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Business Plan Development Guide

(6 reviews)

how to write a business plan for college

Lee Swanson, University of Saskatchewan

Copyright Year: 2017

Publisher: OPENPRESS.USASK.CA

Language: English

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Reviewed by Kevin Heupel, Affiliate Faculty, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 3/4/20

The text does a good job of providing a general outline about writing and developing a written business plan. All of the important steps and components are included. However, the text is light on details, examples, and rationale for each element... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 3 see less

The text does a good job of providing a general outline about writing and developing a written business plan. All of the important steps and components are included. However, the text is light on details, examples, and rationale for each element of the business plan. Some examples from actual business plans would be helpful.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

For the most part, the content is accurate. The content covers all important aspects of drafting a business plan. I thought the industry analysis could use more information about collecting primary and secondary sources; instead, this information was referenced in the marketing plan section.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

Most of the content relies on cites as far back as 2006; however, when it comes to developing and writing a business plan nothing has changed. Thus, the content is current and there is no concern about it becoming obsolete in the near future.

Clarity rating: 4

The text is clear. There are no difficult terms used and the writing is simple. The text uses a lot of bullet points though, which gets tedious to read for a few pages.

Consistency rating: 5

The text does a good job of maintaining consistency in terms of framework and terminology. The text is organized where it's easy to find the information you want in a quick manner.

Modularity rating: 3

The text has a lot of bullet points and the paragraphs are dense. However, the use of subheading is excellent.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The book is organized as if you're writing a business plan from start to finish, which is helpful as a practical guide.

Interface rating: 5

There are no navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, or any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

The text is free of grammatical errors. The sentence structure is simple with many bullet points, which helps to avoid any grammatical issues.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

This book was written by a Canadian professor and provides references to Canadian sources. However, the information in this text can be used for U.S. schools.

This book is very short and provides a good, general overview about the process of creating and writing a business plan. It won't help a reader if he/she is confused about a certain part of the business plan. The reader will have to find another source, such as "Preparing Effective Business Plans" by Bruce Barringer, Ph.D. The book provides links to good resources and a finished business plan that the reader can reference. I would recommend the book for undergraduate courses.

how to write a business plan for college

Reviewed by Kenneth Lacho, Professor of Management, The University of New Orleans on 6/19/18

1. Text is relevant to Canada. Not the United States 2. Needs to cover resources available to entrepreneur, e.g., federal government agencies, trade associations, chambers of commerce, economic development agencies. 3. Discuss local economy or... read more

1. Text is relevant to Canada. Not the United States 2. Needs to cover resources available to entrepreneur, e.g., federal government agencies, trade associations, chambers of commerce, economic development agencies. 3. Discuss local economy or economic area relevant to this proposed business. 4. Business model ok as a guide. 5. Suggested mission statement to cover: product/business, target customer, geographical area covered. 6. Need detailed promotion plan, e.g., personal selling, advertising, sales promotion, networking publicity, and social media. 7. How do you find the target market? 8. Chapter 6 too much detail on debt and equity financing. 9. Discuss how to find sources of financing, e.g., angels. 10. Expand coverage of bootstring, crowdfunding. 11. Chapter 4 – good checklist. 12. Chapter 3 - overlaps. 13. Chapter 7 – 3 pages of executive summary – double or single spaced typing. Number all tables, graphs. 14. Some references out-of-date, mostly academic. Bring in trade magazines such as Entrepreneur.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

In my opinion, the content is accurate and error free.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

The material is relevant to writing a business plan. I wonder if the Porter, SWOT VRIO, etc. material is too high level for students who may not be seniors or have non-business degrees (e.g., liberal arts). Porter has been around for a while and does have longevity. The author has to be more alert to changes in promotion, e.g., social media and sources of financing, e.g., crowdfunding.

Clarity rating: 3

As noted in No. 9, the tone of the writing is too academic, thus making the material difficult to understand. Paragraphs are too long. Need to define: Porter, TOWS Matrix, VRIO, PESTEL. A student less from a senior or a non-business major would not be familiar with these terms.

Consistency rating: 4

The text is internally consistent. The model approach helps keep the process consistent.

Modularity rating: 4

The process of developing a business plan is divided into blocks which are parts of the business plan. Paragraphs tend to be too long in some spots.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

The topics are presented in a logical step-wise flow. The language style is too academic in parts, paragraphs too long. Leaves out the citations. Provides excellent check lists.

There are no display features which confuse the reader.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

The text has no grammatical errors. On the other hand, I found the writing to be too academic in nature. Some paragraphs are too long. The material is more like an academic conference paper or journal submission. Academic citations references are not needed. The material is not exciting to read.

The text is culturally neutral. There are no examples which are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

This book best for a graduate class.

Reviewed by Louis Bruneau, Part Time Faculty, Portland Community College on 6/19/18

The text provides appropriate discussion and illustration of all major concepts and useful references to source and resource materials. read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

The text provides appropriate discussion and illustration of all major concepts and useful references to source and resource materials.

Contents of the book were accurate, although it could have benefited from editing/proofreading; there was no evidence of bias. As to editing/proofreading, a couple of examples: A. “Figure 1 – Business Plan… “ is shown at the top of the page following the diagram vs. the bottom of the page the diagram is on. (There are other problems with what is placed on each page.) B. First paragraph under heading “Essential Initial Research” there is reference to pages 21 to 30 though page numbering is missing from the book. (Page numbers are used in the Table of Contents.)

The book is current in that business planning has been stable for sometime. The references and resources will age in time, but are limited and look easy to update.

Clarity rating: 5

The book is written in a straightforward way, technical terms that needed explanations got them, jargon was avoided and generally it was an easy read.

The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

Modularity rating: 5

The book lends itself to a multi-week course. A chapter could be presented and students could work on that stage of Plan development. It could also be pre-meeting reading for a workshop presentation. Reorganizing the book would be inappropriate.

The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion.

Generally, the book is free of interface problems. The financial tables in the Sample Plan were turned 90° to maintain legibility. One potential problem was with Figure 6 – Business Model Canvas. The print within the cells was too small to read; the author mitigated the problem by presenting the information, following Figure 6, in the type font of the text.

I found no grammatical errors.

The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

I require a business plan in a course I teach; for most of the students the assignment is a course project that they do not intend to pursue in real life. I shared the book with five students that intended to develop an actual start-up business; three of them found it helpful while the other two decided not to do that much work on their plans. If I were planning a start-up, I would use/follow the book.

Reviewed by Todd Johnson, Faculty of Business, North Hennepin Community College on 5/21/18

The text is a thorough overview of all elements of a business plan. read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

The text is a thorough overview of all elements of a business plan.

The content is accurate and seems to lack bias.

Content seems relevant and useful . It does not help an entrepreneur generate ideas, and is very light on crowdfunding and other novel funding source content. It is more traditional. This can be easily updated in future versions, however. "Social Media" appears once in the book, as does "Crowd Funding".

The book is comprehensive, but perhaps not written in the most lucid, accessible prose. I am not sure any college student could pick this up and just read and learn. It would be best used as a "teach along guide" for students to process with an instructor.

The text seems consistent. The author does a nice job of consistently staying on task and using bullets and brevity.

Here I am not so certain. The table of contents is not a good guide for this book. It does make the book look nicely laid out, but there is a lot of complexity within these sections. I read it uncertain that it was well organized. Yes there are many good bits of information, however it is not as if I could spend time on one swathe of text at a time. I would need to go back and forth throughout the text.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 2

Similar to the above. I did not like the flow and organization of this. An editor would help things be in a more logical order.

Interface rating: 2

The interface is just OK. It is not an attractice interface, as it presents text in a very dense manner. The images and charts are hard to follow.

I did not find any grammatical errors.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

I a not certain of the origins of Saskatchewan, but I do feel this is a different read. It is more formal and dense than it has to be. This would be a difficult read for my students. I do not feel it is insensitive in any way, or offensive in any way.

I would not adopt this book if given the chance. It is too dense, and not organized very well, even though the information is very good. The density and lack of modularity are barriers to understanding what is obviously very good information.

Reviewed by Mariana Mitova, Lecturer, Bowling Green State University on 2/1/18

Though this textbook has a prescriptive nature, it is quite comprehensive. The author strikes a good balance between presenting concepts in a concise way and providing enough information to explain them. Many every-day examples and live links to... read more

Though this textbook has a prescriptive nature, it is quite comprehensive. The author strikes a good balance between presenting concepts in a concise way and providing enough information to explain them. Many every-day examples and live links to other resources add to the completeness of the textbook.

Content seems accurate.

Since the content is somewhat conceptual, the text will not become obsolete quickly. In addition, the author seems to be updating and editing content often hence the relevance to current developments is on target.

The text is very clear, written in clear and straight-to-the point language.

The organization of content is consistent throughout the entire text.

The textbook is organized by chapters, beginning with overview of the model used and followed by chapters for each concept within the model. Nicely done.

The flow is clear, logical and easy to follow.

Overall, images, links, and text are well organized. Some headlines were misaligned but still easy to follow.

No concerns for grammar.

No concerns for cultural irrelevance.

Reviewed by Darlene Weibye, Cosmetology Instructor, Minnesota State Community and Technical College on 2/1/18

The text is comprehensive and covers the information needed to develop a business plan. The book provides all the means necessary in business planning. read more

The text is comprehensive and covers the information needed to develop a business plan. The book provides all the means necessary in business planning.

The text was accurate, and error-free. I did not find the book to be biased.

The content is up-to-date. I am reviewing the book in 2017, the same year the book was published.

The content was very clear. A business plan sample included operation timelines, start up costs, and all relevant material in starting a business.

The book is very consistent and is well organized.

The book has a table of contents and is broken down into specific chapters. The chapters are not divided into sub topics. I do not feel it is necessary for sub topics because the chapters are brief and to the point.

There is a great flow from chapter to chapter. One topic clearly leads into the next without repeating.

The table of contents has direct links to each chapter. The appearance of the chapters are easy to read and the charts are very beneficial.

Does not appear to have any grammatical errors.

The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.

I am incorporating some of the text into the salon business course. Very well written book.

Table of Contents

Introduction

  • Chapter 1 – Developing a Business Plan
  • Chapter 2 – Essential Initial Research
  • Chapter 3 – Business Models
  • Chapter 4 – Initial Business Plan Draft
  • Chapter 5 – Making the Business Plan Realistic
  • Chapter 6 – Making the Plan Appeal to Stakeholders and Desirable to the Entrepreneur
  • Chapter 7 – Finishing the Business Plan
  • Chapter 8 – Business Plan Pitches

References Appendix A – Business Plan Development Checklist and Project Planner Appendix B – Fashion Importers Inc. Business Plan Business Plan Excel Template

Ancillary Material

About the book.

This textbook and its accompanying spreadsheet templates were designed with and for students wanting a practical and easy-to-follow guide for developing a business plan. It follows a unique format that both explains what to do and demonstrates how to do it.

About the Contributors

Dr. Lee Swanson is an Associate Professor of Management and Marketing at the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan. His research focuses on entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, Aboriginal entrepreneurship, community capacity-building through entrepreneurship, and institutional-stakeholder engagement. Dr. Swanson’s current research is funded through a Social Sciences Humanities Research Council grant and focuses on social and economic capacity building in Northern Saskatchewan and Northern Scandinavia. He is also actively studying Aboriginal community partnerships with resource based companies, entrepreneurship centres at universities, community-based entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial attitudes and intentions. He teaches upper-year and MBA entrepreneurship classes and conducts seminars on business planning and business development.

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College Business Plan Class Project

Start turning your business idea into a business plan, college students are getting an early start on writing business plans.

We’re often contacted by students who are in the midst of a college business plan class project. In fact, we’ve even been flattered to have professors contact us about using our materials for their own classes (which we have obliged).

Individuals from both groups often express the notion that it’s hard to write a plan designed to get a business loan without divulging personal information about credit worthiness, co-signors or guarantors. Stop right there!

The number one reason most entrepreneurs write a business plan should be to clarify their own ideas. This makes the endeavor ideally suited for a college business plan class project. After all, college is about learning about yourself and clarifying one’s own ideas and ambitions. Developing your plan as a class project is a safe, unique opportunity.

You’ll find that people knowledgeable in the industry you choose are more willing to share their time and critical thinking—where they might otherwise be guarded.

Some Ask – Does a Business Really Need a Business Plan to Succeed?

Not having a business plan when starting a business is like, well, starting without a plan. Rarely does a journey that is started without a plan, get you where you wanted to go. A business plan should be looked at as a valuable tool for guiding the development and growth of a business.

A well-written and well-researched business plan can help a business to:

Clearly define goals and objectives: A well-written plan helps to define the overall strategy and goals of a business, and to identify specific actions that will be taken to achieve these goals.

Secure funding: A solid plan is often required by investors or lenders as part of the funding process. It can help to demonstrate the potential for profitability and growth, which can increase the chances of securing funding.

Identify and target the right market: A business plan can help a business to identify the target market and competitors, and to develop a marketing and sales strategy that is tailored to the specific needs of the market.

Plan for growth: A sound plan can be used to track progress and make decisions about future growth, and to identify potential challenges that may need to be addressed.

Communicate a vision: Your plan should communicate the vision and mission of a business to employees, partners, and investors, and help to align everyone behind the goals of the company.

That being said, a business plan is not a guarantee of success, and many successful businesses have been started without one. However, having a well-crafted plan can increase the chances of success by providing a clear roadmap for the development and growth of the business.

Your College Business Idea Could Be the Next Big Thing

The ultimate reward for clarifying your own ideas is that you might just join the ranks of mega-successful companies that started out as class projects, or by individuals still in college. They include Federal Express, Dell, Google and of course Facebook.

Regardless of whether your business plan class project is something you actually intend to pursue, find a business idea that you have some passion for. Ideally, you’ll choose an idea about which you already have some familiarity, knowledge or expertise.

It’s essential that you have the mindset of the customer of your business. Being able to think like a customer is critical to knowing how to succeed in your selected business. By contrast, few delis are started by vegetarians. Start a business in an area where you are the expert.

Create a Business in a Young Industry

Leverage your advantages.

This is where college students have an edge. They are often consumers of new products or services that older, more experienced entrepreneurs are not familiar with. Choosing a business where nobody has 10, 20 or 30 years of experience can be an advantage.

While critical thinking and careful planning will certainly still be required, you can avoid stepping into a well-established industry with clear market leaders. Establishing your own experience or knowledge as a competitive advantage is a very compelling edge to any business plan.

Practice How You’ll Play

Forget that your class project is for a class or even a grade. Approach it like you’re really going to invest your time, energy and family’s money. In the end, your business has to work as a strategic and operational blueprint for your business.

This article will help you ensure that your plan is cohesive and complete. It’s also important that it is internally consistent.

This website, SmallBusinessPlans.com has numerous business plan examples for every section of your plan. Review them all!

Business Plans Should be Internally Consistent:

Backup your sales forecasts with a sales execution plan. If your plan says that you’re going to generate $1,000,000 in revenue in year one, make sure your labor and advertising budgets support that forecast.

Find financial data for similar businesses and compare your financial forecasts—particularly in the area of expenses. Too many college business plans gloss over the details. An accurate and detailed breakdown of startup costs and on-going expenses is what separates business plans from wishful thinking.

Think carefully about your go-to-market plan. Where will you start? What is the first product or service you will offer? Who will be your early customers? Almost every $100,000,000 business started out with a few thousand dollars in sales and grew from there in a thoughtful and well-planned way. Where will you start?

What Makes a Great Business Plan?

A great business plan is one that is well-researched, well-written, and effectively communicates the key elements of your business. To determine if your plan is good, you can consider several factors.

Good Business Plans Score Well in ALL these Criteria:

Clarity and conciseness: The plan should be easy to understand and effectively communicate the key elements of your business.

Realistic and achievable goals: The plan should set realistic and achievable goals for the business, with a clear strategy for achieving them.

Market research: The plan should be based on thorough market research, and should accurately identify the target market, competitors, and the size of the market opportunity.

Financial projections: The plan should include detailed financial projections that are realistic and achievable and should demonstrate the potential for profitability and growth.

Management team: The plan should include a clear description of the management team and their qualifications and should demonstrate that the team has the skills and experience necessary to execute the plan successfully.

The Class May End, but a Business Plan is an On-Going Project

It’s worth noting that a good business plan is a living document, and it should be reviewed and updated regularly. It can also be a good idea to have it reviewed by experts or mentors who have experience in the field, they can provide valuable feedback and point out areas that need improvement.

Execution Matters Most

Also, a good business plan is not only about presenting a good idea, but also about having a solid execution plan and a realistic financial projection. It’s not just about the idea, but about the team and the market too.

Treat Your Project Like Your First Investor Pitch

Most college business plan class projects require a written document and a class presentation. The written documents are often comprehensive and thorough—the product of dividing the task among several participants.

Credibility is Key

Make sure your presentation is equally focused on being compelling. Avoid the temptation to make your presentation entertaining. Your plan and your presentation should make your audience (and especially your professor) say, “I could invest in this.” Who knows, maybe someone in your audience will connect you to your first investor, client, or business partner.

For more information on the specifics of how to write your entire plan, or specific sections, refer to our  business plan template page .

College Business Plan Hackathons

A business plan hackathon is an event where participants come together over a defined period of time, usually a few days, to develop and present business plans for new ventures or startups. The event is typically organized by a business school, incubator, accelerator, or other organization that supports entrepreneurship. The event is usually open to students, entrepreneurs, and business professionals, and participants may be required to apply in advance or pay a registration fee.

Hackathons are Happening all the Time

To find a business plan hackathon, you can search online for events in your area or check with local business schools, incubators, accelerators, or startup organizations. Many hackathons are also advertised on social media and event listing websites.

Many successful businesses have come out of hackathons. For example, in 2011, the business plan for the now-popular mobile payment company Square was developed at a hackathon event called Startup Weekend. Other successful companies that have come out of hackathons include GroupMe, which was acquired by Skype in 2011, and LaunchBit, which was acquired by Google in 2015.

No GuArantees

It’s worth noting that while a hackathon can be a great opportunity to develop a business plan and get feedback, it is not a guarantee of success. A lot depends on the quality of the team, the idea, the execution and the market. But it can be a great opportunity to gain feedback and validation for the idea.

A College Business Plan Class Project is Great Training

Business plans are not just for class projects or even startups. They can be used by any business at any stage of development. A business plan is a document that outlines the strategy, goals, and financial projections of a business. It is used to guide the development and growth of the business, and to secure funding from investors or lenders.

As you’ve likely learned in your college classes, a startup plan typically includes a description of the business idea, the market opportunity, the management team, the marketing and sales strategy, and the financial projections. These plans are used to present the business concept to potential investors, partners, and customers.

An established business may also use a business plan to set strategic goals, track progress, and make decisions about future growth. These plans may include a SWOT analysis, market and competitive analysis, and financial projections. A business plan can also be useful in helping an established business to secure additional funding, such as from a bank loan or venture capital.

What you’re learning in your college business plan project can serve you well for many years, throughout your business journey. The structured planning process can help you chart your own map to success.

Other Resources

This website, SmallBusinessPlans.com has a business plan example for every aspect of your plan, plus detailed business plan templates. The sample business plan information here is designed to help you clarify your thinking and understand what goes into sound planning. In the end, the level of effort you put into critically thinking about the execution of your business, will determine your success.

Want a great business plan template you can complete in just one day?

Click GET STARTED to access our great fill in the blank business plan. Our template is in-depth and covers all the details you need to develop a foundation for many businesses of various industries. We are so confident you will like this plan that we even offer a full money back guarantee .

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How to Write the Perfect Business Plan

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Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - January 8, 2018

how to write a business plan for college

Are you planning to start a business or do you already own one ?

Sponsored School(s)

If the answer is yes, then you need a business plan .

This seems like an extremely daunting task, but if you understand your business, it won’t be hard at all. It’s simply a matter of organizing the information in a clear, concise manner.

The following article discusses how to write the perfect business plan, including the types of business plans most commonly used, top 10 do’s and don’ts, what goes into a business plan, the structure of your business, marketing and sales, your organizational and operational plan and much more.

What is a Business Plan?

What is a Business Plan

To help you write the perfect business plan, we’ll provide you with an exact outline of everything you’ll need to include, so even if you think you’re too young, you’ll have no problem starting out.

The reason many business owners first decide to put together a business plan is that they simply have to. If you want to apply for a business loan, attract investors, or obtain any necessary licensing, business plans are a prerequisite.

Even if you don’t need financing or licensing, however, it’s still a good idea to have a well-thought-out business plan. If you need to hire any key employees, a strong business plan will help attract strong talent. Whenever you need to deal with professionals, such as a consultant or an accountant, your business plan gives them invaluable insight.

Finally, it’s a good idea to put a business plan together for your own sake . As you put the business plan together, you’ll have the chance to really conceptualize and evaluate your strategy. You’ll build proof that your idea makes both financial and logistic sense. Once you start working to get your business off of the ground, a strong business plan guides and helps you stay on-track.

Types of Business Plans

Business plans come in all shapes and sizes, but you can generally whittle them down to three key versions.

Shortened Business Plan

This is an easily digestible, much shorter version of your normal business plan. Typically, it will be between three and five pages. You should include your executive summary, financials, and any information pertinent to the person/s to whom you are presenting the plan. A shortened business plan is usually made with a specific purpose or recipient in mind, so it will be easy to figure out exactly what is and isn’t important enough to make the cut.

In-depth Business Plan

Your standard business plan, and the one we will be teaching you to write . Again, these come in handy when seeking to fund your business, attract employees or work with professionals, or simply to act as a guide.

Operational Business Plan

Unlike the other two business plans we have discussed, an operational business plan is meant for internal use only. This will not be distributed to anybody except for employees or professionals working on your company’s behalf. An operational business plan focuses on the company’s overarching goals, mission, and vision so that all department stay aligned. Your Marketing and Sales, Operational Plan, and Financial sections will be key here.

What Language Should I Use?

What Language Should I Use

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts

Before we dive into our business plan outline and describe each section, let’s go over some general do’s and don’ts you’ll want to keep in mind as you write your business plan:

Do: Provide Examples

Do Provide Examples

Don’t: Overload the Reader

An in-depth business plan will contain lots of useful information and will likely end up being much more than ten pages. Because it’s so long by nature, you need to make sure to only include the most useful information in each section. Format everything carefully and correctly. Don’t use language that confuses or intimidates readers outside of your industry. The easier it is for the reader to absorb everything you’re presenting them, the more effective your business plan is.

Do: Proper Research

Do Proper Research

Don’t: Leave Any Stone Uncovered

Somebody who reads your business plan shouldn’t have any major questions left unanswered. Include complete information about what you are aiming to do, how you are going to do it, how much money is needed, etc. Use our full outline below to ensure everything is covered.

Do: Be Honest

Do Be Honest

Don’t: Hustle Just to ‘Get it Done’

Writing a business plan isn’t a task you’re completing and checking off your to-do list. Everything must be accurate, thoughtful, and well-articulated. Keep in mind: this will guide you as you operate your business and is the key to obtaining financing and/or pitching your business.

Do: Make it a Living Document

Do Make It a Living Document

Don’t: Focus Solely on Your Product

You might think your business revolves around your particular product/s or service/s, but there’s so much more to it than that. Your business plan talks about how the actual business is run, so you might want to leave the technical specifications and granular details for another time.

Do: Show Your Passion

In the end, your business plan and your business are about you. While it’s important to maintain a professional tone, don’t be afraid to let your enthusiasm about your business seep through every page.

Don’t: Write Alone

Do Show Your Passion

How to Write a Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan

  • Keep it concise.
  • Know your audience.
  • Perfect your executive summary.
  • Focus and refine constantly.
  • Gather and check all of your data.
  • Be confident, but don’t go overboard.
  • Be as clear and in-depth as possible.
  • Enhance with graphics.
  • Share and gather feedback from trusted advisors.

What Goes into a Business Plan?

When writing your business plan, you will need to put in a lot of time and research. Luckily, we’re here to walk you through all of that. A winning business plan contains the below sections, and you can use our sidebar to navigate to each of these:

  • Introduction

Executive Summary

  • Information About Your Business
  • Industry Analysis

Marketing and Sales

  • Operational Plan

Your Business Plan Introduction

Introduction

Cover Letter

A cover letter is essential whenever you are presenting the business plan to somebody for a specific reason and should be tailored to each individual. Like any other letter, it should include names, dates, and a cordial greeting. In the first paragraph, explain exactly why you are presenting the business plan to the recipient. Take one or two paragraphs to discuss your business (an even more condensed executive summary, as we will cover in the next section). Finally, let the reader know you appreciate their consideration and would be happy to address any questions or concerns. Include any necessary contact information below your name and signature.

Your title page should be clean and simple. Here’s what to include in it:

  • The title of the document (i.e. Business Plan, Business Proposal, Summary Business Plan).
  • The name of your company.
  • A sub-heading, if necessary (i.e. ‘Presented to ABC Investing Company’).
  • Who the business plan was prepared by.
  • The name of any other owners or key partners.
  • Basic contact information.

Table of Contents

A table of contents is essential to make your business plan transparent and easy to navigate. It is unlikely that a serious potential partner or investor will read through your plan once and toss it aside, so you want to make it easy for them to return and pick up where they left off or revisit any key bits of information. If you are providing a digital copy, include clickable links to each section for the reader’s benefit.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is exactly what it sounds like – a brief summary that describes the essence of what your business is and what it aims to do. Here’s how to write a winning executive summary:

  • Begin with a single sentence that sums your business up. This is otherwise known as your value proposition.
  • Describe what niche or problem your business fills or solves.
  • Explain exactly how your business solves this problem in a way that the rest of the competition does not or cannot.
  • A very brief (one or two sentences) summary of any other information from the following sections that would be critical to your business’ success.

Your Business / Company

Information About Your Business

Structure of Your Business

First and foremost, you’ll need to discuss the legal structure of your business:

  • Sole-proprietorship: simple to set-up, but the owner is fully liable for any debts or obligations.
  • Partnership: a general partnership is also simple to set-up, but all partners would be liable. Limited partnerships, or LPs, are a bit more complicated.
  • Corporation: a corporation is owned by stockholders, so it is unlikely you will either want or need to structure as one. There are two types of corporations, which vary in terms of shareholder limitations and tax liabilities: S corporations and C corporations.
  • Limited liability corporation (LLC): an LLC is generally the best of both worlds for small businesses. The owner’s’ liability is limited, and taxation is that of a partnership, which provides better flexibility over a corporation.

Once the legal structure is determined, you’ll need to break down the ownership of the business. Are you the sole owner? Do you have business partners? Has anybody purchased a share of the business in exchange for funding? Provide a brief introduction to any key executives or owners, outlining what strengths they have and how they will impact the business.

Finally, include a brief history (if any) of your business, and any pertinent location details.

Business Vision, Mission, and Values

This is one of the most important sections of your business plan. Here, you need to impart your passion for the business and really describe what you’re trying to achieve.

Business Vision

Your vision statement is all about the company’s goals. It serves as a template for exactly what you’re trying to achieve, both short-term and long-term. Don’t hold back when it comes to your vision: if your goal is to eventually dominate the Northeastern coffee shop scene, say that. A vision statement is your chance to think big.

Where a vision statement thinks big, a mission statement is more practical. Your mission statement should discuss your company’s purpose. Why does it even exist in the first place? This mission statement will act to provide organizational direction and help you achieve your vision.

The values are all about how you plan to operate your business in relation to the stakeholders. This includes investors, customers, and members of the local community. How do you plan to treat them? What are you doing to make their lives and the world they live in better?

Analyzing the Industry

Analyzing the Industry

Market Size

Here, you’ll describe exactly how large the market is. You should be able to find national figures with relatively little research. If you’re not serving a national or international market, discuss how large the population you plan to serve is. Extrapolating from the national information, how big do you expect your actual market size to be?

In addition, you should discuss any important trends. Is your market growing or retracting? If your market is growing, discuss how you project to fit into that growth and seize your market share. If your market is shrinking, discuss why you think entering the marketplace is worthwhile, and whether or not you project growth in the future.

Industry Focus and Trends

Industry Analysis

First, you’ll want to talk about the industry in general. This includes looping back to the market size and discussing whether it is growing, stagnant, or shrinking. Are there any overarching trends or cycles that will affect your business?

This is also a good opportunity to discuss pricing. What type of money does your average customer spend in your industry? What price point are you aiming for, and why is that a good strategy? If you aren’t competing on price, what reasons do you have to believe that somebody will be willing to spend more on your business?

Below, we will discuss two valuable business models you can and should use to discuss your industry further.

PEST Analysis

PEST Analysis

  • Political: what impact could the government have on your business. Is there any pending legislation that could change how you operate? Would tax changes or tariffs cause a financial strain?
  • Economic: would an economic downturn cause sales to tumble, or is your business relatively immune to economic factors? Furthermore, what do current economic trends (inflation, consumer demand, etc.) say about your short-term potential?
  • Social: are there any relevant social or cultural trends that are shaping the industry? Is there a distinct seasonality to your business? Consider, for example, the impact of the Christmas season to retailers in the United States.
  • Technological: how has technology shaped your industry over the past decade? Take a look at the future and make an educated guess on where the industry is headed, and how you’ll fit into that future.

Sometimes PEST is lengthened to PESTLE to include any legal or environmental factors as well. If you believe either will have a significant impact on your business, make sure to include it as well.

Porter’s 5 Forces Analysis

Porter 5 Forces

  • Competition: we will go into this in more detail next, but for this model you should discuss how much competition there is, and how profitable they might be.
  • Threat of new entrants: how easy is it for somebody to enter your industry? For a casino, it would be quite difficult (extensive significant licensing and upfront costs), but for a food truck, it would be quite minimal. The easier it is to enter your industry, the greater the threat is of somebody else entering and stealing your market share.
  • Power of suppliers : if your industry has a low number of suppliers or suppliers that are dominated by much larger companies, you will have a problem sourcing on-budget and on-time. If you aren’t reliant on very specific suppliers, however, or if there is competition among suppliers, you can find yourself in an advantageous position.
  • Power of customers: specifically, do your customers have the ability to drive prices down? If you expect to have a large number of small customers, your price will remain relatively stable. However, if you plan on having a small number of very important customers, they maintain the power to dramatically impact your pricing and profitability.
  • Threat of substitutes: how likely is it that somebody will forego your offering for a comparable substitute. If you’re a restaurant, for example, Amazon’s grocery delivery business would be a substitute, since people may decide to stay home and cook for themselves.

Competition

It’s just as important to discuss how your competition is navigating the industry you plan on dominating. With a strong idea of where your competition is positioned and the strategic decisions they are making you will be able to determine where your own business fits in.

To begin, discuss what your competition looks like. Are there many small businesses vying for the same customers or are you competing against a couple of whales? List your most important competitors and summarize them. Discuss their location, products, pricing, market share, and any important strategic decisions they have made. Use this information to create a list of their strengths and weaknesses.

After discussing the competition, it’s time to think about where you fit among them. SWOT Analysis is the perfect model to do just that.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis

Here is what a complete SWOT Analysis looks like:

  • Strengths:  Exactly as it sounds. What do you do best? What do you do that the competition absolutely cannot?
  • Weaknesses:  Be honest. Are there any resources you lack? Any skillsets that are missing? What isn’t as efficient as it could be?
  • Opportunities:  Improving any of your weaknesses is a major opportunity. In addition to that, consider internal or external factors that might change and present a new business opportunity. Finally, are there any complementary products or services that you could consider offering to your customers?
  • Threats:  What potential is there for your business to be damaged? Are there any industry or economic trends? Could your competition change strategies and harm you? Do any obstacles to success stand in your way?

Once you have completed the SWOT analysis, wrap this section up by talking about your own competitive strategy. Given your industry, the competition, and your own SWOT analysis, what decisions are you making to position the company to succeed?

Readers of your business plan definitely need to know how you’ll be marketing and selling your product or service.There are going to be three key elements of your marketing plan.

Customer Segmentation

Customer Segmentation

  • Demographic information – age, gender.
  • Psychographic profile – what do they care about? What motivates them? What do they value? Where do they get their information?
  • Socioeconomic profile – income, lifestyle preference.

Describe your target audience in great detail. The more you know about your customer, the easier it will be to market to them.

Advertising and Promotion Plan

After building a strong customer profile of your target audience, you should know what your customer cares about. Think about how your business fits into that, and strategize how you’re going to market to them. Use their demographic and behavioral information to determine the most appropriate channels to focus on.

Branding

Your brand should seep into all aspects of your business – the website, advertisements, and even the tone of communications with customers. Whatever strategies you have for these elements, make sure to lay them out.

Finally, include your company logo and slogan, if they already exist. If not, you should begin to think about them and use the rest of this section as a guide.

Sales Distribution Plan

How exactly do you plan on getting your goods or services into somebody’s hands? Do you plan on hiring a sales staff or will you handle it all yourself initially? Do you plan on doing inbound or outbound sales? What does the sales process look at each step of the marketing funnel?

You’ll also need to think about and discuss pricing. Discuss your pricing strategy and why it’s a good value for your customers. If you are going low or moderately priced, discuss how you can stay profitable and remain differentiated from the competition. If you are a luxury brand, discuss why somebody will be willing to pay more for your business than the competition.

Lastly, consider distribution. Are you going to allow customers to purchase directly from you? Will they have to go through distributors? Do you have any retail partnerships to leverage? These are important decisions that have a profound impact on a business.

Organizational and Operational Plan

Operational Plan

Production Process

Production Process

Here are some ideas of what you’ll need to outline:

  • Raw materials – how much do they cost? Do prices fluctuate? Is supply limited in quantity or how quickly it can be obtained in a pinch?
  • What machines, technologies, etc., do you use for production? What costs are involved in these? Are you renting or do you own them?
  • What is your estimated daily output?
  • How easy is it to scale up or down as necessary? How does this impact the cost per unit?
  • Which methods of quality control do you employ, both pre- and post-production?

Supply Chain Management

If you’re a service business, you might not have any physical inventory, but your employees should be considered as your supply. After all, without them, you won’t be able to provide your services to your customers. What strategies do you have to recruit and retain the best talent possible? Can you scale quickly through recruiting and training, overtime, or an increase in part-time help?

You should also look back at your sales distribution plan and consider the logistics of shipping any physical products. How often will orders be fulfilled? Do you have the ability to rush orders if necessary? How will returns or incorrect shipments be handled in a way that keeps everybody happy?

Financials

Here are the components you must include in your business plan’s financial information:

Forecasted Sales

Use all of the marketing data you’ve put together to determine what a reasonable sales forecast looks like. Project your sales for a period of two or three years, going one month at a time. Include seasonality whenever applicable. As you forecast sales, include exactly how much revenue you expect to earn from those sales, and the total direct cost of those sales. You’ll be able to use these figures to determine revenue and gross margin, which you should use to compare to industry and competitive standards.

Projected Expenses

Forecasted Sales

Fixed costs are going to stay the same whether you sell one widget or twenty. For example, rent, electricity, insurance, marketing costs, and payroll (with the exception of commission and bonuses), will mostly stay the same no matter what sales look like.

Variable costs, on the other hand, will vary by each unit sold. This includes the cost of materials, shipping, coupons, taxes, etc. Most of this should already be covered in your forecasted sales report, but make sure that nothing is overlooked.

Make sure to consider that as you scale, some fixed costs may become variable. As sales increase, you may have to hire more employees, or move into a bigger office. Keep this in mind by always referring back to your forecasted sales and estimating your business needs as best you can.

Balance Sheet

Everything comes together on your balance sheet. This includes your projected sales and expenses, but also deals with assets and liabilities.For example, if you take out a loan, you’ll need to include the capital in your assets and the repayments, including interest, in your liabilities. Non-monetary assets, such as the property and machinery must also be included.

You can find a sample balance sheet here .

Cash Flow Statement

Cash Flow Statememt

Month by month, you’ll track exactly how much cash you expect to leave your hands and how much will come in. Keep in mind that not all sales are paid fully right away. Consider how many sales will be paid in full at the time of sale, how many will be paid in 30 days, 60 days, or go completely delinquent.

Once you have your cash flow statement completed, run some quick analysis. Compare your projected expenses each month to the projected cash coming in each month. For any months that project to have a negative cash flow, ensure you have enough money on hand to cover the difference.

You may find two examples of completed cash flow statements here and here .

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value is an estimate of exactly how much each customer you acquire will be worth total. A simple way to calculate this is by determining how many purchases a customer makes before churning, and multiplying it by the average amount of their purchase. In other words, how many purchases will they make before moving on from your business, and how much will those purchases be worth?

Let’s take a look at a real-world example. Let’s assume you’re running an oil change business, and you know your average customer gets three oil changes per year. With premium options and add-ons, your average sale is $38.50. Each customer spends an average of three years with you before churning (perhaps they have moved away or found another service they prefer).

In this example, your expected CLV would be $346.50. You know each average customer will make 3 purchases per year, for 3 years, at $38.50 each. 3 x 3 x $38.50 = $346.50, which is your CLV.

Why is CLV so important? Let’s take a look at unit economics.

Unit Economics

Unit Economics

The formula for cost of acquisition is simple. Divide your total marketing spend by the number of customers you have acquired through all marketing channels. If you spend $25,000 across all marketing channels and acquire 1,000 customers, your average cost per acquisition is $25.00.

Tracking your marketing expenses isn’t the tricky part. Attributing each user to a specific campaign, however, can be. If somebody walks into your store after seeing a TV ad, for example, it can be hard to properly attribute them. Digital campaigns are a bit easier, as there are typically tracking links that make everything easy to calculate. You’ll have to do your due diligence and make your best-educated guesses here, using industry standards whenever necessary and possible.

You should also take the time to break out your unit economics into each marketing channel. This allows you to track which channels are performing well and which ones aren’t. If Facebook is attracting lots of customers but you’re spending so much that your cost of acquisition is higher than expected CLV, you might actually need to stop spending money there.

It’s important to be very clear about exactly how your business has been funded so far. This includes what you have received through investments, series rounds, or personal loans. You will also need to mention any personal funds that you have put into the business, and how much you have saved that you are willing to put into it in the future.

Once you have discussed the funding your business has received, it is appropriate to lay out exactly how much you’ll need. Make sure to also discuss exactly what any loans or investments will be used for and how that spending will be tracked.

Business Plan Resources

Business plan samples.

To reinforce everything we’ve discussed above, let’s take a look at some sample business plans that have already been put together for your review. We’ll discuss some key takeaways from each plan, helping you consider how your business is unique and what you’ll need to emphasize.

Coffee Shop Business Plan

A coffee shop is a nice, simple business to start our samples with. A coffee shop requires a small storefront, and the location is critical. Most people will gladly stop in for a nice cup of coffee but are unlikely to drive miles out of their way for one. Notice that because of this, the sales forecast is relatively stagnant, even after several years.

Click here for the sample business plan.

Restaurant Business Plan

A restaurant business plan will be similar to a coffee shop, but is a little more involved. Start-up costs are higher as it requires a larger storefront and a larger variety of equipment. Variable costs are higher as a quality meal costs much more than a cup of coffee. The sales forecast shows more growth, as people are more willing to travel for a good meal than they are a simple cup of coffee.

Food Truck Business Plan

Let’s consider a third food-based business to really drive home how businesses that appear similar will have important differences. Food trucks have a much different fixed cost structure than a coffee shop or restaurant, as they don’t have a physical location. Seasonality and location will have a huge impact on salespeople won’t want to stand outside for a burrito when it’s cold and snowy outside. With a much smaller staff, a food truck is also more likely to be open for lunch only, or closed a couple days per week.

Startup Business Plan

It’s good to take a look at a general startup business plan to get an idea of how to estimate costs, sales, etc. This sample plan is a take-out pizza joint. Notice that trends are important, as the business plan notes their market is a growing area and they are aiming to fill a niche for low to middle-income families, which comprise the majority of residents in their service area. They use a mixture of studies and geographic data to make conservative estimates, giving potential investors confidence that the business can be profitable if the strategies are successfully executed.

Photography Business Plan

A photography business is a great example of a company that is minimal to the extreme. Mostly, you will be relying on your own skills and experience. Minus initial equipment and the cost of your own time, expenses are minimal. Still, you see that it’s important to have a strong plan in place so that you understand how to position your services and who exactly you’re aiming to serve.

Business Plan Tools

Here are a variety of tools that make both writing a business plan and getting your business off the ground much easier:

If you want to quickly build your idea into a business plan to validate its value or just to get started, LivePlan is perfect. The business planning process is made simple, as you simply need to answer questions and are given plenty of examples, videos, and tutorials along the way. You can even use LivePlan to collaborate with partners or investors, testing ideas on the fly and seeing its impact on your business’ health.

Click here to take a look at LivePlan.

Rocket Lawyer

When you’re starting a business, it’s extremely likely you’ll need quick legal help. You might need advice on licensing, permits, or zoning. Or perhaps you want to discuss how to structure your business as an LLC. Rocket Lawyer can help. You’ll have access to their services for a monthly fee that’s less than a cup of coffee each day. There’s an even option to help incorporate your business by filling out a couple of quick forms.

Click here to take a look at Rocket Lawyer.

Like LivePlan, StratPad offers a cloud-based chance to build your business plan and strategy on the fly. StratPad offers a demo for their services and if you’re looking for funding will even match you up automatically with a financial institution that makes sense for your business. Our suggestion is to take a look at both LivePlan and StratPad and select the one that you like best.

Click here to take a look at StratPad.

If you’re looking for a simple way to create a professional business plan without all the bells and whistles, BizPlan is perfect for you. You’ll be able to create a stylish, professional business plan using intuitive drag-and-drop templates. Financials are easy to create using a user-friendly dashboard.

Click here to take a look at BizPlan.

A typo can derail your business plan and make you look sloppy and unprepared, no matter how much effort you put into it. Grammarly is a world-class spell checker that also checks for many of the most common grammatical error for free. There’s even a browser-based version that you can use no matter where you are. For a fee, you can subscribe to Grammarly Premium, which provides an even more granular check.

Click here to take a look at Grammarly.

Business Plan Templates

Now that we have an idea of everything you need to include in your business plan and which tools you’ll need to get started, it’s time to get started. Here are some websites with sample business plan templates you may use to make writing the perfect business plan a bit easier:

  • Score.org has a variety of business plan and financial statement templates, including ones for both start-ups and established businesses.
  • Microsoft Office’s website has many valuable business plan templates, including a checklist and PowerPoint Presentation templates for pitching your business plan.
  • The S. Small Business Administration allows you to create a business plan with a free account that you can download and distribute as a PDF.
  • Santa Clara University provides a 15-section business plan that can be downloaded one section at a time or all at once.
  • Law Depot offers a business plan template tailored for you. Simply answer some quick questions and your template is instantly ready to download.

How to Write a Business Plan Conclusion

In the end, a business plan is a highly unique and personalized document. A business plan that is right for your business won’t be right for any other business in the world. By closely following the outline and strategies above, however, you’ll have a great base to begin crafting your own perfect business plan.

Bibliography:

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  • Gregory, A. How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis for Your Small Business. The Balance. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/swot-analysis-for-small-business-2951706.
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  • Johnson, J. How to Write a Cover Letter for a Business Plan. Small Business Chronicle. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/write-cover-letter-business-plan-43209.html.
  • Katz, A. Determining the Best Legal Structure for Your Business. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236450.
  • Kolowich, A. How to Write a Business Plan: A Bookmarkable Guide (With Examples). HubSpot. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-a-business-plan.
  • Lavinsky, D. Marketing Plan Template: Exactly What To Include. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davelavinsky/2013/09/30/marketing-plan-template-exactly-what-to-include/#1ddaeeb43503.
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Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Simple Business Plan

By Joe Weller | October 11, 2021

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A business plan is the cornerstone of any successful company, regardless of size or industry. This step-by-step guide provides information on writing a business plan for organizations at any stage, complete with free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan and a chart to identify which type of business plan you should write . Plus, find information on how a business plan can help grow a business and expert tips on writing one .

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that communicates a company’s goals and ambitions, along with the timeline, finances, and methods needed to achieve them. Additionally, it may include a mission statement and details about the specific products or services offered.

A business plan can highlight varying time periods, depending on the stage of your company and its goals. That said, a typical business plan will include the following benchmarks:

  • Product goals and deadlines for each month
  • Monthly financials for the first two years
  • Profit and loss statements for the first three to five years
  • Balance sheet projections for the first three to five years

Startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses all create business plans to use as a guide as their new company progresses. Larger organizations may also create (and update) a business plan to keep high-level goals, financials, and timelines in check.

While you certainly need to have a formalized outline of your business’s goals and finances, creating a business plan can also help you determine a company’s viability, its profitability (including when it will first turn a profit), and how much money you will need from investors. In turn, a business plan has functional value as well: Not only does outlining goals help keep you accountable on a timeline, it can also attract investors in and of itself and, therefore, act as an effective strategy for growth.

For more information, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a strategic plan or download free strategic plan templates . This page focuses on for-profit business plans, but you can read our article with nonprofit business plan templates .

Business Plan Steps

The specific information in your business plan will vary, depending on the needs and goals of your venture, but a typical plan includes the following ordered elements:

  • Executive summary
  • Description of business
  • Market analysis
  • Competitive analysis
  • Description of organizational management
  • Description of product or services
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales strategy
  • Funding details (or request for funding)
  • Financial projections

If your plan is particularly long or complicated, consider adding a table of contents or an appendix for reference. For an in-depth description of each step listed above, read “ How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step ” below.

Broadly speaking, your audience includes anyone with a vested interest in your organization. They can include potential and existing investors, as well as customers, internal team members, suppliers, and vendors.

Do I Need a Simple or Detailed Plan?

Your business’s stage and intended audience dictates the level of detail your plan needs. Corporations require a thorough business plan — up to 100 pages. Small businesses or startups should have a concise plan focusing on financials and strategy.

How to Choose the Right Plan for Your Business

In order to identify which type of business plan you need to create, ask: “What do we want the plan to do?” Identify function first, and form will follow.

Use the chart below as a guide for what type of business plan to create:

Is the Order of Your Business Plan Important?

There is no set order for a business plan, with the exception of the executive summary, which should always come first. Beyond that, simply ensure that you organize the plan in a way that makes sense and flows naturally.

The Difference Between Traditional and Lean Business Plans

A traditional business plan follows the standard structure — because these plans encourage detail, they tend to require more work upfront and can run dozens of pages. A Lean business plan is less common and focuses on summarizing critical points for each section. These plans take much less work and typically run one page in length.

In general, you should use a traditional model for a legacy company, a large company, or any business that does not adhere to Lean (or another Agile method ). Use Lean if you expect the company to pivot quickly or if you already employ a Lean strategy with other business operations. Additionally, a Lean business plan can suffice if the document is for internal use only. Stick to a traditional version for investors, as they may be more sensitive to sudden changes or a high degree of built-in flexibility in the plan.

How to Write a Business Plan Step by Step

Writing a strong business plan requires research and attention to detail for each section. Below, you’ll find a 10-step guide to researching and defining each element in the plan.

Step 1: Executive Summary

The executive summary will always be the first section of your business plan. The goal is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the vision and mission of the company?
  • What are the company’s short- and long-term goals?

See our  roundup of executive summary examples and templates for samples. Read our executive summary guide to learn more about writing one.

Step 2: Description of Business

The goal of this section is to define the realm, scope, and intent of your venture. To do so, answer the following questions as clearly and concisely as possible:

  • What business are we in?
  • What does our business do?

Step 3: Market Analysis

In this section, provide evidence that you have surveyed and understand the current marketplace, and that your product or service satisfies a niche in the market. To do so, answer these questions:

  • Who is our customer? 
  • What does that customer value?

Step 4: Competitive Analysis

In many cases, a business plan proposes not a brand-new (or even market-disrupting) venture, but a more competitive version — whether via features, pricing, integrations, etc. — than what is currently available. In this section, answer the following questions to show that your product or service stands to outpace competitors:

  • Who is the competition? 
  • What do they do best? 
  • What is our unique value proposition?

Step 5: Description of Organizational Management

In this section, write an overview of the team members and other key personnel who are integral to success. List roles and responsibilities, and if possible, note the hierarchy or team structure.

Step 6: Description of Products or Services

In this section, clearly define your product or service, as well as all the effort and resources that go into producing it. The strength of your product largely defines the success of your business, so it’s imperative that you take time to test and refine the product before launching into marketing, sales, or funding details.

Questions to answer in this section are as follows:

  • What is the product or service?
  • How do we produce it, and what resources are necessary for production?

Step 7: Marketing Plan

In this section, define the marketing strategy for your product or service. This doesn’t need to be as fleshed out as a full marketing plan , but it should answer basic questions, such as the following:

  • Who is the target market (if different from existing customer base)?
  • What channels will you use to reach your target market?
  • What resources does your marketing strategy require, and do you have access to them?
  • If possible, do you have a rough estimate of timeline and budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Step 8: Sales Plan

Write an overview of the sales strategy, including the priorities of each cycle, steps to achieve these goals, and metrics for success. For the purposes of a business plan, this section does not need to be a comprehensive, in-depth sales plan , but can simply outline the high-level objectives and strategies of your sales efforts. 

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is the sales strategy?
  • What are the tools and tactics you will use to achieve your goals?
  • What are the potential obstacles, and how will you overcome them?
  • What is the timeline for sales and turning a profit?
  • What are the metrics of success?

Step 9: Funding Details (or Request for Funding)

This section is one of the most critical parts of your business plan, particularly if you are sharing it with investors. You do not need to provide a full financial plan, but you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How much capital do you currently have? How much capital do you need?
  • How will you grow the team (onboarding, team structure, training and development)?
  • What are your physical needs and constraints (space, equipment, etc.)?

Step 10: Financial Projections

Apart from the fundraising analysis, investors like to see thought-out financial projections for the future. As discussed earlier, depending on the scope and stage of your business, this could be anywhere from one to five years. 

While these projections won’t be exact — and will need to be somewhat flexible — you should be able to gauge the following:

  • How and when will the company first generate a profit?
  • How will the company maintain profit thereafter?

Business Plan Template

Business Plan Template

Download Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel | Smartsheet

This basic business plan template has space for all the traditional elements: an executive summary, product or service details, target audience, marketing and sales strategies, etc. In the finances sections, input your baseline numbers, and the template will automatically calculate projections for sales forecasting, financial statements, and more.

For templates tailored to more specific needs, visit this business plan template roundup or download a fill-in-the-blank business plan template to make things easy. 

If you are looking for a particular template by file type, visit our pages dedicated exclusively to Microsoft Excel , Microsoft Word , and Adobe PDF business plan templates.

How to Write a Simple Business Plan

A simple business plan is a streamlined, lightweight version of the large, traditional model. As opposed to a one-page business plan , which communicates high-level information for quick overviews (such as a stakeholder presentation), a simple business plan can exceed one page.

Below are the steps for creating a generic simple business plan, which are reflected in the template below .

  • Write the Executive Summary This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what’s in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. 
  • Add a Company Overview Document the larger company mission and vision. 
  • Provide the Problem and Solution In straightforward terms, define the problem you are attempting to solve with your product or service and how your company will attempt to do it. Think of this section as the gap in the market you are attempting to close.
  • Identify the Target Market Who is your company (and its products or services) attempting to reach? If possible, briefly define your buyer personas .
  • Write About the Competition In this section, demonstrate your knowledge of the market by listing the current competitors and outlining your competitive advantage.
  • Describe Your Product or Service Offerings Get down to brass tacks and define your product or service. What exactly are you selling?
  • Outline Your Marketing Tactics Without getting into too much detail, describe your planned marketing initiatives.
  • Add a Timeline and the Metrics You Will Use to Measure Success Offer a rough timeline, including milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will use to measure your progress.
  • Include Your Financial Forecasts Write an overview of your financial plan that demonstrates you have done your research and adequate modeling. You can also list key assumptions that go into this forecasting. 
  • Identify Your Financing Needs This section is where you will make your funding request. Based on everything in the business plan, list your proposed sources of funding, as well as how you will use it.

Simple Business Plan Template

Simple Business Plan Template

Download Simple Business Plan Template

Microsoft Excel |  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this simple business plan template to outline each aspect of your organization, including information about financing and opportunities to seek out further funding. This template is completely customizable to fit the needs of any business, whether it’s a startup or large company.

Read our article offering free simple business plan templates or free 30-60-90-day business plan templates to find more tailored options. You can also explore our collection of one page business templates . 

How to Write a Business Plan for a Lean Startup

A Lean startup business plan is a more Agile approach to a traditional version. The plan focuses more on activities, processes, and relationships (and maintains flexibility in all aspects), rather than on concrete deliverables and timelines.

While there is some overlap between a traditional and a Lean business plan, you can write a Lean plan by following the steps below:

  • Add Your Value Proposition Take a streamlined approach to describing your product or service. What is the unique value your startup aims to deliver to customers? Make sure the team is aligned on the core offering and that you can state it in clear, simple language.
  • List Your Key Partners List any other businesses you will work with to realize your vision, including external vendors, suppliers, and partners. This section demonstrates that you have thoughtfully considered the resources you can provide internally, identified areas for external assistance, and conducted research to find alternatives.
  • Note the Key Activities Describe the key activities of your business, including sourcing, production, marketing, distribution channels, and customer relationships.
  • Include Your Key Resources List the critical resources — including personnel, equipment, space, and intellectual property — that will enable you to deliver your unique value.
  • Identify Your Customer Relationships and Channels In this section, document how you will reach and build relationships with customers. Provide a high-level map of the customer experience from start to finish, including the spaces in which you will interact with the customer (online, retail, etc.). 
  • Detail Your Marketing Channels Describe the marketing methods and communication platforms you will use to identify and nurture your relationships with customers. These could be email, advertising, social media, etc.
  • Explain the Cost Structure This section is especially necessary in the early stages of a business. Will you prioritize maximizing value or keeping costs low? List the foundational startup costs and how you will move toward profit over time.
  • Share Your Revenue Streams Over time, how will the company make money? Include both the direct product or service purchase, as well as secondary sources of revenue, such as subscriptions, selling advertising space, fundraising, etc.

Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Lean Business Plan Templates for Startups

Download Lean Business Plan Template for Startups

Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF

Startup leaders can use this Lean business plan template to relay the most critical information from a traditional plan. You’ll find all the sections listed above, including spaces for industry and product overviews, cost structure and sources of revenue, and key metrics, and a timeline. The template is completely customizable, so you can edit it to suit the objectives of your Lean startups.

See our wide variety of  startup business plan templates for more options.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan

A business plan for a loan, often called a loan proposal , includes many of the same aspects of a traditional business plan, as well as additional financial documents, such as a credit history, a loan request, and a loan repayment plan.

In addition, you may be asked to include personal and business financial statements, a form of collateral, and equity investment information.

Download free financial templates to support your business plan.

Tips for Writing a Business Plan

Outside of including all the key details in your business plan, you have several options to elevate the document for the highest chance of winning funding and other resources. Follow these tips from experts:.

  • Keep It Simple: Avner Brodsky , the Co-Founder and CEO of Lezgo Limited, an online marketing company, uses the acronym KISS (keep it short and simple) as a variation on this idea. “The business plan is not a college thesis,” he says. “Just focus on providing the essential information.”
  • Do Adequate Research: Michael Dean, the Co-Founder of Pool Research , encourages business leaders to “invest time in research, both internal and external (market, finance, legal etc.). Avoid being overly ambitious or presumptive. Instead, keep everything objective, balanced, and accurate.” Your plan needs to stand on its own, and you must have the data to back up any claims or forecasting you make. As Brodsky explains, “Your business needs to be grounded on the realities of the market in your chosen location. Get the most recent data from authoritative sources so that the figures are vetted by experts and are reliable.”
  • Set Clear Goals: Make sure your plan includes clear, time-based goals. “Short-term goals are key to momentum growth and are especially important to identify for new businesses,” advises Dean.
  • Know (and Address) Your Weaknesses: “This awareness sets you up to overcome your weak points much quicker than waiting for them to arise,” shares Dean. Brodsky recommends performing a full SWOT analysis to identify your weaknesses, too. “Your business will fare better with self-knowledge, which will help you better define the mission of your business, as well as the strategies you will choose to achieve your objectives,” he adds.
  • Seek Peer or Mentor Review: “Ask for feedback on your drafts and for areas to improve,” advises Brodsky. “When your mind is filled with dreams for your business, sometimes it is an outsider who can tell you what you’re missing and will save your business from being a product of whimsy.”

Outside of these more practical tips, the language you use is also important and may make or break your business plan.

Shaun Heng, VP of Operations at Coin Market Cap , gives the following advice on the writing, “Your business plan is your sales pitch to an investor. And as with any sales pitch, you need to strike the right tone and hit a few emotional chords. This is a little tricky in a business plan, because you also need to be formal and matter-of-fact. But you can still impress by weaving in descriptive language and saying things in a more elegant way.

“A great way to do this is by expanding your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition, and using business language. Instead of saying that something ‘will bring in as many customers as possible,’ try saying ‘will garner the largest possible market segment.’ Elevate your writing with precise descriptive words and you'll impress even the busiest investor.”

Additionally, Dean recommends that you “stay consistent and concise by keeping your tone and style steady throughout, and your language clear and precise. Include only what is 100 percent necessary.”

Resources for Writing a Business Plan

While a template provides a great outline of what to include in a business plan, a live document or more robust program can provide additional functionality, visibility, and real-time updates. The U.S. Small Business Association also curates resources for writing a business plan.

Additionally, you can use business plan software to house data, attach documentation, and share information with stakeholders. Popular options include LivePlan, Enloop, BizPlanner, PlanGuru, and iPlanner.

How a Business Plan Helps to Grow Your Business

A business plan — both the exercise of creating one and the document — can grow your business by helping you to refine your product, target audience, sales plan, identify opportunities, secure funding, and build new partnerships. 

Outside of these immediate returns, writing a business plan is a useful exercise in that it forces you to research the market, which prompts you to forge your unique value proposition and identify ways to beat the competition. Doing so will also help you build (and keep you accountable to) attainable financial and product milestones. And down the line, it will serve as a welcome guide as hurdles inevitably arise.

Streamline Your Business Planning Activities with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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How to Write a Business Plan, Step by Step

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Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. 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 .

What is a business plan?

1. write an executive summary, 2. describe your company, 3. state your business goals, 4. describe your products and services, 5. do your market research, 6. outline your marketing and sales plan, 7. perform a business financial analysis, 8. make financial projections, 9. summarize how your company operates, 10. add any additional information to an appendix, business plan tips and resources.

A business plan outlines your business’s financial goals and explains how you’ll achieve them over the next three to five years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan that will offer a strong, detailed road map for your business.

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness

A business plan is a document that explains what your business does, how it makes money and who its customers are. Internally, writing a business plan should help you clarify your vision and organize your operations. Externally, you can share it with potential lenders and investors to show them you’re on the right track.

Business plans are living documents; it’s OK for them to change over time. Startups may update their business plans often as they figure out who their customers are and what products and services fit them best. Mature companies might only revisit their business plan every few years. Regardless of your business’s age, brush up this document before you apply for a business loan .

» Need help writing? Learn about the best business plan software .

This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your business offers and a broad summary of your financial growth plans.

Though the executive summary is the first thing your investors will read, it can be easier to write it last. That way, you can highlight information you’ve identified while writing other sections that go into more detail.

» MORE: How to write an executive summary in 6 steps

Next up is your company description. This should contain basic information like:

Your business’s registered name.

Address of your business location .

Names of key people in the business. Make sure to highlight unique skills or technical expertise among members of your team.

Your company description should also define your business structure — such as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation — and include the percent ownership that each owner has and the extent of each owner’s involvement in the company.

Lastly, write a little about the history of your company and the nature of your business now. This prepares the reader to learn about your goals in the next section.

» MORE: How to write a company overview for a business plan

how to write a business plan for college

The third part of a business plan is an objective statement. This section spells out what you’d like to accomplish, both in the near term and over the coming years.

If you’re looking for a business loan or outside investment, you can use this section to explain how the financing will help your business grow and how you plan to achieve those growth targets. The key is to provide a clear explanation of the opportunity your business presents to the lender.

For example, if your business is launching a second product line, you might explain how the loan will help your company launch that new product and how much you think sales will increase over the next three years as a result.

» MORE: How to write a successful business plan for a loan

In this section, go into detail about the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

You should include the following:

An explanation of how your product or service works.

The pricing model for your product or service.

The typical customers you serve.

Your supply chain and order fulfillment strategy.

You can also discuss current or pending trademarks and patents associated with your product or service.

Lenders and investors will want to know what sets your product apart from your competition. In your market analysis section , explain who your competitors are. Discuss what they do well, and point out what you can do better. If you’re serving a different or underserved market, explain that.

Here, you can address how you plan to persuade customers to buy your products or services, or how you will develop customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business.

Include details about your sales and distribution strategies, including the costs involved in selling each product .

» MORE: R e a d our complete guide to small business marketing

If you’re a startup, you may not have much information on your business financials yet. However, if you’re an existing business, you’ll want to include income or profit-and-loss statements, a balance sheet that lists your assets and debts, and a cash flow statement that shows how cash comes into and goes out of the company.

Accounting software may be able to generate these reports for you. It may also help you calculate metrics such as:

Net profit margin: the percentage of revenue you keep as net income.

Current ratio: the measurement of your liquidity and ability to repay debts.

Accounts receivable turnover ratio: a measurement of how frequently you collect on receivables per year.

This is a great place to include charts and graphs that make it easy for those reading your plan to understand the financial health of your business.

This is a critical part of your business plan if you’re seeking financing or investors. It outlines how your business will generate enough profit to repay the loan or how you will earn a decent return for investors.

Here, you’ll provide your business’s monthly or quarterly sales, expenses and profit estimates over at least a three-year period — with the future numbers assuming you’ve obtained a new loan.

Accuracy is key, so carefully analyze your past financial statements before giving projections. Your goals may be aggressive, but they should also be realistic.

NerdWallet’s picks for setting up your business finances:

The best business checking accounts .

The best business credit cards .

The best accounting software .

Before the end of your business plan, summarize how your business is structured and outline each team’s responsibilities. This will help your readers understand who performs each of the functions you’ve described above — making and selling your products or services — and how much each of those functions cost.

If any of your employees have exceptional skills, you may want to include their resumes to help explain the competitive advantage they give you.

Finally, attach any supporting information or additional materials that you couldn’t fit in elsewhere. That might include:

Licenses and permits.

Equipment leases.

Bank statements.

Details of your personal and business credit history, if you’re seeking financing.

If the appendix is long, you may want to consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of this section.

How much do you need?

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We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Here are some tips to write a detailed, convincing business plan:

Avoid over-optimism: If you’re applying for a business bank loan or professional investment, someone will be reading your business plan closely. Providing unreasonable sales estimates can hurt your chances of approval.

Proofread: Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can jump off the page and turn off lenders and prospective investors. If writing and editing aren't your strong suit, you may want to hire a professional business plan writer, copy editor or proofreader.

Use free resources: SCORE is a nonprofit association that offers a large network of volunteer business mentors and experts who can help you write or edit your business plan. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers , which provide free business consulting and help with business plan development, can also be a resource.

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How to write a simple business plan for students.

Business Plan

A business plan always has the same structure. Of course, if you plan to sell coffee, not to produce it, you will skip the “production” part, but other than that – you can’t skip anything.

Writing a business plan as a student , as a part of your college or university project, the best thing you can do is just to go into too many details. You have to save the structure, but you can describe your competitors in one abstract, not in five pages, with numbers and poll data.

Basic Business Plan Structure

Mostly, students are asked to make a marketing analysis and marketing plan more professionally than other parts, so we give more details about them.

Description of your business

Here is a brief overview of the experience of the entrepreneur, the date of creation of the company, the field of business, goals, and objectives of the work, available base, and resources.

Market analysis

List of competitors and their offers, estimation of demand, options of promotion and sale.

  • Evaluation of the market. It is necessary to estimate the capacity of the market, the population, the number of potential customers. It is difficult to do this without complete marketing research. Therefore, you should look for the results of this assessment for your region. As a last resort, you can predict the estimated demand.
  • Competitors. Make a list of your competitors who are already working in this market. Not only direct competitors that offer similar products and services but also those companies that produce alternative services should be considered. If you do not have a specialized tea boutique in your city, this does not mean that the market is free from competitors: you have to fight for customers with those department stores and supermarkets that also sell different types of tea.

Production plan

List of products (services provided) and their volumes, technological processes, necessary equipment and materials, cost calculation.

  • Business processes. Write down the list of equipment, tools, raw materials, and materials needed to create your chosen range of products and services. Calculate the optimum production volumes your equipment can handle. Specify which employees and what kind of downloads you will need.
  • Products. List the products, services, and work that you will offer your customers. Costs for the organization of business processes will allow you to find out the cost and to make a price list.
  • Start-up investment. Calculate how much money it will take to start a project. Sum up the cost of all assets, fixed assets, repairs, materials, and other expenses that will be required to start production.

Organizational plan

List of necessary staff, organization of work, distribution of functions and tasks in the team, involvement of third-party organizations and specialists, personnel costs — calendar of activities for launching the project.

Marketing plan

Advertising channels and costs, ways to promote a company and its products (services), estimated marketing impact – sales volume, number of customers, and transactions.

  • Promotion channels. Newspaper ads, radio and TV commercials, online advertising, creating your own site and group on social networks, advertising in local publics and forums, participating in trade shows .
  • Target audience. Who to focus on when organizing sales. Who your client is by age, gender, occupation, income level. Where to find them and how to reach.
  • Promotion cost. How much will it cost to find and engage? How often you will have to run ads, what are the appropriate options to choose?

Financial indicators

This is where the financial side of your business is reflected, namely: future costs (product purchases, rentals, hiring, etc.), revenue, net profit, profitability, and return on the project.

Risk assessment

A list of major issues that a company may face, their potential consequences, and a plan of measures to minimize them.

Project summary

The most important part is a compact presentation of the contents of the entire document on several pages, it is important here to place the accents correctly, taking into account the addressee and the purpose of preparing the business plan.

Even though it is only a business plan for students, not the one you would present to a real investor, try to make it look realistic.

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Write a Business Plan

Write a Business Plan

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Instructor: Google for Education Course

Define and organize your business’s growth by writing a business plan.

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Creating a Successful Business Plan

Turn your business ideas into a solid business plan to keep your venture strategically focused. With the support of your instructor and a network of like-minded students, you will work through all major components of writing a business plan to emerge with your first draft in hand. This critical first step is the most difficult one on the path to small business success. Lesson List:

  • Lesson 1 - A Strategy for Success Meet several leading entrepreneurs and determine if you have similar passions and skill sets. You will discover that business plans are not just for funding your dream, but for guiding it along the path to success.
  • Lesson 2 - Defining Your Business Start to mold your business. Develop a vision and a mission for your enterprise. Define and refine your product or service, and you will uncover your niche. This is the fun part of the journey—your only limitation is your imagination.
  • Lesson 3 - The Role of the Customer Successful companies focus not on the products and services that they offer, but on the customers that they serve—on many levels. Learn to position your company to be customer-centric, and how to move that customer from satisfied to loyal (and perhaps even an advocate for your business).
  • Lesson 4 - Structuring Your Organization Structure your organization so it's in the best position to provide your product or service to your targeted customers. You will discover the role that change plays in your entrepreneurial evolution. 
  • Lesson 5 - The Marketing Plan Explore the marketing section of your business plan. Discover the features and benefits of your product or service, and you will begin the ongoing task of market research. This is where you can differentiate your product or service from that of your competition.
  • Lesson 6 - The Competition This lesson will explore three separate areas of marketing. First, learn about your competitors so that you can better position yourself and discover just how solid your business ideas are. Then, address one of the most difficult issues of new business—pricing. Finally, you will become a SWOT agent—analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Lesson 7 - Marketing in Action Join a panel of outstanding marketing, public relations, and graphics experts who are also entrepreneurs and believe in the power of networking. Explore graphic design, logos, image, public relations, and guerrilla marketing, as well as marketing in action.
  • Lesson 8 - Operations and Manufacturing Tackle operations and manufacturing concerns.
  • Lesson 9 - Understanding the Finance Section (Part I) Takes a bird's eye view of the financial section of a business plan. Briefly explore the capital equipment list, the balance sheet, and break-even analysis.
  • Lesson 10 - Understanding the Finance Section (Part II) Discover three additional financial components of the plan: the projected income statement, cash flow, and historical financial records. 
  • Lesson 11 - Financing Your Business Focus on funding and financing opportunities. Find out where to locate traditional, and not so traditional, sources of funding.
  • Lesson 12 - The Final Document Write an outstanding executive summary. You will receive a few important document formatting tips, and you will learn what supporting documents you should add to your final business plan. You now hold all the keys to the doors along your entrepreneurial path. 

Upon registering, you have six weeks to complete the program.

Course Dates and Times

 course hours: 24 hours.

This workshop is offered through our continuing education online partner.

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Business Plan Examples for Students

Ajay Jagtap

  • December 29, 2023

26 Min Read

business plan example for students

Do you know what’s the most common mistake students and rookie entrepreneurs make while preparing their first business plan?

Of course, it’s the first business plan we’re talking about; there’ll definitely be a few. However, overcomplicating things and failing to consider a business plan example still remains the most common one.

That’s why we decided to come up with a solution. We’ve curated this list of top business plan examples for students to help you get going.

So whether you need a business plan for a college project, start a side hustle, or win a business competition, these examples are just what you need to create business plans that stand out.

Ready to dive in? Let’s start by understanding the key elements of a business plan example:

Key Elements of a Business Plan Example

Business planning is not as complicated of a process as people think it is; they’re just overcomplicating things. (Don’t think so?)

Let’s simplify the key elements that make up a comprehensive business plan; you’ll understand it better that way.

Executive Summary:

Company overview:, market analysis:, products and services:, sales and marketing strategies:, operations plan:, management team:, financial plan:.

That’s pretty much it about the key elements of a business plan example. Next, let’s explore the best business plan examples for students.

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how to write a business plan for college

Top Business Plan Examples for Students

Now that you already know about the components of a business plan template, let’s review some of the best business plan examples for students.

1. Startup Business Plan Example

Upmetrics’ startup business plan example is the ideal solution for students planning to start up or participate in a business plan competition. This business plan template follows the SBA-approved business planning format used by thousands of successful entrepreneurs.

Whether your startup is about a new-age AI-based application, an online shopping site, or traditional IT consulting—this sample business plan is just what you need.

Unlike any traditional small business plan, this example of a startup business plan is lean and agile in approach, focuses on innovation, and emphasizes market validation.

startup business template

2. Lean Business Plan Example

Since you’re transitioning from a student to an entrepreneur, you may not have enough time to spend on creating a detailed business plan. That’s where this lean business plan template can help.

It’s a condensed version of a traditional plan summarizing all its sections with a primary focus on covering only the critical aspects of the business.

This template is best for startups or businesses uncertain about business planning and student-turned-entrepreneurs with limited time and resources to prepare a business plan.

the lean canvas template

3. SBA Business Plan Example

Following an SBA-recommended business plan format is key to securing bank loans and business grants. Since it can be time-consuming to find a template that follows a similar outline as the SBA, this SBA-approved business plan example is the way to get started.

This SBA business plan template has nine primary sections, that include executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization, product description, marketing, funding request, and financial projections.

SBA business plan examples ensure you stay on track and don’t deviate from your funding needs.

4. One-Page Business Plan Example

As you may have already guessed, a one-page business plan is a one-page version of a traditional business plan. Since it’s a condensed version of a business plan, drafting it can be quite easy and quick compared to a lean or traditional plan.

Employees, partners, and vendors often use one-page business plans as a quick overview of your company and banks and investors as a summary of your operations.

While it may not be the ideal choice for entrepreneurs seeking investment or bank loans, students with side hustles and idea-stage startups can consider this option.

one page business template

5. HBS Sample Business Plan

Harvard Business School’s new venture competition selected this sample business plan as a finalist in 2011.

This is a business plan of App Success, a collaborative web-based platform that connects low-income high school seniors with college students from top universities; this business will enable them to collaborate on college selection, college applications, and financial aid applications.

This example can be a great reference for those planning to start a mobile or web-based solution.

hbs sample business plan

6. Kean University Sample Business Plan

Kean University organizes a business plan competition every year for its students where students prepare and present business plans to compete, and this is one of the sample business plans the University provides to participants to understand the format.

It’s a business plan of Blue Water Boatworks, Inc., a boat detailing and cleaning company specializing in servicing recreational fiberglass and aluminum watercraft.

This example can be a great reference for those planning to start a business related to housekeeping, cleaning, or maintenance.

kean university sample business plan

7. UVM Sample Business Plan

If you are looking for a strategic business plan for a food business, the University of Vermont’s Fancy Foods Business Plan can be a guiding resource for you.

Despite the fact that it can be a good reference for detailed planning, it was written in 1998, so any statistics and numbers may not seem relevant to today’s market landscape. Make sure you keep that in mind.

You may closely follow this example as a reference if planning to start a food truck, restaurant, or any other business that serves food.

uvm sample business plan

That was the list of best sample business plans for students. However, there’s more to talk about. You now have a business plan example, but what about pitching to investors? Let’s explore free pitch deck examples for students.

Free Pitch Deck Example for Students

Pitching to investors as a first-time founder can be exciting but also overwhelming at times. Worry not; we’ve got a solution—investor pitch templates. We’ve prepared a set of 8 investor pitch templates and examples for students and entrepreneurs to help create winning business pitches.

Whether you need a pitch to find an opportunity, ask for subject matter knowledge, or a problem-solving pitch, these investor pitch examples have got you covered. Download now.

How to write a winning plan for a business plan competition?

Creating a business plan is no different than creating one for a real business. Similar to how entrepreneurs prepare and present business plans to investors, Students in business plan competitions pitch to judges.

In short, the business planning process remains exactly the same. Let’s discuss how you can write a winning plan to help you win a business plan competition.

  • Select a compelling business idea : everything starts with a compelling idea. Make sure you have a viable business idea to compete in the competition.
  • Refer to winning business plan examples : Once you are sure about your business concept, refer to business plan examples from previous winners and how they planned the sections of their plan.
  • Market Research & Industry Analysis : After referring to business plan examples, conduct industry research and market analysis to make your statistical and financial numbers accurate and realistic.
  • Understand business model and revenue streams : Since you are preparing a business plan for a company that doesn’t exist, be sure about the business model and how the business will generate profit.
  • Use AI business plan generator : Using an AI business plan generator like Upmetrics can be incredibly helpful in speeding up the business planning process. With industry-specific business plan templates and AI assistance to write your plan, you can write the first draft of your plan in literally no time.
  • Presentation and visuals : Prepare visuals and graphs to make your business plan visually appealing and numbers digestible. You may not need to prepare these visuals if you use business plan software manually.
  • Proofread and edit : Grammatical errors are the last thing judges want to see in a business plan. Make sure you proofread and edit your draft thoroughly before submitting it.

Easy as that, that’s the way to write a perfect business plan that can lead you to victory in any business plan competition on planet Earth. Let’s have a look at a real-life business and financial plan example.

ai business plan software for students CTA

Business and Financial Plan Example for Students

Having learned about business planning for students, let’s quickly discuss a coffee shop sample business plan and financial statements prepared using Upmetrics.

1. Executive Summary

The Cooper’s Cup will be a new cafe in Phoenix, Arizona. The 1,500 square foot café will be located in the newly constructed Market Square Plaza on the northeast corner of 135th Street and Mission Street. The anchor tenant, the Price Chopper grocery store, has already taken occupancy, and the excellent location brings more than 10,000 shoppers weekly.

The Cooper’s Cup, aptly named for the aromatic brown liquid that will fill the cup, fills the void of original cafes in the market and stands out from its corporate peers with its fast food concepts and prompt services. The Cooper’s Cup is the alternative to fast food/commercial/coffee shops and offers a much calmer, civilized gourmet coffee experience.

There are no televisions in the cafe, the background music is subtle, and work from local artists will hang on the walls. The restaurant is well-appointed, with overstuffed leather chairs and sofas in a library-like setting. The cafe is reminiscent of times gone by – yet is cutting edge technologically with WIFI and state-of-the-art espresso machines.

The Cooper’s Cup measures its financial success in terms of increased market share and earnings. This is a tremendous opportunity with a total local market of $54 million! The keys to success will be offering quality gourmet coffees, taking advantage of its small size, and relying on an outstanding barista staff.

To achieve these goals, the cafe will present some of the area’s finest gourmet beans from local distributors. Because of its small size, the restaurant can enjoy larger margins through lower overhead. The cafe will hand-select baristas and offer salaries comparable to the chains. The baristas will be trained to cross-sell and sell higher-margin products.

The primary objectives of the business plan for Cooper’s Cup are below:

  • To increase revenues by $36,000 or 5% in Year 2 and $73,000 or 10% by Year 3
  • Achieve a profit margin of 5.2% in Year 2 and 6.90% by Year 3
  • Be the Cafe of Choice in the Phoenix area and the recipient of the Best Coffeehouse Award.

Guiding Principles

The Cooper’s Cup is committed to values such as excellence, passion, quality, integrity, and leadership, allowing them to navigate challenges and provide for future opportunities. These core beliefs start with their commitment to their products and their employees. Cooper’s Cup rewards excellence and cherishes loyalty. The cafe will work with its employees to build strong businesses and a secure future.

Mission statement

The Cooper’s Cup is committed to its products and employees, which they believe is the recipe for market success.

Key to success

The Cooper’s Cup stands out from the competition. Below are their Keys to Success:

  • Great Products : providing exemplary products at market prices – will make customers want to return again and again.
  • Hire Quality Baristas : Pay employees rates similar to the larger chains with opportunities for long-term careers and opportunities for advancement with long-term plans to open a second facility.
  • Convert Customers to Connoisseurs : Only 40% of the nation’s coffee drinkers consume premium ground and whole bean coffee – this will aid in the continued growth.

Financial Summary

financial summary

2. Business Overview

The Cooper’s Cup will be a coffee house/cafe located in Phoenix, Arizona. The cozy cafe will be located in the newly completed Market Square Plaza in the Arizona City area. The cafe will serve gourmet coffee, espresso, drip coffee, lattes, and smoothies. The simple pastry offerings may vary with seasonality, but the primary line will be muffins, bread, cookies, scones, and rolls. All pastries will be supplied daily by a local bakery.

The cafe will be owned and operated by Owen Jones, a veteran restaurateur with several years of experience running and managing chain restaurants. The cafe will be open for business Monday – Thursday 7-10, Fridays and Saturdays, 7-11, and closed Sundays.

ownership

The Cooper’s Cup will be formed as an S-Corporation owned by Mr. Doe.

Start-Up Summary

The Cooper’s Cup will have seating for 40 patrons. The rent is $2,075 a month, with a three-five-year lease available. The site comprises 1500 square feet of leased space consisting of a dining room, a coffee bar, two restrooms, and a storage room in the back.

This storefront needs to be plumbed and wired appropriately to be used as a restaurant. Painting, new floors, and countertops are also needed. A custom coffee bar needs to be built. With materials bought on sale and volunteer labor, the cost to renovate will be $71,725.

The coffeehouse equipment will consist of two commercial espresso machines, air pots and urns, a commercial blender, a commercial brewer, top-loading coffee bins, barista syrups, cold drink dispenser, frothing equipment, a commercial refrigerator, microwave, and stainless steel prep bar.

The cost of the equipment is $38,275. The furniture will consist of leather couches and chairs (purchased at auction), coffee tables, bookcases, and window treatments. The artwork will come from local artists and be sold on a consignment basis. The books were secured via donations. The total cost to furnish is $14,000. Other startup expenses will be dishes, furniture, rent deposit, and marketing.

Location and Facilities

location and facilities

The new coffeehouse is located in the highly desirable Phoenix, Arizona, area at the northeastern intersection of 135th Street and Mission Street in the Newmarket Square Plaza. The property is situated in an excellent location, with an easy 6-minute drive time to I-435 and 69 Highway. 

The property is 95% leased with Price Chopper as the Anchor Tenant. Other tenants include LifeSpring Med Spa, Jane’s Canines (Pet Store & Boarding), Pride Cleaners Kahn Dental, and Swim U. 

Price Chopper brings more than 10,000 shoppers per week to the center. The location comprises a population of 9,420 within a one-mile radius, 61,102 within a 2-mile radius, and 149,550 within a 5-mile radius – with a median household income of $120,856. Sprint / Nextel’s corporate office is within 2 miles of the site.

map

3. Market Analysis

Phoenix, Arizona, is an award-winning place to live and work and is considered the leading business community in the Midwest. National publications and organizations recognize Phoenix for its business environment and livability. Here’s a sampling: 6th Place, America’s Best Places to Live Money, Top 50 Cities to Live and Play, National Geographic Adventure, 3rd Hottest Town in the U.S., Money, Among 20 Best Places to Live & Work Employment Review, One of only 72 Sterling Tree Cities in the U.S., National Arbor Day Foundation, Top 10 best Locations to Raise a Family, Southern Business and Development, 1st Place, Kid Friendly Report Card, Population Connection, 2nd Best City in America to Live Business Development Outlook.

Phoenix is at the core of one of the most dynamic local markets in the U.S. It offers easy access to the Arizona City region’s amenities, and, as part of the Arizona City metropolitan area, it is within the most centrally located major market in the nation. I-35, I-435, I-635, and U.S. Highway 69 all pass through Phoenix, and no point in the city is more than 3.5 miles from a freeway. The city maintains an excellent arterial street network and plans to construct additional lane-miles as the area grows. Three airports serve the region. Arizona City International Airport (MCI) is just 25 interstate highway miles north of Phoenix. Johnson County Executive Airport—the second busiest in Arizona—provides complete services for private business jets and general aviation. New Century AirCenter, just 12 miles southwest of the city, offers available aviation services and accommodates cargo or passenger jets of any size.

Phoenix supplies some of the most highly educated workers in the nation, with 97% of Phoenix adults over age 25 holding at least a high school diploma. Johnson County, where Phoenix is located, ranks first among the country’s 231 counties with populations greater than 250,000. The county ranks sixth in the percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree and 16th with a graduate or professional degree.

The Phoenix area has a population of 175,265, based on the 2010 census. The median household income is $77,881, and the median age is 37.9. (2010 U.S. Census)

Industry Analysis

The U.S. coffee shop industry includes about 20,000 stores with a combined annual revenue of about $10 billion. Major companies include Caribou Coffee, International Coffee & Tea (The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), Peet’s Coffee, and Starbucks. The industry is concentrated: the top 50 companies generate more than 70 percent of sales. Coffee shops are part of the specialty eatery industry, including retail outlets specializing in bagels, donuts, frozen yogurt, and ice cream products. (First Research)

Competitive Landscape

Consumer taste and personal income drive demand. The profitability of individual companies depends on the ability to secure prime locations, drive store traffic, and deliver high-quality products. Large companies have advantages in purchasing, finance, and marketing. Small companies can compete effectively by offering specialized products, serving a local market, or providing superior customer service. Specialty eateries, which include coffee shops, are labor-intensive: average annual revenue per worker is about $50,000. Coffee shops compete with convenience stores, gas stations, quick service, fast food restaurants, gourmet food shops, and donut shops. (First Research)

Market Size

The U.S. coffee shop industry includes about 20,000 stores with a combined annual revenue of about $10 billion. Major companies include Caribou Coffee, International Coffee & Tea (The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), Pet’s Coffee, and Starbucks. The industry is concentrated: the top 50 companies generate more than 70 percent of sales. (First Research)

Target Market and Segment Strategy

Most adult coffee drinkers said their lifelong habits began during their teenage years. 54% said they began drinking coffee between 13 and 19. Another 22% reported their coffee cravings started between 20 and 24. This means that 76% of adult coffee drinkers began drinking coffee by the time they were 24. So, despite a large amount of marketing and advertising directed at the younger age groups, savvy coffee shop owners will remember to cater some of their offerings to the adult and senior market. (National Coffee Drinking Study).

The Cooper’s Cup will offer a unique experience for coffee enthusiasts by providing a quiet, cozy, yet sophisticated cafe and a sense of refinement and peace in an otherwise hectic and fast-paced world. While other coffee shops cater to convenience with drive-throughs or loud music venues late into the night, the Cooper’s Cup will stand apart from its competitors with its quiet yet soothing ambiance, capturing a truly unique (and much-needed) market niche.

  • Unique products (specialized roasts, local ingredients, locally-themed or named drinks, custom drinks by the star barista, etc.)
  • Games, puzzles, mind benders, and other activities that encourage customers to linger over their coffee
  • Hosting or sponsoring local events (entertainment, readings, book clubs, etc.)
  • Using technology to creatively compete in marketing with big chains — services like FourSquare, Yelp, and Google Places can increase visibility in the local market.
  • Delivering amazing service from knowledgeable baristas — spend lots of time training staff and utilizing online services like the American Coffee & Barista School.
  • Selling coffee-related items (and tracking down any co-marketing opportunities with a local community college or another student-related group in the area)

4. Products and Services

Product/services descriptions.

The Cooper’s Cup’s primary offering is gourmet roasted coffees with mocha, carmelicious, white mocha, candy bar latte, and brewed coffee. Complementing the coffee will be a smoothie line including wild berry, strawberry, peach, mango, and lemonade. Rounding out the simple menu line will be pastries obtained from an outside supplier, freshly made and delivered daily. The pastry offerings may vary with seasonality, but the primary line will be muffins, bread, cookies, scones, and rolls.

menu

Product/Service Sourcing

The Cooper’s Cup has negotiated supplier agreements with several local food-service wholesalers and coffee wholesalers in the Phoenix area that have a reputation for quality and reliability:

  • Mean Beans Coffee Roasters
  • Phoenix Brewers
  • Healthy Harvest Bread Co.
  • Mary’s Organics

If one of the abovementioned specialty suppliers cannot meet their needs, the following national suppliers can provide all the food-service products they require. In addition, the following wholesalers will supply the cafe with general restaurant supplies:

  • Lawrence Food Products Corp.
  • Gerry Food Supply Inc.

Future Products/Services

Young families, which comprise Phoenix’s third largest market share, are often overlooked in the coffee market. Coffeehouses traditionally have not been considered ‘kid’ friendly. To overcome this hurdle, Cooper’s Cup has long-term plans (5 years) to open a 2nd coffee shop: A combination indoor play area/coffee bar. This concept allows parents and caregivers to meet and relax with other adults while the children can enjoy the indoor playground amenities.

Additional future services will include in-store sales for home purchases and an online store.

The website will have the option to purchase a prepaid gift card program – Prepaid gift cards provide immediate cash, reduce credit card transaction charges, and draw new customers to the business.

5. Sales and Marketing Strategies

Swot analysis.

swot-analysis

Unique Selling Proposition

The Cooper’s Cup stands out from a crowded sea of coffee chains and franchises. What sets it apart from the competition is primarily its smaller, cozier size combined with premium coffees served by knowledgeable baristas, providing so much energy and enthusiasm for its products.

Market Strategy and Positioning

The Cooper’s Cup utilizes a focus strategy on its Market. By specifically targeting three primary segments, they can cater specifically to their needs.

Senior Market (age 45+)

The Cooper’s Cup will target this Market simply by its well-selected location. Although this demographic group could readily drive downtown, they prefer a local cafe to unwind and relax and historically become some of the most loyal patrons.

Newly Hired Employees

The cafe will attract regular customers (weekly or more) – particularly the newly employed (first job) by providing free WIFI services and providing interesting games in the customer area.

Young Families

The third targeted Market, younger families, often find that coffeehouse is not ‘kid’ friendly. The company has long-term plans to create a combination coffee shop/play area so that parents and caregivers can meet with other adults while the children can enjoy the bounce houses, slides, and indoor playground equipment.

Pricing Strategy

The Cooper’s Cup primarily utilizes competition-based pricing. The cafe does not utilize coupons and discounts (other than opening promotions) because they believe that the most valuable customer demographic of daily coffee consumers is not influenced by discount programs or coupons.

Promotion and Advertising Strategy

  • Online Advertising – The Cooper’s Cup will advertise regularly on popular social media sites like Facebook. Compared to traditional print advertising, this is a cost-effective tactic that will allow them to reach prospects in a highly targeted way (e.g., based on criteria such as age, gender, geography, etc.).
  • Website – Cooper’s Cup will develop a simple Web site, which will provide basic information about the business, the menu, and links to their presence on the aforementioned social media channels.
  • Radio Advertising – During the first six months of operation and the busy holiday shopping season, the business will advertise on local radio stations.

Sales Strategy

The Cooper’s Cup will use the following methods to increase sales revenue (as recommended by Andrew Hetzel on Better Coffee, Better Business):

  • The menu will focus on the most profitable products sold. The cafe will always draw customer attention to the best products.
  • As warranted, the cafe will raise prices to bolster its brand image. Prices communicate the perceived value of a product, so if set too low, the customers might assume that the beverages are inferior compared to the competition.
  • Monitor flavoring inventory – Excess flavoring inventory ties up capital and valuable backroom space for storage. The cafe will utilize 4-6 varieties, including sugar-free offerings.
  • Control waste and theft – audit sales and inventory reports to evaluate ingredient waste due to inefficient preparation, returned drinks, and employee consumption. Retail locations can easily waste 20% or more of their daily sales in these three key categories, which is a substantial and unnecessary loss.
  • Monitor and evaluate hours of operation.
  • Run employee sales contests – The baristas are the salespeople and have great influence over the customer ordering process. All baristas will have some form of sales and customer service training to make each transaction active rather than passive. Sales contests will emphasize high-margin items or cross-selling.

6. Operations Plan

Staffing and training.

An ongoing training and education program will ensure that each staff member learns and implements Cooper’s Cup’s exacting service and operational procedures standards. Staff meetings will reinforce service standards and principles. The Cafe will have detailed work descriptions and training programs for each position, from entry-level employees to the ongoing development of managers and owners. New employees will undergo an extensive training program. This ensures that each guest receives a quality experience from all employees, regardless of how long they have been employed. The Cafe embraces the concept of promoting from within. Excellence in one function typically leads to excellence in another. Regular staff evaluations and training will ensure motivation and address critical issues.

Inventory controls

The founder will be responsible for hiring and training managers who, in turn, will ensure that the day-to-day operations will comply with the standards set by Restaurant policy. Weekly management meetings will provide a forum to review and discuss financial and operational performance. Critical decisions related to purchasing, human resources, marketing, capital expenditures, and customer service will also be addressed.

Purchasing cost controls

Food preparation personnel will follow standardized recipes developed by the founders to control food costs and ensure consistency. The coffee shop will offer an innovative menu with nutritious food and beverages while achieving the most significant margin yield.

Customer Service

The hospitality business recognizes the client’s support experience is the critical driver to replicate business. The direction will Offer a superior degree of Professionalism by hiring individuals who deliver the ideal attitude to work and teaching them the skills required to accommodate guests. The restaurant will keep high levels of consumer satisfaction with talented, educated, and well-trained workers who understand and implement the fundamentals of fantastic service. Ongoing training will be provided to enable staff to perform their jobs with confidence and ability. Employees are well-spoken, well-versed, and trained to provide friendly, prompt, and professional service to each customer. This practice teaches employees who, by producing an exceptional customer experience, can optimize sales and raise their reimbursement. The team will have the knowledge and service required to create excellent daily service for every customer.

Technology & Software

While the quality of the cuisine and dining experience contributes significantly to a restaurant’s profitability, attention to business and financial details can transform small changes into significant returns. Critical sales, cost of sales, labor, inventory, marketing, and overhead metrics are monitored daily. Trends are evaluated, and constructive actions will be taken where improvement is needed. The management team will have access to the restaurant’s transactions and reports available in its real-time POS (point of sale) and accounting systems. Trends will be evaluated, and corrective action will be implemented as required.

7. Organization Structure

The Cooper’s Cup is formed as an S-Corporation wholly owned by John Doe.

Management Team

The Cooper’s Cup will be owned 100% by John Doe. Mr. Doe, a graduate of Arizona State University, has an undergraduate degree in business administration. During high school, he worked as a waiter in a local hospital coffee shop that purchased its beans from a local roaster. In addition to being an avid coffee drinker, this job allowed him to learn about the business first-hand. In college, Doe worked in a campus coffeehouse for four years, eventually becoming an assistant manager. Following graduation, Doe secured a business development position for a regional restaurant chain, which provided additional first-hand exposure to the food and beverage industry—especially the steps involved in establishing new locations.

Management Team Gaps

The Cooper’s Cup will rely on its POS (Point of Sale) system to generate daily accounting and cost activity reports. Mr. Doe will supply these to an outside bookkeeper for the preparation of annual income taxes.

Personnel Plan

Initially, the cafe will hire 1 manager, 5 baristas, and 2 part-time servers. In Year 2, the cafe plans to hire 1 additional full-time barista.

8. Financial Plan

Important assumptions.

  • The sales forecast is conservative and assumes a 5% increase in Year 2 and a 10% in Year 3.
  • The analysis accounts for economic seasonality – wherein some month’s revenues peak (such as holidays ) and wane in slower months.
  • The analysis assumes the owner will not withdraw any salary till the 3rd year; at any time it is assumed that the owner’s withdrawal is available at his discretion.
  • Sales are cash basis – nonaccrual accounting
  • Moderate ramp-up in staff over the 5 years forecast
  • Barista’s salary in the forecast is $36,000 in 2023.
  • In general, most cafes have an 85% gross profit margin
  • In general, most cafes have a 3% net profit margin

Projected Balance Sheet

balance sheet

Projected Cash-Flow Statement

cash flow

Projected Profit & Loss Statement

profit and loss

Break Even Analysis

break-even

Write Your Business Plan With Upmetrics

Whether you need a business plan to compete in a competition, win investors, or gain a competitive advantage in the market landscape, Upmetrics can help you get started.

Upmetrics is an AI business plan software that comes with AI assistance, financial forecasting features, and 400+ sample business plans so that you can prepare a business plan in no time.

So what are you waiting for? Try Upmetrics and create your business plan in a snap.

how to write a business plan for college

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write a business plan for a college project.

As mentioned earlier in the article, business planning for a college project or competition is no different than for a real business. You can write your business plan using these step-by-step instructions.

  • Select a compelling business idea
  • Refer to business plan examples
  • Prepare a business plan outline
  • Create a company description section
  • Conduct market research and industry analysis
  • Describe your product and services
  • Outline sales and marketing strategies
  • Create an operations plan
  • Introduce management team
  • Prepare financial projections
  • Summarize your plan with an executive summary

What is a business plan for students?

A business plan is a necessary business document that highlights its purpose,  business goals, product/service offerings, go-to marketing strategies, operations and financial plan, key people involved in the business operations, and other necessary details.

As a student, consider a business plan example as a document that helps you better understand business and industry dynamics and learn how a business operates inside out.

What is a business plan competition for students?

Business plan competitions are competitions mostly organized by universities for students passionate about entrepreneurship and the business world. These competitions offer students a platform to showcase their entrepreneurial skills while also providing opportunities for mentorship and networking.

How can I increase my chances of winning a business plan competition?

There cannot be a straightforward answer to this question, but there’s surely a method that can increase your chances of winning a competition—Using AI-powered business plan software.

Why? An AI tool will make you 10X more productive while writing a business plan and preparing financial forecasts. So you can spend more time researching the market and brainstorming business ideas.

Where can I find more business plan examples for students?

Upmetrics’ library of 400+ business plan examples could be an incredible source for students to find more industry-specific business plan examples. There are examples for almost every small business category, including real estate, retail, entertainment and media, food & beverages, and more.

About the Author

how to write a business plan for college

Ajay is a SaaS writer and personal finance blogger who has been active in the space for over three years, writing about startups, business planning, budgeting, credit cards, and other topics related to personal finance. If not writing, he’s probably having a power nap. Read more

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Empowering Success: How to Write a Business Plan in College

Adela B.

Table of contents

College is the perfect time to start a business. You have access to resources, experts, and a supportive community that can help you bring your ideas to life. But how do you go from conception of the idea to actualization?

This is where a business plan comes into the picture.

A business plan is a detailed roadmap that outlines your goals and objectives, strategies, target market, and financial projections. Not only does it help you clarify your ideas, but it also communicates to potential investors and partners that you are serious about the business.

What are the 3 Cs of a business plan?

The 3 Cs of a business plan are concept, customer, and cash flow.

The concept is the business idea, including the products and services you want to offer. The customer is the target audience or the market to which you intend to sell your products and services, while the cash flow involves an effective financial plan and budget for your business.

Why is a business plan an important document for entrepreneurs?

A business plan is an essential document for entrepreneurs because it helps you refine your business idea, assess market opportunities, and provide a roadmap for your business. A well-crafted business plan can help you secure funding from investors, establish your credibility as a business owner, and track your progress against your goals.

Let’s take a look at the elements of a successful business plan for college entrepreneurs to help you start your business with a clear vision.

1. Executive summary

The executive summary is the first and most crucial part of a business plan. This should be a brief, one-page overview of your entire business plan.

The executive summary should provide a clear and concise summary of your business, including its purpose, the products or services, the target market, and the financial projection. Keep in mind that this section is the first thing a potential investor or partner will read, so make it grab attention and highlight what makes your business special.

It’s always best to write it last as it summarizes the entire business plan. Be sure to keep the summary clear, concise, and no more than one page.

2. Business description

In this section, you need to describe the products or services your business offers and how they solve a problem or fulfill a need in the market.

Include information on the features and benefits of your products/services and why the target market will be interested in buying from you.

Break down the features and discuss how they differ from your competitors. Remember, this section is where you should show off the unique aspects of your business, so be specific and avoid vague language.

Need a hand? Writers Per Hour’s expert business plan writers can help you write a 100% original business plan that is well-written and thought-through. Our writers will manage the end-to-end process from research to writing and editing, helping you submit a professional business plan that is sure to impress.

3. Business goals and objectives

Every business needs a clear set of goals and objectives to work towards. Outline your short-term and long-term goals and objectives and explain why they are important.

Your goals should be focused on generating revenue, customer acquisition, market share, and profitability. Make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Let’s say you’re starting a gourmet coffee business. An example of a business goal can be to capture 30% of the local market share for gourmet coffee within the first three years of operation.

Objectives are the specific actions that you will take to achieve your goals. They will help you and your team stay focused and on track toward achieving the set goals. Remember, you’ll need to track your progress regularly and adjust your objectives and goals accordingly.

4. Mission and vision

Your business's mission and vision statements communicate its purpose and values. Mission statements describe what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it, while vision statements describe the future you are working towards.

Here are examples of the vision and mission statements for your gourmet coffee business:

Vision: To become the premier destination for coffee enthusiasts, known for our exceptional quality and innovative flavors, inspiring a deep appreciation for the art and craft of gourmet coffee .

Mission: Our mission is to delight our customers with the finest quality gourmet coffee, carefully sourced from around the world and expertly crafted to perfection .

These statements are important for communicating your business's core values and beliefs. They also help you create a sense of purpose and direction and attract employees and customers who share your vision.

Both your mission and vision statements should be concise and inspirational and align with your business goals.

5. Organization and management

This section outlines the structure and management of your company. It should include information on the legal structure (e.g., whether your business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation).

Here is also where you outline the key personnel that will be involved in managing the business and their roles and responsibilities. This section should also detail the company's operations, including sales, marketing, production, and logistics.

Briefly discuss your management style and the policies you have in place to ensure that your business runs smoothly.

6. SWOT analysis

Before you even think about creating a business, you must identify your unique selling point (USP), differentiating factor, or what sets your product or service apart.

Conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to identify what makes your product or service unique and highlight the underlying strengths and weaknesses. This SWOT analysis is what will inform all of your marketing, branding, and growth strategies down the line.

Knowing what sets your product or service apart can also make it easier to reach your target audience.

7. Description of the target market

Understanding your target audience, where they’re located, and what they want is another critical element of a business plan.

Here, you should create your buyer personas (or profiles) that identify key demographic information (e.g., age, gender, location), interests, likes, pain points, behavior, and preferred communication channels.

Describing your target market in detail will help you understand which demographics are more likely to purchase your product or service and help you develop a targeted marketing strategy.

8. Competitive analysis and industry trends

Knowing who your competitors are and what they offer is a crucial step in creating a successful business plan. When conducting a competitive analysis, identify who else in your industry is offering similar products and services, their pricing, and their marketing strategies.

This information will help you differentiate your product or service, find gaps in the market, and give you an edge over your competitors. Alongside a competitive analysis, research key trends in your industry to create a business strategy that caters to the ever-changing demands of customers.

9. Detailed financial plan

Financial planning provides insight into the future of the business.

Start by creating a detailed budget outlining all the startup expenses and ongoing costs, including raw materials, labor, rent, licensing fees, equipment, and more.

Next, determine the funding sources of these costs. For e.g., personal savings, investors, loans, and crowdfunding.

Creating a detailed budget will give you an idea of the expected costs, cash flow, and forecasted revenue and create accountability for how you’ll be spending money. It will also help you create projections to show potential investors, banks, or loan officers to help you get financing for your business.

10. Marketing strategy

Your business plan can never be complete without a comprehensive marketing strategy.

This element is essential to help you find and retain your target customers. Make sure you develop a complete marketing strategy that includes both digital and traditional outreach methods.

Social media, websites, email lists, and SEO tactics are some digital marketing strategies that can significantly improve visibility and brand positioning.

You can also implement traditional methods like print media (e.g., fliers and banners), in-person, or product-based advertising.

11. Legal implications

Before starting your business, you need to determine the legal requirements for operating in your jurisdiction.

This includes your business structure, tax requirements, licenses, permits, and insurance. You may need to register your business with the government, obtain permits or licenses, and apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Knowing the legal requirements for your business will help you avoid costly fines and any legal problems down the road.

12. Sales forecast

Finally, your business plan should include a sales forecast with specific timelines. A sales forecast predicts the revenue you expect your business to generate in a given period, say for the first year.

Depending on your business goals, you can create a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual sales forecast. When creating your sales forecast, consider the following questions:

How much revenue will you generate from each product/service?

How many units do you expect to sell in the specified period?

How much will it cost to produce your product or deliver your service?

A sales forecast will help you plan marketing and advertising campaigns and develop financial projections for your business. It will also help you to track your progress and make informed decisions to achieve your goals.

Starting a business is one of the best ways for college entrepreneurs to supplement their income and meet their needs in college . Whether you’re planning to start a business after college or just starting a part-time venture while still studying, never skip the critical step of writing a business plan.

Through your business plan, you’ll get a clear understanding of the feasibility of your business idea and plan how your business will operate and succeed. Moreover, you can always present it to potential partners or investors who can help you scale up and grow your business faster!

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The more you learn, the more you grow! Get prepared with our sample business plans for education, preparation, vocational, and other training-related businesses.

If you’re looking to develop a more modern business plan, we recommend you try LivePlan . It contains the same templates and information you see here, but with additional guidance to help you develop the perfect plan.

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College Business Plan

10 College Business Plan Examples Student University International

When you think of a college business plan , what is often the first thing you think about? The majority may say a business idea of setting up a college or a university for local and international students. Another may see it as a school that offers business as part of their academic course. What reason may it be or what idea you may have, it is always best to have and match it with a business plan. Making a college business plan will also matter and help you in the long run. With that, here are example templates you can download to start now. 

10+ College Business Plan Examples

1. college business plan template.

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What Is a College Business Plan?

A college business plan is a handy tool used in order to guide the user to better success and better roads. When you think of starting up a college, or adding a business course to a college, you will also need a business plan with it. A college business plan is seen as a means of gathering steps to making it work. May it be through a simple business plan or a complex one. Regardless, the main purpose of a college business plan is to gather steps or strategies to reach the main goal.

How to Create a College Business Plan

When you plan to make a college business plan, you think carefully about the steps that go with it. The most basic thing to see in a college business plan is the summary of your business and of course the marketing strategies. But these are not enough to make your business plan. To get a good idea, here are simple steps to create your college business plan.

Step 1: Always Plan Ahead

This may sound cliché but the most important thing to remember and to get started is to plan ahead . Do some brainstorming and get to know what you want in your business. This helps by making your college business plan better and can reap a better and positive result. Part of planning ahead is to plan for a title page, a title, or a goal you want to achieve. This can sometimes come off as the most difficult part of the entire business plan.

Step 2: Create Your Executive Summary

The next will be to create your executive summary . In this section of your business plan, you will be talking about your business, the timeline of your business, and any information that will help you explain about your business. Basically the executive summary gives you the opportunity to expound on your business and the description and nature of your college business.

Step 3: Discuss Marketing Strategies

Third step to your college business plan is to discuss marketing strategies . Marketing strategies help in maintaining your business goals. If you are not sure where to begin with your marketing strategies, you can always make a marketing strategies checklist . As this also creates ways in helping you figure out how to attract customers or clients to your business. They must also be practical for your business and your management team to do, or the whole marketing plan and strategies will be pointless.

Step 4: Check on Your Business Plan

From the first three steps to creating your college business plan, you may think that everything will be enough. You must be open to checking, updating, and reviewing your college business plan. The whole point of it is to make sure you are open to the ideas of updating progress reports you are going to be getting through the business plan milestones.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a lengthy document that has a complete detail of how a business you plan to set up is recorded. The business plan is also seen as a tool or a roadmap to help you find out the best roads to setting up a successful business.

Why do you need to update your business plan?

The main purpose for updating your business plan is because every progress is important. Every single detail that may show positive or negative changes have to be reported in order to keep your business plan updated as well.

What factors are in a business plan?

The factors you need in order to complete a business plan are the most simple and basic things like:

  • executive summary
  • practical strategies and steps
  • a practical timeline and milestones

When you think of a college business plan, you know for a fact that you will need to make the business plan in a practical manner. Your business plan must have everything that you need to make this a success. With that, download any of the examples to start your college business plan now.

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School Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

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School Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 500 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their schools.

If you’re unfamiliar with creating a school business plan, you may think creating one will be a time-consuming and frustrating process. For most entrepreneurs it is, but for you, it won’t be since we’re here to help. We have the experience, resources, and knowledge to help you create a great business plan.

In this article, you will learn some background information on why business planning is important. Then, you will learn how to write a school business plan step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your school as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategies for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start a school or grow your existing school, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your school to improve your chances of success. Your school business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Schools

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for schools are donations and gifts, tuition, personal savings, credit cards, bank loans, and angel investors. When it comes to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to ensure that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for schools.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

How to write a business plan for a school.

If you want to start a school or expand your current one, you need a business plan. The guide below details the necessary information for how to write each essential component of your school business plan.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your executive summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the kind of school you are running and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have a school that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of schools?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan.

  • Give a brief overview of the school industry.
  • Discuss the type of school you are operating.
  • Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers.
  • Provide a snapshot of your marketing strategy. Identify the key members of your team.
  • Offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Overview

In your company overview, you will detail the type of school you are operating.

For example, you might specialize in one of the following types of schools:

  • Private K-12 school : this type of school typically charges tuition, and may be affiliated with a religious organization, or specialize in a particular learning method.
  • Charter school: this type of school offers primary or secondary education for a tuition, and may receive some public funding, and/or donations. These schools require their students to take state-mandated exams.
  • Special subject school: this type of school specializes in teaching a specific subject, such as driving, first-aid, self-defense, fine arts, language, or general tutoring.
  • Preschool: this type of school typically serves children who are aged 3 and 4. These schools prepare young children to enter formal education, and are funded by some combination of tuition, donations, and government grants.

In addition to explaining the type of school you will operate, the company overview needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to questions such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of students served, the number of students accepted into elite formal education institutions, etc.
  • Your legal business Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry or market analysis, you need to provide an overview of the school industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the school industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your marketing strategy, particularly if your analysis identifies market trends.

The third reason is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your school business plan:

  • How big is the school industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential target market for your school? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your school business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: families with elementary-aged children, families with high-school-aged children, families with preschool children.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of school you operate. Clearly, families with high schoolers would respond to different marketing promotions than families with preschoolers, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations, and income levels of the potential customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can recognize and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other schools.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t directly competing with your product or service. This includes public schools, virtual schools, and families who do homeschooling. You need to mention such competition as well.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their business and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as

  • What types of students do they serve?
  • What type of school are they?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide specialized instruction, either in subject or in method?
  • Will you offer courses or services that your competition doesn’t?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For a school business plan, your marketing strategy should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of school that you documented in your company overview. Then, detail the specific products or services you will be offering. For example, will you provide religious-focused K-8 education, college preparatory courses, or single-subject instruction like driving or fine arts?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your plan, you are presenting the courses and/or extracurricular activities you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the site of your school. Document where your company is situated and mention how the site will impact your success. For example, is your school located in a growing neighborhood, in the city center, or will you operate purely online? Discuss how your site might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your school marketing plan is where you will document how you will drive potential customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertise in local papers, radio stations and/or magazines
  • Reach out to websites
  • Distribute flyers
  • Engage in email marketing
  • Advertise on social media platforms
  • Improve the SEO (search engine optimization) on your website for targeted keywords

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your school, including answering calls, planning and delivering instruction, applying for grants, fundraising, performing administrative tasks, overseeing instructors, handling discipline, scheduling and monitoring extracurricular activities, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to enroll your Xth student, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your school to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your school’s potential to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally, you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing schools. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act as mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in running a school or experience with public school administration or who has served on a public school board.  

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenue and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you enroll 100 or 1,000 students per semester, and/or offer extracurricular activities? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your school, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a lender writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and ensure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

When creating your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing a school:

  • Cost of equipment and supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Other start-up expenses (if you’re a new business) like legal expenses, permits, computer software, and equipment

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your school location lease or a list of elective courses or extracurricular activities you will offer.  

Writing a business plan for your school is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will understand the school industry, your competition, and your customers. You will develop a marketing strategy and will understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful school.  

School Business Plan FAQs

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How to write a business plan for a technical and vocational college?

technical and vocational college business plan

Writing a business plan for a technical and vocational college can be an intimidating task, especially for those just starting.

This in-depth guide is designed to help entrepreneurs like you understand how to create a comprehensive business plan so that you can approach the exercise with method and confidence.

We'll cover: why writing a technical and vocational college business plan is so important - both when starting up, and when running and growing the business - what information you need to include in your plan, how it should be structured, and what tools you can use to get the job done efficiently.

Let's get started!

In this guide:

Why write a business plan for a technical and vocational college?

What information is needed to create a business plan for a technical and vocational college.

  • What goes in the financial forecast for a technical and vocational college?
  • What goes in the written part of a technical and vocational college business plan?
  • What tool can I use to write my technical and vocational college business plan?

Having a clear understanding of why you want to write a business plan for your technical and vocational college will make it simpler for you to grasp the rationale behind its structure and content. So before delving into the plan's actual details, let's take a moment to remind ourselves of the primary reasons why you'd want to create a technical and vocational college business plan.

To have a clear roadmap to grow the business

Small businesses rarely experience a constant and predictable environment. Economic cycles go up and down, while the business landscape is mutating constantly with new regulations, technologies, competitors, and consumer behaviours emerging when we least expect it.

In this dynamic context, it's essential to have a clear roadmap for your technical and vocational college. Otherwise, you are navigating in the dark which is dangerous given that - as a business owner - your capital is at risk.

That's why crafting a well-thought-out business plan is crucial to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of your venture.

To create an effective business plan, you'll need to take a step-by-step approach. First, you'll have to assess your current position (if you're already in business), and then identify where you'd like your technical and vocational college to be in the next three to five years.

Once you have a clear destination for your technical and vocational college, you'll focus on three key areas:

  • Resources: you'll determine the human, equipment, and capital resources needed to reach your goals successfully.
  • Speed: you'll establish the optimal pace at which your business needs to grow if it is to meet its objectives within the desired timeframe.
  • Risks: you'll identify and address potential risks you might encounter along the way.

By going through this process regularly, you'll be able to make informed decisions about resource allocation, paving the way for the long-term success of your business.

To maintain visibility on future cash flows

Businesses can go for years without making a profit, but they go bust as soon as they run out of cash. That's why "cash is king", and maintaining visibility on your technical and vocational college's future cash flows is critical.

How do I do that? That's simple: you need an up-to-date financial forecast.

The good news is that your technical and vocational college business plan already contains a financial forecast (more on that later in this guide), so all you have to do is to keep it up-to-date.

To do this, you need to regularly compare the actual financial performance of your business to what was planned in your financial forecast, and adjust the forecast based on the current trajectory of your business.

Monitoring your technical and vocational college's financial health will enable you to identify potential financial problems (such as an unexpected cash shortfall) early and to put in place corrective measures. It will also allow you to detect and capitalize on potential growth opportunities (higher demand from a given segment of customers for example).

To secure financing

Crafting a comprehensive business plan for your technical and vocational college, whether you're starting up or already established, is paramount when you're seeking financing from banks or investors.

Given how fragile small businesses are, financiers will want to ensure that you have a clear roadmap in place as well as command and control of your future cash flows before entertaining the idea of funding you.

For banks, the information in your business plan will be used to assess your borrowing capacity - which is defined as the maximum amount of debt your business can afford alongside your ability to repay the loan. This evaluation helps them decide whether to extend credit to your business and under what terms (interest rate, duration, repayment options, collateral, etc.).

Similarly, investors will thoroughly review your plan to determine if their investment can yield an attractive return. They'll be looking for evidence that your technical and vocational college has the potential for healthy growth, profitability, and consistent cash flow generation over time.

Now that you understand the importance of creating a business plan for your technical and vocational college, let's delve into the necessary information needed to craft an effective plan.

Writing a technical and vocational college business plan requires research so that you can project sales, investments and cost accurately in your financial forecast.

In this section, we cover three key pieces of information you should gather before drafting your business plan!

Carrying out market research for a technical and vocational college

As you consider writing your business plan for a technical and vocational college, conducting market research becomes a vital step to ensure accurate and realistic financial projections.

Market research provides valuable insights into your target customer base, competitors, pricing strategies, and other key factors that can significantly impact the commercial success of your business.

Through this research, you may uncover trends that could influence your technical and vocational college.

You may find that potential students may be more interested in flexible learning options, such as online or part-time courses. Additionally, you could discover that there might be a need for more courses related to emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence or big data.

Such market trends play a significant role in forecasting revenue, as they offer valuable data about potential customers' spending habits and preferences.

By incorporating these findings into your financial projections, you can present investors with more accurate information, helping them make informed decisions about investing in your technical and vocational college.

Developing the marketing plan for a technical and vocational college

Before delving into your technical and vocational college business plan, it's imperative to budget for sales and marketing expenses.

To achieve this, a comprehensive sales and marketing plan is essential. This plan should provide an accurate projection of the necessary actions to acquire and retain customers.

Additionally, it will outline the required workforce to carry out these initiatives and the corresponding budget for promotions, advertising, and other marketing endeavours.

By budgeting accordingly, you can ensure that the right resources are allocated to these vital activities, aligning them with the sales and growth objectives outlined in your business plan.

The staffing and equipment needs of a technical and vocational college

Whether you are at the beginning stages of your technical and vocational college or expanding its horizons, having a clear plan for recruitment and capital expenditures (investment in equipment and real estate) is vital to ensure your business's success.

To achieve this, both the recruitment and investment plans must align coherently with the projected timing and level of growth in your forecast. It is essential to secure appropriate funding for these plans.

Staffing costs for a technical and vocational college might include salaries for teachers, administrators, and support staff, as well as benefits such as health insurance and retirement contributions. Equipment costs could include computers, software, textbooks, lab equipment, and other materials needed for teaching and learning.

To create a financial forecast that accurately represents your business's outlook, remember to factor in other day-to-day operating expenses.

Now that you have all the necessary information, it's time to dive in and start creating your business plan and developing the financial forecast for your technical and vocational college.

What goes into your technical and vocational college's financial forecast?

The financial forecast of your technical and vocational college's business plan will enable you to assess the growth, profitability, funding requirements, and cash generation potential of your business in the coming years.

The four key outputs of a financial forecast for a technical and vocational college are:

  • The profit and loss (P&L) statement ,
  • The projected balance sheet ,
  • The cash flow forecast ,
  • And the sources and uses table .

Let's look at each of these in a bit more detail.

The projected P&L statement

The projected P&L statement for a technical and vocational college shows how much revenue and profits your business is expected to generate in the future.

projected profit and loss statement example in a technical and vocational college business plan

Ideally, your technical and vocational college's P&L statement should show:

  • Healthy growth - above inflation level
  • Improving or stable profit margins
  • Positive net profit

Expectations will vary based on the stage of your business. A startup will be expected to grow faster than an established technical and vocational college. And similarly, an established company should showcase a higher level of profitability than a new venture.

The projected balance sheet of your technical and vocational college

Your technical and vocational college's forecasted balance sheet enables the reader of your plan to assess your financial structure, working capital, and investment policy.

It is composed of three types of elements: assets, liabilities and equity:

  • Assets: represent what the business owns and uses to produce cash flows. It includes resources such as cash, equipment, and accounts receivable (money owed by clients).
  • Liabilities: represent funds advanced to the business by lenders and other creditors. It includes items such as accounts payable (money owed to suppliers), taxes due and loans.
  • Equity: is the combination of what has been invested by the business owners and the cumulative profits and losses generated by the business to date (which are called retained earnings). Equity is a proxy for the value of the owner's stake in the business.

example of forecasted balance sheet in a technical and vocational college business plan

Your technical and vocational college's balance sheet will usually be analyzed in conjunction with the other financial statements included in your forecast.

Two key points of focus will be:

  • Your technical and vocational college's liquidity: does your business have sufficient cash and short-term assets to pay what it owes over the next 12 months?
  • And its solvency: does your business have the capacity to repay its debt over the medium-term?

The projected cash flow statement

A cash flow forecast for a technical and vocational college shows how much cash the business is projected to generate or consume.

example of cash flow forecast in a technical and vocational college business plan

The cash flow statement is divided into 3 main areas:

  • The operating cash flow shows how much cash is generated or consumed by the operations (running the business)
  • The investing cash flow shows how much cash is being invested in capital expenditure (equipment, real estate, etc.)
  • The financing cash flow shows how much cash is raised or distributed to investors and lenders

Looking at the cash flow forecast helps you to ensure that your business has enough cash to keep running, and can help you anticipate potential cash shortfalls.

It is also a best practice to include a monthly cash flow statement in the appendices of your technical and vocational college business plan so that the readers can view the impact of seasonality on your business cash position and generation.

The initial financing plan

The sources and uses table or initial financing plan is a key component of your business plan when starting a technical and vocational college.

It shows where the capital needed to set up the business will come from (sources) and how it will be spent (uses).

sources and uses table in a technical and vocational college business plan

This table helps size the investment required to set up the technical and vocational college, and understand how risks will be distributed between the business owners, and the financiers.

The sources and uses table also highlights what the starting cash position will be. This is key for startups as the business needs to have sufficient funding to sustain operations until the break-even point is reached.

Now that you have a clear understanding of what will go into the financial forecast of your technical and vocational college business plan, let's have a look at the written part of the plan.

The written part of a technical and vocational college business plan

The written part of a technical and vocational college business plan is composed of 7 main sections:

  • The executive summary
  • The presentation of the company
  • The products and services
  • The market analysis
  • The strategy
  • The operations
  • The financial plan

Throughout these sections, you will seek to provide the reader with the details and context needed for them to form a view on whether or not your business plan is achievable and your forecast a realistic possibility.

Let's go through the content of each section in more detail!

1. The executive summary

The executive summary, the first section of your technical and vocational college's business plan, serves as an inviting snapshot of your entire plan, leaving readers eager to know more about your business.

To compose an effective executive summary, start with a concise introduction of your business, covering its name, concept, location, history, and unique aspects. Share insights about the services or products you intend to offer and your target customer base.

Subsequently, provide an overview of your technical and vocational college's addressable market, highlighting current trends and potential growth opportunities.

Then, present a summary of critical financial figures, such as projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.

You should then include a summary of your key financial figures such as projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.

Lastly, address any funding needs in the "ask" section of your executive summary.

2. The presentation of the company

The second section in your technical and vocational college's business plan should focus on the structure and ownership, location, and management team of the company.

The structure and ownership part provides an overview of the legal structure of the business, who the owners are and how much each has invested and owns. If you are seeking financing it is important that the reader gets a clear picture of which legal entity is receiving the funds, and who controls the business.

The location part should give an overview of the premises from which the company is operating, and why that location is of particular interest (catchment area, accessibility, amenities nearby, etc.).

When describing the location of your technical and vocational college, you may emphasize its access to a large labor market and highly skilled workforce.

You could also note that the region is home to several major universities and colleges, providing students with access to a highly educated population. Additionally, the area may have a diverse economy with a variety of industries, providing students with access to a range of internship and job opportunities.

Furthermore, the region could be a prime location for a technical and vocational college due to its proximity to major transportation hubs, allowing students to access other regions easily. Finally, you could emphasize the region's ability to attract students from a variety of backgrounds, as the area could be known for its vibrant cultural attractions and diverse communities

Finally, you should introduce the management team. Explain each member's role, background, and experience.

It is also important to emphasize any past successes that the members of the management team have achieved, and how long they've been working together, as this will help potential lenders or investors understand why they should trust in their leadership.

3. The products and services section

The products and services section of your technical and vocational college business plan should include a detailed description of what your company sells to its customers. 

For example, your technical and vocational college might offer a variety of online and in-person courses in areas such as business, technology, engineering, and hospitality. Additionally, your school might offer career counseling services to help students identify and pursue job opportunities that align with their skills and interests. Finally, the college could provide job placement services to assist with resume writing, interviewing techniques, and networking. These services can help students gain the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to launch successful careers.

The reader will want to understand what makes your technical and vocational college unique from other businesses in this competitive market.

When drafting this section, you should be precise about the categories of products or services you sell, the clients you are targeting and the channels that you are targeting them through. 

4. The market analysis

When outlining your market analysis in the technical and vocational college business plan, it's essential to include comprehensive details about customers' demographics and segmentation, target market, competition, barriers to entry, and relevant regulations.

The primary aim of this section is to give the reader an understanding of the market size and appeal while demonstrating your expertise in the industry.

To begin, delve into the demographics and segmentation subsection, providing an overview of the addressable market for your technical and vocational college, key marketplace trends, and introducing various customer segments and their preferences in terms of purchasing habits and budgets.

Next, shift your focus to the target market subsection, where you can zoom in on the specific customer segments your technical and vocational college targets. Explain how your products and services are tailored to meet the unique needs of these customers.

For example, your target market might include individuals who are looking for career-oriented education. This could include students who have just graduated high school but are looking for a more specialized education, as well as people who are looking to switch their career paths. This could be anyone from a recent college graduate to someone looking to pursue a new career several years into their current role.

In the competition subsection, introduce your main competitors and explain what sets your technical and vocational college apart from them.

Finally, round off your market analysis by providing an overview of the main regulations that apply to your technical and vocational college.

5. The strategy section

When crafting the strategy section of your business plan for your technical and vocational college, it's important to cover several key aspects, including your competitive edge, pricing strategy, sales & marketing plan, milestones, and risks and mitigants.

In the competitive edge subsection, clearly explain what sets your company apart from competitors. This is particularly critical if you're a startup, as you'll be trying to establish your presence in the marketplace among entrenched players.

The pricing strategy subsection should demonstrate how you aim to maintain profitability while offering competitive prices to your customers.

For the sales & marketing plan, outline how you plan to reach and acquire new customers, as well as retain existing ones through loyalty programs or special offers.

In the milestones subsection, detail what your company has achieved thus far and outline your primary objectives for the coming years by including specific dates for expected progress. This ensures everyone involved has clear expectations.

Lastly, in the risks and mitigants subsection, list the main risks that could potentially impact the execution of your plan. Explain the measures you've taken to minimize these risks. This is vital for investors or lenders to feel confident in supporting your venture - try to proactively address any objection they might have.

Your technical and vocational college faces many risks. One risk your college may face is a decrease in student enrollment. This could be due to a change in the local economy or a lack of interest in the educational programs offered. Another risk your college could face is the inability to secure funding for new programs or initiatives. This may be due to changes in the availability of government grants or a lack of local philanthropic support.

6. The operations section

The operations of your technical and vocational college must be presented in detail in your business plan.

The first thing you should cover in this section is your staffing team, the main roles, and the overall recruitment plan to support the growth expected in your business plan. You should also outline the qualifications and experience necessary to fulfil each role, and how you intend to recruit (using job boards, referrals, or headhunters).

You should then state the operating hours of your technical and vocational college - so that the reader can check the adequacy of your staffing levels - and any plans for varying opening times during peak season. Additionally, the plan should include details on how you will handle customer queries outside of normal operating hours.

The next part of this section should focus on the key assets and IP required to operate your business. If you depend on any licenses or trademarks, physical structures (equipment or property) or lease agreements, these should all go in there.

You may have physical assets such as buildings and tools, as well as intellectual property such as proprietary software or trade secrets. The college might also possess the expertise of its staff and the support materials used in its courses, which could be valuable for potential investors.

Finally, you should include a list of suppliers that you plan to work with and a breakdown of their services and main commercial terms (price, payment terms, contract duration, etc.). Investors are always keen to know if there is a particular reason why you have chosen to work with a specific supplier (higher-quality products or past relationships for example).

7. The presentation of the financial plan

The financial plan section is where we will include the financial forecast we discussed earlier in this guide.

Now that you have a clear idea of what goes into a technical and vocational college business plan, let's look at some of the tools you can use to create yours efficiently.

What tool should I use to write my technical and vocational college's business plan?

In this section, we will be reviewing the two main solutions for creating a technical and vocational college business plan:

  • Using specialized online business plan software,
  • Outsourcing the plan to the business plan writer.

Using an online business plan software for your technical and vocational college's business plan

Using online business planning software is the most efficient and modern way to create a technical and vocational college business plan.

There are several advantages to using specialized software:

  • You can easily create your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you without errors
  • You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
  • You can access a library of dozens of complete business plan samples and templates for inspiration
  • You get a professional business plan, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank or investors
  • You can easily track your actual financial performance against your financial forecast
  • You can create scenarios to stress test your forecast's main assumptions
  • You can easily update your forecast as time goes by to maintain visibility on future cash flows
  • You have a friendly support team on standby to assist you when you are stuck

If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try The Business Plan Shop for free by signing up here .

Hiring a business plan writer to write your technical and vocational college's business plan

Outsourcing your technical and vocational college business plan to a business plan writer can also be a viable option.

These writers possess valuable experience in crafting business plans and creating accurate financial forecasts. Additionally, enlisting their services can save you precious time, enabling you to concentrate on the day-to-day operations of your business.

It's important to be mindful, though, that hiring business plan writers comes with a cost. You'll be paying not just for their time but also for the software they use, and their profit margin.

Based on experience, a complete business plan usually requires a budget of at least £1.5k ($2.0k) excluding tax, and more if revisions are needed after initial meetings with lenders or investors - changes often arise following these discussions.

When seeking investment, be cautious about spending too much on consulting fees. Investors prefer their funds to contribute directly to business growth. Thus, the amount you spend on business plan writing services and other consulting services should be negligible compared to the amount you raise.

Another aspect to consider is that while you'll receive the output of the business plan, you usually won't own the actual document. It will be saved in the consultant's business plan software, which will make updating the plan challenging without retaining the consultant on a retainer.

Given these factors, it's essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing your technical and vocational college business plan to a business plan writer and decide what best suits your business's unique needs.

Why not create your technical and vocational college's business plan using Word or Excel?

Using Microsoft Excel and Word (or their Google, Apple, or open-source equivalents) to write a technical and vocational college business plan is not advisable. Allow me to explain the reasons.

Firstly, creating an accurate and error-free financial forecast on Excel or any spreadsheet demands technical expertise in accounting principles and financial modelling. Without a degree in finance and accounting and significant financial modelling experience, it's unlikely that the reader will fully trust your numbers.

Secondly, relying on spreadsheets is inefficient. While it may have been the go-to option in the past, technology has evolved, and software now performs such tasks much faster and more accurately.

The second reason is that it is inefficient. Building forecasts on spreadsheets was the only option in the early 2000s, nowadays technology has advanced and software can do it much faster and much more accurately.

And with the rise of AI, software is also becoming smarter at helping us detect mistakes in our forecasts and helping us analyse the numbers to make better decisions.

Moreover, software offers ease in comparing actuals versus forecasts and maintaining up-to-date forecasts for clear visibility on future cash flows, as we discussed earlier in this guide. Such tasks are cumbersome when using spreadsheets.

Now, let's address the written part of your technical and vocational college business plan. While it may be less prone to errors, using software can significantly boost productivity. Word processors lack instructions and examples for each section of your business plan. They also won't automatically update your numbers when changes occur in your forecast, and they lack automated formatting capabilities.

In summary, while some entrepreneurs may consider Word or Excel for their business plan, it's far from the best or most efficient solution when compared to specialized software.

  • Having an up-to-date business plan is key to maintaining visibility on your future cash flows.
  • A business plan has 2 parts: a financial forecast highlighting the expected growth, profitability and cash generation of the business; and a written part which provides the context needed to interpret and assess the quality of the forecast.
  • Using business plan software is the modern way of writing and maintaining business plans.

We hope that this guide helped you to better understand how to write the business plan for a technical and vocational college. If you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Also on The Business Plan Shop

  • How to write a 5 years business plan
  • Business plan myths

Know someone who owns or wants to start a technical and vocational college? Share this article with them!

Guillaume Le Brouster

Founder & CEO at The Business Plan Shop Ltd

Guillaume Le Brouster is a seasoned entrepreneur and financier.

Guillaume has been an entrepreneur for more than a decade and has first-hand experience of starting, running, and growing a successful business.

Prior to being a business owner, Guillaume worked in investment banking and private equity, where he spent most of his time creating complex financial forecasts, writing business plans, and analysing financial statements to make financing and investment decisions.

Guillaume holds a Master's Degree in Finance from ESCP Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Business & Management from Paris Dauphine University.

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  1. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Bottom Line Frequently Asked Questions Show more Every business starts with a vision, which is distilled and communicated through a business plan. In addition to your high-level hopes and...

  2. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples - Bplans Business planning How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples Noah Parsons 24 min. read Updated March 4, 2024 Download Now: Free Business Plan Template Writing a business plan doesn't have to be complicated.

  3. Business Plan Development Guide

    The book is organized as if you're writing a business plan from start to finish, which is helpful as a practical guide. Interface rating: 5 ... Faculty of Business, North Hennepin Community College on 5/21/18 Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less. The text is a thorough overview of all elements of a business plan.

  4. College Business Plan Class Project

    Stop right there! The number one reason most entrepreneurs write a business plan should be to clarify their own ideas. This makes the endeavor ideally suited for a college business plan class project. After all, college is about learning about yourself and clarifying one's own ideas and ambitions.

  5. How to write a business plan

    8. Write up your financial forecast. This is one of the trickier parts of writing a business plan and requires a good understanding of business finance and accounting. If your business has been trading for a while, you'll want to start off by outlining some historical data, such as sales and gross margin.

  6. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan

    The following article discusses how to write the perfect business plan, including the types of business plans most commonly used, top 10 do's and don'ts, what goes into a business plan, the structure of your business, marketing and sales, your organizational and operational plan and much more. What is a Business Plan?

  7. How to Write a Simple Business Plan

    Write the Executive Summary. This section is the same as in the traditional business plan — simply offer an overview of what's in the business plan, the prospect or core offering, and the short- and long-term goals of the company. Add a Company Overview. Document the larger company mission and vision.

  8. PDF HOW TO WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN

    Start with a cogent and concise one sentence statement of the business idea. A sentence that is so clear and appealing that the reader can immediately visualise or 'see' the business. You can then go on to describe: The market at which you are aiming. The specific benefits offered by your product or service.

  9. Business Plan: What it Is, How to Write One

    Learn about the best business plan software. 1. Write an executive summary. This is your elevator pitch. It should include a mission statement, a brief description of the products or services your ...

  10. How to Write a Simple Business Plan for Students

    5652 A business plan always has the same structure. Of course, if you plan to sell coffee, not to produce it, you will skip the "production" part, but other than that - you can't skip anything. Writing a business plan as a student, as a part of your college or university project, the best thing you can do is just to go into too many details.

  11. How To Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

    According to Investopida.com and Nerd Wallet, most business plan templates include seven elements: an executive summary, company description, products and services, market analysis, marketing strategy, financials, and budget. You will also want to include an appendix that contains data supporting the main sections.

  12. Write a Business Plan

    Harvard College; Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; Harvard Extension School; Premed / Pre-Health; Alumni; Employers; Families & Supporters; ... Share This: Share Write a Business Plan on Facebook Share Write a Business Plan on LinkedIn Share Write a Business Plan on X; Copy Link; Instructor: Google for Education Course.

  13. Creating a Successful Business Plan

    Lesson List: Lesson 1 - A Strategy for Success Meet several leading entrepreneurs and determine if you have similar passions and skill sets. You will discover that business plans are not just for funding your dream, but for guiding it along the path to success. Lesson 2 - Defining Your Business Start to mold your business.

  14. How to Write a Business Plan

    Keep It Brief. Remember to keep your business plan concise and professional. Have your audience in mind and avoid using slang or technical terms that might be difficult for readers to understand. Avoid relying on long paragraphs, instead use bullet points and headings to make it easier to read and navigate.

  15. How to write an effective business plan

    Keep it to one or two pages. To make things easier for yourself, write this section last. By then you'll have a stronger understanding of your whole business plan and can more easily pull the ...

  16. 7 Best Business Plan Examples for Students (Updated 2024)

    (Don't think so?) Let's simplify the key elements that make up a comprehensive business plan; you'll understand it better that way. Executive Summary: A high-level overview or summary of your plan. Company Overview: A detailed description of your business idea, its fundamental elements, history, and future goals. Market Analysis:

  17. Expert Tips on How to Write a College Business Plan

    Writing Advice Empowering Success: How to Write a Business Plan in College Adela B. Published June 04, 2023 Last updated Dec 26 2023 College is the perfect time to start a business. You have access to resources, experts, and a supportive community that can help you bring your ideas to life.

  18. Education Business Plan Examples

    Aircraft Rental Instruction Business Plan. Children's Play Program Business Plan. Online College Bookstore Business Plan. School Fundraising Business Plan. Stained Glass Gallery Business Plan. Teachers' Employment Agency Business Plan. Tutoring Service Business Plan.

  19. 20+ SAMPLE College Business Plan in PDF

    College Business Plan | MS Word 20+ Sample College Business Plan What IS a College Business Plan? What are the Benefits Gained from a College Business Plan? How to Create a College Business Plan FAQs Where do public universities get their funding? What are some of the main types of universities? What are vocational or technical colleges?

  20. 10+ College Business Plan

    1. College Business Plan Template Details File Format MS Word Google Docs Pages PDF 2. Centennial College Business Plan centennialcollege.ca Details File Format PDF Size: 586 KB Download 3. Professional College Business Plan assets.conestogac.on.ca Details File Format PDF Size: 895 KB Download 4. College Business Plan in PDF shenton.wa.edu.au

  21. Best Business Plan Courses & Certificates Online [2024]

    In summary, here are 10 of our most popular business plan courses. Create a business mind map with Coggle: Coursera Project Network. Entrepreneurship: University of Pennsylvania. Business Foundations: University of Pennsylvania. Launch Your Online Business: The State University of New York. Plan de Negocios: Universidad de Palermo.

  22. School Business Plan Template [Updated 2024]

    Discuss the type of school you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers.

  23. How to write a business plan for a technical and vocational college?

    How to write a business plan for a technical and vocational college? Why write a business plan for a technical and vocational college? What information is needed to create a business plan for a technical and vocational college? What goes in the financial forecast for a technical and vocational college?

  24. Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards

    Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards. If your credit, ATM, or debit card is lost or stolen, federal law limits your liability for charges made without your permission, but your protection depends on the type of card — and when you report the loss. Report Loss Or Theft Immediately. Watch for Fraudulent Activity. How To Limit Your Losses.