How To Write A Business Plan (2023 Guide)
Updated: Aug 20, 2022, 2:21am
Table of Contents
Brainstorm an executive summary, create a company description, brainstorm your business goals, describe your services or products, conduct market research, create financial plans, bottom line, frequently asked questions.
Every business starts with a vision, which is distilled and communicated through a business plan. In addition to your high-level hopes and dreams, a strong business plan outlines short-term and long-term goals, budget and whatever else you might need to get started. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to write a business plan that you can stick to and help guide your operations as you get started.
Drafting the Summary
An executive summary is an extremely important first step in your business. You have to be able to put the basic facts of your business in an elevator pitch-style sentence to grab investors’ attention and keep their interest. This should communicate your business’s name, what the products or services you’re selling are and what marketplace you’re entering.
Ask for Help
When drafting the executive summary, you should have a few different options. Enlist a few thought partners to review your executive summary possibilities to determine which one is best.
After you have the executive summary in place, you can work on the company description, which contains more specific information. In the description, you’ll need to include your business’s registered name , your business address and any key employees involved in the business.
The business description should also include the structure of your business, such as sole proprietorship , limited liability company (LLC) , partnership or corporation. This is the time to specify how much of an ownership stake everyone has in the company. Finally, include a section that outlines the history of the company and how it has evolved over time.
Wherever you are on the business journey, you return to your goals and assess where you are in meeting your in-progress targets and setting new goals to work toward.
Goals can cover a variety of sections of your business. Financial and profit goals are a given for when you’re establishing your business, but there are other goals to take into account as well with regard to brand awareness and growth. For example, you might want to hit a certain number of followers across social channels or raise your engagement rates.
Another goal could be to attract new investors or find grants if you’re a nonprofit business. If you’re looking to grow, you’ll want to set revenue targets to make that happen as well.
Goals unrelated to traceable numbers are important as well. These can include seeing your business’s advertisement reach the general public or receiving a terrific client review. These goals are important for the direction you take your business and the direction you want it to go in the future.
The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you’re offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit in the current market or are providing something necessary or entirely new. If you have any patents or trademarks, this is where you can include those too.
If you have any visual aids, they should be included here as well. This would also be a good place to include pricing strategy and explain your materials.
This is the part of the business plan where you can explain your expertise and different approach in greater depth. Show how what you’re offering is vital to the market and fills an important gap.
You can also situate your business in your industry and compare it to other ones and how you have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Other than financial goals, you want to have a budget and set your planned weekly, monthly and annual spending. There are several different costs to consider, such as operational costs.
Business Operations Costs
Rent for your business is the first big cost to factor into your budget. If your business is remote, the cost that replaces rent will be the software that maintains your virtual operations.
Marketing and sales costs should be next on your list. Devoting money to making sure people know about your business is as important as making sure it functions.
Although you can’t anticipate disasters, there are likely to be unanticipated costs that come up at some point in your business’s existence. It’s important to factor these possible costs into your financial plans so you’re not caught totally unaware.
Business plans are important for businesses of all sizes so that you can define where your business is and where you want it to go. Growing your business requires a vision, and giving yourself a roadmap in the form of a business plan will set you up for success.
How do I write a simple business plan?
When you’re working on a business plan, make sure you have as much information as possible so that you can simplify it to the most relevant information. A simple business plan still needs all of the parts included in this article, but you can be very clear and direct.
What are some common mistakes in a business plan?
The most common mistakes in a business plan are common writing issues like grammar errors or misspellings. It’s important to be clear in your sentence structure and proofread your business plan before sending it to any investors or partners.
What basic items should be included in a business plan?
When writing out a business plan, you want to make sure that you cover everything related to your concept for the business, an analysis of the industry―including potential customers and an overview of the market for your goods or services―how you plan to execute your vision for the business, how you plan to grow the business if it becomes successful and all financial data around the business, including current cash on hand, potential investors and budget plans for the next few years.
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Julia is a writer in New York and started covering tech and business during the pandemic. She also covers books and the publishing industry.
Kelly is an SMB Editor specializing in starting and marketing new ventures. Before joining the team, she was a Content Producer at Fit Small Business where she served as an editor and strategist covering small business marketing content. She is a former Google Tech Entrepreneur and she holds an MSc in International Marketing from Edinburgh Napier University. Additionally, she manages a column at Inc. Magazine.
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22 types of business objectives to measure success
Clear business objectives help you achieve your mission statement and long-term company vision. These objectives can range from financial objectives to organization specific objectives. Take a look at 22 types of business objectives you can set—plus, learn when to use business objectives vs. 14 other goal frameworks.
Whether you work at a small business, a start up, or as a team lead at a larger enterprise, as a key business owner, you’re responsible for identifying the business objectives that will help your organization hit its long-term goals. Setting goals and strategic objectives is the best way to know where you’re going and how to get there.
In this article, learn about 22 different types of business objectives and how to make them achievable. Then, take a look at the 15 different types of goals you can set, depending on why you’re setting those goals.
What is a business objective?
Business objectives are the results you are aiming to achieve in order to accomplish your longer-term company vision. Think of business objectives as metrics to measure your overall business success.
Hitting your business objectives means you’re on the path towards achieving larger company goals. As such, business objectives should focus on large-scale organizational impact. Good business objectives are measurable, specific, and time-bound.
22 types of business objectives
Set business objectives based on factors that measure and impact your organization’s success. For example, you might set the following business objectives:
Financial business objectives
1. Profitability: A profitability-focused business objective is important if your company is relying on outside investors. Achieving—and maintaining—profitability ensures your long-term success so you can make progress towards your overall company mission.
2. Revenue: Revenue-focused business objectives help you balance your income with your costs in order to stay in business. You might set business objectives to achieve a certain annual revenue goal, or to increase revenue by a certain percentage over a period of time.
3. Costs: Costs refer to how much money you’re spending on your business. Reducing costs can help you increase revenue and achieve profitability. Business objectives related to cost can help you control production or operations cost to improve your business’s financial performance.
4. Cash flow: Cash flow refers to the money moving into and out of your business. Cash flow can be positive—when you’re making more than you’re spending—or negative—when you’re spending more than you’re making. Similar to profitability, a cash flow-oriented business objective can help set you up for long term financial success.
5. Sustainable growth: In order to grow as a business, you need to grow sustainably. Setting business objectives around sustainable growth can help you plan your financial projections, employee costs, and other financial considerations.
Customer-centric business objectives
6. Competitive positioning: A big element of your business strategy is thinking about how your product or service compares to others in the same market. By setting a business objective focused on competitive positioning, you can ensure your product or service reaches parity with what’s expected in the market, or use competitive positioning to outdo your competitors in a key area.
8. Customer satisfaction: In order to succeed as a business, you need happy customers. Focusing on a customer satisfaction-based business objective can help you better serve your customers. Depending on the business objective, this might focus on a customer advocacy program, a better help desk, or something similarly customer-facing.
9. Brand awareness: Your brand is what makes your organization stand out from the crowd. Brand awareness is an important way to understand how your customers think of your brand, and how aware they are of your distinct brand vs. your competitors. Understanding—and increasing—brand awareness is a key part of your long-term marketing strategy .
10. Sales: You’ll often find business objectives related to improving or refining the sales cycle. This could include anything from reducing customer acquisition cost (CAC), developing better lead tracking, increasing cross-selling, or something else.
11. Churn: In business, your churn rate refers to how many customers you lose over a set period of time. Reducing churn is a great way to increase your revenue and ensure your customers are satisfied with the product or service you provide.
Internal business objectives
12. Employee satisfaction and engagement: Part of your business is how your employees feel about working there, too. Increasing employee satisfaction and engagement leads to happier employees, reduced burnout , and more effective teams.
13. Employee retention: A key internal business objective is how long your employees spend at your company. Increasing tenure and reducing turnover can help you achieve more complex projects with knowledgeable employees.
14. Company growth: In order to grow your business, you also need to grow the number of people you employ. Growing your company sustainably can be difficult—which is why businesses often set company growth as a key business objective.
15. Organizational culture: Organizational culture is the ideals, values, and group norms that shape how team members interact within your company. Good culture drives employee engagement and increases retention, which is one of the key reasons so many companies set organizational culture-focused business objectives.
16. Change management: Smoothly implement large-scale organizational change with change management . Though you typically won’t see organizations set this type of business objective year after year, it can be a helpful objective to set if you have large changes on the horizon.
17. Productivity: At Asana, we don’t think of productivity as “doing the most you can,” but rather as a way to optimize your time and get your best work done. Increasing employee productivity can help your teams achieve their high-impact work more efficiently.
18. Employee effectiveness: Teams don’t just need to be efficient—they also need to know the right things to work on. The best companies aim for efficiency and effectiveness—which is where an effectiveness-based business objective comes into play. To learn more, read our article about the difference between efficiency and effectiveness .
19. Diversity and inclusion: A big part of a welcoming company culture is making sure your employees feel like they belong. Investing in diversity and inclusion programs can help your business be more welcoming to your current and potential employees.
Regulation related business objectives
20. Quality control: Implementing quality control measures as a business objective can help you ensure your product or services are at the level you want them to be. This in turn leads to better customer relationships and overall increase in revenue.
21. Compliance: If your business has any compliance needs to meet in the near future, setting those compliance requirements as a business objective will ensure you hit your targets on time.
22. Sustainability or waste reduction: Some businesses set business objectives to reduce waste or increase sustainability. While this may not directly impact your business, proving that you’re environmentally minded can help you reach specific audiences you’re targeting.
Which goal framework is right for you?
Figuring out exactly what type of goal you need to set can be tricky. Each goal framework is slightly different—and implementing the right one can help you achieve success.
The type of goal you set will depend on the business activities you’re running and the specific goals you have. If your goals have a set time frame, you may want to go with short-term objectives, whereas larger goals have their own unique frameworks.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out these 15 goal frameworks for different situations:
1. Business objectives: Set goals based on operating factors that impact your company’s long-term success.
2. Business plan : Also called a business strategy plan. Document your business’ goals and plan out how you’ll get there.
3. Vision statement : Set an organization-wide North Star.
4. Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) : Set organization-sized stretch goals .
5. Company values : Align your team around core principles.
6. Strategic plan : Clarify your three to five year company goals during the strategic planning process.
7. Strategic goal : Set the goals you want to achieve by the end of your strategic plan.
8. Critical success factors : Clarify the high-level goals you need to achieve in order to achieve your strategic goals.
9. Strategic management : Execute against your strategic plan in order to achieve your company goals.
10. Business goals : Set predetermined targets to achieve in a set period of time.
11. Objectives and key results (OKRs) : Set and communicate annual company goals.
12. Key performance indicators (KPIs) : Set quantitative goals.
13. Project objectives : Share what you want to achieve by the end of a project.
14. Project deliverables : Identify a project’s output.
15. Project milestones : Mark specific checkpoints along a project’s timeline.
More goal setting resources
Clear goals are critical to keep your organization functioning. In addition to business objectives, check out our goal setting resource hub for tips on setting goals and achieving high-impact results. Then when you’re ready, get started with Asana for goal tracking. With Asana , you can connect your company goals to the work that supports them—all in one place.
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How to Set Goals and Objectives in Your Business Plan
Writing out a business plan is a vital step in starting a new company. It helps you create a roadmap of the future of your company and it's the first place investors look to see if you're for real. However, if your company goals aren't laid out clearly or they're unrealistic, investors won't get on board with your vision.
To guide your company toward success, you need to know what success entails. You'll have a much greater chance of making it if you have a direction to move toward. Goal setting gives your company a target to shoot for in the future.
Big goals don't happen all at once, however. You have to take them step by step and you need to know the objectives you'll have to complete on the way. In this article, we'll show you how to create manageable goals for your business and design a series of actionable objectives leading up to them.
What Are Goals and Objectives for Your Business?
Goals are the big targets in your business planning, while objectives are the actions or landmarks that make up the end goal. Clear goals serve to inspire and rally your team to perform but they're not immediately actionable, specific, or measurable. For example, let's say your business sells computers and your goal this year is to increase your gross revenue. How much gross revenue do you want to bring in? You need an objective amount to aim for.
Let's say you decide to shoot for $300,000 in gross revenue. That means your monthly objective is to make $25,000 in gross revenue ($300,000/12). Your direct cost to make each computer is $500 and you sell each computer for $1,500. That means you need to sell 25 computers a month.
Now, you have a measurable monthly objective, but it's not actionable. You need to give your team specific objectives that will lead them toward achieving the goal. How will they sell an average of 25 computers every month?
Here's a list of some actionable objectives your marketing team could complete to help you reach your sales goal. You should assign objectives directly to an individual or department within your business. Of course, if you're the only member of your business, you'll be doing everything yourself.
- Create two blog posts every week using search engine optimization (SEO) to increase brand awareness.
- Create one product video every month and feature it on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Create an email list for consumers who fill out a form on your website. Send out a weekly email with exclusive news and promotions about the product.
- Use key performance indicators (KPIs) for the company website to identify the top exit page (where the most visitors leave). Redesign the page.
Decide on Goals for Your Business
How do you decide what your goals should be for your company? Each business's goals will be unique depending on its particular business model. A great place to start the decision-making process is your mission statement. Let's use the same computer company in the following example.
Your mission statement is "to create affordable, easy-to-use computers and offer knowledgeable, friendly, and fast technical support and customer service." There are several keywords in the statement that you can use to develop goals. If you use "fast technical support," your goal might be to increase the speed at which your team responds to customer inquiries.
You can also use other methods to decide your company goals. You might hold a brainstorming session with your team to create your goals or you can set goals about how you'll outperform or reach a different market segment than your competitors.
Here are a few types of goals you might create for your business.
- Operational goals: To be more efficient in your work processes and business strategy
- Profit goals: To increase revenue, reduce costs, or increase market share
- Staff development goals: To train your team, increase their knowledge, or improve their customer satisfaction scores
- Goals for handling problems: To be proactive in dealing with possible market, manufacturer, staff, or product issues and things like natural disasters
- Product goals: To create and release a new product or improve a current one
Evaluate Your Business Goals and Objectives
One of the quickest ways to turn investors off is to include outlandish goals in your business plan. Before they put money into your company, they'll want to know that your goal-setting process is sensible. Both your short-term goals and long-term goals need to be realistic and attainable.
You may believe that your company is capable of achieving incredible results, but investors are practical. For example, no one will believe that your computer shop that currently makes $100,000 in gross revenue will be more profitable than Microsoft in five years.
To prove that your goals are realistic, you'll have to show your work. Create a believable forecast of your future business revenue by analyzing things like your business costs, profit margins, market share, and expected growth.
Using SMART to Analyze Your Business Goals
One way to evaluate your business goals for effectiveness is to use SMART goals . Each letter of the acronym represents a quality that your business goals should have. Here's a breakdown you can follow to make sure you have smart goals:
- Specific: Your objectives should be clear, specific actions. It should also be clear who's responsible for them. For example, your marketing team needs to create an email list.
- Measurable: You should be able to easily gauge your success. For example, you need to sell 25 computers a month to reach your goal. If you sell 23, you may need to adjust your method.
- Attainable: Goals need to be realistic. If you currently sell 15 computers a month, it's very unlikely that you'll immediately start selling 1,000 a month.
- Relevant: Your goals need to be in line with your higher-level goals. Creating a blog and optimizing it to appear high on a search engine results page (SERP) will increase brand awareness and provide a bigger audience of possible new customers.
- Time-bound: Create deadlines for your goals or they'll never get done. For example, your sales team must redesign the landing page for your Facebook Ads by Friday, Nov. 3.
Using OKRs to Measure Business Objectives
Another system you can use for managing goals and objectives is the objective and key results (OKR) method. In the OKR system, the O (objective) is representative of a larger goal, while the KR (key results) represent the smaller objectives you use to measure your progress. Here's an OKR model for your computer sales goal.
- O: Increase profitability for the computer company.
- KR1: Make $300,000 in gross profit for the year.
- KR2: Sell 25 computers every month.
Skynova Can Help You Manage All Your Accounting Goals
Generally, investors are more interested in where your company is going than where it currently is. If they're going to put money into it, they need to see that you have the initiative to grow your business and give them a big return on their investment. Use your business plan to give them a clear understanding of your goals and objectives and you'll have a greater chance of getting their backing.
No matter what type of business you run, you likely want to spend your time growing it, not doing administration. Skynova's software products can help you manage your accounting tasks quickly and easily. Take a look at how simple our business templates and accounting software can make your business processes.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is designed to provide a basic explanation of goal- and objective-setting for a small business. It isn't tailored to any specific type of business and may not fit your particular company. Before making any big business decisions that could affect your bottom line or presenting your company objectives to investors, you should seek the advice of a certified professional.
Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you’re offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...
A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business.
Business objectives usually have to do with the most important operating factors of a company's success, such as revenue, operations, productivity and growth. To be most successful, some companies find that a business objective needs to be specific, measurable, attainable and time-based.
Business goals: Set predetermined targets to achieve in a set period of time. 11. Objectives and key results (OKRs): Set and communicate annual company goals. 12. Key performance indicators (KPIs): Set quantitative goals. 13. Project objectives: Share what you want to achieve by the end of a project. 14.
Determine what kind of time, commitment and resources your short- and long-term objectives will require, and start formulating how you meet them. To help brainstorm, we’ve included some of the more popular objectives business’s use to succeed: 1. Increase your product or service's market share
Goals are the big targets in your business planning, while objectives are the actions or landmarks that make up the end goal. Clear goals serve to inspire and rally your team to perform but they're not immediately actionable, specific, or measurable.