step 1 of 3, ask any financial question.

Ask a question about your financial situation providing as much detail as possible. Your information is kept secure and not shared unless you specify.

example of financial plan for a business plan

Step 2 of 3

Our team will connect you with a vetted, trusted professional.

Someone on our team will connect you with a financial professional in our network holding the correct designation and expertise.

example of financial plan for a business plan

Step 3 of 3

Get your questions answered and book a free call if necessary.

A financial professional will offer guidance based on the information provided and offer a no-obligation call to better understand your situation.

example of financial plan for a business plan

Where Should We Send Your Answer?

example of financial plan for a business plan

Just a Few More Details

We need just a bit more info from you to direct your question to the right person.

Tell Us More About Yourself

Is there any other context you can provide.

Pro tip: Professionals are more likely to answer questions when background and context is given. The more details you provide, the faster and more thorough reply you'll receive.

What is your age?

Are you married, do you own your home.

  • Owned outright
  • Owned with a mortgage

Do you have any children under 18?

  • Yes, 3 or more

What is the approximate value of your cash savings and other investments?

  • $50k - $250k
  • $250k - $1m

Pro tip: A portfolio often becomes more complicated when it has more investable assets. Please answer this question to help us connect you with the right professional.

Would you prefer to work with a financial professional remotely or in-person?

  • I would prefer remote (video call, etc.)
  • I would prefer in-person
  • I don't mind, either are fine

What's your zip code?

  • I'm not in the U.S.

Submit to get your question answered.

A financial professional will be in touch to help you shortly.

example of financial plan for a business plan

Part 1: Tell Us More About Yourself

Do you own a business, which activity is most important to you during retirement.

  • Giving back / charity
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Pursuing hobbies

Part 2: Your Current Nest Egg

Part 3: confidence going into retirement, how comfortable are you with investing.

  • Very comfortable
  • Somewhat comfortable
  • Not comfortable at all

How confident are you in your long term financial plan?

  • Very confident
  • Somewhat confident
  • Not confident / I don't have a plan

What is your risk tolerance?

How much are you saving for retirement each month.

  • None currently
  • Minimal: $50 - $200
  • Steady Saver: $200 - $500
  • Serious Planner: $500 - $1,000
  • Aggressive Saver: $1,000+

How much will you need each month during retirement?

  • Bare Necessities: $1,500 - $2,500
  • Moderate Comfort: $2,500 - $3,500
  • Comfortable Lifestyle: $3,500 - $5,500
  • Affluent Living: $5,500 - $8,000
  • Luxury Lifestyle: $8,000+

Part 4: Getting Your Retirement Ready

What is your current financial priority.

  • Getting out of debt
  • Growing my wealth
  • Protecting my wealth

Do you already work with a financial advisor?

Which of these is most important for your financial advisor to have.

  • Tax planning expertise
  • Investment management expertise
  • Estate planning expertise
  • None of the above

Where should we send your answer?

Submit to get your retirement-readiness report., get in touch with, great the financial professional will get back to you soon., where should we send the downloadable file, great hit “submit” and an advisor will send you the guide shortly., create a free account and ask any financial question, learn at your own pace with our free courses.

Take self-paced courses to master the fundamentals of finance and connect with like-minded individuals.

Get Started

To ensure one vote per person, please include the following info, great thank you for voting., get in touch, submit your info below and someone will get back to you shortly..

Growthink logo white

Simple Business Plan Template for Startups, Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Financial plan, what is a financial plan.

A business’ financial plan is the part of your business plan that details how your company will achieve its financial goals. It includes information on your company’s projected income, expenses, and cash flow in the form of a 5-Year Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement. The plan should also detail how much funding your company needs and the key uses of these funds.

The financial plan is an important part of the business plan, as it provides a framework for making financial decisions. It can be used to track progress and make adjustments as needed.

Why Your Financial Plan is Important

The financial section of your business plan details the financial implications of running your company. It is important for the following two reasons:

Making Informed Decisions

A financial plan provides a framework for making decisions about how to use your money. It can help you determine whether or not you can afford to make a major purchase, such as a new piece of equipment.

It can also help you decide how much money to reinvest in your business, and how much to save for paying taxes.

A financial plan is like a roadmap for your business. It can help you track your progress and make adjustments as needed. The plan can also help you identify potential problems before they arise.

For example, if your sales are below your projections, you may need to adjust your budget accordingly.

Your financial plan helps you understand how much outside funding is required, when your levels of cash might fall low, and what sales and other goals you need to hit to become financially viable.

Securing Funding

This section of your plan is absolutely critical if you are trying to secure funding. Your financial plan should include information on your revenue, expenses, and cash flow.

This information will help potential investors or lenders understand your business’s financial situation and decide whether or not to provide funding.

Include a detailed description of how you plan to use the funds you are requesting. For example, what are the key uses of the funds (e.g., purchasing equipment, paying staff, etc.) and what are the future timings of these financial outlays.

The financial information in your business plan should be realistic and accurate. Do not overstate your projected revenues or underestimate your expenses. This can lead to problems down the road.

Potential investors and lenders will be very interested in your future projections since it indicates whether you will be able to repay your loans and/or provide a nice return on investment (ROI) upon exit.

Financial Plan Template: 4 Components to Include in Your Financial Plan

The financial section of a business plan should have the following four sub-sections:

Revenue Model

Here you will detail how your company generates revenues. Oftentimes this is very straightforward, for instance, if you sell products. Other times, your answer might be more complex, such as if you’re selling subscriptions (particularly at different price/service levels) or if you are selling multiple products and services.

Financial Overview & Highlights

In developing your financial plan, you need to create full financial forecasts including the following financial statements.

5-Year Income Statement / Profit and Loss Statement

An income statement, also known as a profit and loss statement (P&L), shows how much revenue your business has generated over a specific period of time, and how much of that revenue has turned into profits. The statement includes your company’s revenues and expenses for a given time period, such as a month, quarter, or year. It can also show your company’s net income, which is the amount of money your company has made after all expenses have been paid.

5-Year Balance Sheet

A balance sheet shows a company’s financial position at a specific point in time. The balance sheet lists a company’s assets (what it owns), its liabilities (what it owes), and its equity (the difference between its assets and its liabilities).

The balance sheet is important because it shows a company’s financial health at a specific point in time. A strong balance sheet indicates that a company has the resources it needs to grow and expand. A weak balance sheet, on the other hand, may indicate that a company is struggling to pay its bills and may be at risk of bankruptcy.

5-Year Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement shows how much cash a company has on hand, as well as how much cash it is generating (or losing) over a specific period of time. The statement includes both operating and non-operating activities, such as revenue from sales, expenses, investing activities, and financing activities.

While your full financial projections will go in your Appendix, highlights of your financial projections will go in the Financial Plan section.

These highlights include your Total Revenue, Direct Expenses, Gross Profit, Other Expenses, EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization), and Net Income projections. Also include key assumptions used in creating these future projections such as revenue and cost growth rates.

Funding Requirements/Use of Funds

In this section, you will detail how much outside funding you require, if any, and the core uses of these funds.

For example, detail how much of the funding you need for:

  • Product Development
  • Product Manufacturing
  • Rent or Office/Building Build-Out

Exit Strategy

If you are seeking equity capital, you need to explain your “exit strategy” here or how investors will “cash out” from their investment.

To add credibility to your exit strategy, conduct market research. Specifically, find other companies in your market who have exited in the past few years. Mention how they exited and the amounts of the exit (e.g., XYZ Corp. bought ABC Corp. for $Y).  

Business Plan Financial Plan FAQs

What is a financial plan template.

A financial plan template is a pre-formatted spreadsheet that you can use to create your own financial plan. The financial plan template includes formulas that will automatically calculate your revenue, expenses, and cash flow projections.

How Can I Download a Financial Plan Template?

Download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template which includes a complete financial plan template and more to help you write a solid business plan in hours.

How Do You Make Realistic Assumptions in Your Business Plan?

When forecasting your company’s future, you need to make realistic assumptions. Conduct market research and speak with industry experts to get a better idea of the key trends affecting your business and realistic growth rates.

You should also use historical data to help inform your projections. For example, if you are launching a new product, use past sales data to estimate how many units you might sell in Year 1, Year 2, etc.

Learn more about how to make the appropriate financial assumptions for your business plan.

How Do You Make the Proper Financial Projections for Your Business Plan?

Your business plan’s financial projections should be based on your business model and your market research. The goal is to make as realistic and achievable projections as possible.

To create a good financial projection, you need to understand your revenue model and your target market. Once you have this information, you can develop assumptions around revenue growth, cost of goods sold, margins, expenses, and other key metrics.

Once you have your assumptions set, you can plug them into a financial model to generate your projections.

Learn more about how to make the proper financial projections for your business plan.

What Financials Should Be Included in a Business Plan?

There are a few key financials that should be included in a traditional business plan format. These include the Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement.

Income Statements, also called Profit and Loss Statements, will show your company’s expected income and expense projections over a specific period of time (usually 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years). Balance Sheets will show your company’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. Cash Flow Statements will show how much cash your company has generated and used over a specific period of time.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template includes a complete financial plan template to easily create these financial statements and more so you can write a great business plan in hours.

BUSINESS PLAN TEMPLATE OUTLINE

  • Business Plan Template Home
  • 1. Executive Summary
  • 2. Company Overview
  • 3. Industry Analysis
  • 4. Customer Analysis
  • 5. Competitive Analysis
  • 6. Marketing Plan
  • 7. Operations Plan
  • 8. Management Team
  • 9. Financial Plan
  • 10. Appendix
  • Business Plan Summary

Other Helpful Business Planning Articles & Templates

Expert Business Plan Writers

How to Develop a Small Business Financial Plan

By Andy Marker | April 29, 2022

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on LinkedIn

Link copied

Financial planning is critical for any successful small business, but the process can be complicated. To help you get started, we’ve created a step-by-step guide and rounded up top tips from experts.

Included on this page, you’ll find what to include in a financial plan , steps to develop one , and a downloadable starter kit .

What Is a Small Business Financial Plan?

A small business financial plan is an outline of the financial status of your business, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow information. A financial plan can help guide a small business toward sustainable growth.

Craig Hewitt

Financial plans can aid in business goal setting and metrics tracking, as well as provide proof of profitable ideas. Craig Hewitt, Founder of Castos , shares that “creating a financial plan will show you if your business ideas are sustainable. A financial plan will show you where your business stands and help you make better decisions about resource allocation. It will also help you plan growth, survive cash flow shortages, and pitch to investors.”

Why Is It Important for a Small Business to Have a Financial Plan?

All small businesses should create a financial plan. This allows you to assess your business’s financial needs, recognize areas of opportunity, and project your growth over time. A strong financial plan is also a bonus for potential investors.

Mark Daoust

Mark Daoust , the President and CEO of Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc., explains why a financial plan is important for small businesses: “It can sometimes be difficult for business owners to evaluate their own progress, especially when starting a new company. A financial plan can be helpful in showing increased revenues, cash flow growth, and overall profit in quantifiable data. It's very encouraging for small business owners who are often working long hours and dealing with so many stressful decisions to know that they are on the right track.”

To learn more about other important considerations for a small business, peruse our list of free startup plan, budget, and cost templates .

What Does a Small Business Financial Plan Include?

All small businesses should include an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement in their financial plan. You may also include other documents, such as personnel plans, break-even points, and sales forecasts, depending on the business and industry.

Ahmet Yuzbasioglu

  • Balance Sheet: A balance sheet determines the difference between your liabilities and assets to determine your equity. “A balance sheet is a snapshot of a business’s financial position at a particular moment in time,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “It adds up everything your business owns and subtracts all debts — the difference reflects the net worth of the business, also referred to as equity .” Yüzbaşıoğlu explains that this statement consists of three parts: assets, liabilities, and equity. “Assets include your money in the bank, accounts receivable, inventories, and more. Liabilities can include your accounts payables, credit card balances, and loan repayments, for example. Equity for most small businesses is just the owner’s equity, but it could also include investors’ shares, retained earnings, or stock proceeds,” he says.
  • Cash Flow Statement: A cash flow statement shows where the money is coming from and where it is going. For existing businesses, this will include bank statements that list deposits and expenditures. A new business may not have much cash flow information, but it can include all startup costs and funding sources. “A cash flow statement shows how much cash is generated and used during a given period of time. It documents all the money flowing in and out of your business,” explains Yüzbaşıoğlu.
  • Break-Even Analysis: A break-even analysis is a projection of how long it will take you to recoup your investments, such as expenses from startup costs or ongoing projects. In order to perform this analysis, Yüzbaşıoğlu explains, “You need to know the difference between fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are the expenses that stay the same, regardless of how much you sell or don't sell. For example, expenses such as rent, wages, and accounting fees are typically fixed. Variable costs are the expenses that change in accordance with production or sales volume. “In other words, [a break-even analysis] determines the units of products or services you need to sell at least to cover your production costs. Generally, to calculate the break-even point in business, divide fixed costs by the gross profit margin. This produces a dollar figure that a company needs to break even,” Yüzbaşıoğlu shares.
  • Personnel Plan: A personnel plan is an outline of various positions or departments that states what they do, why they are necessary, and how much they cost. This document is generally more useful for large businesses, or those that find themselves spending a large percentage of their budget on labor.
  • Sales Forecast: A sales forecast can help determine how many sales and how much money you expect to make in a given time period. To learn more about various methods of predicting these figures, check out our guide to sales forecasting .

How to Write a Small Business Financial Plan

Writing a financial plan begins with collecting financial information from your small business. Create income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, and any other documents you need using that information. Then share those documents with relevant stakeholders.

“Creating a financial plan is key to any business and essential for success: It provides protection and an opportunity to grow,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “You can use [the financial plan] to make better-informed decisions about things like resource allocation on future projects and to help shape the success of your company.”

1. Create a Plan

Create a strategic business plan that includes your business strategy and goals, and define their financial impact. Your financial plan will inform decisions for every aspect of your business, so it is important to know what is important and what is at stake.

2. Gather Financial Information

Collect all of the available financial information about your business. Organize bank statements, loan information, sales numbers, inventory costs, payroll information, and any other income and expenses your business has incurred. If you have not already started to do so, regularly record all of this information and store it in an easily accessible place.

3. Create an Income Statement

Your income statement should display revenue, expenses, and profit for a given time period. Your revenue minus your expenses equals your profit or loss. Many businesses create a new statement yearly or quarterly, but small businesses with less cash flow may benefit from creating statements for shorter time frames.

Income Statement

4. Create a Balance Sheet

Your balance sheet is a snapshot of your business’s financial status at a particular moment in time. You should update it on the same schedule as your income statement. To determine your equity, calculate all of your assets minus your liabilities.

Balance Sheet

5. Create a Cash Flow Statement

As mentioned above, the cash flow statement shows all past and projected cash flow for your business. “Your cash flow statement needs to cover three sections: operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities,” suggests Hewitt. “Operating activities are the movement of cash from the sale or purchase of goods or services. Investing activities are the sale or purchase of long-term assets. Financing activities are transactions with creditors and investments.”

Cash Flow

6. Create Other Documents as Needed

Depending on the age, size, and industry of your business, you may find it useful to include these other documents in your financial plan as well.

Breakeven Point

  • Sales Forecast: Your sales forecast should reference sales numbers from your past to estimate sales numbers for your future. Sales forecasts may be more useful for established companies with historical numbers to compare to, but small businesses can use forecasts to set goals and break records month over month. “To make future financial projections, start with a sales forecast,” says Yüzbaşıoğlu. “Project your sales over the course of 12 months. After projecting sales, calculate your cost of sales (also called cost of goods or direct costs). This will let you calculate gross margin. Gross margin is sales less the cost of sales, and it's a useful number for comparing with different standard industry ratios.”

7. Save the Plan for Reference and Share as Needed

The most important part of a financial plan is sharing it with stakeholders. You can also use much of the same information in your financial plan to create a budget for your small business.

Janet Patterson

Additionally, be sure to conduct regular reviews, as things will inevitably change. “My best tip for small businesses when creating a financial plan is to schedule reviews. Once you have your plan in place, it is essential that you review it often and compare how well the strategy fits with the actual monthly expenses. This will help you adjust your plan accordingly and prepare for the year ahead,” suggests Janet Patterson, Loan and Finance Expert at  Highway Title Loans.

Small Business Financial Plan Example

Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template

Download Small Business Financial Plan Example Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Here is an example of what a completed small business financial plan dashboard might look like. Once you have completed your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements, use a template to create visual graphs to display the information to make it easier to read and share. In this example, this small business plots its income and cash flow statements quarterly, but you may find it valuable to update yours more often.

Small Business Financial Plan Starter Kit

Download Small Business Financial Plan Starter Kit

We’ve created this small business financial plan starter kit to help you get organized and complete your financial plan. In this kit, you will find a fully customizable income statement template, a balance sheet template, a cash flow statement template, and a dashboard template to display results. We have also included templates for break-even analysis, a personnel plan, and sales forecasts to meet your ongoing financial planning needs.

Small Business Income Statement Template 

Small Business Income Statement Template

Download Small Business Income Statement Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Use this small business income statement template to input your income information and track your growth over time. This template is filled to track by the year, but you can also track by months or quarters. The template is fully customizable to suit your business needs.

Small Business Balance Sheet Template 

Small Business Balance Sheet Template

Download Small Business Balance Sheet Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

This customizable balance sheet template was created with small businesses in mind. Use it to create a snapshot of your company’s assets, liabilities, and equity quarter over quarter. 

Small Business Cash Flow Statement Template 

Small Business Cash Flow Template

Download Small Business Cash Flow Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Use this customizable cash flow statement template to stay organized when documenting your cash flow. Note the time frame and input all of your financial data in the appropriate cell. With this information, the template will automatically generate your total cash payments, net cash change, and ending cash position.

Break-Even Analysis Template 

Break Even Analysis Template

Download Break-Even Analysis Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

This powerful template can help you determine the point at which you will break even on product investment. Input the sale price of the product, as well as its various associated costs, and this template will display the number of units needed to break even on your initial costs.

Personnel Plan Template  

Personnel Plan Template

Download Personnel Plan Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Use this simple personnel plan template to help organize and define the monetary cost of the various roles or departments within your company. This template will generate a labor cost total that you can use to compare roles and determine whether you need to make cuts or identify areas for growth.

Sales Forecast Template

Sales Forecast Template

Download Sales Forecast Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

Use this customizable template to forecast your sales month over month and determine the percentage changes. You can use this template to set goals and track sales history as well.

Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template

Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template

Download Small Business Financial Plan Dashboard Template Microsoft Excel | Google Sheets

This dashboard template provides a visual example of a small business financial plan. It presents the information from your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in a graphical form that is easy to read and share.

Tips for Completing a Financial Plan for a Small Business

You can simplify the development of your small business financial plan in many ways, from outlining your goals to considering where you may need help. We’ve outlined a few tips from our experts below:

Jesse Thé

  • Outline Your Business Goals: Before you create a financial plan, outline your business goals. This will help you determine where money is being well spent to achieve those goals and where it may not be. “Before applying for financing or investment, list the expected business goals for the next three to five years. You can ask a certified public accountant for help in this regard,” says Thé. The U.S. Small Business Administration or a local small business development center can also help you to understand the local market and important factors for business success. For more help, check out our quick how-to guide on writing a business plan .
  • Make Sure You Have the Right Permits and Insurance: One of the best ways to keep your financial plan on track is to anticipate large expenditures. Double- and triple-check that you have the permits and insurances you need so that you do not incur any fines or surprise expenses down the line. “If you own your own business, you're no longer able to count on your employer for your insurance needs. It's important to have a plan for how you're going to pay for this additional expense and make sure that you know what specific insurance you need to cover your business,” suggests Daost.
  • Separate Personal Goals from Business Goals: Be as unbiased as possible when creating and laying out your business’s financial goals. Your financial and prestige goals as a business owner may be loftier than what your business can currently achieve in the present. Inflating sales forecasts or income numbers will only come back to bite you in the end.
  • Consider Hiring Help: You don’t know what you don’t know, but fortunately, many financial experts are ready to help you. “Hiring financial advisors can help you make sound financial decisions for your business and create a financial roadmap to follow. Many businesses fail in the first few years due to poor planning, which leads to costly mistakes. Having a financial advisor can help keep your business alive, make a profit, and thrive,” says Hewitt.
  • Include Less Obvious Expenses: No income or expense is too small to consider — it all matters when you are creating your financial plan. “I wish I had known that you’re supposed to incorporate anticipated internal hidden expenses in the plan as well,” Patterson shares. “I formulated my first financial plan myself and didn’t have enough knowledge back then. Hence, I missed out on essential expenses, like office maintenance, that are less common.”

Do Small Business Owners Need a Financial Planner?

Not all small business owners need a designated financial planner, but you should understand the documents and information that make up a financial plan. If you do not hire an advisor, you must be informed about your own finances.

Small business owners tend to wear many hats, but Powell says, “it depends on the organization of the owner and their experience with the financial side of operating businesses.” Hiring a financial advisor can take some tasks off your plate and save you time to focus on the many other details that need your attention. Financial planners are experts in their field and may have more intimate knowledge of market trends and changing tax information that can end up saving you money in the long run. 

Yüzbaşıoğlu adds, “Small business owners can greatly benefit from working with a financial advisor. A successful small business often requires more than just the skills of an entrepreneur; a financial advisor can help the company effectively manage risks and maximize opportunities.”

For more examples of the tasks a financial planner might be able to help with, check through our list of free financial planning templates .

Drive Small Business Success with Financial Planning in Smartsheet

Discover a better way to connect your people, processes, and tools with one simple, easy-to-use platform that empowers your team to get more done, faster.

With Smartsheet, you can align your team on strategic initiatives, improve collaboration efforts, and automate repetitive processes, giving you the ability to make better business decisions and boost effectiveness as you scale. 

When you wear a lot of hats, you need a tool that empowers you to get more done in less time. Smartsheet helps you achieve that. Try free for 30 days, today .

Connect your people, processes, and tools with one simple, easy-to-use platform.

  • Sources of Business Finance
  • Small Business Loans
  • Small Business Grants
  • Crowdfunding Sites
  • How to Get a Business Loan
  • Small Business Insurance Providers
  • Best Factoring Companies
  • Types of Bank Accounts
  • Best Banks for Small Business
  • Best Business Bank Accounts
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Bank Accounts for Small Businesses
  • Free Business Checking Accounts
  • Best Business Credit Cards
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit
  • Build Business Credit Fast
  • Business Loan Eligibility Criteria
  • Small-Business Bookkeeping Basics
  • How to Set Financial Goals
  • Business Loan Calculators
  • How to Calculate ROI
  • Calculate Net Income
  • Calculate Working Capital
  • Calculate Operating Income
  • Calculate Net Present Value (NPV)
  • Calculate Payroll Tax

How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

' src=

Every successful business has one thing in common, a good and well-executed business plan. A business plan is more than a document, it is a complete guide that outlines the goals your business wants to achieve, including its financial goals . It helps you analyze results, make strategic decisions, show your business operations and growth.

If you want to start a business or already have one and need to pitch it to investors for funding, writing a good business plan improves your chances of attracting financiers. As a startup, if you want to secure loans from financial institutions, part of the requirements involve submitting your business plan.

Writing a business plan does not have to be a complicated or time-consuming process. In this article, you will learn the step-by-step process for writing a successful business plan.

You will also learn what you need a business plan for, tips and strategies for writing a convincing business plan, business plan examples and templates that will save you tons of time, and the alternatives to the traditional business plan.

Let’s get started.

What Do You Need A Business Plan For?

Businesses create business plans for different purposes such as to secure funds, monitor business growth, measure your marketing strategies, and measure your business success.

1. Secure Funds

One of the primary reasons for writing a business plan is to secure funds, either from financial institutions/agencies or investors.

For you to effectively acquire funds, your business plan must contain the key elements of your business plan . For example, your business plan should include your growth plans, goals you want to achieve, and milestones you have recorded.

A business plan can also attract new business partners that are willing to contribute financially and intellectually. If you are writing a business plan to a bank, your project must show your traction , that is, the proof that you can pay back any loan borrowed.

Also, if you are writing to an investor, your plan must contain evidence that you can effectively utilize the funds you want them to invest in your business. Here, you are using your business plan to persuade a group or an individual that your business is a source of a good investment.

2. Monitor Business Growth

A business plan can help you track cash flows in your business. It steers your business to greater heights. A business plan capable of tracking business growth should contain:

  • The business goals
  • Methods to achieve the goals
  • Time-frame for attaining those goals

A good business plan should guide you through every step in achieving your goals. It can also track the allocation of assets to every aspect of the business. You can tell when you are spending more than you should on a project.

You can compare a business plan to a written GPS. It helps you manage your business and hints at the right time to expand your business.

3. Measure Business Success

A business plan can help you measure your business success rate. Some small-scale businesses are thriving better than more prominent companies because of their track record of success.

Right from the onset of your business operation, set goals and work towards them. Write a plan to guide you through your procedures. Use your plan to measure how much you have achieved and how much is left to attain.

You can also weigh your success by monitoring the position of your brand relative to competitors. On the other hand, a business plan can also show you why you have not achieved a goal. It can tell if you have elapsed the time frame you set to attain a goal.

4. Document Your Marketing Strategies

You can use a business plan to document your marketing plans. Every business should have an effective marketing plan.

Competition mandates every business owner to go the extraordinary mile to remain relevant in the market. Your business plan should contain your marketing strategies that work. You can measure the success rate of your marketing plans.

In your business plan, your marketing strategy must answer the questions:

  • How do you want to reach your target audience?
  • How do you plan to retain your customers?
  • What is/are your pricing plans?
  • What is your budget for marketing?

Business Plan Infographic

How to Write a Business Plan Step-by-Step

1. create your executive summary.

The executive summary is a snapshot of your business or a high-level overview of your business purposes and plans . Although the executive summary is the first section in your business plan, most people write it last. The length of the executive summary is not more than two pages.

Executive Summary of the business plan

Generally, there are nine sections in a business plan, the executive summary should condense essential ideas from the other eight sections.

A good executive summary should do the following:

  • A Snapshot of Growth Potential. Briefly inform the reader about your company and why it will be successful)
  • Contain your Mission Statement which explains what the main objective or focus of your business is.
  • Product Description and Differentiation. Brief description of your products or services and why it is different from other solutions in the market.
  • The Team. Basic information about your company’s leadership team and employees
  • Business Concept. A solid description of what your business does.
  • Target Market. The customers you plan to sell to.
  • Marketing Strategy. Your plans on reaching and selling to your customers
  • Current Financial State. Brief information about what revenue your business currently generates.
  • Projected Financial State. Brief information about what you foresee your business revenue to be in the future.

The executive summary is the make-or-break section of your business plan. If your summary cannot in less than two pages cannot clearly describe how your business will solve a particular problem of your target audience and make a profit, your business plan is set on a faulty foundation.

Avoid using the executive summary to hype your business, instead, focus on helping the reader understand the what and how of your plan.

View the executive summary as an opportunity to introduce your vision for your company. You know your executive summary is powerful when it can answer these key questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What sector or industry are you in?
  • What are your products and services?
  • What is the future of your industry?
  • Is your company scaleable?
  • Who are the owners and leaders of your company? What are their backgrounds and experience levels?
  • What is the motivation for starting your company?
  • What are the next steps?

Writing the executive summary last although it is the most important section of your business plan is an excellent idea. The reason why is because it is a high-level overview of your business plan. It is the section that determines whether potential investors and lenders will read further or not.

The executive summary can be a stand-alone document that covers everything in your business plan. It is not uncommon for investors to request only the executive summary when evaluating your business. If the information in the executive summary impresses them, they will ask for the complete business plan.

If you are writing your business plan for your planning purposes, you do not need to write the executive summary.

2. Add Your Company Overview

The company overview or description is the next section in your business plan after the executive summary. It describes what your business does.

Adding your company overview can be tricky especially when your business is still in the planning stages. Existing businesses can easily summarize their current operations but may encounter difficulties trying to explain what they plan to become.

Your company overview should contain the following:

  • What products and services you will provide
  • Geographical markets and locations your company have a presence
  • What you need to run your business
  • Who your target audience or customers are
  • Who will service your customers
  • Your company’s purpose, mission, and vision
  • Information about your company’s founders
  • Who the founders are
  • Notable achievements of your company so far

When creating a company overview, you have to focus on three basics: identifying your industry, identifying your customer, and explaining the problem you solve.

If you are stuck when creating your company overview, try to answer some of these questions that pertain to you.

  • Who are you targeting? (The answer is not everyone)
  • What pain point does your product or service solve for your customers that they will be willing to spend money on resolving?
  • How does your product or service overcome that pain point?
  • Where is the location of your business?
  • What products, equipment, and services do you need to run your business?
  • How is your company’s product or service different from your competition in the eyes of your customers?
  • How many employees do you need and what skills do you require them to have?

After answering some or all of these questions, you will get more than enough information you need to write your company overview or description section. When writing this section, describe what your company does for your customers.

It describes what your business does

The company description or overview section contains three elements: mission statement, history, and objectives.

  • Mission Statement

The mission statement refers to the reason why your business or company is existing. It goes beyond what you do or sell, it is about the ‘why’. A good mission statement should be emotional and inspirational.

Your mission statement should follow the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid). For example, Shopify’s mission statement is “Make commerce better for everyone.”

When describing your company’s history, make it simple and avoid the temptation of tying it to a defensive narrative. Write it in the manner you would a profile. Your company’s history should include the following information:

  • Founding Date
  • Major Milestones
  • Location(s)
  • Flagship Products or Services
  • Number of Employees
  • Executive Leadership Roles

When you fill in this information, you use it to write one or two paragraphs about your company’s history.

Business Objectives

Your business objective must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.) Failure to clearly identify your business objectives does not inspire confidence and makes it hard for your team members to work towards a common purpose.

3. Perform Market and Competitive Analyses to Proof a Big Enough Business Opportunity

The third step in writing a business plan is the market and competitive analysis section. Every business, no matter the size, needs to perform comprehensive market and competitive analyses before it enters into a market.

Performing market and competitive analyses are critical for the success of your business. It helps you avoid entering the right market with the wrong product, or vice versa. Anyone reading your business plans, especially financiers and financial institutions will want to see proof that there is a big enough business opportunity you are targeting.

This section is where you describe the market and industry you want to operate in and show the big opportunities in the market that your business can leverage to make a profit. If you noticed any unique trends when doing your research, show them in this section.

Market analysis alone is not enough, you have to add competitive analysis to strengthen this section. There are already businesses in the industry or market, how do you plan to take a share of the market from them?

You have to clearly illustrate the competitive landscape in your business plan. Are there areas your competitors are doing well? Are there areas where they are not doing so well? Show it.

Make it clear in this section why you are moving into the industry and what weaknesses are present there that you plan to explain. How are your competitors going to react to your market entry? How do you plan to get customers? Do you plan on taking your competitors' competitors, tap into other sources for customers, or both?

Illustrate the competitive landscape as well. What are your competitors doing well and not so well?

Answering these questions and thoughts will aid your market and competitive analysis of the opportunities in your space. Depending on how sophisticated your industry is, or the expectations of your financiers, you may need to carry out a more comprehensive market and competitive analysis to prove that big business opportunity.

Instead of looking at the market and competitive analyses as one entity, separating them will make the research even more comprehensive.

Market Analysis

Market analysis, boarding speaking, refers to research a business carried out on its industry, market, and competitors. It helps businesses gain a good understanding of their target market and the outlook of their industry. Before starting a company, it is vital to carry out market research to find out if the market is viable.

Market Analysis for Online Business

The market analysis section is a key part of the business plan. It is the section where you identify who your best clients or customers are. You cannot omit this section, without it your business plan is incomplete.

A good market analysis will tell your readers how you fit into the existing market and what makes you stand out. This section requires in-depth research, it will probably be the most time-consuming part of the business plan to write.

  • Market Research

To create a compelling market analysis that will win over investors and financial institutions, you have to carry out thorough market research . Your market research should be targeted at your primary target market for your products or services. Here is what you want to find out about your target market.

  • Your target market’s needs or pain points
  • The existing solutions for their pain points
  • Geographic Location
  • Demographics

The purpose of carrying out a marketing analysis is to get all the information you need to show that you have a solid and thorough understanding of your target audience.

Only after you have fully understood the people you plan to sell your products or services to, can you evaluate correctly if your target market will be interested in your products or services.

You can easily convince interested parties to invest in your business if you can show them you thoroughly understand the market and show them that there is a market for your products or services.

How to Quantify Your Target Market

One of the goals of your marketing research is to understand who your ideal customers are and their purchasing power. To quantify your target market, you have to determine the following:

  • Your Potential Customers: They are the people you plan to target. For example, if you sell accounting software for small businesses , then anyone who runs an enterprise or large business is unlikely to be your customers. Also, individuals who do not have a business will most likely not be interested in your product.
  • Total Households: If you are selling household products such as heating and air conditioning systems, determining the number of total households is more important than finding out the total population in the area you want to sell to. The logic is simple, people buy the product but it is the household that uses it.
  • Median Income: You need to know the median income of your target market. If you target a market that cannot afford to buy your products and services, your business will not last long.
  • Income by Demographics: If your potential customers belong to a certain age group or gender, determining income levels by demographics is necessary. For example, if you sell men's clothes, your target audience is men.

What Does a Good Market Analysis Entail?

Your business does not exist on its own, it can only flourish within an industry and alongside competitors. Market analysis takes into consideration your industry, target market, and competitors. Understanding these three entities will drastically improve your company’s chances of success.

Market Analysis Steps

You can view your market analysis as an examination of the market you want to break into and an education on the emerging trends and themes in that market. Good market analyses include the following:

  • Industry Description. You find out about the history of your industry, the current and future market size, and who the largest players/companies are in your industry.
  • Overview of Target Market. You research your target market and its characteristics. Who are you targeting? Note, it cannot be everyone, it has to be a specific group. You also have to find out all information possible about your customers that can help you understand how and why they make buying decisions.
  • Size of Target Market: You need to know the size of your target market, how frequently they buy, and the expected quantity they buy so you do not risk overproducing and having lots of bad inventory. Researching the size of your target market will help you determine if it is big enough for sustained business or not.
  • Growth Potential: Before picking a target market, you want to be sure there are lots of potential for future growth. You want to avoid going for an industry that is declining slowly or rapidly with almost zero growth potential.
  • Market Share Potential: Does your business stand a good chance of taking a good share of the market?
  • Market Pricing and Promotional Strategies: Your market analysis should give you an idea of the price point you can expect to charge for your products and services. Researching your target market will also give you ideas of pricing strategies you can implement to break into the market or to enjoy maximum profits.
  • Potential Barriers to Entry: One of the biggest benefits of conducting market analysis is that it shows you every potential barrier to entry your business will likely encounter. It is a good idea to discuss potential barriers to entry such as changing technology. It informs readers of your business plan that you understand the market.
  • Research on Competitors: You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and how you can exploit them for the benefit of your business. Find patterns and trends among your competitors that make them successful, discover what works and what doesn’t, and see what you can do better.

The market analysis section is not just for talking about your target market, industry, and competitors. You also have to explain how your company can fill the hole you have identified in the market.

Here are some questions you can answer that can help you position your product or service in a positive light to your readers.

  • Is your product or service of superior quality?
  • What additional features do you offer that your competitors do not offer?
  • Are you targeting a ‘new’ market?

Basically, your market analysis should include an analysis of what already exists in the market and an explanation of how your company fits into the market.

Competitive Analysis

In the competitive analysis section, y ou have to understand who your direct and indirect competitions are, and how successful they are in the marketplace. It is the section where you assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, the advantage(s) they possess in the market and show the unique features or qualities that make you different from your competitors.

Four Steps to Create a Competitive Marketing Analysis

Many businesses do market analysis and competitive analysis together. However, to fully understand what the competitive analysis entails, it is essential to separate it from the market analysis.

Competitive analysis for your business can also include analysis on how to overcome barriers to entry in your target market.

The primary goal of conducting a competitive analysis is to distinguish your business from your competitors. A strong competitive analysis is essential if you want to convince potential funding sources to invest in your business. You have to show potential investors and lenders that your business has what it takes to compete in the marketplace successfully.

Competitive analysis will s how you what the strengths of your competition are and what they are doing to maintain that advantage.

When doing your competitive research, you first have to identify your competitor and then get all the information you can about them. The idea of spending time to identify your competitor and learn everything about them may seem daunting but it is well worth it.

Find answers to the following questions after you have identified who your competitors are.

  • What are your successful competitors doing?
  • Why is what they are doing working?
  • Can your business do it better?
  • What are the weaknesses of your successful competitors?
  • What are they not doing well?
  • Can your business turn its weaknesses into strengths?
  • How good is your competitors’ customer service?
  • Where do your competitors invest in advertising?
  • What sales and pricing strategies are they using?
  • What marketing strategies are they using?
  • What kind of press coverage do they get?
  • What are their customers saying about your competitors (both the positive and negative)?

If your competitors have a website, it is a good idea to visit their websites for more competitors’ research. Check their “About Us” page for more information.

How to Perform Competitive Analysis

If you are presenting your business plan to investors, you need to clearly distinguish yourself from your competitors. Investors can easily tell when you have not properly researched your competitors.

Take time to think about what unique qualities or features set you apart from your competitors. If you do not have any direct competition offering your product to the market, it does not mean you leave out the competitor analysis section blank. Instead research on other companies that are providing a similar product, or whose product is solving the problem your product solves.

The next step is to create a table listing the top competitors you want to include in your business plan. Ensure you list your business as the last and on the right. What you just created is known as the competitor analysis table.

Direct vs Indirect Competition

You cannot know if your product or service will be a fit for your target market if you have not understood your business and the competitive landscape.

There is no market you want to target where you will not encounter competition, even if your product is innovative. Including competitive analysis in your business plan is essential.

If you are entering an established market, you need to explain how you plan to differentiate your products from the available options in the market. Also, include a list of few companies that you view as your direct competitors The competition you face in an established market is your direct competition.

In situations where you are entering a market with no direct competition, it does not mean there is no competition there. Consider your indirect competition that offers substitutes for the products or services you offer.

For example, if you sell an innovative SaaS product, let us say a project management software , a company offering time management software is your indirect competition.

There is an easy way to find out who your indirect competitors are in the absence of no direct competitors. You simply have to research how your potential customers are solving the problems that your product or service seeks to solve. That is your direct competition.

Factors that Differentiate Your Business from the Competition

There are three main factors that any business can use to differentiate itself from its competition. They are cost leadership, product differentiation, and market segmentation.

1. Cost Leadership

A strategy you can impose to maximize your profits and gain an edge over your competitors. It involves offering lower prices than what the majority of your competitors are offering.

A common practice among businesses looking to enter into a market where there are dominant players is to use free trials or pricing to attract as many customers as possible to their offer.

2. Product Differentiation

Your product or service should have a unique selling proposition (USP) that your competitors do not have or do not stress in their marketing.

Part of the marketing strategy should involve making your products unique and different from your competitors. It does not have to be different from your competitors, it can be the addition to a feature or benefit that your competitors do not currently have.

3. Market Segmentation

As a new business seeking to break into an industry, you will gain more success from focusing on a specific niche or target market, and not the whole industry.

If your competitors are focused on a general need or target market, you can differentiate yourself from them by having a small and hyper-targeted audience. For example, if your competitors are selling men’s clothes in their online stores , you can sell hoodies for men.

4. Define Your Business and Management Structure

The next step in your business plan is your business and management structure. It is the section where you describe the legal structure of your business and the team running it.

Your business is only as good as the management team that runs it, while the management team can only strive when there is a proper business and management structure in place.

If your company is a sole proprietor or a limited liability company (LLC), a general or limited partnership, or a C or an S corporation, state it clearly in this section.

Use an organizational chart to show the management structure in your business. Clearly show who is in charge of what area in your company. It is where you show how each key manager or team leader’s unique experience can contribute immensely to the success of your company. You can also opt to add the resumes and CVs of the key players in your company.

The business and management structure section should show who the owner is, and other owners of the businesses (if the business has other owners). For businesses or companies with multiple owners, include the percent ownership of the various owners and clearly show the extent of each others’ involvement in the company.

Investors want to know who is behind the company and the team running it to determine if it has the right management to achieve its set goals.

Management Team

The management team section is where you show that you have the right team in place to successfully execute the business operations and ideas. Take time to create the management structure for your business. Think about all the important roles and responsibilities that you need managers for to grow your business.

Include brief bios of each key team member and ensure you highlight only the relevant information that is needed. If your team members have background industry experience or have held top positions for other companies and achieved success while filling that role, highlight it in this section.

Create Management Team For Business Plan

A common mistake that many startups make is assigning C-level titles such as (CMO and CEO) to everyone on their team. It is unrealistic for a small business to have those titles. While it may look good on paper for the ego of your team members, it can prevent investors from investing in your business.

Instead of building an unrealistic management structure that does not fit your business reality, it is best to allow business titles to grow as the business grows. Starting everyone at the top leaves no room for future change or growth, which is bad for productivity.

Your management team does not have to be complete before you start writing your business plan. You can have a complete business plan even when there are managerial positions that are empty and need filling.

If you have management gaps in your team, simply show the gaps and indicate you are searching for the right candidates for the role(s). Investors do not expect you to have a full management team when you are just starting your business.

Key Questions to Answer When Structuring Your Management Team

  • Who are the key leaders?
  • What experiences, skills, and educational backgrounds do you expect your key leaders to have?
  • Do your key leaders have industry experience?
  • What positions will they fill and what duties will they perform in those positions?
  • What level of authority do the key leaders have and what are their responsibilities?
  • What is the salary for the various management positions that will attract the ideal candidates?

Additional Tips for Writing the Management Structure Section

1. Avoid Adding ‘Ghost’ Names to Your Management Team

There is always that temptation to include a ‘ghost’ name to your management team to attract and influence investors to invest in your business. Although the presence of these celebrity management team members may attract the attention of investors, it can cause your business to lose any credibility if you get found out.

Seasoned investors will investigate further the members of your management team before committing fully to your business If they find out that the celebrity name used does not play any actual role in your business, they will not invest and may write you off as dishonest.

2. Focus on Credentials But Pay Extra Attention to the Roles

Investors want to know the experience that your key team members have to determine if they can successfully reach the company’s growth and financial goals.

While it is an excellent boost for your key management team to have the right credentials, you also want to pay extra attention to the roles they will play in your company.

Organizational Chart

Organizational chart Infographic

Adding an organizational chart in this section of your business plan is not necessary, you can do it in your business plan’s appendix.

If you are exploring funding options, it is not uncommon to get asked for your organizational chart. The function of an organizational chart goes beyond raising money, you can also use it as a useful planning tool for your business.

An organizational chart can help you identify how best to structure your management team for maximum productivity and point you towards key roles you need to fill in the future.

You can use the organizational chart to show your company’s internal management structure such as the roles and responsibilities of your management team, and relationships that exist between them.

5. Describe Your Product and Service Offering

In your business plan, you have to describe what you sell or the service you plan to offer. It is the next step after defining your business and management structure. The products and services section is where you sell the benefits of your business.

Here you have to explain how your product or service will benefit your customers and describe your product lifecycle. It is also the section where you write down your plans for intellectual property like patent filings and copyrighting.

The research and development that you are undertaking for your product or service need to be explained in detail in this section. However, do not get too technical, sell the general idea and its benefits.

If you have any diagrams or intricate designs of your product or service, do not include them in the products and services section. Instead, leave them for the addendum page. Also, if you are leaving out diagrams or designs for the addendum, ensure you add this phrase “For more detail, visit the addendum Page #.”

Your product and service section in your business plan should include the following:

  • A detailed explanation that clearly shows how your product or service works.
  • The pricing model for your product or service.
  • Your business’ sales and distribution strategy.
  • The ideal customers that want your product or service.
  • The benefits of your products and services.
  • Reason(s) why your product or service is a better alternative to what your competitors are currently offering in the market.
  • Plans for filling the orders you receive
  • If you have current or pending patents, copyrights, and trademarks for your product or service, you can also discuss them in this section.

What to Focus On When Describing the Benefits, Lifecycle, and Production Process of Your Products or Services

In the products and services section, you have to distill the benefits, lifecycle, and production process of your products and services.

When describing the benefits of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Unique features
  • Translating the unique features into benefits
  • The emotional, psychological, and practical payoffs to attract customers
  • Intellectual property rights or any patents

When describing the product life cycle of your products or services, here are some key factors to focus on.

  • Upsells, cross-sells, and down-sells
  • Time between purchases
  • Plans for research and development.

When describing the production process for your products or services, you need to think about the following:

  • The creation of new or existing products and services.
  • The sources for the raw materials or components you need for production.
  • Assembling the products
  • Maintaining quality control
  • Supply-chain logistics (receiving the raw materials and delivering the finished products)
  • The day-to-day management of the production processes, bookkeeping, and inventory.

Tips for Writing the Products or Services Section of Your Business Plan

1. Avoid Technical Descriptions and Industry Buzzwords

The products and services section of your business plan should clearly describe the products and services that your company provides. However, it is not a section to include technical jargons that anyone outside your industry will not understand.

A good practice is to remove highly detailed or technical descriptions in favor of simple terms. Industry buzzwords are not necessary, if there are simpler terms you can use, then use them. If you plan to use your business plan to source funds, making the product or service section so technical will do you no favors.

2. Describe How Your Products or Services Differ from Your Competitors

When potential investors look at your business plan, they want to know how the products and services you are offering differ from that of your competition. Differentiating your products or services from your competition in a way that makes your solution more attractive is critical.

If you are going the innovative path and there is no market currently for your product or service, you need to describe in this section why the market needs your product or service.

For example, overnight delivery was a niche business that only a few companies were participating in. Federal Express (FedEx) had to show in its business plan that there was a large opportunity for that service and they justified why the market needed that service.

3. Long or Short Products or Services Section

Should your products or services section be short? Does the long products or services section attract more investors?

There are no straightforward answers to these questions. Whether your products or services section should be long or relatively short depends on the nature of your business.

If your business is product-focused, then automatically you need to use more space to describe the details of your products. However, if the product your business sells is a commodity item that relies on competitive pricing or other pricing strategies, you do not have to use up so much space to provide significant details about the product.

Likewise, if you are selling a commodity that is available in numerous outlets, then you do not have to spend time on writing a long products or services section.

The key to the success of your business is most likely the effectiveness of your marketing strategies compared to your competitors. Use more space to address that section.

If you are creating a new product or service that the market does not know about, your products or services section can be lengthy. The reason why is because you need to explain everything about the product or service such as the nature of the product, its use case, and values.

A short products or services section for an innovative product or service will not give the readers enough information to properly evaluate your business.

4. Describe Your Relationships with Vendors or Suppliers

Your business will rely on vendors or suppliers to supply raw materials or the components needed to make your products. In your products and services section, describe your relationships with your vendors and suppliers fully.

Avoid the mistake of relying on only one supplier or vendor. If that supplier or vendor fails to supply or goes out of business, you can easily face supply problems and struggle to meet your demands. Plan to set up multiple vendor or supplier relationships for better business stability.

5. Your Primary Goal Is to Convince Your Readers

The primary goal of your business plan is to convince your readers that your business is viable and to create a guide for your business to follow. It applies to the products and services section.

When drafting this section, think like the reader. See your reader as someone who has no idea about your products and services. You are using the products and services section to provide the needed information to help your reader understand your products and services. As a result, you have to be clear and to the point.

While you want to educate your readers about your products or services, you also do not want to bore them with lots of technical details. Show your products and services and not your fancy choice of words.

Your products and services section should provide the answer to the “what” question for your business. You and your management team may run the business, but it is your products and services that are the lifeblood of the business.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing your Products and Services Section

Answering these questions can help you write your products and services section quickly and in a way that will appeal to your readers.

  • Are your products existing on the market or are they still in the development stage?
  • What is your timeline for adding new products and services to the market?
  • What are the positives that make your products and services different from your competitors?
  • Do your products and services have any competitive advantage that your competitors’ products and services do not currently have?
  • Do your products or services have any competitive disadvantages that you need to overcome to compete with your competitors? If your answer is yes, state how you plan to overcome them,
  • How much does it cost to produce your products or services? How much do you plan to sell it for?
  • What is the price for your products and services compared to your competitors? Is pricing an issue?
  • What are your operating costs and will it be low enough for you to compete with your competitors and still take home a reasonable profit margin?
  • What is your plan for acquiring your products? Are you involved in the production of your products or services?
  • Are you the manufacturer and produce all the components you need to create your products? Do you assemble your products by using components supplied by other manufacturers? Do you purchase your products directly from suppliers or wholesalers?
  • Do you have a steady supply of products that you need to start your business? (If your business is yet to kick-off)
  • How do you plan to distribute your products or services to the market?

You can also hint at the marketing or promotion plans you have for your products or services such as how you plan to build awareness or retain customers. The next section is where you can go fully into details about your business’s marketing and sales plan.

6. Show and Explain Your Marketing and Sales Plan

Providing great products and services is wonderful, but it means nothing if you do not have a marketing and sales plan to inform your customers about them. Your marketing and sales plan is critical to the success of your business.

The sales and marketing section is where you show and offer a detailed explanation of your marketing and sales plan and how you plan to execute it. It covers your pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, activities and partnerships you need to make your business a success, and the benefits of your products and services.

There are several ways you can approach your marketing and sales strategy. Ideally, your marketing and sales strategy has to fit the unique needs of your business.

In this section, you describe how the plans your business has for attracting and retaining customers, and the exact process for making a sale happen. It is essential to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales plans because you are still going to reference this section when you are making financial projections for your business.

Outline Your Business’ Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The sales and marketing section is where you outline your business’s unique selling proposition (USP). When you are developing your unique selling proposition, think about the strongest reasons why people should buy from you over your competition. That reason(s) is most likely a good fit to serve as your unique selling proposition (USP).

Target Market and Target Audience

Plans on how to get your products or services to your target market and how to get your target audience to buy them go into this section. You also highlight the strengths of your business here, particularly what sets them apart from your competition.

Target Market Vs Target Audience

Before you start writing your marketing and sales plan, you need to have properly defined your target audience and fleshed out your buyer persona. If you do not first understand the individual you are marketing to, your marketing and sales plan will lack any substance and easily fall.

Creating a Smart Marketing and Sales Plan

Marketing your products and services is an investment that requires you to spend money. Like any other investment, you have to generate a good return on investment (ROI) to justify using that marketing and sales plan. Good marketing and sales plans bring in high sales and profits to your company.

Avoid spending money on unproductive marketing channels. Do your research and find out the best marketing and sales plan that works best for your company.

Your marketing and sales plan can be broken into different parts: your positioning statement, pricing, promotion, packaging, advertising, public relations, content marketing, social media, and strategic alliances.

Your Positioning Statement

Your positioning statement is the first part of your marketing and sales plan. It refers to the way you present your company to your customers.

Are you the premium solution, the low-price solution, or are you the intermediary between the two extremes in the market? What do you offer that your competitors do not that can give you leverage in the market?

Before you start writing your positioning statement, you need to spend some time evaluating the current market conditions. Here are some questions that can help you to evaluate the market

  • What are the unique features or benefits that you offer that your competitors lack?
  • What are your customers’ primary needs and wants?
  • Why should a customer choose you over your competition? How do you plan to differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • How does your company’s solution compare with other solutions in the market?

After answering these questions, then you can start writing your positioning statement. Your positioning statement does not have to be in-depth or too long.

All you need to explain with your positioning statement are two focus areas. The first is the position of your company within the competitive landscape. The other focus area is the core value proposition that sets your company apart from other alternatives that your ideal customer might consider.

Here is a simple template you can use to develop a positioning statement.

For [description of target market] who [need of target market], [product or service] [how it meets the need]. Unlike [top competition], it [most essential distinguishing feature].

For example, let’s create the positioning statement for fictional accounting software and QuickBooks alternative , TBooks.

“For small business owners who need accounting services, TBooks is an accounting software that helps small businesses handle their small business bookkeeping basics quickly and easily. Unlike Wave, TBooks gives small businesses access to live sessions with top accountants.”

You can edit this positioning statement sample and fill it with your business details.

After writing your positioning statement, the next step is the pricing of your offerings. The overall positioning strategy you set in your positioning statement will often determine how you price your products or services.

Pricing is a powerful tool that sends a strong message to your customers. Failure to get your pricing strategy right can make or mar your business. If you are targeting a low-income audience, setting a premium price can result in low sales.

You can use pricing to communicate your positioning to your customers. For example, if you are offering a product at a premium price, you are sending a message to your customers that the product belongs to the premium category.

Basic Rules to Follow When Pricing Your Offering

Setting a price for your offering involves more than just putting a price tag on it. Deciding on the right pricing for your offering requires following some basic rules. They include covering your costs, primary and secondary profit center pricing, and matching the market rate.

  • Covering Your Costs: The price you set for your products or service should be more than it costs you to produce and deliver them. Every business has the same goal, to make a profit. Depending on the strategy you want to use, there are exceptions to this rule. However, the vast majority of businesses follow this rule.
  • Primary and Secondary Profit Center Pricing: When a company sets its price above the cost of production, it is making that product its primary profit center. A company can also decide not to make its initial price its primary profit center by selling below or at even with its production cost. It rather depends on the support product or even maintenance that is associated with the initial purchase to make its profit. The initial price thus became its secondary profit center.
  • Matching the Market Rate: A good rule to follow when pricing your products or services is to match your pricing with consumer demand and expectations. If you price your products or services beyond the price your customer perceives as the ideal price range, you may end up with no customers. Pricing your products too low below what your customer perceives as the ideal price range may lead to them undervaluing your offering.

Pricing Strategy

Your pricing strategy influences the price of your offering. There are several pricing strategies available for you to choose from when examining the right pricing strategy for your business. They include cost-plus pricing, market-based pricing, value pricing, and more.

Pricing strategy influences the price of offering

  • Cost-plus Pricing: This strategy is one of the simplest and oldest pricing strategies. Here you consider the cost of producing a unit of your product and then add a profit to it to arrive at your market price. It is an effective pricing strategy for manufacturers because it helps them cover their initial costs. Another name for the cost-plus pricing strategy is the markup pricing strategy.
  • Market-based Pricing: This pricing strategy analyses the market including competitors’ pricing and then sets a price based on what the market is expecting. With this pricing strategy, you can either set your price at the low-end or high-end of the market.
  • Value Pricing: This pricing strategy involves setting a price based on the value you are providing to your customer. When adopting a value-based pricing strategy, you have to set a price that your customers are willing to pay. Service-based businesses such as small business insurance providers , luxury goods sellers, and the fashion industry use this pricing strategy.

After carefully sorting out your positioning statement and pricing, the next item to look at is your promotional strategy. Your promotional strategy explains how you plan on communicating with your customers and prospects.

As a business, you must measure all your costs, including the cost of your promotions. You also want to measure how much sales your promotions bring for your business to determine its usefulness. Promotional strategies or programs that do not lead to profit need to be removed.

There are different types of promotional strategies you can adopt for your business, they include advertising, public relations, and content marketing.

Advertising

Your business plan should include your advertising plan which can be found in the marketing and sales plan section. You need to include an overview of your advertising plans such as the areas you plan to spend money on to advertise your business and offers.

Ensure that you make it clear in this section if your business will be advertising online or using the more traditional offline media, or the combination of both online and offline media. You can also include the advertising medium you want to use to raise awareness about your business and offers.

Some common online advertising mediums you can use include social media ads, landing pages, sales pages, SEO, Pay-Per-Click, emails, Google Ads, and others. Some common traditional and offline advertising mediums include word of mouth, radios, direct mail, televisions, flyers, billboards, posters, and others.

A key component of your advertising strategy is how you plan to measure the effectiveness and success of your advertising campaign. There is no point in sticking with an advertising plan or medium that does not produce results for your business in the long run.

Public Relations

A great way to reach your customers is to get the media to cover your business or product. Publicity, especially good ones, should be a part of your marketing and sales plan. In this section, show your plans for getting prominent reviews of your product from reputable publications and sources.

Your business needs that exposure to grow. If public relations is a crucial part of your promotional strategy, provide details about your public relations plan here.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a popular promotional strategy used by businesses to inform and attract their customers. It is about teaching and educating your prospects on various topics of interest in your niche, it does not just involve informing them about the benefits and features of the products and services you have,

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Businesses publish content usually for free where they provide useful information, tips, and advice so that their target market can be made aware of the importance of their products and services. Content marketing strategies seek to nurture prospects into buyers over time by simply providing value.

Your company can create a blog where it will be publishing content for its target market. You will need to use the best website builder such as Wix and Squarespace and the best web hosting services such as Bluehost, Hostinger, and other Bluehost alternatives to create a functional blog or website.

If content marketing is a crucial part of your promotional strategy (as it should be), detail your plans under promotions.

Including high-quality images of the packaging of your product in your business plan is a lovely idea. You can add the images of the packaging of that product in the marketing and sales plan section. If you are not selling a product, then you do not need to include any worry about the physical packaging of your product.

When organizing the packaging section of your business plan, you can answer the following questions to make maximum use of this section.

  • Is your choice of packaging consistent with your positioning strategy?
  • What key value proposition does your packaging communicate? (It should reflect the key value proposition of your business)
  • How does your packaging compare to that of your competitors?

Social Media

Your 21st-century business needs to have a good social media presence. Not having one is leaving out opportunities for growth and reaching out to your prospect.

You do not have to join the thousands of social media platforms out there. What you need to do is join the ones that your customers are active on and be active there.

Most popular social media platforms

Businesses use social media to provide information about their products such as promotions, discounts, the benefits of their products, and content on their blogs.

Social media is also a platform for engaging with your customers and getting feedback about your products or services. Make no mistake, more and more of your prospects are using social media channels to find more information about companies.

You need to consider the social media channels you want to prioritize your business (prioritize the ones your customers are active in) and your branding plans in this section.

Choosing the right social media platform

Strategic Alliances

If your company plans to work closely with other companies as part of your sales and marketing plan, include it in this section. Prove details about those partnerships in your business plan if you have already established them.

Strategic alliances can be beneficial for all parties involved including your company. Working closely with another company in the form of a partnership can provide access to a different target market segment for your company.

The company you are partnering with may also gain access to your target market or simply offer a new product or service (that of your company) to its customers.

Mutually beneficial partnerships can cover the weaknesses of one company with the strength of another. You should consider strategic alliances with companies that sell complimentary products to yours. For example, if you provide printers, you can partner with a company that produces ink since the customers that buy printers from you will also need inks for printing.

Steps Involved in Creating a Marketing and Sales Plan

1. Focus on Your Target Market

Identify who your customers are, the market you want to target. Then determine the best ways to get your products or services to your potential customers.

2. Evaluate Your Competition

One of the goals of having a marketing plan is to distinguish yourself from your competition. You cannot stand out from them without first knowing them in and out.

You can know your competitors by gathering information about their products, pricing, service, and advertising campaigns.

These questions can help you know your competition.

  • What makes your competition successful?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • What are customers saying about your competition?

3. Consider Your Brand

Customers' perception of your brand has a strong impact on your sales. Your marketing and sales plan should seek to bolster the image of your brand. Before you start marketing your business, think about the message you want to pass across about your business and your products and services.

4. Focus on Benefits

The majority of your customers do not view your product in terms of features, what they want to know is the benefits and solutions your product offers. Think about the problems your product solves and the benefits it delivers, and use it to create the right sales and marketing message.

Your marketing plan should focus on what you want your customer to get instead of what you provide. Identify those benefits in your marketing and sales plan.

5. Focus on Differentiation

Your marketing and sales plan should look for a unique angle they can take that differentiates your business from the competition, even if the products offered are similar. Some good areas of differentiation you can use are your benefits, pricing, and features.

Key Questions to Answer When Writing Your Marketing and Sales Plan

  • What is your company’s budget for sales and marketing campaigns?
  • What key metrics will you use to determine if your marketing plans are successful?
  • What are your alternatives if your initial marketing efforts do not succeed?
  • Who are the sales representatives you need to promote your products or services?
  • What are the marketing and sales channels you plan to use? How do you plan to get your products in front of your ideal customers?
  • Where will you sell your products?

You may want to include samples of marketing materials you plan to use such as print ads, website descriptions, and social media ads. While it is not compulsory to include these samples, it can help you better communicate your marketing and sales plan and objectives.

The purpose of the marketing and sales section is to answer this question “How will you reach your customers?” If you cannot convincingly provide an answer to this question, you need to rework your marketing and sales section.

7. Clearly Show Your Funding Request

If you are writing your business plan to ask for funding from investors or financial institutions, the funding request section is where you will outline your funding requirements. The funding request section should answer the question ‘How much money will your business need in the near future (3 to 5 years)?’

A good funding request section will clearly outline and explain the amount of funding your business needs over the next five years. You need to know the amount of money your business needs to make an accurate funding request.

Also, when writing your funding request, provide details of how the funds will be used over the period. Specify if you want to use the funds to buy raw materials or machinery, pay salaries, pay for advertisements, and cover specific bills such as rent and electricity.

In addition to explaining what you want to use the funds requested for, you need to clearly state the projected return on investment (ROI) . Investors and creditors want to know if your business can generate profit for them if they put funds into it.

Ensure you do not inflate the figures and stay as realistic as possible. Investors and financial institutions you are seeking funds from will do their research before investing money in your business.

If you are not sure of an exact number to request from, you can use some range of numbers as rough estimates. Add a best-case scenario and a work-case scenario to your funding request. Also, include a description of your strategic future financial plans such as selling your business or paying off debts.

Funding Request: Debt or Equity?

When making your funding request, specify the type of funding you want. Do you want debt or equity? Draw out the terms that will be applicable for the funding, and the length of time the funding request will cover.

Case for Equity

If your new business has not yet started generating profits, you are most likely preparing to sell equity in your business to raise capital at the early stage. Equity here refers to ownership. In this case, you are selling a portion of your company to raise capital.

Although this method of raising capital for your business does not put your business in debt, keep in mind that an equity owner may expect to play a key role in company decisions even if he does not hold a major stake in the company.

Most equity sales for startups are usually private transactions . If you are making a funding request by offering equity in exchange for funding, let the investor know that they will be paid a dividend (a share of the company’s profit). Also, let the investor know the process for selling their equity in your business.

Case for Debt

You may decide not to offer equity in exchange for funds, instead, you make a funding request with the promise to pay back the money borrowed at the agreed time frame.

When making a funding request with an agreement to pay back, note that you will have to repay your creditors both the principal amount borrowed and the interest on it. Financial institutions offer this type of funding for businesses.

Large companies combine both equity and debt in their capital structure. When drafting your business plan, decide if you want to offer both or one over the other.

Before you sell equity in exchange for funding in your business, consider if you are willing to accept not being in total control of your business. Also, before you seek loans in your funding request section, ensure that the terms of repayment are favorable.

You should set a clear timeline in your funding request so that potential investors and creditors can know what you are expecting. Some investors and creditors may agree to your funding request and then delay payment for longer than 30 days, meanwhile, your business needs an immediate cash injection to operate efficiently.

Additional Tips for Writing the Funding Request Section of your Business Plan

The funding request section is not necessary for every business, it is only needed by businesses who plan to use their business plan to secure funding.

If you are adding the funding request section to your business plan, provide an itemized summary of how you plan to use the funds requested. Hiring a lawyer, accountant, or other professionals may be necessary for the proper development of this section.

You should also gather and use financial statements that add credibility and support to your funding requests. Ensure that the financial statements you use should include your projected financial data such as projected cash flows, forecast statements, and expenditure budgets.

If you are an existing business, include all historical financial statements such as cash flow statements, balance sheets and income statements .

Provide monthly and quarterly financial statements for a year. If your business has records that date back beyond the one-year mark, add the yearly statements of those years. These documents are for the appendix section of your business plan.

8. Detail Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projections

If you used the funding request section in your business plan, supplement it with a financial plan, metrics, and projections. This section paints a picture of the past performance of your business and then goes ahead to make an informed projection about its future.

The goal of this section is to convince readers that your business is going to be a financial success. It outlines your business plan to generate enough profit to repay the loan (with interest if applicable) and to generate a decent return on investment for investors.

If you have an existing business already in operation, use this section to demonstrate stability through finance. This section should include your cash flow statements, balance sheets, and income statements covering the last three to five years. If your business has some acceptable collateral that you can use to acquire loans, list it in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

Apart from current financial statements, this section should also contain a prospective financial outlook that spans the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, and capital expenditure budget.

If your business is new and is not yet generating profit, use clear and realistic projections to show the potentials of your business.

When drafting this section, research industry norms and the performance of comparable businesses. Your financial projections should cover at least five years. State the logic behind your financial projections. Remember you can always make adjustments to this section as the variables change.

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section create a baseline which your business can either exceed or fail to reach. If your business fails to reach your projections in this section, you need to understand why it failed.

Investors and loan managers spend a lot of time going through the financial plan, metrics, and projection section compared to other parts of the business plan. Ensure you spend time creating credible financial analyses for your business in this section.

Many entrepreneurs find this section daunting to write. You do not need a business degree to create a solid financial forecast for your business. Business finances, especially for startups, are not as complicated as they seem. There are several online tools and templates that make writing this section so much easier.

Use Graphs and Charts

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business. Charts and images make it easier to communicate your finances.

Accuracy in this section is key, ensure you carefully analyze your past financial statements properly before making financial projects.

Address the Risk Factors and Show Realistic Financial Projections

Keep your financial plan, metrics, and projection realistic. It is okay to be optimistic in your financial projection, however, you have to justify it.

You should also address the various risk factors associated with your business in this section. Investors want to know the potential risks involved, show them. You should also show your plans for mitigating those risks.

What You Should In The Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection Section of Your Business Plan

The financial plan, metrics, and projection section of your business plan should have monthly sales and revenue forecasts for the first year. It should also include annual projections that cover 3 to 5 years.

A three-year projection is a basic requirement to have in your business plan. However, some investors may request a five-year forecast.

Your business plan should include the following financial statements: sales forecast, personnel plan, income statement, income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, and an exit strategy.

1. Sales Forecast

Sales forecast refers to your projections about the number of sales your business is going to record over the next few years. It is typically broken into several rows, with each row assigned to a core product or service that your business is offering.

One common mistake people make in their business plan is to break down the sales forecast section into long details. A sales forecast should forecast the high-level details.

For example, if you are forecasting sales for a payroll software provider, you could break down your forecast into target market segments or subscription categories.

Benefits of Sales Forecasting

Your sales forecast section should also have a corresponding row for each sales row to cover the direct cost or Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). The objective of these rows is to show the expenses that your business incurs in making and delivering your product or service.

Note that your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) should only cover those direct costs incurred when making your products. Other indirect expenses such as insurance, salaries, payroll tax, and rent should not be included.

For example, the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) for a restaurant is the cost of ingredients while for a consulting company it will be the cost of paper and other presentation materials.

Factors that affect sales forecasting

2. Personnel Plan

The personnel plan section is where you provide details about the payment plan for your employees. For a small business, you can easily list every position in your company and how much you plan to pay in the personnel plan.

However, for larger businesses, you have to break the personnel plan into functional groups such as sales and marketing.

The personnel plan will also include the cost of an employee beyond salary, commonly referred to as the employee burden. These costs include insurance, payroll taxes , and other essential costs incurred monthly as a result of having employees on your payroll.

True HR Cost Infographic

3. Income Statement

The income statement section shows if your business is making a profit or taking a loss. Another name for the income statement is the profit and loss (P&L). It takes data from your sales forecast and personnel plan and adds other ongoing expenses you incur while running your business.

The income statement section

Every business plan should have an income statement. It subtracts your business expenses from its earnings to show if your business is generating profit or incurring losses.

The income statement has the following items: sales, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), gross margin, operating expenses, total operating expenses, operating income , total expenses, and net profit.

  • Sales refer to the revenue your business generates from selling its products or services. Other names for sales are income or revenue.
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) refers to the total cost of selling your products. Other names for COGS are direct costs or cost of sales. Manufacturing businesses use the Costs of Goods Manufactured (COGM) .
  • Gross Margin is the figure you get when you subtract your COGS from your sales. In your income statement, you can express it as a percentage of total sales (Gross margin / Sales = Gross Margin Percent).
  • Operating Expenses refer to all the expenses you incur from running your business. It exempts the COGS because it stands alone as a core part of your income statement. You also have to exclude taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Your operating expenses include salaries, marketing expenses, research and development (R&D) expenses, and other expenses.
  • Total Operating Expenses refers to the sum of all your operating expenses including those exemptions named above under operating expenses.
  • Operating Income refers to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. It is simply known as the acronym EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). Calculating your operating income is simple, all you need to do is to subtract your COGS and total operating expenses from your sales.
  • Total Expenses refer to the sum of your operating expenses and your business’ interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
  • Net profit shows whether your business has made a profit or taken a loss during a given timeframe.

4. Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement tracks the money you have in the bank at any given point. It is often confused with the income statement or the profit and loss statement. They are both different types of financial statements. The income statement calculates your profits and losses while the cash flow statement shows you how much you have in the bank.

Cash Flow Statement Example

5. Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a financial statement that provides an overview of the financial health of your business. It contains information about the assets and liabilities of your company, and owner’s or shareholders’ equity.

You can get the net worth of your company by subtracting your company’s liabilities from its assets.

Balance sheet Formula

6. Exit Strategy

The exit strategy refers to a probable plan for selling your business either to the public in an IPO or to another company. It is the last thing you include in the financial plan, metrics, and projection section.

You can choose to omit the exit strategy from your business plan if you plan to maintain full ownership of your business and do not plan on seeking angel investment or virtual capitalist (VC) funding.

Investors may want to know what your exit plan is. They invest in your business to get a good return on investment.

Your exit strategy does not have to include long and boring details. Ensure you identify some interested parties who may be interested in buying the company if it becomes a success.

Exit Strategy Section of Business Plan Infographic

Key Questions to Answer with Your Financial Plan, Metrics, and Projection

Your financial plan, metrics, and projection section helps investors, creditors, or your internal managers to understand what your expenses are, the amount of cash you need, and what it takes to make your company profitable. It also shows what you will be doing with any funding.

You do not need to show actual financial data if you do not have one. Adding forecasts and projections to your financial statements is added proof that your strategy is feasible and shows investors you have planned properly.

Here are some key questions to answer to help you develop this section.

  • What is your sales forecast for the next year?
  • When will your company achieve a positive cash flow?
  • What are the core expenses you need to operate?
  • How much money do you need upfront to operate or grow your company?
  • How will you use the loans or investments?

9. Add an Appendix to Your Business Plan

Adding an appendix to your business plan is optional. It is a useful place to put any charts, tables, legal notes, definitions, permits, résumés, and other critical information that do not fit into other sections of your business plan.

The appendix section is where you would want to include details of a patent or patent-pending if you have one. You can always add illustrations or images of your products here. It is the last section of your business plan.

When writing your business plan, there are details you cut short or remove to prevent the entire section from becoming too lengthy. There are also details you want to include in the business plan but are not a good fit for any of the previous sections. You can add that additional information to the appendix section.

Businesses also use the appendix section to include supporting documents or other materials specially requested by investors or lenders.

You can include just about any information that supports the assumptions and statements you made in the business plan under the appendix. It is the one place in the business plan where unrelated data and information can coexist amicably.

If your appendix section is lengthy, try organizing it by adding a table of contents at the beginning of the appendix section. It is also advisable to group similar information to make it easier for the reader to access them.

A well-organized appendix section makes it easier to share your information clearly and concisely. Add footnotes throughout the rest of the business plan or make references in the plan to the documents in the appendix.

The appendix section is usually only necessary if you are seeking funding from investors or lenders, or hoping to attract partners.

People reading business plans do not want to spend time going through a heap of backup information, numbers, and charts. Keep these documents or information in the Appendix section in case the reader wants to dig deeper.

Common Items to Include in the Appendix Section of Your Business Plan

The appendix section includes documents that supplement or support the information or claims given in other sections of the business plans. Common items you can include in the appendix section include:

  • Additional data about the process of manufacturing or creation
  • Additional description of products or services such as product schematics
  • Additional financial documents or projections
  • Articles of incorporation and status
  • Backup for market research or competitive analysis
  • Bank statements
  • Business registries
  • Client testimonials (if your business is already running)
  • Copies of insurances
  • Credit histories (personal or/and business)
  • Deeds and permits
  • Equipment leases
  • Examples of marketing and advertising collateral
  • Industry associations and memberships
  • Images of product
  • Intellectual property
  • Key customer contracts
  • Legal documents and other contracts
  • Letters of reference
  • Links to references
  • Market research data
  • Organizational charts
  • Photographs of potential facilities
  • Professional licenses pertaining to your legal structure or type of business
  • Purchase orders
  • Resumes of the founder(s) and key managers
  • State and federal identification numbers or codes
  • Trademarks or patents’ registrations

Avoid using the appendix section as a place to dump any document or information you feel like adding. Only add documents or information that you support or increase the credibility of your business plan.

Tips and Strategies for Writing a Convincing Business Plan

To achieve a perfect business plan, you need to consider some key tips and strategies. These tips will raise the efficiency of your business plan above average.

1. Know Your Audience

When writing a business plan, you need to know your audience . Business owners write business plans for different reasons. Your business plan has to be specific. For example, you can write business plans to potential investors, banks, and even fellow board members of the company.

The audience you are writing to determines the structure of the business plan. As a business owner, you have to know your audience. Not everyone will be your audience. Knowing your audience will help you to narrow the scope of your business plan.

Consider what your audience wants to see in your projects, the likely questions they might ask, and what interests them.

  • A business plan used to address a company's board members will center on its employment schemes, internal affairs, projects, stakeholders, etc.
  • A business plan for financial institutions will talk about the size of your market and the chances for you to pay back any loans you demand.
  • A business plan for investors will show proof that you can return the investment capital within a specific time. In addition, it discusses your financial projections, tractions, and market size.

2. Get Inspiration from People

Writing a business plan from scratch as an entrepreneur can be daunting. That is why you need the right inspiration to push you to write one. You can gain inspiration from the successful business plans of other businesses. Look at their business plans, the style they use, the structure of the project, etc.

To make your business plan easier to create, search companies related to your business to get an exact copy of what you need to create an effective business plan. You can also make references while citing examples in your business plans.

When drafting your business plan, get as much help from others as you possibly can. By getting inspiration from people, you can create something better than what they have.

3. Avoid Being Over Optimistic

Many business owners make use of strong adjectives to qualify their content. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make when preparing a business plan is promising too much.

The use of superlatives and over-optimistic claims can prepare the audience for more than you can offer. In the end, you disappoint the confidence they have in you.

In most cases, the best option is to be realistic with your claims and statistics. Most of the investors can sense a bit of incompetency from the overuse of superlatives. As a new entrepreneur, do not be tempted to over-promise to get the interests of investors.

The concept of entrepreneurship centers on risks, nothing is certain when you make future analyses. What separates the best is the ability to do careful research and work towards achieving that, not promising more than you can achieve.

To make an excellent first impression as an entrepreneur, replace superlatives with compelling data-driven content. In this way, you are more specific than someone promising a huge ROI from an investment.

4. Keep it Simple and Short

When writing business plans, ensure you keep them simple throughout. Irrespective of the purpose of the business plan, your goal is to convince the audience.

One way to achieve this goal is to make them understand your proposal. Therefore, it would be best if you avoid the use of complex grammar to express yourself. It would be a huge turn-off if the people you want to convince are not familiar with your use of words.

Another thing to note is the length of your business plan. It would be best if you made it as brief as possible.

You hardly see investors or agencies that read through an extremely long document. In that case, if your first few pages can’t convince them, then you have lost it. The more pages you write, the higher the chances of you derailing from the essential contents.

To ensure your business plan has a high conversion rate, you need to dispose of every unnecessary information. For example, if you have a strategy that you are not sure of, it would be best to leave it out of the plan.

5. Make an Outline and Follow Through

A perfect business plan must have touched every part needed to convince the audience. Business owners get easily tempted to concentrate more on their products than on other sections. Doing this can be detrimental to the efficiency of the business plan.

For example, imagine you talking about a product but omitting or providing very little information about the target audience. You will leave your clients confused.

To ensure that your business plan communicates your full business model to readers, you have to input all the necessary information in it. One of the best ways to achieve this is to design a structure and stick to it.

This structure is what guides you throughout the writing. To make your work easier, you can assign an estimated word count or page limit to every section to avoid making it too bulky for easy reading. As a guide, the necessary things your business plan must contain are:

  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Product or service description
  • Target audience
  • Market size
  • Competition analysis
  • Financial projections

Some specific businesses can include some other essential sections, but these are the key sections that must be in every business plan.

6. Ask a Professional to Proofread

When writing a business plan, you must tie all loose ends to get a perfect result. When you are done with writing, call a professional to go through the document for you. You are bound to make mistakes, and the way to correct them is to get external help.

You should get a professional in your field who can relate to every section of your business plan. It would be easier for the professional to notice the inner flaws in the document than an editor with no knowledge of your business.

In addition to getting a professional to proofread, get an editor to proofread and edit your document. The editor will help you identify grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and inappropriate writing styles.

Writing a business plan can be daunting, but you can surmount that obstacle and get the best out of it with these tips.

Business Plan Examples and Templates That’ll Save You Tons of Time

1. hubspot's one-page business plan.

HubSpot's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan template by HubSpot is the perfect guide for businesses of any size, irrespective of their business strategy. Although the template is condensed into a page, your final business plan should not be a page long! The template is designed to ask helpful questions that can help you develop your business plan.

Hubspot’s one-page business plan template is divided into nine fields:

  • Business opportunity
  • Company description
  • Industry analysis
  • Target market
  • Implementation timeline
  • Marketing plan
  • Financial summary
  • Funding required

2. Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplan’s Free Business Plan Template

Bplans' free business plan template is investor-approved. It is a rich template used by prestigious educational institutions such as Babson College and Princeton University to teach entrepreneurs how to create a business plan.

The template has six sections: the executive summary, opportunity, execution, company, financial plan, and appendix. There is a step-by-step guide for writing every little detail in the business plan. Follow the instructions each step of the way and you will create a business plan that impresses investors or lenders easily.

3. HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot's Downloadable Business Plan Template

HubSpot’s downloadable business plan template is a more comprehensive option compared to the one-page business template by HubSpot. This free and downloadable business plan template is designed for entrepreneurs.

The template is a comprehensive guide and checklist for business owners just starting their businesses. It tells you everything you need to fill in each section of the business plan and how to do it.

There are nine sections in this business plan template: an executive summary, company and business description, product and services line, market analysis, marketing plan, sales plan, legal notes, financial considerations, and appendix.

4. Business Plan by My Own Business Institute

The Business Profile

My Own Business Institute (MOBI) which is a part of Santa Clara University's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a free business plan template. You can either copy the free business template from the link provided above or download it as a Word document.

The comprehensive template consists of a whopping 15 sections.

  • The Business Profile
  • The Vision and the People
  • Home-Based Business and Freelance Business Opportunities
  • Organization
  • Licenses and Permits
  • Business Insurance
  • Communication Tools
  • Acquisitions
  • Location and Leasing
  • Accounting and Cash Flow
  • Opening and Marketing
  • Managing Employees
  • Expanding and Handling Problems

There are lots of helpful tips on how to fill each section in the free business plan template by MOBI.

5. Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score's Business Plan Template for Startups

Score is an American nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs build successful companies. This business plan template for startups by Score is available for free download. The business plan template asks a whooping 150 generic questions that help entrepreneurs from different fields to set up the perfect business plan.

The business plan template for startups contains clear instructions and worksheets, all you have to do is answer the questions and fill the worksheets.

There are nine sections in the business plan template: executive summary, company description, products and services, marketing plan, operational plan, management and organization, startup expenses and capitalization, financial plan, and appendices.

The ‘refining the plan’ resource contains instructions that help you modify your business plan to suit your specific needs, industry, and target audience. After you have completed Score’s business plan template, you can work with a SCORE mentor for expert advice in business planning.

6. Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

Minimalist Architecture Business Plan Template by Venngage

The minimalist architecture business plan template is a simple template by Venngage that you can customize to suit your business needs .

There are five sections in the template: an executive summary, statement of problem, approach and methodology, qualifications, and schedule and benchmark. The business plan template has instructions that guide users on what to fill in each section.

7. Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

Small Business Administration Free Business Plan Template

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two free business plan templates, filled with practical real-life examples that you can model to create your business plan. Both free business plan templates are written by fictional business owners: Rebecca who owns a consulting firm, and Andrew who owns a toy company.

There are five sections in the two SBA’s free business plan templates.

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Service Line
  • Marketing and Sales

8. The $100 Startup's One-Page Business Plan

The $100 Startup's One Page Business Plan

The one-page business plan by the $100 startup is a simple business plan template for entrepreneurs who do not want to create a long and complicated plan . You can include more details in the appendices for funders who want more information beyond what you can put in the one-page business plan.

There are five sections in the one-page business plan such as overview, ka-ching, hustling, success, and obstacles or challenges or open questions. You can answer all the questions using one or two sentences.

9. PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

PandaDoc’s Free Business Plan Template

The free business plan template by PandaDoc is a comprehensive 15-page document that describes the information you should include in every section.

There are 11 sections in PandaDoc’s free business plan template.

  • Executive summary
  • Business description
  • Products and services
  • Operations plan
  • Management organization
  • Financial plan
  • Conclusion / Call to action
  • Confidentiality statement

You have to sign up for its 14-day free trial to access the template. You will find different business plan templates on PandaDoc once you sign up (including templates for general businesses and specific businesses such as bakeries, startups, restaurants, salons, hotels, and coffee shops)

PandaDoc allows you to customize its business plan templates to fit the needs of your business. After editing the template, you can send it to interested parties and track opens and views through PandaDoc.

10. Invoiceberry Templates for Word, Open Office, Excel, or PPT

Invoiceberry Templates Business Concept

InvoiceBerry is a U.K based online invoicing and tracking platform that offers free business plan templates in .docx, .odt, .xlsx, and .pptx formats for freelancers and small businesses.

Before you can download the free business plan template, it will ask you to give it your email address. After you complete the little task, it will send the download link to your inbox for you to download. It also provides a business plan checklist in .xlsx file format that ensures you add the right information to the business plan.

Alternatives to the Traditional Business Plan

A business plan is very important in mapping out how one expects their business to grow over a set number of years, particularly when they need external investment in their business. However, many investors do not have the time to watch you present your business plan. It is a long and boring read.

Luckily, there are three alternatives to the traditional business plan (the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck). These alternatives are less laborious and easier and quicker to present to investors.

Business Model Canvas (BMC)

The business model canvas is a business tool used to present all the important components of setting up a business, such as customers, route to market, value proposition, and finance in a single sheet. It provides a very focused blueprint that defines your business initially which you can later expand on if needed.

Business Model Canvas (BMC) Infographic

The sheet is divided mainly into company, industry, and consumer models that are interconnected in how they find problems and proffer solutions.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas was developed by founder Alexander Osterwalder to answer important business questions. It contains nine segments.

Segments of the Business Model Canvas

  • Key Partners: Who will be occupying important executive positions in your business? What do they bring to the table? Will there be a third party involved with the company?
  • Key Activities: What important activities will production entail? What activities will be carried out to ensure the smooth running of the company?
  • The Product’s Value Propositions: What does your product do? How will it be different from other products?
  • Customer Segments: What demography of consumers are you targeting? What are the habits of these consumers? Who are the MVPs of your target consumers?
  • Customer Relationships: How will the team support and work with its customer base? How do you intend to build and maintain trust with the customer?
  • Key Resources: What type of personnel and tools will be needed? What size of the budget will they need access to?
  • Channels: How do you plan to create awareness of your products? How do you intend to transport your product to the customer?
  • Cost Structure: What is the estimated cost of production? How much will distribution cost?
  • Revenue Streams: For what value are customers willing to pay? How do they prefer to pay for the product? Are there any external revenues attached apart from the main source? How do the revenue streams contribute to the overall revenue?

Lean Canvas

The lean canvas is a problem-oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas. It was proposed by Ash Maurya, creator of Lean Stack as a development of the business model generation. It uses a more problem-focused approach and it majorly targets entrepreneurs and startup businesses.

The lean canvas is a problem oriented alternative to the standard business model canvas

Lean Canvas uses the same 9 blocks concept as the business model canvas, however, they have been modified slightly to suit the needs and purpose of a small startup. The key partners, key activities, customer relationships, and key resources are replaced by new segments which are:

  • Problem: Simple and straightforward number of problems you have identified, ideally three.
  • Solution: The solutions to each problem.
  • Unfair Advantage: Something you possess that can't be easily bought or replicated.
  • Key Metrics: Important numbers that will tell how your business is doing.

Startup Pitch Deck

While the business model canvas compresses into a factual sheet, startup pitch decks expand flamboyantly.

Pitch decks, through slides, convey your business plan, often through graphs and images used to emphasize estimations and observations in your presentation. Entrepreneurs often use pitch decks to fully convince their target audience of their plans before discussing funding arrangements.

Startup Pitch Deck Presentation

Considering the likelihood of it being used in a small time frame, a good startup pitch deck should ideally contain 20 slides or less to have enough time to answer questions from the audience.

Unlike the standard and lean business model canvases, a pitch deck doesn't have a set template on how to present your business plan but there are still important components to it. These components often mirror those of the business model canvas except that they are in slide form and contain more details.

Airbnb Pitch Deck

Using Airbnb (one of the most successful start-ups in recent history) for reference, the important components of a good slide are listed below.

  • Cover/Introduction Slide: Here, you should include your company's name and mission statement. Your mission statement should be a very catchy tagline. Also, include personal information and contact details to provide an easy link for potential investors.
  • Problem Slide: This slide requires you to create a connection with the audience or the investor that you are pitching. For example in their pitch, Airbnb summarized the most important problems it would solve in three brief points – pricing of hotels, disconnection from city culture, and connection problems for local bookings.
  • Solution Slide: This slide includes your core value proposition. List simple and direct solutions to the problems you have mentioned
  • Customer Analysis: Here you will provide information on the customers you will be offering your service to. The identity of your customers plays an important part in fundraising as well as the long-run viability of the business.
  • Market Validation: Use competitive analysis to show numbers that prove the presence of a market for your product, industry behavior in the present and the long run, as well as the percentage of the market you aim to attract. It shows that you understand your competitors and customers and convinces investors of the opportunities presented in the market.
  • Business Model: Your business model is the hook of your presentation. It may vary in complexity but it should generally include a pricing system informed by your market analysis. The goal of the slide is to confirm your business model is easy to implement.
  • Marketing Strategy: This slide should summarize a few customer acquisition methods that you plan to use to grow the business.
  • Competitive Advantage: What this slide will do is provide information on what will set you apart and make you a more attractive option to customers. It could be the possession of technology that is not widely known in the market.
  • Team Slide: Here you will give a brief description of your team. Include your key management personnel here and their specific roles in the company. Include their educational background, job history, and skillsets. Also, talk about their accomplishments in their careers so far to build investors' confidence in members of your team.
  • Traction Slide: This validates the company’s business model by showing growth through early sales and support. The slide aims to reduce any lingering fears in potential investors by showing realistic periodic milestones and profit margins. It can include current sales, growth, valuable customers, pre-orders, or data from surveys outlining current consumer interest.
  • Funding Slide: This slide is popularly referred to as ‘the ask'. Here you will include important details like how much is needed to get your business off the ground and how the funding will be spent to help the company reach its goals.
  • Appendix Slides: Your pitch deck appendix should always be included alongside a standard pitch presentation. It consists of additional slides you could not show in the pitch deck but you need to complement your presentation.

It is important to support your calculations with pictorial renditions. Infographics, such as pie charts or bar graphs, will be more effective in presenting the information than just listing numbers. For example, a six-month graph that shows rising profit margins will easily look more impressive than merely writing it.

Lastly, since a pitch deck is primarily used to secure meetings and you may be sharing your pitch with several investors, it is advisable to keep a separate public version that doesn't include financials. Only disclose the one with projections once you have secured a link with an investor.

Advantages of the Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas, and Startup Pitch Deck over the Traditional Business Plan

  • Time-Saving: Writing a detailed traditional business plan could take weeks or months. On the other hand, all three alternatives can be done in a few days or even one night of brainstorming if you have a comprehensive understanding of your business.
  • Easier to Understand: Since the information presented is almost entirely factual, it puts focus on what is most important in running the business. They cut away the excess pages of fillers in a traditional business plan and allow investors to see what is driving the business and what is getting in the way.
  • Easy to Update: Businesses typically present their business plans to many potential investors before they secure funding. What this means is that you may regularly have to amend your presentation to update statistics or adjust to audience-specific needs. For a traditional business plan, this could mean rewriting a whole section of your plan. For the three alternatives, updating is much easier because they are not voluminous.
  • Guide for a More In-depth Business Plan: All three alternatives have the added benefit of being able to double as a sketch of your business plan if the need to create one arises in the future.

Business Plan FAQ

Business plans are important for any entrepreneur who is looking for a framework to run their company over some time or seeking external support. Although they are essential for new businesses, every company should ideally have a business plan to track their growth from time to time.  They can be used by startups seeking investments or loans to convey their business ideas or an employee to convince his boss of the feasibility of starting a new project. They can also be used by companies seeking to recruit high-profile employee targets into key positions or trying to secure partnerships with other firms.

Business plans often vary depending on your target audience, the scope, and the goals for the plan. Startup plans are the most common among the different types of business plans.  A start-up plan is used by a new business to present all the necessary information to help get the business up and running. They are usually used by entrepreneurs who are seeking funding from investors or bank loans. The established company alternative to a start-up plan is a feasibility plan. A feasibility plan is often used by an established company looking for new business opportunities. They are used to show the upsides of creating a new product for a consumer base. Because the audience is usually company people, it requires less company analysis. The third type of business plan is the lean business plan. A lean business plan is a brief, straight-to-the-point breakdown of your ideas and analysis for your business. It does not contain details of your proposal and can be written on one page. Finally, you have the what-if plan. As it implies, a what-if plan is a preparation for the worst-case scenario. You must always be prepared for the possibility of your original plan being rejected. A good what-if plan will serve as a good plan B to the original.

A good business plan has 10 key components. They include an executive plan, product analysis, desired customer base, company analysis, industry analysis, marketing strategy, sales strategy, financial projection, funding, and appendix. Executive Plan Your business should begin with your executive plan. An executive plan will provide early insight into what you are planning to achieve with your business. It should include your mission statement and highlight some of the important points which you will explain later. Product Analysis The next component of your business plan is your product analysis. A key part of this section is explaining the type of item or service you are going to offer as well as the market problems your product will solve. Desired Consumer Base Your product analysis should be supplemented with a detailed breakdown of your desired consumer base. Investors are always interested in knowing the economic power of your market as well as potential MVP customers. Company Analysis The next component of your business plan is your company analysis. Here, you explain how you want to run your business. It will include your operational strategy, an insight into the workforce needed to keep the company running, and important executive positions. It will also provide a calculation of expected operational costs.  Industry Analysis A good business plan should also contain well laid out industry analysis. It is important to convince potential investors you know the companies you will be competing with, as well as your plans to gain an edge on the competition. Marketing Strategy Your business plan should also include your marketing strategy. This is how you intend to spread awareness of your product. It should include a detailed explanation of the company brand as well as your advertising methods. Sales Strategy Your sales strategy comes after the market strategy. Here you give an overview of your company's pricing strategy and how you aim to maximize profits. You can also explain how your prices will adapt to market behaviors. Financial Projection The financial projection is the next component of your business plan. It explains your company's expected running cost and revenue earned during the tenure of the business plan. Financial projection gives a clear idea of how your company will develop in the future. Funding The next component of your business plan is funding. You have to detail how much external investment you need to get your business idea off the ground here. Appendix The last component of your plan is the appendix. This is where you put licenses, graphs, or key information that does not fit in any of the other components.

The business model canvas is a business management tool used to quickly define your business idea and model. It is often used when investors need you to pitch your business idea during a brief window.

A pitch deck is similar to a business model canvas except that it makes use of slides in its presentation. A pitch is not primarily used to secure funding, rather its main purpose is to entice potential investors by selling a very optimistic outlook on the business.

Business plan competitions help you evaluate the strength of your business plan. By participating in business plan competitions, you are improving your experience. The experience provides you with a degree of validation while practicing important skills. The main motivation for entering into the competitions is often to secure funding by finishing in podium positions. There is also the chance that you may catch the eye of a casual observer outside of the competition. These competitions also provide good networking opportunities. You could meet mentors who will take a keen interest in guiding you in your business journey. You also have the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs whose ideas can complement yours.

Exlore Further

  • 12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)
  • 13 Sources of Business Finance For Companies & Sole Traders
  • 5 Common Types of Business Structures (+ Pros & Cons)
  • How to Buy a Business in 8 Steps (+ Due Diligence Checklist)

Was This Article Helpful?

Martin luenendonk.

' src=

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.

  • Start free trial

Start selling with Shopify today

Start your free trial with Shopify today—then use these resources to guide you through every step of the process.

example of financial plan for a business plan

How To Create Financial Projections for Your Business Plan

Building a financial projection as you write out your business plan can help you forecast how much money your business will bring in.

a white rectangle with yellow line criss-crossing across it: business plan financial projections

Planning for the future, whether it’s with growth in mind or just staying the course, is central to being a business owner. Part of this planning effort is making financial projections of sales, expenses, and—if all goes well—profits.

Even if your business is a startup that has yet to open its doors, you can still make projections. Here’s how to prepare your business plan financial projections, so your company will thrive.

What are business plan financial projections?

Business plan financial projections are a company’s estimates, or forecasts, of its financial performance at some point in the future. For existing businesses, draw on historical data to detail how your company expects metrics like revenue, expenses, profit, and cash flow to change over time.

Companies can create financial projections for any span of time, but typically they’re for between one and five years. Many companies revisit and amend these projections at least annually. 

Creating financial projections is an important part of building a business plan . That’s because realistic estimates help company leaders set business goals, execute financial decisions, manage cash flow , identify areas for operational improvement, seek funding from investors, and more.

What are financial projections used for? 

Financial forecasting serves as a useful tool for key stakeholders, both within and outside of the business. They often are used for:

Business planning

Accurate financial projections can help a company establish growth targets and other goals . They’re also used to determine whether ideas like a new product line are financially feasible. Future financial estimates are helpful tools for business contingency planning, which involves considering the monetary impact of adverse events and worst-case scenarios. They also provide a benchmark: If revenue is falling short of projections, for example, the company may need changes to keep business operations on track.

Projections may reveal potential problems—say, unexpected operating expenses that exceed cash inflows. A negative cash flow projection may suggest the business needs to secure funding through outside investments or bank loans, increase sales, improve margins, or cut costs.

When potential investors consider putting their money into a venture, they want a return on that investment. Business projections are a key tool they will use to make that decision. The projections can figure in establishing the valuation of your business, equity stakes, plans for an exit, and more. Investors may also use your projections to ensure that the business is meeting goals and benchmarks.

Loans or lines of credit 

Lenders rely on financial projections to determine whether to extend a business loan to your company. They’ll want to see historical financial data like cash flow statements, your balance sheet , and other financial statements—but they’ll also look very closely at your multi-year financial projections. Good candidates can receive higher loan amounts with lower interest rates or more flexible payment plans.

Lenders may also use the estimated value of company assets to determine the collateral to secure the loan. Like investors, lenders typically refer to your projections over time to monitor progress and financial health.

What information is included in financial projections for a business?

Before sitting down to create projections, you’ll need to collect some data. Owners of an existing business can leverage three financial statements they likely already have: a balance sheet, an annual income statement , and a cash flow statement .

A new business, however, won’t have this historical data. So market research is crucial: Review competitors’ pricing strategies, scour research reports and market analysis , and scrutinize any other publicly available data that can help inform your projections. Beginning with conservative estimates and simple calculations can help you get started, and you can always add to the projections over time.

One business’s financial projections may be more detailed than another’s, but the forecasts typically rely on and include the following:

True to its name, a cash flow statement shows the money coming into and going out of the business over time: cash outflows and inflows. Cash flows fall into three main categories:

Income statement

Projected income statements, also known as projected profit and loss statements (P&Ls), forecast the company’s revenue and expenses for a given period.

Generally, this is a table with several line items for each category. Sales projections can include the sales forecast for each individual product or service (many companies break this down by month). Expenses are a similar setup: List your expected costs by category, including recurring expenses such as salaries and rent, as well as variable expenses for raw materials and transportation.

This exercise will also provide you with a net income projection, which is the difference between your revenue and expenses, including any taxes or interest payments. That number is a forecast of your profit or loss, hence why this document is often called a P&L.

Balance sheet

A balance sheet shows a snapshot of your company’s financial position at a specific point in time. Three important elements are included as balance sheet items:

  • Assets. Assets are any tangible item of value that the company currently has on hand or will in the future, like cash, inventory, equipment, and accounts receivable. Intangible assets include copyrights, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property .
  • Liabilities. Liabilities are anything that the company owes, including taxes, wages, accounts payable, dividends, and unearned revenue, such as customer payments for goods you haven’t yet delivered.
  • Shareholder equity. The shareholder equity figure is derived by subtracting total liabilities from total assets. It reflects how much money, or capital, the company would have left over if the business paid all its liabilities at once or liquidated (this figure can be a negative number if liabilities exceed assets). Equity in business is the amount of capital that the owners and any other shareholders have tied up in the company.

They’re called balance sheets because assets always equal liabilities plus shareholder equity. 

5 steps for creating financial projections for your business

  • Identify the purpose and timeframe for your projections
  • Collect relevant historical financial data and market analysis
  • Forecast expenses
  • Forecast sales
  • Build financial projections

The following five steps can help you break down the process of developing financial projections for your company:

1. Identify the purpose and timeframe for your projections

The details of your projections may vary depending on their purpose. Are they for internal planning, pitching investors, or monitoring performance over time? Setting the time frame—monthly, quarterly, annually, or multi-year—will also inform the rest of the steps.

2. Collect relevant historical financial data and market analysis

If available, gather historical financial statements, including balance sheets, cash flow statements, and annual income statements. New companies without this historical data may have to rely on market research, analyst reports, and industry benchmarks—all things that established companies also should use to support their assumptions.

3. Forecast expenses

Identify future spending based on direct costs of producing your goods and services ( cost of goods sold, or COGS) as well as operating expenses, including any recurring and one-time costs. Factor in expected changes in expenses, because this can evolve based on business growth, time in the market, and the launch of new products.

4. Forecast sales

Project sales for each revenue stream, broken down by month. These projections may be based on historical data or market research, and they should account for anticipated or likely changes in market demand and pricing.

5. Build financial projections

Now that you have projected expenses and revenue, you can plug that information into Shopify’s cash flow calculator and cash flow statement template . This information can also be used to forecast your income statement. In turn, these steps inform your calculations on the balance sheet, on which you’ll also account for any assets and liabilities .

Business plan financial projections FAQ

What are the main components of a financial projection in a business plan.

Generally speaking, most financial forecasts include projections for income, balance sheet, and cash flow.

What’s the difference between financial projection and financial forecast?

These two terms are often used interchangeably. Depending on the context, a financial forecast may refer to a more formal and detailed document—one that might include analysis and context for several financial metrics in a more complex financial model.

Do I need accounting or planning software for financial projections?

Not necessarily. Depending on factors like the age and size of your business, you may be able to prepare financial projections using a simple spreadsheet program. Large complicated businesses, however, usually use accounting software and other types of advanced data-management systems.

What are some limitations of financial projections?

Projections are by nature based on human assumptions and, of course, humans can’t truly predict the future—even with the aid of computers and software programs. Financial projections are, at best, estimates based on the information available at the time—not ironclad guarantees of future performance.

Keep up with the latest from Shopify

Get free ecommerce tips, inspiration, and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

By entering your email, you agree to receive marketing emails from Shopify.

popular posts

The most intuitive, powerful

Shopify yet

Shopify Editions Summer ’24

Graphic of a mobile phone with heart shapes bubbles floating around it

Subscribe to our blog and get free ecommerce tips, inspiration, and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

Unsubscribe anytime. By entering your email, you agree to receive marketing emails from Shopify.

Latest from Shopify

Jul 10, 2024

Jul 9, 2024

Jul 8, 2024

Jul 6, 2024

Jul 5, 2024

Learn on the go. Try Shopify for free, and explore all the tools you need to start, run, and grow your business.

Try Shopify for free, no credit card required.

example of financial plan for a business plan

Business Financial Plan Example: Strategies and Best Practices

Any successful endeavor begins with a robust plan – and running a prosperous business is no exception. Careful strategic planning acts as the bedrock on which companies build their future. One of the most critical aspects of this strategic planning is the creation of a detailed business financial plan. This plan serves as a guide, helping businesses navigate their way through the complex world of finance, including revenue projection, cost estimation, and capital expenditure, to name just a few elements. However, understanding what a business financial plan entails and how to implement it effectively can often be challenging. With multiple components to consider and various economic factors at play, the financial planning process may appear daunting to both new and established business owners.

This is where we come in. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the specifics of a business financial plan. We discuss its importance, the essential elements that make it up, and the steps to craft one successfully. Furthermore, we provide a practical example of a business financial plan in action, drawing upon real-world-like scenarios and strategies. By presenting the best practices and demonstrating how to employ them, we aim to equip business owners and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to create a robust, realistic, and efficient business financial plan. This in-depth guide will help you understand not only how to plan your business finances but also how to use this plan as a roadmap, leading your business towards growth, profitability, and overall financial success. Whether you're a seasoned business owner aiming to refine your financial strategies or an aspiring entrepreneur at the beginning of your journey, this article is designed to guide you through the intricacies of business financial planning and shed light on the strategies that can help your business thrive.

Understanding a Business Financial Plan

At its core, a business financial plan is a strategic blueprint that sets forth how a company will manage and navigate its financial operations, guiding the organization towards its defined fiscal objectives. It encompasses several critical aspects of a business's financial management, such as revenue projection, cost estimation, capital expenditure, cash flow management, and investment strategies.

Revenue projection is an estimate of the revenue a business expects to generate within a specific period. It's often based on market research, historical data, and educated assumptions about future market trends. Cost estimation, on the other hand, involves outlining the expenses a business anticipates incurring in its operations. Together, revenue projection and cost estimation can give a clear picture of a company's expected profitability. Capital expenditure refers to the funds a company allocates towards the purchase or maintenance of long-term assets like machinery, buildings, and equipment. Understanding capital expenditure is vital as it can significantly impact a business's operational capacity and future profitability. The cash flow management aspect of a business financial plan involves monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing the company's cash inflows and outflows. A healthy cash flow ensures that a business can meet its short-term obligations, invest in its growth, and provide a buffer for future uncertainties. Lastly, a company's investment strategies are crucial for its growth and sustainability. They might include strategies for raising capital, such as issuing shares or securing loans, or strategies for investing surplus cash, like purchasing assets or investing in market securities.

A well-developed business financial plan, therefore, doesn't just portray the company's current financial status; it also serves as a roadmap for the business's fiscal operations, enabling it to navigate towards its financial goals. The plan acts as a guide, providing insights that help business owners make informed decisions, whether they're about day-to-day operations or long-term strategic choices. In a nutshell, a business financial plan is a key tool in managing a company's financial resources effectively and strategically. It allows businesses to plan for growth, prepare for uncertainties, and strive for financial sustainability and success.

Essential Elements of a Business Financial Plan

A comprehensive financial plan contains several crucial elements, including:

  • Sales Forecast : The sales forecast represents the business's projected sales revenues. It is often broken down into segments such as products, services, or regions.
  • Expenses Budget : This portion of the plan outlines the anticipated costs of running the business. It includes fixed costs (rent, salaries) and variable costs (marketing, production).
  • Cash Flow Statement : This statement records the cash that comes in and goes out of a business, effectively portraying its liquidity.
  • Income Statements : Also known as profit and loss statements, income statements provide an overview of the business's profitability over a given period.
  • Balance Sheet : This snapshot of a company's financial health shows its assets, liabilities, and equity.

Crafting a Business Financial Plan: The Steps

Developing a business financial plan requires careful analysis and planning. Here are the steps involved:

Step 1: Set Clear Financial Goals

The initial stage in crafting a robust business financial plan involves the establishment of clear, measurable financial goals. These objectives serve as your business's financial targets and compass, guiding your company's financial strategy. These goals can be short-term, such as improving quarterly sales or reducing monthly overhead costs, or they can be long-term, such as expanding the business to a new location within five years or doubling the annual revenue within three years. The goals might include specific targets such as increasing revenue by a particular percentage, reducing costs by a specific amount, or achieving a certain profit margin. Setting clear goals provides a target to aim for and allows you to measure your progress over time.

Step 2: Create a Sales Forecast

The cornerstone of any business financial plan is a robust sales forecast. This element of the plan involves predicting the sales your business will make over a given period. This estimate should be based on comprehensive market research, historical sales data, an understanding of industry trends, and the impact of any marketing or promotional activities. Consider the business's growth rate, the overall market size, and seasonal fluctuations in demand. Remember, your sales forecast directly influences the rest of your financial plan, particularly your budgets for expenses and cash flow, so it's critical to make it as accurate and realistic as possible.

Step 3: Prepare an Expense Budget

The next step involves preparing a comprehensive expense budget that covers all the costs your business is likely to incur. This includes fixed costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, salaries, insurance, and other overheads that remain relatively constant regardless of your business's level of output. It also includes variable costs, such as raw materials, inventory, marketing and advertising expenses, and other costs that fluctuate in direct proportion to the level of goods or services you produce. By understanding your expense budget, you can determine how much revenue your business needs to generate to cover costs and become profitable.

Step 4: Develop a Cash Flow Statement

One of the most crucial elements of your financial plan is the cash flow statement. This document records all the cash that enters and leaves your business, presenting a clear picture of your company's liquidity. Regularly updating your cash flow statement allows you to monitor the cash in hand and foresee any potential shortfalls. It helps you understand when cash comes into your business from sales and when cash goes out of your business due to expenses, giving you insights into your financial peaks and troughs and enabling you to manage your cash resources more effectively.

Step 5: Prepare Income Statements and Balance Sheets

Another vital part of your business financial plan includes the preparation of income statements and balance sheets. An income statement, also known as a Profit & Loss (P&L) statement, provides an overview of your business's profitability over a certain period. It subtracts the total expenses from total revenue to calculate net income, providing valuable insights into the profitability of your operations.

On the other hand, the balance sheet provides a snapshot of your company's financial health at a specific point in time. It lists your company's assets (what the company owns), liabilities (what the company owes), and equity (the owner's or shareholders' investment in the business). These documents help you understand where your business stands financially, whether it's making a profit, and how your assets, liabilities, and equity balance out.

Step 6: Revise Your Plan Regularly

It's important to remember that a financial plan is not a static document, but rather a living, evolving roadmap that should adapt to your business's changing circumstances and market conditions. As such, regular reviews and updates are crucial. By continually revisiting and revising your plan, you can ensure it remains accurate, relevant, and effective. You can adjust your forecasts as needed, respond to changes in the business environment, and stay on track towards achieving your financial goals. By doing so, you're not only keeping your business financially healthy but also setting the stage for sustained growth and success.

Business Financial Plan Example: Joe’s Coffee Shop

Now, let's look at a practical example of a financial plan for a hypothetical business, Joe’s Coffee Shop.

Sales Forecast

When constructing his sales forecast, Joe takes into account several significant factors. He reviews his historical sales data, identifies and understands current market trends, and evaluates the impact of any upcoming promotional events. With his coffee shop located in a bustling area, Joe expects to sell approximately 200 cups of coffee daily. Each cup is priced at $5, which gives him a daily sales prediction of $1000. Multiplying this figure by 365 (days in a year), his forecast for Year 1 is an annual revenue of $365,000. This projection provides Joe with a financial target to aim for and serves as a foundation for his further financial planning. It is worth noting that Joe's sales forecast may need adjustments throughout the year based on actual performance and changes in the market or business environment.

Expenses Budget

To run his coffee shop smoothly, Joe has identified several fixed and variable costs he'll need to budget for. His fixed costs, which are costs that will not change regardless of his coffee shop's sales volume, include rent, which is $2000 per month, salaries for his employees, which total $8000 per month, and utilities like electricity and water, which add up to about $500 per month.

In addition to these fixed costs, Joe also has variable costs to consider. These are costs that fluctuate depending on his sales volume and include the price of coffee beans, milk, sugar, and pastries, which he sells alongside his coffee. After a careful review of all these expenses, Joe estimates that his total annual expenses will be around $145,000. This comprehensive expense budget provides a clearer picture of how much Joe needs to earn in sales to cover his costs and achieve profitability.

Cash Flow Statement

With a clear understanding of his expected sales revenue and expenses, Joe can now proceed to develop a cash flow statement. This statement provides a comprehensive overview of all the cash inflows and outflows within his business. When Joe opened his coffee shop, he invested an initial capital of $50,000. He expects that the monthly cash inflows from sales will be about $30,417 (which is his annual revenue of $365,000 divided by 12), and his monthly cash outflows for expenses will amount to approximately $12,083 (his total annual expenses of $145,000 divided by 12). The cash flow statement gives Joe insights into his business's liquidity. It helps him track when and where his cash is coming from and where it is going. This understanding can assist him in managing his cash resources effectively and ensure he has sufficient cash to meet his business's operational needs and financial obligations.

Income Statement and Balance Sheet

With the figures from his sales forecast, expense budget, and cash flow statement, Joe can prepare his income statement and balance sheet. The income statement, or Profit & Loss (P&L) statement, reveals the profitability of Joe's coffee shop. It calculates the net profit by subtracting the total expenses from total sales revenue. In Joe's case, this means his net profit for Year 1 is expected to be $220,000 ($365,000 in revenue minus $145,000 in expenses).

The balance sheet, on the other hand, provides a snapshot of the coffee shop's financial position at a specific point in time. It includes Joe's initial capital investment of $50,000, his assets like coffee machines, furniture, and inventory, and his liabilities, which might include any loans he took to start the business and accounts payable.

The income statement and balance sheet not only reflect the financial health of Joe's coffee shop but also serve as essential tools for making informed business decisions and strategies. By continually monitoring and updating these statements, Joe can keep his finger on the pulse of his business's financial performance and make necessary adjustments to ensure sustained profitability and growth.

Best Practices in Business Financial Planning

While crafting a business financial plan, consider the following best practices:

  • Realistic Projections : Ensure your forecasts are realistic, based on solid data and reasonable assumptions.
  • Scenario Planning : Plan for best-case, worst-case, and most likely scenarios. This will help you prepare for different eventualities.
  • Regular Reviews : Regularly review and update your plan to reflect changes in business conditions.
  • Seek Professional Help : If you are unfamiliar with financial planning, consider seeking assistance from a financial consultant.

The importance of a meticulously prepared business financial plan cannot be overstated. It forms the backbone of any successful business, steering it towards a secure financial future. Creating a solid financial plan requires a blend of careful analysis, precise forecasting, clear and measurable goal setting, prudent budgeting, and efficient cash flow management. The process may seem overwhelming at first, especially for budding entrepreneurs. However, it's crucial to understand that financial planning is not an event, but rather an ongoing process. This process involves constant monitoring, evaluation, and continuous updating of the financial plan as the business grows and market conditions change.

The strategies and best practices outlined in this article offer an invaluable framework for any entrepreneur or business owner embarking on the journey of creating a financial plan. It provides insights into essential elements such as setting clear financial goals, creating a sales forecast, preparing an expense budget, developing a cash flow statement, and preparing income statements and balance sheets. Moreover, the example of Joe and his coffee shop gives a practical, real-world illustration of how these elements come together to form a coherent and effective financial plan. This example demonstrates how a robust financial plan can help manage resources more efficiently, make better-informed decisions, and ultimately lead to financial success.

Remember, every grand journey begins with a single step. In the realm of business, this step is creating a well-crafted, comprehensive, and realistic business financial plan. By following the guidelines and practices suggested in this article, you are laying the foundation for financial stability, profitability, and long-term success for your business. Start your journey today, and let the road to financial success unfold.

Related blogs

example of financial plan for a business plan

Stay up to date on the latest investment opportunities

example of financial plan for a business plan

  • Starting a Business

Our Top Picks

  • Best Small Business Loans
  • Best Business Internet Service
  • Best Online Payroll Service
  • Best Business Phone Systems

Our In-Depth Reviews

  • OnPay Payroll Review
  • ADP Payroll Review
  • Ooma Office Review
  • RingCentral Review

Explore More

  • Business Solutions
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Franchising
  • Best Accounting Software
  • Best Merchant Services Providers
  • Best Credit Card Processors
  • Best Mobile Credit Card Processors
  • Clover Review
  • Merchant One Review
  • QuickBooks Online Review
  • Xero Accounting Review
  • Financial Solutions

Human Resources

  • Best Human Resources Outsourcing Services
  • Best Time and Attendance Software
  • Best PEO Services
  • Best Business Employee Retirement Plans
  • Bambee Review
  • Rippling HR Software Review
  • TriNet Review
  • Gusto Payroll Review
  • HR Solutions

Marketing and Sales

  • Best Text Message Marketing Services
  • Best CRM Software
  • Best Email Marketing Services
  • Best Website Builders
  • Textedly Review
  • Salesforce Review
  • EZ Texting Review
  • Textline Review
  • Business Intelligence
  • Marketing Solutions
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media
  • Best GPS Fleet Management Software
  • Best POS Systems
  • Best Employee Monitoring Software
  • Best Document Management Software
  • Verizon Connect Fleet GPS Review
  • Zoom Review
  • Samsara Review
  • Zoho CRM Review
  • Technology Solutions

Business Basics

  • 4 Simple Steps to Valuing Your Small Business
  • How to Write a Business Growth Plan
  • 12 Business Skills You Need to Master
  • How to Start a One-Person Business
  • FreshBooks vs. QuickBooks Comparison
  • Salesforce CRM vs. Zoho CRM
  • RingCentral vs. Zoom Comparison
  • 10 Ways to Generate More Sales Leads

Business.com aims to help business owners make informed decisions to support and grow their companies. We research and recommend products and services suitable for various business types, investing thousands of hours each year in this process.

As a business, we need to generate revenue to sustain our content. We have financial relationships with some companies we cover, earning commissions when readers purchase from our partners or share information about their needs. These relationships do not dictate our advice and recommendations. Our editorial team independently evaluates and recommends products and services based on their research and expertise. Learn more about our process and partners here .

6 Elements of a Successful Financial Plan for a Small Business

Improve your chances of growth by covering these bases in your plan.

author image

Table of Contents

Many small businesses lack a full financial plan, even though evidence shows that it is essential to the long-term success and growth of any business. 

For example, a study in the New England Journal of Entrepreneurship found that entrepreneurs with a business plan are more successful than those without one. If you’re not sure how to get started, read on to learn the six key elements of a successful small business financial plan.

What is a business financial plan, and why is it important? 

A business financial plan is an overview of a business’s financial situation and a forward-looking projection for growth. A business financial plan typically has six parts: sales forecasting, expense outlay, a statement of financial position, a cash flow projection, a break-even analysis and an operations plan.

A good financial plan helps you manage cash flow and accounts for months when revenue might be lower than expected. It also helps you budget for daily and monthly expenses and plan for taxes each year.

Importantly, a financial plan helps you focus on the long-term growth of your business. That way, you don’t get so caught up in the day-to-day activities that you lose sight of your goals. Focusing on the long-term vision helps you prioritize your financial resources. 

The 6 components of a successful financial plan for business

1. sales forecasting.

You should have an estimate of your sales revenue for every month, quarter and year. Identifying any patterns in your sales cycles helps you better understand your business, and this knowledge is invaluable as you plan marketing initiatives and growth strategies . 

For instance, a seasonal business can aim to improve sales in the off-season to eventually become a year-round venture. Another business might become better prepared by understanding how upticks and downturns in business relate to factors such as the weather or the economy.

Sales forecasting is also the foundation for setting company growth goals. For instance, you could aim to improve your sales by 10 percent over each previous period.

2. Expense outlay

A full expense plan includes regular expenses, expected future expenses and associated expenses. Regular expenses are the current ongoing costs of your business, including operational costs such as rent, utilities and payroll. 

Regular expenses relate to standard business activities that occur each year, such as conference attendance, advertising and marketing, and the office holiday party. It’s a good idea to distinguish essential expenses from expenses that can be reduced or eliminated if needed.

Expected future expenses are known future costs, such as tax rate increases, minimum wage increases or maintenance needs. Generally, a part of the budget should also be allocated to unexpected future expenses, such as damage to your business caused by fire, flood or other unexpected disasters. Planning for future expenses ensures your business is financially prepared via budget reduction, increases in sales or financial assistance.

Associated expenses are the estimated costs of various initiatives, such as acquiring and training new hires, opening a new store or expanding delivery to a new territory. An accurate estimate of associated expenses helps you properly manage growth and prevents your business from exceeding your cost capabilities. 

As with expected future expenses, understanding how much capital is required to accomplish various growth goals helps you make the right decision about financing options.

3. Statement of financial position (assets and liabilities)

Assets and liabilities are the foundation of your business’s balance sheet and the primary determinants of your business’s net worth. Tracking both allows you to maximize your business’s potential value. 

Small businesses frequently undervalue their assets (such as machinery, property or inventory) and fail to properly account for outstanding bills. Your balance sheet offers a more complete view of your business’s health than a profit-and-loss statement or a cash flow report. 

A profit-and-loss statement shows how the business performed over a specific time period, while a balance sheet shows the financial position of the business on any given day.

4. Cash flow projection

You should be able to predict your cash flow on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Projecting cash flow for the full year allows you to get ahead of any financial struggles or challenges. 

It can also help you identify a cash flow problem before it hurts your business. You can set the most appropriate payment terms, such as how much you charge upfront or how many days after invoicing you expect payment .

A cash flow projection gives you a clear look at how much money is expected to be left at the end of each month so you can plan a possible expansion or other investments. It also helps you budget, such as by spending less one month for the anticipated cash needs of another month.

5. Break-even analysis

A break-even analysis evaluates fixed costs relative to the profit earned by each additional unit you produce and sell. This analysis is essential to understanding your business’s revenue and potential costs versus profits of expansion or growth of your output. 

Having your expenses fully fleshed out, as described above, makes your break-even analysis more accurate and useful. A break-even analysis is also the best way to determine your pricing.

In addition, a break-even analysis can tell you how many units you need to sell at various prices to cover your costs. You should aim to set a price that gives you a comfortable margin over your expenses while allowing your business to remain competitive.

6. Operations plan

To run your business as efficiently as possible, craft a detailed overview of your operational needs. Understanding what roles are required for you to operate your business at various volumes of output, how much output or work each employee can handle, and the costs of each stage of your supply chain will aid you in making informed decisions for your business’s growth and efficiency.

It’s important to tightly control expenses, such as payroll or supply chain costs, relative to growth. An operations plan can also make it easier to determine if there is room to optimize your operations or supply chain via automation, new technology or superior supply chain vendors.

For this reason, it is imperative for a business owner to conduct due diligence and become knowledgeable about merchant services before acquiring an account. Once the owner signs a contract, it cannot be changed, unless the business owner breaks the contract and acquires a new account with a new merchant services provider. 

Tips on writing a business financial plan

Business owners should create a financial plan annually to ensure they have a clear and accurate picture of their business’s finances and a realistic view for future growth or expansion. A financial plan helps the business’s leaders make informed decisions about purchases, debt, hiring, expense control and overall operations for the year ahead. 

A business financial plan is essential if a business owner is looking to sell their business, attract investors or enter a partnership with another business. Here are some tips for writing a business financial plan.

Review the previous year’s plan.

It’s a good idea to compare the previous year’s plan against actual performance and finances to see how accurate the previous plan and forecast were. That way, you can address any discrepancies or overlooked elements in next year’s plan.

Collaborate with other departments.

A business owner or other individual charged with creating the business financial plan should collaborate with the finance department, human resources department, sales team , operations leader, and those in charge of machinery, vehicles or other significant business tools. 

Each division should provide the necessary data about projections, value and expenses. All of these elements come together to create a comprehensive financial picture of the business.

Use available resources.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE, the SBA’s nonprofit partner, are two excellent resources for learning about financial plans. Both can teach you the elements of a comprehensive plan and how best to work with the different departments in your business to collect the necessary information. Many websites, including business.com , and service providers, such as Intuit, offer advice on this matter. 

If you have questions or encounter challenges while creating your business financial plan, seek advice from your accountant or other small business owners in your network. Your city or state has a small business office that you can contact for help.

Business financial plan templates

Many business organizations offer free information that small business owners can use to create their financial plan. For example, the SBA’s Learning Platform offers a course on how to create a business plan. It also offers worksheets and templates to help you get started. You can seek additional help and more personalized service from your local office.

SCORE is the largest volunteer network of business mentors. It began as a group of retired executives (SCORE stands for “Service Corps of Retired Executives”) but has expanded to include business owners and executives from many industries. Advice is free and available online, and there are SBA district offices in every U.S. state. In addition to participating in group or at-home learning, you can be paired with a mentor for individualized help. 

SCORE offers templates and tips for creating a small business financial plan. SCORE is an excellent resource because it addresses different levels of experience and offers individualized help.

Other templates can be found in Microsoft Office’s template library, QuickBooks’ online resources, Shopify’s blog and other places. You can also ask your accountant for guidance, since many accountants provide financial planning services in addition to their usual tax services.

Diana Wertz contributed to the writing and research in this article.

thumbnail

Get Weekly 5-Minute Business Advice

B. newsletter is your digest of bite-sized news, thought & brand leadership, and entertainment. All in one email.

Our mission is to help you take your team, your business and your career to the next level. Whether you're here for product recommendations, research or career advice, we're happy you're here!

Financial Plan Sample For Small Business: Everything You Need to Know

A financial plan sample for small business is good to use when establishing your own financial plan for your new business. 3 min read updated on February 01, 2023

A financial plan sample for small business is good to use when establishing your own financial plan for your new business. The business plan is important and highly beneficial, as it can help you identify your short-term and long-term goals, along with what you are hoping to achieve as a small business owner during the lifetime of the business.

Such business plans will include the type of products you are offering, any services being offered, where you plan on operating, how you plan to have such products made, and more. Included in the financial plan will be a marketing strategy and how you expect to find new clients. It will also include how you plan on raising capital, whether you want to try to find outside investors or obtain lending from financial institutions. Even if you don’t need financial assistance in order to get your company up and running, it is still a good idea to draft a financial plan so you can get a better idea of how you expect to expand your business over the next few years.

Components of the Plan

The components of any business plan must be clear and concise. Most financial plans include 3 specific financial statements as follows:

  • Income statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet

You should utilize all three statements to come up with an analysis as to how your business is currently doing, what you expect to achieve in the coming year, and other long-term goals and visions for your company. Most business owners draft a 3-year and 5-year projection to ensure that proper projections are made to not only keep your company financially afloat, but also to expand and grow both financially and in size if so desired.

For example, in addition to increasing your profits, you might want to hire 10 new employees for your small business. If this is the case, then you will need to incorporate the additional costs and expenses associated with bringing on new employees. This doesn’t just include hourly or yearly salaries, but also workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, withholding taxes, and more.

Cash on Hand vs. Loans

When you look at your cash flow, you want to find out exactly how much cash you have on hand. In order to do this, you should conduct a current asset ratio as well as a quick asset ratio. The current asset ratio can be calculated by simply dividing your liabilities by your assets. This will give you a better idea of your overall financial performance. Such assets will include both short-term and long-term assets. Those short-term assets include accounts receivable that you expect to receive within the next year. Long-term assets, however, are those accounts receivable that you don’t expect to receive until some point in the future, but not within the next year. An example of a long-term asset could be an ongoing construction contract in which the contract calls for full payment upon completion, which isn’t expected to be complete for another two years.

While the current asset ratio is helpful, it might be even more helpful to conduct a calculation on the quick asset ratio. This is calculated by taking your equity and short-term assets divided by your liabilities. It properly identifies the amount of cash you have on hand. Most financial institutions look at such immediate cash numbers in determining whether or not your business is justified in receiving the loan.

With that said, banks generally offer various types of loans. Therefore, if you need financial assistance getting your company off the ground, you will want to think about what you actually need financial assistance for. Do you need a loan for creating a new business area? Or are you a brand new business owner wanting to formally establish your small business? Some startup expenses might include the following:

  • Registration fees
  • Business licensing/permits
  • Initial Lease payment on a rental property
  • Down payments on property being purchased
  • Equipment purchasing
  • Utility fees

However, you might also need financial assistance with some ongoing operating expenses, such as:

  • Salary payments to your employees
  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Storage fees

If you need help learning more about a financial plan for your small business, you can post your legal need  on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

Hire the top business lawyers and save up to 60% on legal fees

Content Approved by UpCounsel

  • Details of a Business Plan
  • Business Plan for Existing Company
  • Sample of a Good Business Plan
  • LLC Business Plan Template
  • Nature of a Business Plan
  • Business Plan Balance Sheet
  • Service Business Plan
  • Financial Overview Business Plan
  • Purpose of Business Plan Sample: Everything You Need To Know
  • Business Plan Contents Page

How to create a financial plan for a new business

Table of Contents

Creating a financial plan for a new business: the essential steps

Form a strategy, financial objectives, pricing and sales strategy, starting budget, create realistic projections, income projections, cash flow projections, sales forecast, outline your funding needs , plan for the unexpected, check in with your plan, financial planning for new business success , track your financial plan with a clever app.

When you start a new business, your success depends on how you handle your money. With a clear and realistic financial plan, you can prepare for the long run with strong spending decisions and earning predictions.

Your financial plan helps you develop your business’s money goals and expectations . It’s crucial in making your money work for you. 

But if you’ve never written a financial plan before, you might wonder where to start. We can help with that.   

This guide covers how to create a financial plan for a new business, including:

  • Forming a strategy 
  • Creating projections 
  • Outlining funding needs
  • Planning for the unexpected 
  • Checking in with your plan

See also : Why you need financial planning in business .

With a well-developed financial plan, you can approach your business with intention. Let’s go over what you should include and how to do so. 

Your financial strategy is the overarching force that drives your plan. It answers key questions about the why and how of your business.

Start your financial strategy by listing the main objectives for your new business finances . You might come up with short, medium, and long term objectives to guide you in the right direction. 

First, ask yourself which general goals you want to focus on, such as becoming profitable. Then, turn this goal into a specific and achievable objective. For example, you might plan to earn X sales in X months to reach profitability . 

As you write the strategy, try coming up with five to ten main objectives that are realistic for your new business. 

Your pricing strategy can impact how many sales you earn for your business. So, how might you price your products to achieve your financial objectives?

For example, you could use a:

  • Penetration pricing strategy – offering lower prices than average at the start to draw in customers 
  • Competitive pricing strategy – listing your products above, below, or level to average pricing to give them a competitive edge
  • Premium pricing strategy – setting your prices higher than normal to suggest value or exclusivity 

On top of this, consider your sales strategy or what methods you’ll use to draw in customers and earn revenue. For example, you might use a reward system to encourage return customers . 

Your starting budget is another essential part of your financial strategy. 

It outlines how much you hope to spend and earn from your business initially . To form a realistic budget, consider your business expenses and how you’ll cover them to remain operational.  

To learn more, check out our article on budgeting for starting a business . 

Projecting the outcomes of your business efforts help you plan more realistically . Plus, they can convince potential investors your business is viable, and you’re worth giving money to. 

As you start your business, you’ll want to know how much you might earn in the first month, quarter, and year . This knowledge lets you predict how much money you could take home at the end of the day. 

To learn more about this, check out our article on how to create a financial forecast for a new business . 

Your cash flow forecast can help you predict the cash entering and exiting your business over a given time . This estimate is essential to determining how you’ll cover regular expenses. 

You might also strategise how to bring in the necessary cash regularly, such as following up on late invoices or promoting cash revenue. 

A sales forecast uses market size and demand to estimate how many customers you could draw in at the start . 

Creating one for your business helps predict profitability, sales trends, and create realistic expectations.  

To learn more, read our article on how to write a sales forecast .

You’ll likely need cash to get your business going. In this section, cover how much you’ll need to start, including startup costs, operational expenses, and a cushion before profit . 

You may try self-funding your business to avoid debts or liabilities . If so, outline a savings or funding plan. For example, you might crowdfund your startup idea. 

If you need external funding, there’s a few routes you can take. You might choose to seek: 

  • A business loan – The UK government offers startup loans for businesses. You could also seek a small business loan from a bank like Barclays .
  • An investor – If you create a convincing proposal, people may invest in your company in exchange for a piece of the business. 
  • Grants – Some government grants are available for startups , which could help you avoid taking on debt.
  • Family and friends – You might want to approach people you know well with your business idea as they could invest or offer you a personal loan.

A financial plan for a new business helps you prepare for the future. Still, there are bound to be unpredictable situations. So, in this section, consider potential risks to your finances. 

Preparing for the unexpected will help you avoid irreversible consequences that can harm your business . 

For example, you might want to develop an emergency fund and business continuity plan , so you’re ready to react to potential disruptions.  

Once you complete your financial plan, be sure to monitor its success. This way, you’ll catch yourself if you start to veer off the path. Then, it’ll be easier to correct yourself or create more realistic expectations before it’s too late . 

The plan acts as a guide to your finances, so regularly referring to it and updating it will help you keep your finances in order . 

Writing a financial plan for your new business lets you get on top of your finances early on. As a result, it’ll be far easier to build a profitable business that’s prepared to grow . 

In fact, planning is essential for every part of your operations. So, next, you might want to check out our article on how to write a business plan . 

As you put your financial plan together, you’ll need tools that help you track your progress, like Countingup.

Countingup is the business account and accounting software in one app . It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today. 

Apply now .

Countingup

  • Counting Up on Facebook
  • Counting Up on Twitter
  • Counting Up on LinkedIn

Related Resources

What is the difference between gross and net profit.

Profit is categorised in two ways: gross and net. Each is important in

How to set prices for your small business

Your prices decide whether customers will buy your products or those of your

What are key performance indicators?

To gauge the success of your small business, you need to dive deeper

What insurance does a self-employed hairdresser need?

As a self-employed hairdresser, you’re open to risks in your everyday work. Whether

What are assets and liabilities in a business?

Anyone going into business needs to be familiar with assets and liabilities. They

Personal car for business use: How does it work?

Access to a car is a must for most businesses, meaning that travel

Advantages and disadvantages of using personal savings in business

Have you got a new business idea? And are you considering using your

How to pay Corporation Tax

Corporation Tax is the main tax your limited company has to pay every

3 types of financial reporting every small business needs

As a business owner with little time, you’ll want to know what financial

How to tell if a company is doing well financially

When you run a small business, it’s important to be aware of your

Operating profit vs EBIT: What’s the difference?

It’s important to be aware of the money you earn for your business.

How to calculate maximum profit in accounting

Do you ever wonder how much you actually earn from your small business,

Comscore

  • Newsletters
  • Best Industries
  • Business Plans
  • Home-Based Business
  • The UPS Store
  • Customer Service
  • Black in Business
  • Your Next Move
  • Female Founders
  • Best Workplaces
  • Company Culture
  • Public Speaking
  • HR/Benefits
  • Productivity
  • All the Hats
  • Digital Transformation
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Bringing Innovation to Market
  • Cloud Computing
  • Social Media
  • Data Detectives
  • Exit Interview
  • Bootstrapping
  • Crowdfunding
  • Venture Capital
  • Business Models
  • Personal Finance
  • Founder-Friendly Investors
  • Upcoming Events
  • Inc. 5000 Vision Conference
  • Become a Sponsor
  • Cox Business
  • Verizon Business
  • Branded Content
  • Apply Inc. 5000 US

Inc. Premium

Subscribe to Inc. Magazine

  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Financial Analysis

The last article in a comprehensive series to help you craft the perfect business plan for your startup.

How to Write a Great Business Plan: Financial Analysis

This article is part of a series on  how to write a great business plan .

Numbers tell the story. Bottom line results indicate the success or failure of any business.

Financial projections and estimates help entrepreneurs, lenders, and investors or lenders objectively evaluate a company's potential for success. If a business seeks outside funding, providing comprehensive financial reports and analysis is critical.

But most importantly, financial projections tell you whether your business has a chance of being viable--and if not let you know you have more work to do.

Most business plans include at least five basic reports or projections:

  • Balance Sheet: Describes the company cash position including assets, liabilities, shareholders, and earnings retained to fund future operations or to serve as funding for expansion and growth. It indicates the financial health of a business.
  • Income Statement: Also called a Profit and Loss statement, this report lists projected revenue and expenses. It shows whether a company will be profitable during a given time period.
  • Cash Flow Statement: A projection of cash receipts and expense payments. It shows how and when cash will flow through the business; without cash, payments (including salaries) cannot be made.
  • Operating Budget: A detailed breakdown of income and expenses; provides a guide for how the company will operate from a "dollars" point of view.
  • Break-Even Analysis: A projection of the revenue required to cover all fixed and variable expenses. Shows when, under specific conditions, a business can expect to become profitable.

It's easy to find examples of all of the above. Even the most basic accounting software packages include templates and samples. You can also find templates in Excel and Google Docs. (A quick search like "google docs profit and loss statement" yields plenty of examples.)

Or you can work with an accountant to create the necessary financial projections and documents. Certainly feel free to do so... but I'd first recommend playing around with the reports yourself. While you don't need to be an accountant to run a business, you do need to understand your numbers... and the best way to understand your numbers is usually to actually work with your numbers.

But ultimately the tools you use to develop your numbers are not as important as whether those numbers are as accurate as possible--and whether those numbers help you decide whether to take the next step and put your business plan into action.

Then Financial Analysis can help you answer the most important business question: "Can we make a profit?"

Some business plans include less essential but potentially important information in an Appendix section. You may decide to include, as backup or additional information:

  • Resumes of key leaders
  • Additional descriptions of products and services
  • Legal agreements
  • Organizational charts
  • Examples of marketing and advertising collateral
  • Photographs of potential facilities, products, etc
  • Backup for market research or competitive analysis
  • Additional financial documents or projections

Keep in mind creating an Appendix is usually only necessary if you're seeking financing or hoping to bring in partners or investors. Initially the people reading your business plan don't wish to plow through reams and reams of charts, numbers, and backup information. If one does want to dig deeper, fine--he or she can check out the documents in the Appendix.

That way your business plan can share your story clearly and concisely.

Otherwise, since you created your business plan... you should already have the backup.

And one last thing: always remember the goal of your business plan is to convince you that your idea makes sense--because it's your time, your money, and your effort on the line.

More in this series:

  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Key Concepts
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: the Executive Summary
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Overview and Objectives
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Products and Services
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Market Opportunities
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Sales and Marketing
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Competitive Analysis
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Operations
  • How to Write a Great Business Plan: Management Team

The Daily Digest for Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

Privacy Policy

  • Search Search Please fill out this field.
  • Building Your Business
  • Becoming an Owner
  • Business Plans

How to Write a Financial Analysis

Know what to include in important section of business plan

Alyssa Gregory is an entrepreneur, writer, and marketer with 20 years of experience in the business world. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a community for entrepreneurs, and has authored more than 2,500 articles for The Balance and other popular small business websites.

example of financial plan for a business plan

Financial Analysis of a Business Plan

Assumptions, know the ground rules, use visuals, check your math.

The financial analysis section of a business plan should contain the data for financing your business for the present, what will be needed for future growth, and an estimation of your operating expenses.

The financial analysis section of your business plan may be the most challenging for you to complete on your own, but it also could be the deal-maker or deal-breaker when you are searching for funding.

Because of the structured, in-depth financial data required for this section, you should consult your accountant or other trusted and qualified financial professional before writing this section .

The financial analysis section should be based on estimates for new businesses or recent data for established businesses. It should include these elements:

  • Balance sheet : Your assumed and anticipated business financials, including assets , liabilities, and equity.
  • Cash-flow analysis : An overview of the cash you anticipate will be coming into your business based on sales forecasts, minus the anticipated cash expenses of running the business.
  • Profit-and-loss analysis : Your income statement that subtracts the costs of the business from the earnings over a specific period of time, typically a quarter or a year.
  • Break-even analysis : Demonstrates the point when the cost of doing business is fully covered by sales.
  • Personnel-expense forecast : The expenses of your team, as outlined in a management summary section .

Completing a financial analysis section for a business that hasn't been started yet requires some assumptions. However, these aren't guesses. What you expect from the business needs to be based on detailed research and data.

Go back to the other sections of your business plan and write down any financial assumptions you made while drafting those sections. You then can use those assumptions in your financial analysis section. The most important factor is ensuring that the data in the financial analysis section is consistent with the assumptions made in other sections of your business plan.

There may be no section of your business plan where you need help as much as you do with your financial analysis section. The assumptions, forecasting, and specific numbers can be complicated and generally difficult to wrap your head around, especially if you don’t have a financial background. This financial information, though, is exactly the data your audience will be looking for.

You can avoid the stress and uncertainty by getting help from a qualified financial professional early in the process.

When it comes to the financial analysis of your business plan, have a basic idea of what each element should include, where the data comes from, and what the numbers mean. This stands even if you have help developing the financial analysis section because you will be the one left to explain and expand on the financial data in face-to-face situations.

GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles ), a collection of rules, procedures, and conventions that define accepted accounting practices should be followed throughout this section.

Use graphs and charts in the financial analysis section to illustrate the financial data , just as you should in other sections of your business plan that include extensive data, numbers, statistics, and trends. Put the most important visuals in the financial analysis, with the supporting graphics included in the Appendix.

A quick way to lose the attention of a potential investor is by having flawed calculations or numbers that are not backed up. Double and triple check all of your calculations and figures, and have a third-party do the same to ensure everything adds up.

You also should avoid including any figures that are not explained, backed up and otherwise researched extensively, especially when it comes to assumptions you've made. Use data from current and past markets and financial situations to substantiate your numbers.

Don't bother with copy and paste.

Get this complete sample business plan as a free text document.

Financial Services Business Plan

Start your own financial services business plan

Green Investments

Executive summary executive summary is a brief introduction to your business plan. it describes your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights.">.

Green Investments (GI) is a financial service company that focuses on stocks of environmentally responsible companies. The Washington-based L.L.C. is lead by Sarah Lewis and Steve Burke. GI uses financial research purchased from Bear Stearns and in-house environmental responsibility analysis to make recommendations to clients.

Services GI has developed a criteria-based marker system which is easy and effective in evaluating a wide range of different companies on their environmental impact. Only financially prudent/performing companies are evaluated, ensuring that its recommendations make both financial and environmental sense.

Competitive Edge GI will leverage the proprietory evaluation system to quickly gain market share. The system is convenient and based on extensive research, providing a streamlined overview of the environmental performance of the companies.

Market GI will concentrate on the unserved niche of environmental investing within the financial services market. GI faces indirect competition from environmentally responsible mutual funds, which do a similar job in assessing a company’s environmental performance but do not allow for investing in individual equity.

Management Team GI is lead by two experienced managers, Sarah Lewis, and Steve Burke. Sarah has a masters degree in environmental studies and has worked for the Environmental Protection Agency where she was responsible for preparing environmental impact statements. Steve has an MBA and has worked for Salomon Smith Barney where he developed an extensive amount of networking contacts.

GI addresses a previously ignored niche of the financial services market. GI will generate $230,000 and $261,000 in sales in year two and three respectively.

Financial services business plan, executive summary chart image

1.1 Objectives

  • To become the premier environmental investment firm.
  • Attract more people into making investments based on environmental actions of the prospective companies, in effect raising the awareness of and supporting investments in companies that act on environmental concerns.
  • Continue to drive down the costs associated with investment research as it relates to environmental criteria.

1.2 Mission

Green Investments’ mission is to become the premier financial service organization that makes investment in companies with outstanding environmental records and practices. Green Investments, through comprehensive research and well thought out and verifiable marker criteria will be able to identify sound environmental investments. By offering the highest level of services, Green Investments will succeed as a company as well as have a positive impact on our environment.

1.3 Keys to Success

  • Develop a workable, accurate set of environmental markers for a wide range of environmental impacts a company faces.
  • Purchase high-quality financial performance investment research, recognizing that there is no value added for Green Investments doing this research themselves.
  • Price the service so that there is a good profit margin while remaining competitive.

Company Summary company overview ) is an overview of the most important points about your company—your history, management team, location, mission statement and legal structure.">

Green Investments is a Washington-based financial service company that is concentrating on the niche of environmentally responsible companies. The company is owned by Steve Burke and Sarah Lewis. It has been formed as a L.L.C.

2.1 Start-up Summary

The following equipment will be needed for start up:

  • Phone system (5 line).
  • Workstation computers (4), back end server, DSL Internet connection, and laser printer.
  • Office furniture, meeting room and waiting room furniture.
  • Monthly service charge for Bears Stearns software.
  • Fax machine, copier, lighting, and assorted office supplies.
Start-up
Requirements
Start-up Expenses
Legal $5,000
Stationery etc. $500
Brochures $500
Licenses $2,000
Insurance $500
Research and Development $9,000
Other $2,500
Total Start-up Expenses $20,000
Start-up Assets
Cash Required $79,000
Other Current Assets $7,000
Long-term Assets $19,000
Total Assets $105,000
Total Requirements $125,000
Start-up Funding
Start-up Expenses to Fund $20,000
Start-up Assets to Fund $105,000
Total Funding Required $125,000
Assets
Non-cash Assets from Start-up $26,000
Cash Requirements from Start-up $79,000
Additional Cash Raised $0
Cash Balance on Starting Date $79,000
Total Assets $105,000
Liabilities and Capital
Liabilities
Current Borrowing $0
Long-term Liabilities $0
Accounts Payable (Outstanding Bills) $0
Other Current Liabilities (interest-free) $0
Total Liabilities $0
Capital
Planned Investment
Investor 1 $75,000
Investor 2 $50,000
Additional Investment Requirement $0
Total Planned Investment $125,000
Loss at Start-up (Start-up Expenses) ($20,000)
Total Capital $105,000
Total Capital and Liabilities $105,000
Total Funding $125,000

2.2 Company Ownership

Steve Burke and Sarah Lewis equally own Green Investments. While they initially were going to create a S Corporation as the business formation, they decided to form as a L.L.C. as a means to avoid double taxation found with a corporation yet realizing the benefits of personal liability avoidance.

Green Investments is a financial service company that offers investment advice specifically for stocks. GI purchases fiscal performance research from Bear Stearns, one of the highest respected firms in the market. In addition to solid financial performance criteria, GI has developed a set of environmental markers by which it can analyze and grade the attractiveness of the environmental impact that a company has.

As mentioned earlier, the economic performance of a company is rated by the financial firm Bear Stearns. Green Investments purchases Bear Stearns research based on recognition that there is no value added to do this research. The confidence of the research is quite high because of the firm performing it. If Bear Stearns’ research or another firm of comparable quality was not available Green Investments would have to rethink the decision to farm out this research.

Green Investments has developed a comprehensive set of environmental markers for which a company and their environmental impact can be evaluated. The following areas are evaluated:

  • Energy usage
  • Water usage
  • Recycling program
  • Paper consumption and procurement
  • Chemical cleaning usage
  • Ground maintenance impact
  • Formal environmental policy
  • Recycling rate

All of the markers include current, next stage, and long run benchmarks.

Green Investments takes the list of recommended investments from Bear Stearns and then applies environmental marker criteria to narrow the list down. The result is a list of possible investments (stocks) that are recommended because of their fiscal and environmental performance. Green Investments attempts to make evaluations of companies in a wide range of sectors allowing the customer to make the choice as to what type of company/industry that they would like to invest in.

Green Investments’ service charge is similar to a typical brokerage fee system based on a percentage. While Green Investments is a bit more expensive than other standard financial services companies because of the additional research required, the variance is not that material, particularly to customers that want good performing stocks but only want to invest with environmentally sound companies.

Several recent well respected studies indicate that “green” stocks are not inherently under performing. Actually it is just the reverse, companies that make decisions with environmental considerations in mind generally perform better.

Market Analysis Summary how to do a market analysis for your business plan.">

Green Investments has identified two distinct groups of target customers. These two groups of customers are distinguished by their household wealth. They have been grouped as customers with <$1 million and >$1 million in household wealth. The main characteristic that makes both of these groups so attractive is their desire to make a difference in the world by making investment decisions that take into account environmental factors.

The financial services industry has many different niches. Some advisors provide general investment services. Others will only offer one type of investments, maybe just mutual funds or might concentrate on bonds. Other service providers will concentrate on a specific niche like technology or socially responsible companies.

4.1 Market Segmentation

Green Investments has segmented the target market into two distinct groups. The groups can be differentiated by their difference in household wealth, households of <$1 million and >$1 million.

  • <$1 million (household worth): These customers are middle class people who have a concern for the environment and are taking personal action through their choosing of stock investments based on companies with both strong economic and environmental performance records. Because these people do not have an over abundance of money they choose stocks that are of moderate risk. Generally, this group has 35%-45% of their portfolio in stocks, the remaining percentages in other types of investments.
  • >$1 million (household worth): These customers are upper middle class to upper class. They have amassed over $1 million in savings and are fairly savvy investors (themselves or the people they hire). These people are generally concerned about the rate of return of their investments but also have environmental concerns.

Pro Tip:

  • Vehicles are chosen with environmental concerns in mind. This means they are unlikely to own a SUV, they may in fact be one of the first adopters of the new hybrids (gas/electric vehicles).
  • Many of the people commute by bike, car pool or use public transportation when possible.
  • Active recyclers, both at work as well as at home.
  • Retail purchases are made with environmental concerns in mind.
  • A higher percentage of these people relative to the general population are vegetarians.
  • For recreational sports, particularly outdoor sports, the people are more likely to enjoy hiking, XC skiing, and other human powered activities instead of golf, downhill skiing, snowmobiling, and jet skiing, all sports that are destructive to the environment.

Financial services business plan, market analysis summary chart image

Market Analysis
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Potential Customers Growth CAGR
<$1 million worth customers 8% 1,232,000 1,330,560 1,437,005 1,551,965 1,676,122 8.00%
>$1 million worth customers 7% 223,090 238,706 255,415 273,294 292,425 7.00%
Total 7.85% 1,455,090 1,569,266 1,692,420 1,825,259 1,968,547 7.85%

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

Green Investments has chosen the previously mentioned target market segments because of the ideological beliefs and the fact that these beliefs translate into the customer groups needing services that Green Investments can provide. While the people can always purchase shares of an environmentally responsible mutual fund, a way that they can exercise their beliefs, mutual funds are just one type of investments. The downside of investments are their relatively low rate of return (relative to good stocks) and the inability to receive personalized service and the ability to make custom choices beyond the type of mutual fund.

Therefore, Green Investments has chosen these specific customer segments because it is a market group that has unmet needs. These groups have the money and willingness for an environmental investment, yet their only current choice is a mutual fund. Green Investments has chosen to distinguish the two market segments by household worth since this characteristic provides useful behavioral information regarding the different people.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

Green Investments participates within the financial service industry. This multi-billion dollar ($14.8) industry services a wide range of people and companies with financial services such as investments. There are many different types of investments offered including but not limited to:

  • Treasury bills
  • Stocks, mutual funds
  • Insurance policies

Within the industry, customers are served by a wide range of service providers including:

  • Large national firms such as Merrill Lynch or Charles Schwaab
  • Individual firms
  • Online brokers

Buying decisions are often based on who you know or familiarity that the person may have with a specific company. Most of the service providers can provide a similar menu of investment options.

Fee structures vary from firm to firm. Many are percentage based on the amount of money the client investments. Some firms charge hourly rates while other firms charge a quarterly management fee. The fee structures are set in stone for some service providers while others take a more flexible approach and are willing to work with the customer to set up special arrangements.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

Green Investments has no direct competitors that offer environmentally sound stock investment services. All of the current environmental investment options are mutual fund based. Examples of this type of mutual funds include Janus, Citizen Funds, Sierra Club Environmental Fund, and Portfolio 21.

Other competitors that Green Investments faces are the typical range of financial advisors. These indirect competitors provide customers with a wide range of different investment options. They could always place an investment order for a specific company, but these specific competitors do not do any independent research on the environmentalism of different companies.

Strategy and Implementation Summary

Green Investments will leverage its sustainable competitive edge of independent environmental research based on a custom set of criteria based markers for an objective measure of a company’s dedication to environmentalism. The competitive edge will be marketed by using the mantra of “think globally, act locally.” This marketing slogan will encourage people to do their part in regards to helping the environment through responsible investing. The sales campaign will rely on metrics that indicate environmental investments can and do outperform the S&P 500 Index.

5.1 Competitive Edge

Green Investments’ competitive edge is the environmental marker criteria that when applied indicates which economic performing companies with solid environmental commitments. The markers are effective for extremely valuable for several reasons:

  • Meaningful: They are based on extensive research, providing a streamlined overview of the environmental performance of the companies.
  • Context-based: Allows a high degree of comparability with similar businesses.
  • Convenient: Far easier to use than large scale internal audits.

The key here is the fact that an objective, easy to apply, and accurate measurement system has been developed to provide environmental analysis for any company that has the markers applied to them. No one else offers this type of service as an information source for the decision making process of stock investments.

5.2 Marketing Strategy

“Think globally, act locally.” This well known and concise mantra simply suggests everyone should do their part. Green Investments services allows people to make investments based on their conscience. So many people want to do good but are unsure how to. Green Investments’ services allows people to do the right thing, with no real cost relative to the other options. Green Investments’ returns are better than the S&P 500 Index.

The marketing effort will concentrate on Green Investments’ ability to empower people to make a substantial difference in this world while getting a great return on their money. Green Investments will use magazine advertisements and community based marketing (networking, sponsorship and participation in seminars) to increase visibility for Green Investments and the services offered. The advertisements will be a steady way that people will become aware of the investment options as well as some visibility for the company itself. The community involvement implicitly accepts the premise that good business relies on networking (inter relationships, both business and personal) to be a significant source of business and good will. Green Investments will participate in numerous on-topic events and seminars that will display them as experts as well as give them a podium to describe the different services.

5.3 Sales Strategy

The sales strategy will rely on using quantitative evidence the recommended companies outperform the S&P 500 Index. In 1999-2001, Green Investments’ chosen companies outperformed the index by 2.4%. This is a significant amount. The sales strategy will concentrate on that by making smart green investments, you can achieve better then average returns on your money. A sales packet will be assembled and distributed to prospective customers that shows the better than average historic returns that Green Investments recommended companies enjoy.

5.3.1 Sales Forecast

Financial services business plan, strategy and implementation summary chart image

Sales Forecast
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Sales
<$1 million worth customers $54,746 $156,665 $178,225
>$1 million worth customers $22,889 $73,633 $83,766
Total Sales $77,635 $230,298 $261,991
Direct Cost of Sales Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
<$1 million worth customers $8,212 $23,500 $26,734
>$1 million worth customers $3,433 $11,045 $12,565
Subtotal Direct Cost of Sales $11,645 $34,545 $39,299

5.4 Milestones

Green Investments has identified several milestones which will act as ambitious yet achievable goals for the organization. By establishing the goals, the need to reach them will develop an implicit incentive for all organizational members to work hard to achieve the milestones.

  • Business plan completion: The business plan is the roadmap for the organization. There is value in the process of the writing of the business plan, forcing the writers to analyze a multitude of issues.
  • First account of over $1 million invested: This would be a significant amount of money for an individual account and the organization will strive to achieve many of these customers.
  • Profitability: An eventual necessity.
  • Revenue of $250,000: With the achievement of this milestone and the previous one, there will be a clear reaffirmation that the business model is successful.

Financial services business plan, strategy and implementation summary chart image

Milestones
Milestone Start Date End Date Budget Manager Department
Business plan completion 1/1/2003 2/1/2003 $0 Sarah & Steve Planning
First $ million account 1/1/2003 4/15/2004 $0 Sarah Sales
Profitability 1/1/2003 6/1/2005 $0 Steve Accounting
Revenue of $250K 1/1/2003 9/15/2004 $0 Sarah Sales
Totals $0

Management Summary management summary will include information about who's on your team and why they're the right people for the job, as well as your future hiring plans.">

Green Investments will be lead by the founding team of Sarah Lewis and Steve Burke. Sarah has an undergraduate and Masters in environmental studies from the University of Burlington. After Sarah obtained the degrees she moved to Washington DC where she worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for four years, performing environmental impact statements for a variety of industries, companies, and projects. Sarah was also a project manager for Janus in their evaluation department where they performed company wide environmental assessments of companies that were perspective investments for the fund.

The other member of Green Investments management team is Steve Burke. Steve hails from a financial background. Steve has an undergraduate degree in Finance from Seattle University and a MBA from the University of Washington. After school Steve went to work for Salomon Smith Barney in their investment department for eight years.

7.1 Personnel Plan

  • Sarah: Company research, development of markers, sales.
  • Steve: Sales, accounting and finance, account management, and marketing.
  • Account manager: Customer support for their investment accounts.
  • Administrative assistant: Assorted odd and ends.
  • Bookkeeper: Handles the day to day accounts receivables and payable duties.
  • Research assistant: Assisting Sarah on her research.

The positions will be phased in on an as needed basis. Please review the following chart for personnel forecasts.

Personnel Plan
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Sarah $30,000 $40,000 $40,000
Steve $30,000 $40,000 $40,000
Account Manager $27,000 $36,000 $36,000
Administrative Assistant $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Bookkeeper $10,000 $12,000 $12,000
Research Assistant $8,250 $9,000 $9,000
Total People 6 6 6
Total Payroll $120,250 $152,000 $152,000

Financial Plan investor-ready personnel plan .">

The following sections will outline important financial information.

8.1 Important Assumptions

The following table details important Financial Assumptions.

General Assumptions
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Plan Month 1 2 3
Current Interest Rate 10.00% 10.00% 10.00%
Long-term Interest Rate 10.00% 10.00% 10.00%
Tax Rate 30.00% 30.00% 30.00%
Other 0 0 0

8.2 Break-even Analysis

The Break-even Analysis is shown in the following table and chart.

Financial services business plan, financial plan chart image

Break-even Analysis
Monthly Revenue Break-even $15,225
Assumptions:
Average Percent Variable Cost 15%
Estimated Monthly Fixed Cost $12,941

8.3 Projected Profit and Loss

The following table will indicate Projected Profit and Loss.

Financial services business plan, financial plan chart image

Pro Forma Profit and Loss
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Sales $77,635 $230,298 $261,991
Direct Cost of Sales $11,645 $34,545 $39,299
Other Costs of Sales $0 $0 $0
Total Cost of Sales $11,645 $34,545 $39,299
Gross Margin $65,990 $195,753 $222,692
Gross Margin % 85.00% 85.00% 85.00%
Expenses
Payroll $120,250 $152,000 $152,000
Sales and Marketing and Other Expenses $0 $0 $0
Depreciation $3,804 $317 $317
Rent $7,800 $7,800 $7,800
Utilities $1,800 $1,800 $1,800
Insurance $1,800 $1,800 $1,800
Payroll Taxes $18,038 $22,800 $22,800
Other $1,800 $1,800 $1,800
Total Operating Expenses $155,292 $188,317 $188,317
Profit Before Interest and Taxes ($89,301) $7,436 $34,375
EBITDA ($85,497) $7,753 $34,692
Interest Expense $73 $220 $120
Taxes Incurred $0 $2,165 $10,277
Net Profit ($89,374) $5,051 $23,979
Net Profit/Sales -115.12% 2.19% 9.15%

8.4 Projected Cash Flow

The following table and chart will indicate Projected Cash Flow.

Financial services business plan, financial plan chart image

Pro Forma Cash Flow
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Cash Received
Cash from Operations
Cash Sales $77,635 $230,298 $261,991
Subtotal Cash from Operations $77,635 $230,298 $261,991
Additional Cash Received
Sales Tax, VAT, HST/GST Received $0 $0 $0
New Current Borrowing $3,000 $0 $0
New Other Liabilities (interest-free) $0 $0 $0
New Long-term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Sales of Other Current Assets $0 $0 $0
Sales of Long-term Assets $0 $0 $0
New Investment Received $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Cash Received $80,635 $230,298 $261,991
Expenditures Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Expenditures from Operations
Cash Spending $120,250 $152,000 $152,000
Bill Payments $38,394 $71,497 $84,646
Subtotal Spent on Operations $158,644 $223,497 $236,646
Additional Cash Spent
Sales Tax, VAT, HST/GST Paid Out $0 $0 $0
Principal Repayment of Current Borrowing $300 $1,000 $1,000
Other Liabilities Principal Repayment $0 $0 $0
Long-term Liabilities Principal Repayment $0 $0 $0
Purchase Other Current Assets $0 $0 $0
Purchase Long-term Assets $0 $0 $0
Dividends $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Cash Spent $158,944 $224,497 $237,646
Net Cash Flow ($78,308) $5,801 $24,345
Cash Balance $692 $6,492 $30,837

8.5 Projected Balance Sheet

The following table will indicate the Projected Balance Sheet.

Pro Forma Balance Sheet
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Assets
Current Assets
Cash $692 $6,492 $30,837
Other Current Assets $7,000 $7,000 $7,000
Total Current Assets $7,692 $13,492 $37,837
Long-term Assets
Long-term Assets $19,000 $19,000 $19,000
Accumulated Depreciation $3,804 $4,121 $4,438
Total Long-term Assets $15,196 $14,879 $14,562
Total Assets $22,888 $28,371 $52,399
Liabilities and Capital Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Current Liabilities
Accounts Payable $4,561 $5,994 $7,043
Current Borrowing $2,700 $1,700 $700
Other Current Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Current Liabilities $7,261 $7,694 $7,743
Long-term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Total Liabilities $7,261 $7,694 $7,743
Paid-in Capital $125,000 $125,000 $125,000
Retained Earnings ($20,000) ($109,374) ($104,323)
Earnings ($89,374) $5,051 $23,979
Total Capital $15,626 $20,677 $44,656
Total Liabilities and Capital $22,888 $28,371 $52,399
Net Worth $15,626 $20,677 $44,656

8.6 Business Ratios

The following table indicates Business Ratios found within the industry of financial services as well as ratios specific to Green Investments. Please note that while there are some similarities between the general financial service industry and Green Investments, GI is more unusual in that they do their own assessment of companies, beyond typical research.

Ratio Analysis
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Industry Profile
Sales Growth 0.00% 196.64% 13.76% 8.79%
Percent of Total Assets
Other Current Assets 30.58% 24.67% 13.36% 44.18%
Total Current Assets 33.61% 47.56% 72.21% 76.27%
Long-term Assets 66.39% 52.44% 27.79% 23.73%
Total Assets 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%
Current Liabilities 31.73% 27.12% 14.78% 38.61%
Long-term Liabilities 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 13.60%
Total Liabilities 31.73% 27.12% 14.78% 52.21%
Net Worth 68.27% 72.88% 85.22% 47.79%
Percent of Sales
Sales 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%
Gross Margin 85.00% 85.00% 85.00% 100.00%
Selling, General & Administrative Expenses 200.12% 82.81% 75.85% 82.68%
Advertising Expenses 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 1.66%
Profit Before Interest and Taxes -115.03% 3.23% 13.12% 1.37%
Main Ratios
Current 1.06 1.75 4.89 1.59
Quick 1.06 1.75 4.89 1.22
Total Debt to Total Assets 31.73% 27.12% 14.78% 3.09%
Pre-tax Return on Net Worth -571.95% 34.90% 76.71% 60.22%
Pre-tax Return on Assets -390.49% 25.43% 65.37% 7.76%
Additional Ratios Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Net Profit Margin -115.12% 2.19% 9.15% n.a
Return on Equity -571.95% 24.43% 53.70% n.a
Activity Ratios
Accounts Payable Turnover 9.42 12.17 12.17 n.a
Payment Days 27 26 28 n.a
Total Asset Turnover 3.39 8.12 5.00 n.a
Debt Ratios
Debt to Net Worth 0.46 0.37 0.17 n.a
Current Liab. to Liab. 1.00 1.00 1.00 n.a
Liquidity Ratios
Net Working Capital $430 $5,798 $30,094 n.a
Interest Coverage -1,231.74 33.80 286.46 n.a
Additional Ratios
Assets to Sales 0.29 0.12 0.20 n.a
Current Debt/Total Assets 32% 27% 15% n.a
Acid Test 1.06 1.75 4.89 n.a
Sales/Net Worth 4.97 11.14 5.87 n.a
Dividend Payout 0.00 0.00 0.00 n.a
Sales Forecast
Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
Sales
<$1 million worth customers 0% $0 $0 $0 $2,500 $3,545 $4,545 $5,878 $6,335 $7,474 $7,558 $8,255 $8,656
>$1 million worth customers 0% $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $2,136 $2,763 $2,977 $3,513 $3,552 $3,880 $4,068
Total Sales $0 $0 $0 $2,500 $3,545 $6,681 $8,641 $9,312 $10,987 $11,110 $12,135 $12,724
Direct Cost of Sales Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
<$1 million worth customers $0 $0 $0 $375 $532 $682 $882 $950 $1,121 $1,134 $1,238 $1,298
>$1 million worth customers $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $320 $414 $447 $527 $533 $582 $610
Subtotal Direct Cost of Sales $0 $0 $0 $375 $532 $1,002 $1,296 $1,397 $1,648 $1,667 $1,820 $1,909
Personnel Plan
Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
Sarah 0% $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Steve 0% $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Account Manager 0% $0 $0 $1,500 $2,000 $2,500 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000
Administrative Assistant 0% $0 $0 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Bookkeeper 0% $0 $0 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Research Assistant 0% $0 $750 $750 $750 $750 $750 $750 $750 $750 $750 $750 $750
Total People 2 3 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Total Payroll $5,000 $5,750 $9,750 $10,250 $10,750 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250
General Assumptions
Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
Plan Month 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Current Interest Rate 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00%
Long-term Interest Rate 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00% 10.00%
Tax Rate 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 30.00%
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pro Forma Profit and Loss
Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
Sales $0 $0 $0 $2,500 $3,545 $6,681 $8,641 $9,312 $10,987 $11,110 $12,135 $12,724
Direct Cost of Sales $0 $0 $0 $375 $532 $1,002 $1,296 $1,397 $1,648 $1,667 $1,820 $1,909
Other Costs of Sales $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total Cost of Sales $0 $0 $0 $375 $532 $1,002 $1,296 $1,397 $1,648 $1,667 $1,820 $1,909
Gross Margin $0 $0 $0 $2,125 $3,013 $5,679 $7,345 $7,916 $9,339 $9,444 $10,315 $10,816
Gross Margin % 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 85.00% 85.00% 85.00% 85.00% 85.00% 85.00% 85.00% 85.00% 85.00%
Expenses
Payroll $5,000 $5,750 $9,750 $10,250 $10,750 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250
Sales and Marketing and Other Expenses $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Depreciation $317 $317 $317 $317 $317 $317 $317 $317 $317 $317 $317 $317
Rent $650 $650 $650 $650 $650 $650 $650 $650 $650 $650 $650 $650
Utilities $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150
Insurance $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150
Payroll Taxes 15% $750 $863 $1,463 $1,538 $1,613 $1,688 $1,688 $1,688 $1,688 $1,688 $1,688 $1,688
Other $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150 $150
Total Operating Expenses $7,167 $8,030 $12,630 $13,205 $13,780 $14,355 $14,355 $14,355 $14,355 $14,355 $14,355 $14,355
Profit Before Interest and Taxes ($7,167) ($8,030) ($12,630) ($11,080) ($10,766) ($8,676) ($7,010) ($6,439) ($5,016) ($4,911) ($4,040) ($3,539)
EBITDA ($6,850) ($7,713) ($12,313) ($10,763) ($10,449) ($8,359) ($6,693) ($6,122) ($4,699) ($4,594) ($3,723) ($3,222)
Interest Expense $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $25 $25 $23
Taxes Incurred $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Net Profit ($7,167) ($8,030) ($12,630) ($11,080) ($10,766) ($8,676) ($7,010) ($6,439) ($5,016) ($4,936) ($4,065) ($3,561)
Net Profit/Sales 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% -443.18% -303.70% -129.85% -81.13% -69.14% -45.65% -44.43% -33.50% -27.99%
Pro Forma Cash Flow
Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
Cash Received
Cash from Operations
Cash Sales $0 $0 $0 $2,500 $3,545 $6,681 $8,641 $9,312 $10,987 $11,110 $12,135 $12,724
Subtotal Cash from Operations $0 $0 $0 $2,500 $3,545 $6,681 $8,641 $9,312 $10,987 $11,110 $12,135 $12,724
Additional Cash Received
Sales Tax, VAT, HST/GST Received 0.00% $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
New Current Borrowing $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,000 $0 $0
New Other Liabilities (interest-free) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
New Long-term Liabilities $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Sales of Other Current Assets $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Sales of Long-term Assets $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
New Investment Received $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Cash Received $0 $0 $0 $2,500 $3,545 $6,681 $8,641 $9,312 $10,987 $14,110 $12,135 $12,724
Expenditures Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
Expenditures from Operations
Cash Spending $5,000 $5,750 $9,750 $10,250 $10,750 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250 $11,250
Bill Payments $62 $1,854 $1,983 $2,578 $3,020 $3,262 $3,799 $4,087 $4,193 $4,437 $4,484 $4,636
Subtotal Spent on Operations $5,062 $7,604 $11,733 $12,828 $13,770 $14,512 $15,049 $15,337 $15,443 $15,687 $15,734 $15,886
Additional Cash Spent
Sales Tax, VAT, HST/GST Paid Out $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Principal Repayment of Current Borrowing $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $300
Other Liabilities Principal Repayment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Long-term Liabilities Principal Repayment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Purchase Other Current Assets $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Purchase Long-term Assets $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Dividends $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Cash Spent $5,062 $7,604 $11,733 $12,828 $13,770 $14,512 $15,049 $15,337 $15,443 $15,687 $15,734 $16,186
Net Cash Flow ($5,062) ($7,604) ($11,733) ($10,328) ($10,225) ($7,831) ($6,409) ($6,025) ($4,456) ($1,577) ($3,599) ($3,461)
Cash Balance $73,938 $66,335 $54,602 $44,275 $34,049 $26,218 $19,809 $13,785 $9,329 $7,752 $4,153 $692
Pro Forma Balance Sheet
Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
Assets Starting Balances
Current Assets
Cash $79,000 $73,938 $66,335 $54,602 $44,275 $34,049 $26,218 $19,809 $13,785 $9,329 $7,752 $4,153 $692
Other Current Assets $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000 $7,000
Total Current Assets $86,000 $80,938 $73,335 $61,602 $51,275 $41,049 $33,218 $26,809 $20,785 $16,329 $14,752 $11,153 $7,692
Long-term Assets
Long-term Assets $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000 $19,000
Accumulated Depreciation $0 $317 $634 $951 $1,268 $1,585 $1,902 $2,219 $2,536 $2,853 $3,170 $3,487 $3,804
Total Long-term Assets $19,000 $18,683 $18,366 $18,049 $17,732 $17,415 $17,098 $16,781 $16,464 $16,147 $15,830 $15,513 $15,196
Total Assets $105,000 $99,621 $91,701 $79,651 $69,007 $58,464 $50,316 $43,590 $37,249 $32,476 $30,582 $26,666 $22,888
Liabilities and Capital Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6 Month 7 Month 8 Month 9 Month 10 Month 11 Month 12
Current Liabilities
Accounts Payable $0 $1,788 $1,897 $2,477 $2,912 $3,136 $3,663 $3,947 $4,045 $4,288 $4,330 $4,478 $4,561
Current Borrowing $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,000 $3,000 $2,700
Other Current Liabilities $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Subtotal Current Liabilities $0 $1,788 $1,897 $2,477 $2,912 $3,136 $3,663 $3,947 $4,045 $4,288 $7,330 $7,478 $7,261
Long-term Liabilities $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total Liabilities $0 $1,788 $1,897 $2,477 $2,912 $3,136 $3,663 $3,947 $4,045 $4,288 $7,330 $7,478 $7,261
Paid-in Capital $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000
Retained Earnings ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000) ($20,000)
Earnings $0 ($7,167) ($15,197) ($27,826) ($38,906) ($49,672) ($58,347) ($65,357) ($71,796) ($76,812) ($81,748) ($85,813) ($89,374)
Total Capital $105,000 $97,833 $89,804 $77,174 $66,095 $55,328 $46,653 $39,643 $33,204 $28,188 $23,252 $19,187 $15,626
Total Liabilities and Capital $105,000 $99,621 $91,701 $79,651 $69,007 $58,464 $50,316 $43,590 $37,249 $32,476 $30,582 $26,666 $22,888
Net Worth $105,000 $97,833 $89,804 $77,174 $66,095 $55,328 $46,653 $39,643 $33,204 $28,188 $23,252 $19,187 $15,626

Garrett's Bike Shop

The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan

Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.

No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.

LivePlan pitch example

Discover the world’s #1 plan building software

example of financial plan for a business plan

How to Write a Business Plan: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Getty Images

So, you’ve got an idea and you want to start a business —great! Before you do anything else, like seek funding or build out a team, you'll need to know how to write a business plan. This plan will serve as the foundation of your company while also giving investors and future employees a clear idea of your purpose.

Below, Lauren Cobello, Founder and CEO of Leverage with Media PR , gives her best advice on how to make a business plan for your company.

Build your dream business with the help of a high-paying job—browse open jobs on The Muse »

What is a business plan, and when do you need one?

According to Cobello, a business plan is a document that contains the mission of the business and a brief overview of it, as well as the objectives, strategies, and financial plans of the founder. A business plan comes into play very early on in the process of starting a company—more or less before you do anything else.

“You should start a company with a business plan in mind—especially if you plan to get funding for the company,” Cobello says. “You’re going to need it.”

Whether that funding comes from a loan, an investor, or crowdsourcing, a business plan is imperative to secure the capital, says the U.S. Small Business Administration . Anyone who’s considering giving you money is going to want to review your business plan before doing so. That means before you head into any meeting, make sure you have physical copies of your business plan to share.

Different types of business plans

The four main types of business plans are:

Startup Business Plans

Internal business plans, strategic business plans, one-page business plans.

Let's break down each one:

If you're wondering how to write a business plan for a startup, Cobello has advice for you. Startup business plans are the most common type, she says, and they are a critical tool for new business ventures that want funding. A startup is defined as a company that’s in its first stages of operations, founded by an entrepreneur who has a product or service idea.

Most startups begin with very little money, so they need a strong business plan to convince family, friends, banks, and/or venture capitalists to invest in the new company.

Internal business plans “are for internal use only,” says Cobello. This kind of document is not public-facing, only company-facing, and it contains an outline of the company’s business strategy, financial goals and budgets, and performance data.

Internal business plans aren’t used to secure funding, but rather to set goals and get everyone working there tracking towards them.

As the name implies, strategic business plans are geared more towards strategy and they include an assessment of the current business landscape, notes Jérôme Côté, a Business Advisor at BDC Advisory Services .

Unlike a traditional business plan, Cobello adds, strategic plans include a SWOT analysis (which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and an in-depth action plan for the next six to 12 months. Strategic plans are action-based and take into account the state of the company and the industry in which it exists.

Although a typical business plan falls between 15 to 30 pages, some companies opt for the much shorter One-Page Business Plan. A one-page business plan is a simplified version of the larger business plan, and it focuses on the problem your product or service is solving, the solution (your product), and your business model (how you’ll make money).

A one-page plan is hyper-direct and easy to read, making it an effective tool for businesses of all sizes, at any stage.

How to create a business plan in 7 steps

Every business plan is different, and the steps you take to complete yours will depend on what type and format you choose. That said, if you need a place to start and appreciate a roadmap, here’s what Cobello recommends:

1. Conduct your research

Before writing your business plan, you’ll want to do a thorough investigation of what’s out there. Who will be the competitors for your product or service? Who is included in the target market? What industry trends are you capitalizing on, or rebuking? You want to figure out where you sit in the market and what your company’s value propositions are. What makes you different—and better?

2. Define your purpose for the business plan

The purpose of your business plan will determine which kind of plan you choose to create. Are you trying to drum up funding, or get the company employees focused on specific goals? (For the former, you’d want a startup business plan, while an internal plan would satisfy the latter.) Also, consider your audience. An investment firm that sees hundreds of potential business plans a day may prefer to see a one-pager upfront and, if they’re interested, a longer plan later.

3. Write your company description

Every business plan needs a company description—aka a summary of the company’s purpose, what they do/offer, and what makes it unique. Company descriptions should be clear and concise, avoiding the use of jargon, Cobello says. Ideally, descriptions should be a few paragraphs at most.

4. Explain and show how the company will make money

A business plan should be centered around the company’s goals, and it should clearly explain how the company will generate revenue. To do this, Cobello recommends using actual numbers and details, as opposed to just projections.

For instance, if the company is already making money, show how much and at what cost (e.g. what was the net profit). If it hasn’t generated revenue yet, outline the plan for how it will—including what the product/service will cost to produce and how much it will cost the consumer.

5. Outline your marketing strategy

How will you promote the business? Through what channels will you be promoting it? How are you going to reach and appeal to your target market? The more specific and thorough you can be with your plans here, the better, Cobello says.

6. Explain how you’ll spend your funding

What will you do with the money you raise? What are the first steps you plan to take? As a founder, you want to instill confidence in your investors and show them that the instant you receive their money, you’ll be taking smart actions that grow the company.

7. Include supporting documents

Creating a business plan is in some ways akin to building a legal case, but for your business. “You want to tell a story, and to be as thorough as possible, while keeping your plan succinct, clear, interesting, and visually appealing,” Cobello says. “Supporting documents could include financial projects, a competitive analysis of the market you’re entering into, and even any licenses, patents, or permits you’ve secured.”

A business plan is an individualized document—it’s ultimately up to you what information to include and what story you tell. But above all, Cobello says, your business plan should have a clear focus and goal in mind, because everything else will build off this cornerstone.

“Many people don’t realize how important business plans are for the health of their company,” she says. “Set aside time to make this a priority for your business, and make sure to keep it updated as you grow.”

example of financial plan for a business plan

AI ASSISTANTS

Upmetrics AI Your go-to AI-powered business assistant

AI Writing Assist Write, translate, and refine your text with AI

AI Financial Assist Automated forecasts and AI recommendations

TOP FEATURES

AI Business Plan Generator Create business plans faster with AI

Financial Forecasting Make accurate financial forecasts faster

INTEGRATIONS

QuickBooks (Coming soon...) Sync and compare with your QuickBooks data

Strategic Planning Develop actionable strategic plans on-the-go

AI Pitch Deck Generator Use AI to generate your investor deck

Xero Sync and compare with your Xero data

See how easy it is to plan your business with Upmetrics: Take a Tour  →

AI-powered business planning software

Very useful business plan software connected to AI. Saved a lot of time, money and energy. Their team is highly skilled and always here to help.

- Julien López

BY USE CASE

Secure Funding, Loans, Grants Create plans that get you funded

Starting & Launching a Business Plan your business for launch and success

Validate Your Business Idea Discover the potential of your business idea

E2 Visa Business Plan Create a business plan to support your E2 - Visa

Business Consultant & Advisors Plan with your team members and clients

Incubators & Accelerators Empowering startups for growth

Business Schools & Educators Simplify business plan education for students

Students & Learners Your e-tutor for business planning

  • Sample Plans

WHY UPMETRICS?

Reviews See why customers love Upmetrics

Customer Success Stories Read our customer success stories

Blogs Latest business planning tips and strategies

Strategic Planning Templates Ready-to-use strategic plan templates

Business Plan Course A step-by-step business planning course

Help Center Help & guides to plan your business

Ebooks & Guides A free resource hub on business planning

Business Tools Free business tools to help you grow

How to Format a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

  • July 5, 2024

how to format a business plan

So you have every information you need to write a business plan. But uh-oh! You don’t know how to present it. Is there a specific format? Do you need visuals? Is there a font that appeals to readers?

Stop. Don’t hit the panic button yet.

We have all the answers to your formatting needs so your business plan isn’t just a boring text for your readers.

And honestly, an investor goes through a hundred business plans in his life. So, you need to stand out from the crowd and present your business idea well to win their attention.

That’s why we’ve come up with these 10 easy steps on how to format a business plan that will grab readers’ attention. So, let’s start with it and make your business plan clutter-free and crisp as it should be with these tips.

What is business plan formatting?

Business plan formatting refers to the arrangement and presentation of the content within a business plan document to ensure it’s professional, clear, and easy to read. This includes the layout, style, structure of the text, visual elements, and consistent design choices that enhance readability and effectiveness.

How to format a business plan in 10 easy steps

how to format a business plan in 10 easy steps

So, now that we know formatting a business plan is necessary to present your business idea clearly and professionally, let’s see how to do it:

1. Create an engaging executive summary layout

The executive summary is the overview of the whole plan. So, ensure that you’re including everything necessary such as:

  • Vision and mission statement
  • The problem
  • The solution your business is providing
  • Target market
  • Business model
  • Competitive advantage
  • Management team
  • Financial forecasts
  • Funding requirements (if necessary)
  • Call to action

Keep all the executive summary paragraphs small and use bullet points to highlight the important things. Include visuals where necessary.

Most importantly, keep in mind, that the average length of the summary is around 1-2 pages only. Therefore, be wise when using up the space.

It should also be capable of standing alone and independent of the rest of your plan. So, if your audience reads it alone, then they should get the crux of the whole plan.

Also, readers of your executive summary might not have any knowledge about your business. Therefore, it’s crucial to explain everything clearly and simply, ensuring that anyone can understand your executive summary.

2. Keep all the sections to the point

It’s great that after reading the executive summary, your readers are moving ahead to the whole plan.

Though there’s no defined length of a business plan —remember to keep all the sections focused. On average the plan should be 15-30 pages long.

While formatting the plan, do not simply put the information but highlight the necessary points. Use simple language, small paragraphs, and bullet points to enhance readability. Also, try not to repeat things in the different sections.

Create winning Business Plans with our

AI Business Plan Generator

Plans starting from $7/month

example of financial plan for a business plan

3. Use visuals

Including images and charts in your business plan is a wise move. It ensures that a reader stays engaged and all the key information is highlighted.

Text-heavy documents make it harder for readers to remember the content. Research also shows that people tend to remember images and charts better than text alone. Thus, to portray complex information clearly and concisely use visuals.

That said, don’t overdo it. As images take up too much physical space, so plan your document accordingly.

4. Keep the writing style uniform

To create a uniform writing style you need to decide on a tone. It should be professional with a balance of formal and personalized tone.

A consistent tone enhances credibility, making your business appear reliable to potential investors and partners.

Conduct multiple rounds of proofreading and editing before you submit the plan. This way you will be able to correct if there are any inconsistencies or grammatical errors.

5. Customize the plan according to your audience

Not all investors or readers know about the technical terms of your industry. This way you need to customize the plan with the information that’s relevant to the particular reader.

This involves understanding who will be reading the business plan and adjusting the tone, depth of information, and focus areas accordingly. In short, you should portray your business idea efficiently.

For example: If you’re starting a new joint replacement center and your reader is from a commerce background, then he would be interested in knowing the number of surgeons, patients, return on investment, etc, not how exactly you will perform joint replacement surgery.

6. Ensure the logical flow of your plan

A well-structured business plan guides the reader from start to finish in one flow. Your plan should maintain a logical flow that gives the reader information about your business step-by-step.

The plan should start with the executive summary and then move forward with a detailed company description which includes mission, vision, history, and business structure, giving clear information about the business.

Next, include other components like market analysis, marketing and sales strategies, operational plan, and then financial plan. Smartly introduce your target market, expected revenues, funding requirements, and more in the plan.

7. Complete your plan with all the supporting documents

You should back your plan with evidence and supporting documents to build trust amongst your readers.

These documents can be financial forecasts (income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement), budgets, portfolios of key members of the company, and necessary other contracts, permits, or regulations.

Make sure to include only important documents and not make it unnecessarily lengthy which is hard to read.

8. Keep the formatting simple and consistent

Having consistent formatting throughout the whole plan is necessary for readability and professionalism.

Use a clean font such as Arial, Times New Roman, Montserrat, or any other professional font. Set rules for headings and subheadings with bold text or a slightly larger font.

Also, the use of bullet points or numbered lists can make key information stand out and improve the overall readability.

Margins should be uniform on all sides, typically set to one inch, and line spacing should be single or 1.15 lines to keep the text from appearing cramped.

For a professional print format, use high-quality paper, high-resolution printing, consistent margins, and spacing. Opt for durable covers and binding if possible.

Finally, avoid “widows” and “orphans” in the printed document. A “widow” occurs when the last line of a paragraph appears alone at the top of a page, while an “orphan” is a single word left at the bottom of a paragraph.

9. An attractive cover page is a must

The cover page of business plan is going to be the first thing your readers will see. So, it should be simple and elegant. It also sets the tone for the whole business plan.

A cover page should include the company’s name in large font size so that it can be highlighted. Then it should also have the tagline of the business, its logo, date, and contact details.

Use high-quality graphics or subtle design elements to enhance the visual appeal. Stick to a clean layout with balanced spacing, making sure it looks polished and professional.

10. Take feedback and reviews

Trust me, grammatical errors or spelling mistakes can hamper the image of your professional plan. Thus, to overcome it, get your business plan reviewed by other people to get a fresh perspective on your plan.

Sometimes, the writer overlooks basic mistakes that others can detect. So, either go to a friend, relative, or a professional editor and give it the last polishing it needs.

Also, they will figure out if something needs to be added to the plan or if there are any factual errors.

You may have a billion-dollar business idea, but the presentation and formatting of your plan helps you move past the screening stage. You sure you’ll get past?

Don’t worry. Upmetrics can help turn your cluttered and unorganized plan into a compelling and organized one. It’s pretty simple. Get into the Upmetrics editor, import your existing business plan, and start formatting.

Upmetrics’ guided and AI-powered builder helps you easily format and structure your plan with 400+ sample templates to refer to, follow, and use. AI writing assistant is there to help you refine sentences, fix tone, and correct grammar.

Whether it’s about writing a plan from scratch or updating or formatting it, Upmetrics is just the tool. It’s time to let Upmetrics take control and say bye to your formatting troubles. Try Upmetrics today!

Build your Business Plan Faster

with step-by-step Guidance & AI Assistance.

crossline

Frequently Asked Questions

What font and size should be used.

For a business plan, use a professional, easy-to-read font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. The font size should typically be 11 or 12 points for the main text, with larger sizes (14 to 16 points) for headings and subheadings to ensure clear differentiation and readability.

How should I structure the headings and subheadings in a business plan?

Make headings in business plans with bold and larger fonts (16 points) and use slightly smaller fonts (14 points) for subheadings. Maintain consistent fonts and styles, add whitespace, and align headings for a professional look.

Should I include page numbers in my business plan?

Yes, you should include page numbers in your plan. Page numbers help readers navigate the document easily when they want to jump to some section directly. Typically, page numbers are placed in the footer, aligned to the right, or centered.

Is it necessary to include a table of contents?

Yes, a table of contents helps people see all the sections of the plan at one glance. It also helps people directly jump to a particular section with the help of the page numbers.

About the Author

example of financial plan for a business plan

Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

Reach Your Goals with Accurate Planning

JavaScript is disabled in your browser. To view the website properly, please enable JavaScript in your browser settings and refresh the page.

Apply for and manage a grant or program for your business.

Manage your interactions with the R&D Tax Incentive program.

  • Events and training

Developing a finance plan

Webinar for nsw businesses.

This webinar provides small business owners with the skills and knowledge required to complete a basic financial plan to be included within a business plan. It is targeted at business owners who would like to better understand key financial plans and how to use the information in their business plans. In this webinar, we will be focusing on:

  • elements of a financial plan
  • profit and loss statements
  • defining your revenue streams
  • defining your expense categories
  • how to forecast revenue and expenses
  • using financial forecasts in the business plan.
  • Date: Wed 21 Aug 2024
  • Time: 10:00 - 11:30 am AEST
  • Location: Online

Register for this event through Service NSW

Was this page helpful, thanks for sharing your feedback with us..

Our live chat service is open from 8am - 8pm, Monday to Friday, across Australia (excluding national public holidays ).

Learn about the other ways you can contact us .

All our experts are busy now. Please try again later or contact us another way

We're open from 8am - 8pm, Monday to Friday, across Australia (excluding national public holidays ).

We use cookies to give you a better experience on our website. Learn more about how we use cookies and how you can select your preferences.

How to develop a money management plan

PayPal Editorial Staff

July 9, 2024

A money management plan can help individuals stay on top of daily expenses and save for the future. Digital tools can help make the process easy, convenient, and personalized based on unique financial situations.

Why is a money management plan needed?

A money management plan can help individuals manage personal finances and work toward achieving long-term and short-term goals . These could include:

  • Savings. Allocate and save funds for specific savings goals, like an emergency fund  or a vacation.
  • Avoiding debt.  Monitor spending and increase financial awareness to avoid debt.
  • Making informed decisions.  Get a clear overview of income and expenses to manage bills  and other expenditures.
  • Reducing financial stress.  Make a plan to secure finances and know that financial goals are on track to reduce money-related stress and anxiety.

Step-by-step guide to building a money management plan

A comprehensive budget plan that tracks income and expenses helps to provide a clear path to financial stability.

Here's how to set financial goals and track expenses to create a budget plan effectively.

Step 1: Gather financial information

The first step is to collect all financial details, including:

  • Income sources, like a primary job, side hustles, investments, and any other income.
  • Recurring expenses, such as rent, utilities, and different types of household expenses .
  • Non-essential spending,  like entertainment and dining out.

Step 2: Choose a tracking method

The next step is to choose a method to track finances:

  • Budgeting apps can automatically track spending , offering convenience and accuracy. But they might have additional fees.
  • Spreadsheets,  like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, can be customized to individual needs. However, they require regular manual updates.
  • Pen and paper are good for beginners but are more error-prone than digital methods.

Step 3: Set SMART financial goals

Next, set financial goals that are:

  • Specific.  Define clearly what to achieve.
  • Measurable.  Set a specific amount to track progress.
  • Achievable.  Ensure the goal is realistic.
  • Relevant.  Make sure the goal fits overall financial plans.
  • Time-bound.  Set a deadline to reach the goal.

A SMART financial goal could be: "Save $5,000 for a vacation in the next six months by setting aside $833 each month." SMART goals provide clear targets that may help improve the chances of success.

Step 4: Analyze spending habits

To analyze spending, categorize expenses into essentials (like housing and food) and non-essentials (like entertainment and dining out).

For expensive essentials, explore cheaper alternatives or consider maximizing savings by using cash back apps . For non-essentials, consider which expenses to reduce or eliminate.

Step 5: Create a budget

To create a budget that addresses savings and expenses, consider the 50/30/20 rule. It allocates 50% of income to necessities, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings and paying off debt.

Choosing a specific budgeting strategy will depend on each individual’s needs, so evaluate all options to find the right fit for one’s situation.

Step 6: Consider automating finances

Automating personal finances can improve financial discipline. Automated savings apps , for example, automatically transfer funds into a savings account. PayPal Savings 1 allows users to setup automatic transfers into their account and allocate funds to specific goals.

Another example is scheduling automatic payments for recurring bills, which can help save time and avoid potential late fees.

Step 7: Regularly review and update budgets

Regularly review the budget to ensure it aligns with changing goals and life circumstances. If one’s income, expenses, or spending patterns change, the budget should be updated to reflect this.

Examples of money management strategies

There are different strategies to manage money. Some examples include:

  • Daily expense tracking to get a clear picture of where money is being spent.
  • Budgeting tools or budgeting templates to help visualize and stick to financial plans.
  • 52-week savings challenge to help save a little more each week throughout the year.
  • Rewards programs  to earn cash back or perks on everyday purchases.
  • Budgeting tips such  as planning meals, negotiating bills, and unsubscribing from unused services.

Start building a money management plan

Knowing how to build a money management plan and stick to it is crucial for gaining control over finances.

Start effective money management with the PayPal digital wallet . It helps in splitting bills, tracking spending, and monitoring savings all in one place.

Was this content helpful?

Related content

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site. May we use marketing cookies to show you personalized ads? Manage all cookies

example of financial plan for a business plan

  • Credit cards
  • View all credit cards
  • Banking guide
  • Loans guide
  • Insurance guide
  • Personal finance
  • View all personal finance
  • Small business
  • Small business guide
  • View all taxes

You’re our first priority. Every time.

We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward — and free.

So how do we make money? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Here is a list of our partners .

Some Federal Student Loan Interest Rates at Record Highs

Profile photo of Eliza Haverstock

Eliza Haverstock is NerdWallet's higher education writer, where she covers all aspects of college affordability and student loans. Previously, she reported on billionaires and investing for Forbes in New York, and she also covered private markets for PitchBook in Seattle. Eliza got started at her college newspaper at the University of Virginia and interned for Bloomberg, where she spent a summer writing a feature story about plastic straws. She is based in Washington, D.C.

Profile photo of Cecilia Clark

Cecilia Clark is a writer and spokesperson on the education team. She covers student loan refinance and manages product reviews and roundups. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer and developed communications strategies for cybersecurity firms. Cecilia has also worked in post-secondary education, elevator operations management and sales and military nuclear command control, maintenance management and public affairs.

example of financial plan for a business plan

Many, or all, of the products featured on this page are from our advertising partners who compensate us when you take certain actions on our website or click to take an action on their website. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Federal student loan interest rates for 2024-25 are now live. Some have reached record highs, increasing the cost of college for people who will take out student loans for the upcoming school year.

Here’s how the current 2024-25 federal student loan interest rates compare to 2023-24 rates:

Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans for undergraduate students: 6.53% interest rate for 2024-25, up from 5.50%. 

Direct unsubsidized loans for graduate students : 8.08% interest rate for 2024-25, up from 7.05%

PLUS loans, available to parents and grad students to fill in funding gaps: 9.08% interest rate for 2024-25, up from 8.05%. 

Since 2006, all federal student loans have had fixed interest rates. Undergraduate direct loan interest rates haven’t been this high in 16 years, since the 2008-09 academic year. (The standing record is 6.8%, for loans disbursed between 2006 and 2008.) Interest rates on direct graduate loans and PLUS loans have never been this high.

The latest federal interest rate hikes come on the heels of major FAFSA errors , which impacted and delayed financial aid offers, including federal loan eligibility, for millions of students. For some families, private student loans with lower interest rates may look more attractive this year — but private loans come with fewer borrower protections and no forgiveness options.

Rising rates increase the total cost of college

Each spring, the government sets federal student loan interest rates for the academic year ahead. The rates are effective from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025, and they apply to all borrowers who take out new federal student loans for the 2024-25 school year. Federal student loans have fixed interest rates, so they won’t change during the repayment period — which typically lasts from 10 to 25 years, depending on your repayment plan. (If you’re already repaying older student loans, this interest rate hike doesn’t affect you.)

Ultimately, higher interest rates will make college more expensive for the millions of college students and their families who take out loans. Today, 42.8 million people collectively owe $1.62 trillion in outstanding federal student loans, per Department of Education data.

That tally may grow in the coming years: A 2024 high school graduate heading to college this fall could amass about $37,000 in student loan debt while pursuing their bachelor’s degree, according to a recent NerdWallet analysis . Dependent undergraduate students can take out no more than $31,000 in federal loans, so more students may turn to private loans to fill the gaps.

Here’s an example of how the higher interest rates can hit your wallet: If you start college in the fall and borrow $31,000 worth of unsubsidized federal direct loans over the course of your undergraduate education, with a 6.53% interest rate, you’ll wind up paying back about $42,315 under a standard 10-year repayment plan. If you’d started college in 2020-21 and taken out the same $31,000 in unsubsidized federal loans with a record-low 2.75% interest rate, you’d have had to repay around $35,510 over 10 years — a $6,805 difference.

In practice, you could pay even more. You can’t borrow the full $31,000 at once — the capped amount is split up over the years you’re in school. If you'll be a college freshman in the fall, interest rates could increase in the three (or more) years to follow.

Run the numbers with a student loan calculator to see how much your debt may cost over time.

Federal vs. private student loan interest rates

In recent years, federal student loans have offered lower interest rates than private alternatives — but that may no longer be true for some borrowers. Currently, private student loans for undergraduates have interest rates from 3.85% to 15.9%, according to a May 2024 NerdWallet analysis.

“More than ever, we are really encouraging our families to be good consumers,” says Stacey MacPhetres, senior director of education finance at EdAssist by Bright Horizons.

Shop around for private student loans and compare interest rates like you would for a mortgage, MacPhetres adds.

To qualify for the lowest rates on private student loans, borrowers must have a high credit score. Many students will need a parent or co-signer with excellent credit to co-sign the loan and accept equal legal responsibility for repaying it.

Federal student loans don’t allow co-signers, and only federal PLUS loans require a credit check. Other federal student loan borrower protections not typically offered by private lenders include:

Repayment plans that cap monthly bills at a certain percentage of your income, such as the new SAVE repayment plan . 

Extended payment pauses, like a student loan deferment or forbearance , for financial hardships. (Private loan forbearances are generally shorter and more difficult to qualify for.) 

Loan forgiveness programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). 

Loan discharges for borrowers whose school closed or defrauded them. 

As a general guideline, borrowers should prioritize federal student loans. If they still have remaining costs, private student loans are a good option to fill in the gaps.

But when it comes to PLUS loans, private alternatives may be a better choice this year if you can qualify for a lower interest rate. PLUS loans don’t offer the same robust protections and flexible repayment options as other types of federal student loans, and they have a 4.228% origination fee that most private lenders don’t require.

Submit the FAFSA and free up cash flow to minimize borrowing

Evaluate your family’s capacity to pay out of pocket or consider using some savings or investments to cover education bills this year, MacPhetres says. “We’re really trying to encourage everybody to exhaust all of their other options before borrowing at all, which includes federal student loans.”

You can also minimize your total college debt and interest payments by leaning on funding sources you won’t have to repay, like scholarships, grants and work-study. You must submit the FAFSA for each year you’ll be in school to qualify for most grants and work-study. That includes the federal need-based Pell Grant , which can give you up to $7,395 per year in free money to pay for college. Many scholarships require applicants to submit the FAFSA. You also need to submit the form to be eligible for federal student loans.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is open until June 30, 2025, for the 2024-25 school year, but you should fill it out as soon as possible to increase your chances of getting more money — some types of aid draw from limited pools and can run out.

Another strategy to reduce borrowing: See where you or your child can trim college costs in the first place.

“Your student doesn't have to live in the best residence facility right now ... or maybe they don't need the 21-meal plan if they have never eaten breakfast in their lives,” MacPhetres says. “Little things that you might not think would have a significant impact can certainly help in trying to reduce your overall spending.”

On a similar note...

example of financial plan for a business plan

How to pay off debt fast

Affiliate links for the products on this page are from partners that compensate us and terms apply to offers listed (see our advertiser disclosure with our list of partners for more details). However, our opinions are our own. See how we rate products and services to help you make smart decisions with your money.

  • To pay off debt fast, you need to exceed your minimum payments every month. 
  • Target the debt with the highest interest rate, also known as the "avalanche method."
  • Lower your interest rate by requesting a lower APR from your card provider or consolidate debt.

Carrying debt for too long — even if you're leveraging it to grow your wealth — can quickly begin to feel like a burden. 

You're not alone in your debt. Most of us don't have immediate access to cash to pay for everything we want, so we borrow money in the form of credit cards, loans, or mortgages. The average American debt is $104,215.

While this is a problem that many people share with you, it is still a problem. The more debt you have and the longer you hold it, the more interest eats at you and the more expensive it becomes. If you're holding too much debt on your credit cards — specifically more than 30% of your overall limit — this credit utilization ratio can also hurt your credit score  and make future borrowing more costly. 

With these consequences laid out, it's clear that the faster you pay off your debt, the better. Here's how you can become debt-free fast.

Accredited Debt Relief Accredited Debt Relief

Cost: 15-25% of total enrolled debt

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Online knowledge hub and blog
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Accredited with AFCC and CDRI
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Only available in 30 states

Preparing for debt repayment

List all of your debt.

If you have multiple sources of debt — say several credit cards, student loans, and a personal loan — the first step to paying off debt is determining how much debt you have to pay off. This means keeping identifying all outstanding balances, their interest rates, any minimum payments, and payment due dates. Google Sheets — or a simple pen and paper — can be an invaluable tool for keeping track.

This can be an intimidating exercise for people with a lot of debt, but there's no way to make a clear plan for tackling it without a hard look at the numbers.

Stop using credit cards

Taking on more debt while you're trying to repay a load of other debt can complicate things. While you're in repayment mode, avoid taking out another loan or using credit cards, unless you can absolutely afford to pay off the balance at the end of the month. 

Cutting off credit card spending can be a challenge. It may be worth your time to look into budgeting apps or plans that divide your take-home income into sections like the 70-20-10 budget or the 50-30-20 budget . Ideally, once your budget is laid out, you'll see how much money you can devote toward paying off debts.

Make your minimum payments

At the bare minimum, you should be setting aside enough money each month to make your monthly payments. Missing any of these, particularly missing your payments by over 30 days, will put you in credit delinquency , which can hurt your credit score and stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

Effective debt repayment strategies

Create a debt repayment plan .

Once you've got an idea of all your outstanding balances and made all your minimum payments, you can strategically distribute extra funds money across all your debts. One such strategy is the debt avalanche method, which focuses on paying off debts as fast as possible.

Once you've made all your minimum payments, the avalanche payment method concentrates any extra funds toward the debt with the highest interest rate. Focusing on paying off the most expensive debts first can speed up the entire repayment process as you save money on interest. 

Ask your credit card issuer for a lower interest rate 

Most people don't know you can call your credit card issuer to ask for a reduced APR (annual percentage rate), which can make a difference of hundreds of dollars in interest payments. There's no guarantee that they'll give you a reduced rate, but you'll be more likely to get it if you've consistently made on-time payments. 

Consider consolidation

If you have debt on multiple credit cards, you may consider consolidating your credit card debt onto one card so you can make a single monthly payment. There are two main ways you can do this: 

Balance transfer credit card: A balance transfer card allows borrowers to consolidate various credit card balances onto a new credit card, ideally one with a lower APR. You'll have to pay a transfer fee that's usually 3% to 5% of the total balance transferred, but it should be worth it in the long run.

The best balance transfer credit cards also typically come with a 0% introductory APR that can last up to 21 months. If you're able to pay off your debt within that promotional period (which should be your goal), you have the potential to save a lot of money on interest.

Debt consolidation loan: If you have other debts in addition to your credit card debt, you can look into debt consolidation loans . These work similarly to balance transfer cards, rolling all your debts into one big loan at a lower interest rate, which will depend on your credit score. Debt consolidation loans often have higher interest rates than other loan types, ranging from 6% to 36%.

Establish a payoff date

Paying off debt is a good goal to have, but paying off debt by a specific date is even better.

Carious online calculators can tell you exactly how many months you have until you're free and clear, according to your current interest rate and monthly payments. If 18 months (or more) sounds like too much, increase your monthly payment by $50 or $100 to start and see what difference it makes.

Avoiding common debt repayment pitfalls

Now that you have paid off your debt, it can be easy to rack up debt again. Those credit cards that once carried debt now have zero balances, and you may fall back into bad spending habits. It's important to set a budget, stick to it, and plan to spend so you'll be prepared for that expense. 

Try to stay motivated by increasing your savings and living frugally. Increasing your savings and establishing financial stability should replace spending unnecessarily and will help you stay out of debt. 

Frequently asked questions about how to pay off debt 

You can increase your income by taking on a side job, freelancing, or selling unused items to generate extra income to pay your debt off faster.

Yes, debt consolidation can be a good idea. It may be beneficial if it lowers your interest rate and simplifies your payments.

You can stay motivated during your debt repayment journey by setting clear goals, tracking your progress, celebrating small victories, and having a clear target date for paying off your debt.

example of financial plan for a business plan

  • Credit scores
  • Credit history
  • Credit reports
  • Saving 
  • Housing 
  • The economy
  • Financial trends

example of financial plan for a business plan

  • Retail investing
  • The stock market
  • Debt management
  • Credit bureaus
  • Identity theft and protection

example of financial plan for a business plan

  • Main content

IMAGES

  1. 50 Professional Financial Plan Templates [Personal & Business] ᐅ

    example of financial plan for a business plan

  2. 50 Professional Financial Plan Templates [Personal & Business] ᐅ

    example of financial plan for a business plan

  3. FREE 9+ Sample Financial Business Plan Templates in Google Docs

    example of financial plan for a business plan

  4. Financial Plan

    example of financial plan for a business plan

  5. What Is The Financial Plan In A Business Plan

    example of financial plan for a business plan

  6. 50 Professional Financial Plan Templates [Personal & Business] ᐅ

    example of financial plan for a business plan

VIDEO

  1. Starting a Business in Minnesota

  2. Business Plan-The Importance of the Financial Statement of Cash Flows

  3. Reviewing An Example Financial Plan for Fictional Clients Steve and Amanda Doe

  4. Business Plan Financier : les 4 documents financiers incontournables !

  5. Trendy Business Alert! Learn how to earn ₹2 lakh profit by selling Theka Coffee #coffee #theka #nil

  6. What is financial planning and why should I create a plan?

COMMENTS

  1. How to Prepare a Financial Plan for Startup Business (w/ example)

    7. Build a Visual Report. If you've closely followed the steps leading to this, you know how to research for financial projections, create a financial plan, and test assumptions using "what-if" scenarios. Now, we'll prepare visual reports to present your numbers in a visually appealing and easily digestible format.

  2. How to Write a Financial Plan: Budget and Forecasts

    Creating a financial plan is often the most intimidating part of writing a business plan. It's also one of the most vital. Businesses with well-structured and accurate financial statements are more prepared to pitch to investors, receive funding, and achieve long-term success.

  3. Business Plan Financial Templates

    This financial plan projections template comes as a set of pro forma templates designed to help startups. The template set includes a 12-month profit and loss statement, a balance sheet, and a cash flow statement for you to detail the current and projected financial position of a business. ‌. Download Startup Financial Projections Template.

  4. How to Write the Financial Section of a Business Plan

    Use the numbers that you put in your sales forecast, expense projections, and cash flow statement. "Sales, lest cost of sales, is gross margin," Berry says. "Gross margin, less expenses, interest ...

  5. Guide to Writing a Financial Plan for a Business

    The balance sheet portion of the financial plan aims to give an idea of what the business will be worth, considering all its assets and liabilities, at a future date. To do this, it uses figures from the income statement and cash flow statement. The essence of a balance sheet is found in the equation: Liabilities + Equity = Assets.

  6. Creating a Small Business Financial Plan

    Financial Plan Overview. A financial plan is a comprehensive document that charts a business's monetary objectives and the strategies to achieve them. It encapsulates everything from budgeting and forecasting to investments and resource allocation.. For small businesses, a solid financial plan provides direction, helping them navigate economic challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and ...

  7. Write your business plan

    Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts. Example traditional business plans. Before you write your business plan, read the following example business plans written by fictional business owners.

  8. Business Plan Essentials: Writing the Financial Plan

    The financial section of your business plan determines whether or not your business idea is viable and will be the focus of any investors who may be attracted to your business idea. The financial section is composed of four financial statements: the income statement, the cash flow projection, the balance sheet, and the statement of shareholders ...

  9. 4 Steps to Creating a Financial Plan for Your Small Business

    Whether the business is starting from scratch or modifying its plan, the best financial plans include the following elements: Income statement: The income statement reports the business's net profit or loss over a specific period of time, such a month, quarter or year.

  10. How to Complete the Financial Plan Section of Your Business Plan

    A business' financial plan is the part of your business plan that details how your company will achieve its financial goals. It includes information on your company's projected income, expenses, and cash flow in the form of a 5-Year Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement.

  11. Small Business Financial Plans

    A small business financial plan is an outline of the financial status of your business, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow information. A financial plan can help guide a small business toward sustainable growth. Financial plans can aid in business goal setting and metrics tracking, as well as provide proof of profitable ...

  12. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It's also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. After completing your plan, you can ...

  13. How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (+ Template and Examples)

    1. Create Your Executive Summary. The executive summary is a snapshot of your business or a high-level overview of your business purposes and plans. Although the executive summary is the first section in your business plan, most people write it last. The length of the executive summary is not more than two pages.

  14. How To Create Financial Projections for Your Business Plan

    Collect relevant historical financial data and market analysis. Forecast expenses. Forecast sales. Build financial projections. The following five steps can help you break down the process of developing financial projections for your company: 1. Identify the purpose and timeframe for your projections.

  15. Business Financial Plan Example: Strategies and Best Practices

    In this comprehensive article, we delve into the specifics of a business financial plan. We discuss its importance, the essential elements that make it up, and the steps to craft one successfully. Furthermore, we provide a practical example of a business financial plan in action, drawing upon real-world-like scenarios and strategies.

  16. 6 Elements of a Successful Financial Plan for a Small Business

    A business financial plan typically has six parts: sales forecasting, expense outlay, a statement of financial position, a cash flow projection, a break-even analysis and an operations plan. A good financial plan helps you manage cash flow and accounts for months when revenue might be lower than expected. It also helps you budget for daily and ...

  17. Financial Plan Sample For Small Business: Everything You ...

    Most financial plans include 3 specific financial statements as follows: Income statement. Cash flow statement. Balance sheet. You should utilize all three statements to come up with an analysis as to how your business is currently doing, what you expect to achieve in the coming year, and other long-term goals and visions for your company. Most ...

  18. Writing a Business Plan—Financial Projections

    The financial section of your business plan should include a sales forecast, expenses budget, cash flow statement, balance sheet, and a profit and loss statement. Be sure to follow the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) set forth by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, a private-sector organization responsible for setting ...

  19. How To Create A Financial Plan for a New Business

    You'll likely need cash to get your business going. In this section, cover how much you'll need to start, including startup costs, operational expenses, and a cushion before profit. You may try self-funding your business to avoid debts or liabilities.If so, outline a savings or funding plan. For example, you might crowdfund your startup idea.. If you need external funding, there's a few ...

  20. How to Write a Great Business Plan: Financial Analysis

    Most business plans include at least five basic reports or projections: Balance Sheet: Describes the company cash position including assets, liabilities, shareholders, and earnings retained to ...

  21. The Financial Analysis for a Small Business Plan

    The financial analysis section should be based on estimates for new businesses or recent data for established businesses. It should include these elements: Balance sheet: Your assumed and anticipated business financials, including assets, liabilities, and equity. Cash-flow analysis: An overview of the cash you anticipate will be coming into ...

  22. How to create a financial plan for your business

    Planning is an essential part of operating a business, but a business plan isn't the only roadmap you need. Cortlon Cofield, CPA and owner of Cofield Advisors, a small business financial planning service, said, "Having a well thought out financial plan for your business is the blueprint to success.". Bradford Daniel Creger, chief economist and lead wealth strategist at TFR Group, a ...

  23. Financial Services Business Plan Example

    Green Investments (GI) is a financial service company that focuses on stocks of environmentally responsible companies. The Washington-based L.L.C. is lead by Sarah Lewis and Steve Burke. GI uses financial research purchased from Bear Stearns and in-house environmental responsibility analysis to make recommendations to clients. Services.

  24. How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide

    According to Cobello, a business plan is a document that contains the mission of the business and a brief overview of it, as well as the objectives, strategies, and financial plans of the founder. A business plan comes into play very early on in the process of starting a company—more or less before you do anything else.

  25. How to Perfectly Format a Business Plan in 10 Easy Steps

    2. Keep all the sections to the point. It's great that after reading the executive summary, your readers are moving ahead to the whole plan. Though there's no defined length of a business plan—remember to keep all the sections focused. On average the plan should be 15-30 pages long.

  26. How to write a business plan and business plan template

    Here's a business plan example of a competitor analysis for a new plumbing company planning to launch in the Epsom area of Surrey. Step 4: Complete a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is a very important part of your business plan, because it helps you drill down into your idea.

  27. Developing a finance plan

    This webinar provides small business owners with the skills and knowledge required to complete a basic financial plan to be included within a business plan. It is targeted at business owners who would like to better understand key financial plans and how to use the information in their business plans. In this webinar, we will be focusing on:

  28. Step-By-Step Guide to Money Management Plans

    Examples of money management strategies. There are different strategies to manage money. Some examples include: Daily expense tracking to get a clear picture of where money is being spent.; Budgeting tools or budgeting templates to help visualize and stick to financial plans.; 52-week savings challenge to help save a little more each week throughout the year.

  29. Some Federal Student Loan Interest Rates at Record Highs

    Some interest rates for new federal student loans have hit record highs for 2024-25: 6.53% for undergraduate direct loans, 8.08% for graduate and professional direct loans, and 9.08% for PLUS loans.

  30. How to Pay Off Debt Fast: Effective Strategies and Tips

    This can be an intimidating exercise for people with a lot of debt, but there's no way to make a clear plan for tackling it without a hard look at the numbers. Stop using credit cards