A Standard Business Plan Outline [Updated for 2017]

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This article is part of our “Business Planning Guide” —a curated list of our articles that will help you with the planning process! Start from the very beginning understanding that your business plan ought to be specific to your business needs and objectives.

8 Reasons Business Plans Fail That No One Wants to Talk About

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As a full-time editor and academic mentor at an academic writing service, I have read hundreds of business plans over the years. To help students and startups, I have compiled a list of reasons business plans are rejected or given a low grade. Bad business ideas.

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Blowing up the Business Plan at U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School

Steve Blank

Berkeley Haas Business School is a leader in entrepreneurship education. It has replaced how to write a business plan with hands-on Lean Startup methods. Berkeley in 2010 to run the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship in the Haas School of Business we were teaching entrepreneurship the same way as when I was a student back in 1995. The final deliverable for that class was a 30-page business plan. We had multiple business plan competitions.

How to Write a Business Plan

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You’ve reviewed what a business plan is , and why you need one to start and grow your business. It’s time to dig into the process of actually writing a business plan. First, a few must-follow rules for writing a business plan. > Financial Plan.

The Management Magic of Business Planning

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True story: As my software business began to grow, as we went from two employees to five, then 10, I discovered how hard real management is with startups and small business that grow organically. See Also An Overview of Lean Business Planning.

Don’t Just Describe Problem and Solution in Your Business Plan; Make People Care

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Many experts recommend introducing your business plan with definitions of the problem that your business solves and the solution your business offers. Every business sale is related to a problem. See Also: What Is a Business Plan?

Episode 9: Lean Business Planning with Tim Berry | The Bcast

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This week Peter and Jonathan talk to Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, about lean business planning, strategy, tactics, specifics (milestones), and the forecast. Listen to Episode 9: Show notes: What is Lean Planning? ” Why do you still need to plan?

Entrepreneurs Confuse Product and Business Plans

Startup Professionals Musings

Why is it that most of the business plans I see are really product plans? I define a product plan as a detailed description of your product or service, with a bit of business thrown in at the end. It’s definitely positive to have a product plan.

How to Write a Mission Statement in 5 Easy Steps

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I love it when a mission statement defines a business so well that it feels like strategy —which does happen—and I hate it when a mission statement is generic, stale, and completely useless. A good mission statement is useful tool for well-run business. Make it work for your business.

How to Write About Sourcing and Fulfillment in Your Business Plan

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A traditional business plan includes a section that describes the business offering, which is the product or service. See Also: How to Write a Business Plan. Fulfillment also applies to assembly, packaging, and shipping for online product businesses.

Business Model vs. Business Plan vs. Business Planning

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Tweet What’s a business model? How does it relate to a business plan? Or, better yet, business planning? Your business planning makes your business model happen. And your business plan is a regular step in your business planning.

How to Write an Executive Summary

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An executive summary is the brief introduction to a business plan. It should describe your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights. Start with your business’s name, location, and contact information. Business plan purpose.

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Lean Business Planning with Tim Berry [VIDEO]

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We recently had Tim Berry, Palo Alto Software founder and business planning expert, present our Bplans audience with his latest advice on lean business planning. Start your lean business plan today: Download our Free Lean Plan Template one-page-pitch-download.pdf.

Fall In Love With Your Business, Not Your Business Plan


That business plan, that business plan, I do not like that business plan. My feelins on business plans varies: from extreme dislike to just mild irritation. I don't think business plans are completely useless, just mostly so.

The Science of Success Through Business Planning

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If you’re seeking funding or looking to start a business, you need a business plan. The business plan isn’t just a document you create to get investors to dish out the dough. This is why you MUST write a business plan. Companies that plan, grow.

Dispelling Business Plan Myths (It Ain't Just for Raising Money)…And It's All About Execution!

Small Business Force

Over the years, I’ve written a lot about business plans, especially for early-stage companies trying to raise capital. In actuality, for small business owners, a business plan is essential for any long-term success. Do you have a business plan?

Don’t make these 5 business plan mistakes

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Every year, the team here at Palo Alto Software looks forward to judging business plans for several prestigious collegiate business plan competitions. We all read multiple entries and then gather and talk about what makes a great plan and choose a winner.

The History of Lean Planning

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Lean Planning is a concept that we introduced back in 2012 as an evolution in business planning. The traditional business plan just wasn’t fitting the needs of modern, fast-moving companies and it was time to bring more of a scientific approach to business planning.

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The Right Way To Do A Software ROI Analysis

Feld Thoughts

The “enterprise sales software ROI analysis” as a selling tool comes up over and over and over again. After spending nearly 20 years selling startup software and services to big companies, I can safely say I’ve seen thousands of “Return on Investment” (ROI) slides.

Are Business Plans Still Necessary?

Both Sides of the Table

Many of these businesses were what First Round Capital called FNACs (features, not companies – this acronym has always stuck with me). Someone remind me to do a future post on why I think the Ramen Profitable approach has actually hurt some businesses.

The Optimizing for Happiness Business Plan

Business of Software Blog

Her company makes Convey , software that plugs friendly, cost-saving user guides into your application with very little effort. She blogs about creating delightful companies and software at Software Smitten. It illustrates how pricing impacts the rest of your business.

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11 Questions to Help Your Business Start Off on the Right Foot

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It’s easier than ever to start a business! There’s a learning curve no matter what you do, but I’d much rather see your business start off on the right foot than struggle unnecessarily. Planning. Starting a business takes a lot of preparation, and you have to do the work.

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Software Company

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Since the term “cloud computing” was coined in 1996—at least as we have come to understand its meaning—the software as a service industry has exploded. Step 1: Start with a lean plan. Instead of sitting down to write a 40-page business plan, start with a one-page pitch.

Dr. Seuss and Business Planning: He knew a thing or two

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But after a few days, you lost motivation because the idea of creating and planning and establishing a product or service is daunting, or at the very least, overwhelming. Starting your own business can be scary, and with good reason. You need the right software for your busy lifestyle.

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Sabrina Parsons Answers Frequently-Asked Business Planning Questions

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There are a lot of questions to ask when starting your own business (and you’ll be asked plenty more by investors and customers along the way). Yesterday, Palo Alto Software CEO Sabrina Parsons gave an interview with Small Business Digest and answered many of the FAQs of startups. Throughout the interview, Sabrina details the challenges of starting and running your own business and the benefits of having a business plan.

Why Build, Measure, Learn – isn’t just throwing things against the wall to see if they work

Steve Blank

Founders assumed they understood customer problems/needs, wrote engineering requirements documents, designed the product, implemented /built the hardware/software, verified that it worked by testing it, and then introduced the product to customers in a formal coming out called first customer ship.

The Business Model Canvas Gets Even Better – Value Proposition Design

Steve Blank

It has three parts: a business model canvas to frame hypotheses, customer development to get out of the building to test those hypotheses and agile engineering to build minimum viable products. Alexander and I met after he published Business Model Generation.

Four Factors You Need To Include In Your Business Plan


A solid business plan will help you identify the goals you have for your business and make it easier to make decisions about which path to take when there are multiple options ahead of you. Jobs can be lost, or business shutdown if security isn’t taken seriously.

Tips for Writing a Successful Business Plan for a Daycare Center

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Working out a business plan for your daycare center can be a challenge. As someone who owns eight successful daycares in the Chicago area, I know the strategies and approaches that work when it comes to developing a sound business plan for a daycare center. Software costs.

Five lessons a waiter can teach you about starting a business

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There are some valuable lessons I learned in this setting that could greatly benefit you as you build your business. Let me share with you five lessons a waiter can teach you about starting a business in an entrepreneurial environment.

Why Even Lean Startups Need a Business Plan

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No strategy is ‘one size fits all,’ and all entrepreneurs should take the necessary steps to plan ahead and build a foundation for where their business is heading. Business Planning bootstrapping lean startups

How Do I Find a Business Plan Writer?

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Tweet I’ve been working with the team at Palo Alto Software on a series of videos to help you with business planning. This video is about hiring a business plan writer (or not) to help with business planning.

Tools You Can Find Online To Write A Killer Business Plan


The broad experience of successful entrepreneurs shows that developing a strong business plan is the essential part of any startup. So, don’t try too hard to create a business plan only to impress your investors, but rather write it for yourself showing others your vision.

Lean Planning: A Curated List of Our Best Content

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When it comes to business planning, unless an investor has asked you to provide a formal business plan, we recommend writing a Lean Plan instead—it’s faster, more flexible, and will remain relevant throughout the life of your business. Why Lean Planning?

Starting Your Own Business in 2018? 3 Questions to Ask First

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Are you considering starting your own business this year? According to a report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) , nearly 14 percent of Americans are starting or running new businesses. Juggling a career and a business on the side is challenging, but not impossible.

Episode 1 on Sirius XM Channel 111: Alexander Osterwalder and Oren Jacob

Steve Blank

My guests on Bay Area Ventures on Wharton Business Radio on Sirius XM Channel 111 were: Alexander Osterwalder – inventor of the Business Model Canvas. What’s the Business Model Canvas? “It’s Why Do Big Companies Use the Business Model Canvas?

What Is a Balance Sheet?

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If you’re in the process of starting a business or writing a business plan document, you’ll have heard the phrase “balance sheet” mentioned, or maybe you’ve seen one in a sample business plan. The importance of a balance sheet in a business plan.

Do You Really Require a New Business Plan Going Into 2012?

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million businesses nationwide. Whether you are a new small business about to unveil itself, or a business that has been around for some time, you will often be asked about your business plan. Simply put, the business plan involves the business owner laying out in detail how they will go about placing their company in a strong position in the marketplace, how they will finance their operation, and how they plan to earn a good return on investment (ROI).

Startups and Entrepreneurship: Beyond the Clichés

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The truth is, when it comes to starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur, there are a number of clichés that you will come across and that you need to be aware of so that you do not fall prey to. ‘Be your own boss’ is a common business cliché.

A Quick, Practical, Business Plan for a Blog

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Tweet I caught a guest post on Problogger the other day, where Kelly Watson of onewomanmarketing.com explains How to Make a Blogging Business Plan … Whether or Not it’s a Business Blog. She says: As a beginner, I wouldn’t have known what to include in that blogging plan.