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What is the best format for a business plan?

We have been building our business plan and want to know the best format to put it in. Trying to figure out the flow and proper length for the sections.

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Your business plan forma really depends on how you will be using it. Is it intended as an internal document only to get team members on the same page? Or will you be going to potential investors and using it as the core of your pitch to them? Or is it for bank financing? Landlords? Marketing tool?

First you need to determine it's uses and then you can best figure out the details of format. An internal document can be more informal and shorter in length. Something for investors would need to be much more detailed and formal.

No matter how you format it, it should be a living document otherwise it is a waste of a lot of effort. Plan to update and review it regularly to keep your team focused and on the same page about where the business is going and how to get there.


I distinguish between a business plan and a strategic plan, differing in who the audience is. If it is for outside viewers (bankers, capital providers, potential partners, etc.), then it must be a full blown business plan. quite honestly, the most important thing there is to make sure you cover all the key element sufficiently - and you can find format online, from SCORE/SBA, and a umber of different places. Again they provide the sections to cover (usually with some examples); you provide the wording.

The strategic plan, in my terminology, is an internal document. It is the business road map you (owner and/or leaders), and likely employees, vendors and maybe even clients. It does cover core elements of your business but is largely directed to effective execution.

I use a modification of a ONE PAGE plan that Verne Harnish originally developed. Just GOOGLE it or private message me and I can help.


I use a modified version of “The One Page Business Plan” by Jim Horan. It’s actually two pages when including budget on Excel Spreadsheet. It covers:
Vision – What are you building?
Mission – Why?
Strategy – How to allocate resources to create the new and better state of the future
Objectives – What will be the measurable outcomes over specified timeframe?
Action Plan – Who will do what and when?

Jim Horan doesn't include the strategy section but it helps me to help my clients who are mostly small and struggle with resources. You can find on Amazon in versions for different types of business.

BTW, the reason for a 1 page plan is to view it every day and validate you activities are consistent with goals. Also, keep it in a dynamic state so you can change as needed to advance towards your vision. Of course, it's most important to get the vision and mission right. Doesn't matter as much how you get their but that you do with reasonable efficiency and effectiveness. Hire a FocalPoint Business Coach to help you get on the optimal path and stay there.

Good Planning!


K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple. If it's too convoluted, arcane, hard to relate-to, or indirectly focused...you will lose before you begin.

Investors and potential customers HATE having to think too hard to identify with what you're trying to accomplish. If it seems too complicated, it is. Get to the point...draw a straight line between your concept, your intended audience, and the ROI you expect when you execute.

You can always park the 'deep dive' supporting information in the appendices of your plan. If someone wants the info, have it available, but your best plan is the simplest. (See also Occam's Razor).

Best of luck!


One of my mantras is, "A business plan is a story in words and numbers". The narrative, divided by headings, is mostly words with some #;s to support the idea. The Appendix holds spreadsheets, etc., starting with the most important - Cash Flow for first 12 months supported by a Sales Forecast, Cash Receipts Forecast, etc., a Funds Needed list before the 1st month of business. Repeat forecasts for 2 to 3 years into the future.
Tell the whole story w/o drowning the reader. I've seen 7 pages of Narrative do a complete job. Usually 12 to 15 pages, never more than 20. Use "see appendix" in the narrative to keep length controlled.
Good Luck, Charlene Finerty

Anonymous User

Hi, you need a strong executive summary that begins with one sentence stating what you plan to do. One paragraph on your relevant background, one paragraph expanding the business idea, one paragraph stating the purpose of the business you are starting, etc. One paragraph Stating the purpose of the document eg. to get a bank loan. One paragraph stating startup costs and outline briefly how the money is spent. Exec summary done!
Fit all this on one page and expand the information in the body of your business plan. If you need any more help, Google the business plan workbook.ie .

Best of luck! Brian Dolan


What kind of industry are you into? Your business plan also depends on the kind of the industry you belong. Study the whole process of your market and know your target audience. Since you know there is no exact strategy that you can use for the entire year or season for your business. As time goes by, changes are made. We discover new things and we lost old ones. So we must be flexible on that changes. No one wants to be left behind on the latest happenings. In order to succeed, we must adopt what is current.

You can check the templates here http://www.businessplantemplate.net/


type of question [ JUST MAKE IT EASY ] & [ DO NOT INVENT A BICYCLE ]

A business plan includes a description of a company or small business, its services and/or products and how the business will achieve its goals. The plan includes the overall budget, current and projected financing, a market analysis and its marketing strategy approach. In a business plan, a business owner projects revenues and expenses for a certain period of time and describes operational activity and costs related to the business.

The idea behind putting together a business plan is to enable owners to have a more defined picture of potential costs and drawbacks to certain business decisions and to help them modify accordingly before implementing these ideas.


Good day Kirk, many good answers. I also separate the difference between a business plan (outside) and strategic plan (internal).
Your bus plan depends on the business you're starting, should project a 5 yr grade (forecast), and ready to update a need be.
While also using the business plan as the main stay, my company also uses a 3-D ROM showing precisely what is to be. We've had great out comes I've the post several years. Banks and investors get a full detailed look at what we're projecting on paper.


The format of your business plan depends on many factors : what is your business about, your goals and ways to achieve these goals. If you feel, you're not sufficienly skiilled to prepare the business plan by yourself, then use professional services like https://www.ogscapital.com/locations (just pick your location). Anyway, I wish you good luck!

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