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.

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Questioning Key Assumptions in Your Business Plan

Asking the hard questions now will save you time and money in the future

Amanda McCormick is an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, and content strategist who has worked with arts and government organizations, including the New York City Ballet. She is the co-founder of a small marketing agency focused on arts and media companies.

key questions for business plan

Is There a Need for Your Product or Service?

Is there a significant customer base, can your business turn a profit, are you the right person to run your business, is your business funded appropriately, the swot analysis, frequently asked questions (faqs).

The Balance / Getty Images

Constructing a business plan is all about looking at and confronting assumptions. Consider the five following key assumptions, and you'll have a business plan—and future—in which you can be confident.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document that helps a business communicate and organize its plans and strategies for the future.
  • Sufficient market research is perhaps the most important part of starting a business.
  • A SWOT analysis clarifies the business' strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Asking yourself if you have the expertise to run all aspects of the business and whether or not you have sufficient capital is also important.

It's an obvious question, but many entrepreneurs overlook it. Knowing that there's a need for your product is different than having a hunch or a feeling. How do you know the difference? You do the research to find out. First, look at the competition. Are there others who have a similar offering and are they profitable?

Maybe you are breaking new ground -- that's no excuse for saying "there is no competition." Look around for evidence that your proposed business fulfills a concrete need. Without evidence to validate the need for your business, your business plan will fail.

As of December 2021, there were 32,540,953 million small businesses in the U.S.

The second assumption that's important to look at in your business planning preparation is whether or not there is a significant customer base for the business you are proposing. It can be a highly subjective question, as there are a number of successful niche businesses that serve small markets quite profitably. You are well-served to look at the concrete size of a potential market and to assign real dollar values to its potential.

Once you can decide that A) there is a need for your business and B) there is a sizable market for it, you are on solid ground to establish your business's potential profitability. But don't pluck numbers from the air.

You'll need to figure out what your startup costs are, as well as ongoing business-related expenses. You'll need to figure out a pricing structure that your customers will pay and will generate enough cash flow to keep the business running. After generating a set of realistic financial projections, you'll have a solid picture of your business' profit potential.

You believe in your business. You eat, sleep, and breathe it. But you're still going to have to make the case why you are uniquely qualified to start and run the business. As CEO, you'll also need to demonstrate the ability to delegate and find employees to complement your weaker points. First, know yourself, and second, be able to find the right people to bring into your management structure.

Financial projections are the place in the business plan that investors will flip to first. They want to know if you can understand the financial bottom line of running a business, or if your vision is unrealistic. Demonstrate in your business plan that you have a realistic startup budget, and you don't expect revenue to pour in within the first few months magically. Show that you have sufficient capitalization to run the business to break even.

Lack of sufficient capital is cited again and again as one of the top reasons why businesses fail.

A SWOT analysis , which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and is a popular strategic framework for business planners, is a great tool for questioning assumptions. The first two items refer to qualities that are internal to the business. The second two items are external factors. Consider the following in questioning your assumptions in writing a business plan around your fledgling operation:

  • What does this company do well?
  • What are our assets?
  • What expert or specialized knowledge does the company have?
  • What advantages do we have over competitors?
  • What makes us unique?
  • What resources do we lack?
  • Where can we improve?
  • What parts of the business are not profitable?
  • What costs us the most time and money?


  • What has the competition missed?
  • What are the emerging needs of the customer?
  • How can we use technology to cut costs and enhance reach?
  • Are there new market segments to exploit?
  • What are our competitors doing well?
  • How do larger forces in the economy affecting our business?
  • What is happening in the industry?

What is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a popular strategic framework used by business owners. It is performed throughout a business' existence and asks about its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

What percent of businesses fail within the first year?

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 1 in 5 (18.4%) of businesses fail within the first year and nearly half (49.7%) fail in the first five years.

Small Business Association. " Frequently Asked Questions ."

Small Business Association. " Selecting a Business That Fits ."

Bureau of Labor Statistics. " Survival of Private Sector Establishments by Opening Year ."

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key questions for business plan

Business Plan Questionnaire

Business Plan Questionnaire

Successful business plans clearly explain a company’s business model, objectives, strategies, and competitive advantages. Use our business plan questionnaire below for a list of the questions you should answer in each section of your business plan to ensure clarity and understanding of your business’s hopes and mission. 

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here

What Questions Should Be Asked in a Business Plan?

The business plan questionnaire can help you with how to write your business plan . It will give you a concrete set of directions for the future and allow you to further examine and learn about the market you are entering. Be sure to provide answers to the following questions in each key section of your business plan.

Executive Summary Questions

executive summary

You may ask yourself:

  • What is the issue your business is addressing?
  • How are you solving it?
  • What are your business’s strengths?
  • Why should an investor be interested in your business?

Company Analysis Questions

written company analysis

Ask yourself the following:

  • What is your business’ mission?
  • What is your history?
  • What are some of your past achievements?
  • What is your business’ legal structure?
  • Where is your business located?
  • Why did you start the business?
  • How do you measure your business success?

Industry Analysis Questions

discuss industry growth and concerns

Include the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the size of the market?
  • What are the characteristics of the market: growth trends, units sold, employment? 
  • What factors are influencing growth or decline in the market?
  • Are there any barriers to entering the market? 
  • Are there any government regulations that affect the market? 

    Finish Your Business Plan Today!

Customer analysis questions.

target high-quality customers

Be sure to include the following in your analysis:

  • What is the size of the target customer market?
  • Where are these prospective customers located?
  • What are their desires and needs, and how will your business meet those needs?
  • In descriptive terms, who is your target market? (what motivates them to purchase, what influences their purchasing decisions) 
  • Why will your target customers seek out your business?
  • What trends/purchasing shifts could occur in the market?
  • How will you monitor customer satisfaction? (e.g., surveys, reviews, etc.)

Competitive Analysis Questions

understand their weaknesses to help your company succeed

First, simply focus on your competition and what they are up to.

Address the following:

  • Who are your direct competitors? (e.g., other businesses in your genre) What percentage of market share do they occupy?
  • Who are your indirect competitors? (e.g., other companies that may not be specified in your business’s genre, but provide similar results to that of your business) 
  • What are your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are their products and pricing like?

Then, look into your business’ competitive advantage to describe how your business will be better.

  • Will you offer more or better features?
  • Will you ensure better results for your users?
  • Will you offer better pricing?
  • Will your customer service be more efficient?
  • Will you offer a better overall customer experience?

Marketing Plan Questions

advertising strategy for your organization

A complete plan will include the following marketing plan sections:

  • How will you communicate to your target customers about your product or service?
  • Why are you choosing these specific avenues (e.g., website, Social Media, etc.)?
  • What materials do you have or need, and what will be the cost of this?
  • What do you plan to spend on marketing per prospect and per client?
  • How will you retain existing customers?
  • How will your business attract publicity?
  • What media will you target?
  • How will your product or service be delivered to the market?
  • How might future changes impact your marketing?
  • How will you price your product relative to others in the market to be competitive yet profitable?
  • What type of payment will you accept?
  • Overall, how will your marketing strategy be effective to your target customers?

Operations Plan Questions

operations process for your organization

Consider the following:

  • What equipment is needed, and what is the cost?
  • What are your hours of operation and number of shifts?
  • How many employees will you have?
  • What are the skill sets required when looking to hire new employees?
  • What are your practices for scheduling, managing, and hiring personnel?
  • What are the processes you will use to produce and sell your product or service?
  • What is your purchasing process?
  • How will finished goods be distributed?
  • How will quality be measured and improved over time?
  • What will your procedures to keep track of inventory look like?

Management Team Questions

keep things simple until you have more clients

In this section, answer the following:

  • Who are your founding members and what is their background?
  • Who are your support team members and what are their responsibilities? (include position title, person’s name, and role)
  • Do you offer any ownership options to attract key management?
  • Do you have any Board of Directors?
  • Do you have any outside consultants that will work with your business as it grows?
  • What is your business’ organizational structure? 

Financial Plan Questions

finance projections for the future

Your financial plan should include:

  • Profit & Loss statement 
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet
  • Sales volume forecast
  • Personnel plan
  • Break-even analysis

Here, you must gather data and convey just how much money your business will need and how much income you will earn, as well as when your business will be profitable. 

Be sure to consider the following:

  • How were your numbers calculated?
  • Why are the salaries and office expenses you have calculated reasonable to your business?
  • Why are your expense estimates realistic?
  • How have you budgeted for unexpected costs?
  • Is there any debt the business currently has?
  • What is the amount of equity the owners and stockholders have? 
  • What is your annual interest expense?
  • What is the percentage of sales issued for returns? 
  • What is your average daily inventory value?
  • Are you using a fixed or variable inventory method?
  • What is the limit on your line of credit and the average interest rate?
  • What is your minimum checking account balance to have at all times?

Your financial plan should prove that you are informed and knowledgeable on the numbers around your business. It should prove that you are aware of all potential unexpected costs or other out-of-the-blue setbacks. 

Appendix Questions

provide the data to support your plan

Appendices may be anywhere from just a few pages to a hundred or more.

Your appendix can include:

  • Resumes of key management, blurbs on other management members
  • Job descriptions/titles
  • Copies of any agreements having bearing on the business plan
  • Copies of licenses
  • Personal and business tax returns (if applying for a loan)
  • Marketing materials 
  • Photos or sketches of the building, property, equipment, products 
  • Industry studies or other information supporting industry trends
  • Summaries of secondary market studies

Business Plan Questionnaire Conclusion

The above sample survey questionnaire for a business plan should be a guide for you to use as an outline and checklist of items that will need to be addressed in your company’s business plan. Growthink’s fill in the blank business plan includes each of these key elements and more to help your business succeed.

How to Finish Your Business Plan in 1 Day!

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your business plan?

With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

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key questions for business plan

A Complete Business Plan Checklist - Key Points to include in your Business Plan and Track Progress

Creating an effective business plan requires addressing specific strategic and tactical questions with a high level of detail.

After you complete writing your business plan, how will you make sure that your business plan is complete and you did not miss any important details?

The best and easy way is to check your business plan with a standard business plan checklist.

Business plan checklist is the list of most important sections of the business plan that you should include into your business plan in the same order.

This checklist will guide you through the step-by-step process of writing an effective and successful business plan for your startup.

Business Plan Checklist

Please check the sections that you have included in your business plan from below list and track your  business plan progress .

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Explore our 200+ sample business plans prepared for a wide variety of industries to help you start writing and planning your business plan.

Business plan checklist will also help you to write your business plan table of contents and outline of your business plan.

This business plan checklist is a general guideline for any standard business plan . But you should also keep in mind the purpose of your business plan and include specific details accordingly.

For Example, if you are writing a business plan for a loan from a particular bank, you should learn about their mandatory or specific criteria and must include that details into your business plan.

This business plan checklist prepared here will help you to think through your business and document it in a way that investors and other readers fully understand about your business.

Make your plan in half the time & twice the impact with Upmetrics.

key questions for business plan

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10 Questions to Ask if You Want to Create a Winning Business Plan Throw out everything you know about a business plan. These are the questions you need to ask to sell your idea to investors.

By Arlene Weintraub • Aug 12, 2013

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The stodgy business plan--that multipage printed document that entrepreneurs used to hand out at meetings with venture capitalists--has gone the way of the typewriter and Rolodex. These days, entrepreneurs are expected to lay out their strategies in slick Power Point presentations, complete with colorful pictures and informative charts.

But while it's true that the format of the business plan has changed, the substance most certainly hasn't. If you're headed out to raise capital for your company, you'll still need to address key issues about the size of your market, the experience of your team, and your long-term financial goals. In the wake of the financial crisis, persuading potential financiers that your plan has legs will be especially challenging.

Here are the key questions you should ask yourself before you fire up Power Point and start preparing your slides.

1. Have I proven that I'm filling an unmet need in the market? As the economy still struggles to turn around, entrepreneurs are under pressure to gauge the strength of their market--in detail--before they go out and raise capital. Try test marketing your product on a small scale so you can realistically forecast how much you can sell in the future, suggests Edward Hess, professor and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

"Entrepreneurial funding is moving away from formal business plans to having to prove that customers are actually going to buy what you're trying to sell," Hess says.

2. How will I acquire and retain customers? You'll also need to prove that your idea isn't a fad.

"Understanding how customers are going to be found, acquired and retained is critical," says Alison Berkley Wagonfeld, operating partner for Emergence Capital Markets in San Mateo, Calif. "Some companies might say, "We're going to buy search words,' but once they get somebody to their website, how are they going to sell them a product?"

3. Why am I better than the competition, both current and future? If you have direct competitors, you'll need to devote several slides to depicting exactly how you plan to differentiate yourself. If you have no competitors, you need to explain that, too, Wagonfeld says.

"It's always great to think you have no competitors, but the flipside to that is why has no one else found this opportunity?" Wagonfeld says. "You may have a different expertise or a unique technology," but you have to explain why you think you can retain that competitive advantage.

4. What's the story behind my financial forecasts? One common mistake entrepreneurs make in their business plans is to project that they will capture a certain percentage of the overall market for their product without fully explaining how they intend to do that, says Mark Steranka, director of planning and policy for Moss Adams' Consulting Group in Seattle.

"You can't just play a numbers game," Steranka says. "What will the key decisions be along the way? What will the key strategies be? You need to do a stellar job of really explaining how you're going to get from point A to point B."

5. What elements of this plan can I depict visually? The rise of Power Point as the format of choice is forcing entrepreneurs to make their pitches with fewer words and more pictures. Some parts of your business easily lend themselves to graphic presentations, such as financial forecasts that can be shown in bar charts. But you might also consider using graphics, photos, and illustrations to demonstrate how your product works or how it differs from the competition.

6. Should I recruit a few key advisors? Bryan Pearce, venture capital advisory group leader for Ernst & Young in Boston, says every startup should assemble an advisory board--a small group of industry leaders who can complement your skill sets and help you formulate your plan.

"An advisory board doesn't carry the legal weight of a formal board of directors, but it can be very helpful to the founding team in advising them on how to get the company going," Pearce says. The makeup of your advisory board should be included in your business plan, too. "If good people are willing to lend their names and help to get you going that speaks volumes about the potential of the business idea."

7. How am I going to spend my investors' money? With the economy still sputtering, potential investors are going to want details about how you plan to stretch their dollars, Pearce says. Emphasize your strategy for holding down your cash-burn rate, and spell out exactly what you expect your costs to be for the first year or two.

8. Does my staffing fit the current state of my business? Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking they need to have all the key managers in place before they go out and raise funding, but that's not necessarily true. If your product is in the prototype phase, for example, you don't need a director of sales and a full sales force just yet. You should describe your plans for hiring those people, and include them in your cost estimates, but you'll want to show that you're taking a conservative approach with your funding and not over-staffing your company beyond your current operating needs.

9. What's the exit plan for the business? Potential buyers will want to know how they're going to earn a return on their investment. If you hope to take your company public someday, your business plan should point to examples of other companies in your industry that have done so successfully.

If you think your company is a good candidate for an acquisition, try to strike up partnerships with potential acquirers, and include those names in your business plan, Pearce advises. "It's always good to have an understanding of who potential buyers might be, and to show that you're starting to create relationships with them," he says.

10. What is my personal exit plan? If you're a 45-year-old founder with a dream of retiring at 55, don't be embarrassed to reveal that in your business plan. Potential investors will want to know that you've defined your personal goals and aligned your company with them, Steranka says. For example, if you don't plan to stay with the business for the long haul, your business plan should include a succession strategy--a specific strategy for developing talent within your organization, so the transition to a new leader is seamless.

"Investors want to know the truth," Steranka says. "While transparency up-front could turn away a potential investor, it's going to attract the right investor."

Arlene Weintraub has over fifteen years of experience writing about health care, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology and the author of a book on the anti-aging industry, Selling the Fountain of Youth (Basic Books, 2010).She has been published in USA Today, US News & World Report, Technology Review , and other media outlets. She was previously a senior health writer for BusinessWeek .

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Tim Berry

Planning, Startups, Stories

Tim berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime., 8 factors that make a good business plan.

This is the first of four answers to interesting questions. Yesterday I got an email from an MBA student asking me four questions. It’s part of his research. I balked at first, because I think I’ve answered these questions before, on this blog, or on my other blogs, or at , or . Then I realized that answering these questions is blogworthy. So here is the first of four:

What makes a good business plan?

Here’s the hard part, right at the beginning: the value of a business plan is measured in money. That’s hard for me at least, maybe not for you, but for me. As a genuine ex-hippy baby boomer entrepreneur, I like touchy-feely do-gooder measurement systems. But that’s not the real case. Like just about everything else in business, the value is money. Money in the bank.

The actual calculation is pretty hypothetical. You take the money in the bank with the business plan and subtract money in the bank without the business plan, and that’s the value. One of the two is just a guess. But there it is, a cold hard (although hypothetical) number.

With that in mind, here are some of the qualities of a good business plan, in order of importance:

1. It fits the business need

We simply can’t look at business plans as generic. You have to start with whether or not the plan achieved its business purpose. Some plans exist to get investment. Some are supposed to support loan applications. Those are specialty uses, that apply to some business situations, while almost all businesses ought to develop management-oriented business plans that exist to help run the company, not to be presented to outsiders.

Obviously form follows function. The business plan used internally to manage the company doesn’t have to polish and present the company to outsiders, so it probably lives on a network, not on paper. But the plan as part of high-end startup looking for VC or angel investment does in fact have to present the business to outsiders. These are very different plans. Some of them have sales objectives, selling an idea, and a team, and a market, to investors. Some have a support objective, reassuring a lender about risk, usually with assets. My favorite business plans are about managing: starting and growing a company. A plan that might be great at selling the company might be bad at supporting a loan application, or for managing a company.

So point one, what makes a good business plan, is that it fits the business need. Does it achieve the business objective?

At this point it’s hard to avoid going into branches. I’m going to resist the temptation to write about what people look for in investment-related plans, and then the plan for lenders, or the operational plan. There are a lot of branches on that tree. Factors like readability and ease of navigation and covering all the main points depend a lot on whether those qualities affect achieving the plan’s business objective.

So it’s entirely possible to have an excellent business plan that’s never been printed, that isn’t edited, that contains only cryptic bullet points that only the internal management team understands.

And it’s also possible to have a well written, thoroughly researched, and beautifully presented business plan that’s useless.

2. It’s realistic. It can be implemented.

The second measure of good or bad in a business plan is realism. You don’t get points for ideas that can’t be implemented. For example, a brilliantly written, beautifully formatted, and excellently researched business plan for a product that can’t be built is not a good business plan. The plan that requires millions of dollars of investment but doesn’t have a management team that can get that investment is not a good plan. A plan that ignores a fatal flaw is not a good plan.

3. It’s specific. You can track results against plan.

Every business plan ought to include tasks, deadlines, dates, forecasts, budgets, and metrics. It’s measurable.

Ask yourself, as you evaluate a business plan: how will we know later if we followed the plan? How will we track actual results and compare them against the plan? How will we know if we are on plan or not?

While blue-sky strategy is great (or might be, maybe), good planning depends more on what, when, who, and how much.

4. It clearly defines responsibilities for implementation

You have to be able to identify a single person will be responsible for every significant task and function. A task that doesn’t have an owner isn’t likely to be implemented. You can go through a business plan and look to see whether or not you can recognize a specific person responsible for implementation at every point.

5. It clearly identifies assumptions

This is very important because business plans are always wrong. They’re done by humans, who are guessing the future, and humans guess wrong. So business plans must clearly show assumptions up front because changed assumptions ought to lead to revised plans. You identify assumptions and keep them visible during the following planning process.

6.  It’s communicated to the people who have to run it

At this point we leave the discussion of the plan itself, as if it were a stand-alone entity, and get into how the plan is managed. The first five points here are about the plan. You can deal with them as the plan develops. This and the following two are about the management of the plan.

I know that’s kind of tough, because it means that a plan that isn’t managed isn’t a good plan. But I can live with that.

So a good plan is communicated. Up above, where I suggest that the qualities of writing and editing are not essential for all plans, and I reference cryptic bullet points that only the team understands: I stick with that here. If only the team understands them it, it can still be a good plan; but it has to be communicated to that team.

We’re judging the plan by the business improvements it causes; in some sense, by the implementation it causes. So people in charge have to know and understand the plan. Plans in drawers, or locked on a single computer, only work when it’s a one-person organization and nobody else has to know the plan.

7.  It gets people committed

Here too it’s about the process surrounding the plan, more than the plan itself. The plan has to have the specifics in point 3 and responsibilities as in point 4, but the management has to take them to the team and get the team committed.

For the one-person business that’s easier, but still important.

Definition of commitment: in a bacon and egg breakfast, the chicken is involved, and the pig is committed.

8. It’s kept alive by follow up and planning process

Sadly, you can have all seven of the above points, and if you drop the ball — the plan in the drawer syndrome — then the plan still isn’t a good plan. It has to bring the planning process with it, meaning regular review and course correction.

No business plan is good if it’s static and inflexible. Planning isn’t about predicting the future once a year and then following that predicted future no matter what. Planning is steering and management. It takes a process of regular review and course correction.

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I found this article very informative as the planning is first and one of the best steps to consider in businesses.

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It was interesting to learn about how a managed plan is a good plan and it can be communicated with the team and develop the plan. I can imagine that a business could benefit from having a plan for their business and know if it is feasible to grow a business around this time. It could be really useful for a business to make sure that they will be able to grow while keeping track of the right data.

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Thanks Oleg, nice post, short and right on point. Thanks for quoting me. Tim

key questions for business plan

Thanks for reading the post and sharing your comments.

key questions for business plan

When I was 20 years old I started my own business. I didn’t really saw the purpose to make one until later I suffered. Thanks for the article it will help other adventurous individuals.

Mgonzo I’m sorry if you don’t have easy web access, that makes life difficult; but there is so much free information available on the web about good business planning that nobody I know would have the time to sift through it all and send you that in email. I recommend you go immediately to, the site you were on when you posted this comment, and click around to see the thousands of pages of information on business plans, including 550+ complete sample plans, including all the numbers in the appendices, available there. Also, my last book on business planning is available, complete, with all graphics, at . And my previous book on business planning is available, complete, with all graphics, at

[…] most important thing to acquire if you are going to take this path includes money.  Where is the money going to come from? Also if you are going to work as a team then begin […]

key questions for business plan

It’s really a matter of how real the plan is. There are lots of business plans that end up in trash-cans because the targets are not doable and bring dispersal instead of focus. I agree with Tim especially on the point that targets do have to be communicated to people who are responsible for them… Why would I spend my time on writing something that is not going to work?

key questions for business plan

thanks for the article tim berry it realy helped me in my assingment .Continue doing the good works GOD BLESS YOU

key questions for business plan

Hi Tim – I really enjoyed reading your piece. We write a business plan every year and it ends up stuffed in a drawer – the only time we bring it out again is to revise it the following year. Do you think it is the constant review process that helps to make it more relevant to the day to day management of the business?

key questions for business plan

Hi Tim – I have a silly question in regards to #7. I love to rationalize phrases and I don’t quite get the definition of commitment. “in a bacon and egg breakfast, the chicken is involved, and the pig is committed” Why isn’t the chicken committed? If not, there’s no egg. No?

Carol: the pig is dead. The chicken will lay another egg tomorrow.

[…] Berry is a business plan expert. We took a look at one of his posts from his website outlining a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that your business plan is a strong one! […]

[…] and energy is required. Business plan expert, Tim Berry understands this. And as such, he writes on his website about the various ways that business owners can create successful business […]

key questions for business plan


Thanks Joseph. I think that’s true, but this post is about factors that make a good business plan. Would you say that a good plan increases self motivation? Should the self motivation be part of the plan?

key questions for business plan

i think in life as a person you need to plan what ever you want to do cos a life witout planning is incomplete. what do you think guys!!!

key questions for business plan

Excellent information. I really agree with your approach. It’s very ‘organic’ as it takes the nature of what really happens into account while still relying on numbers and tracking to manage the plan’s DNA. Planing is the perceived assumption but it must change as it gets implemented to fit the real world.

[…] high-level guidelines on what business plan should look like, read Tim Berry’s post entitled: 8 Factors that Make a Good Business Plan. If you are interested in understanding the art of managing change, read Tim Berry’s book The […]

Henri, I recommend a monthly plan vs. actual review once a month, which would result in revisions and corrections as needed (watching whether assumptions have changed); and an annual refresh on strategy and markets and such; plus additional revisions when major changes occur. Tim

key questions for business plan

How often should you review your business plan

key questions for business plan

1. Why is it that a Break-Even plan for the business was not mentioned at least explicitly? 2. Also, there should something that compares the plan with actual progress made. For instance, if it’s a Bus plan writing then it should compare number of actual plans prepared(N1) say in a quarter and the number(N2) in the business plan. It should say “Hey!!!! It is off by 15 (N2-N1=15)in this quarter.Lost $30000!! Take care great men and women!!” Thanks

Asoke, re your specific points:

  • Because a break-even plan isn’t as important as the points I do mention.
  • I appreciate your thought there with that one, because of course I agree, but I’m confused with why you thought it should be added. Don’t you think plan vs. actual is included with point 3, “It’s specific. You can track results against plan,” and then point 8 “It has to bring the planning process with it, meaning regular review and course correction?”

key questions for business plan

@Jess: “more simply”

@Jess: re simpler, I appreciate the comment What would you like to be more specific, so maybe I can help? I’m always in favor of simple. Is there a specific point, or maybe more than one, you’d like me to try to rephrase? Tim.

key questions for business plan

this needs to be put a bit more simpler

key questions for business plan

Informative and logical article . Thanks for writing and publishing . I think business plans is just for effective utilization of enterprise’s investment in effective scheme of business

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key questions for business plan

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50 Questions Your Business Plan Should Answer

key questions for business plan

S adly, most investors don't read business plans. However, writing one is the only way you will be able to answer the following 50 questions which an investor will ask you:

1. What is the price of your product or service and why?

2. How much capital is required to execute your business plan?

3. How much is the company is worth?

4. What existing products/services does your company provide?

5. What is the use of the proceeds?

6. On a summary basis, what is the historical financial performance of the company (even if, and perhaps particularly if, you have no revenues)?

7. On a summary basis, what is the projected financial performance of the company?

8. What new products/services are being developed and when will they be ready for market?

9. What is the size of the market for your product in dollars?

10. What is the size of the market in terms of units?

11. How has the market for the product/service changed over the past 5 years and why?

12. How do you anticipate it will change going forward?

13. At what rate is the market for your product growing?

14. Is the competition highly concentrated or highly fragmented?

15. What is your distribution channel and why is it the best one?

16. On a broad level, what are the elements of your marketing strategy?

17. What does it cost to generate a lead, and what is the ratio of leads to sales?

18. What funding is being allocated to new product development from the financing and from ongoing operations?

19. How many potential customers have you talked to?

20. What are the gross and margins on your product/service? Why are they superior or inferior to a competitor?

21. What is your assumptions on the bad debt and collection period for outstanding receivables?

22. What are your working capital needs once sales take off and how will these needs be addressed?

23. What will happen to gross and operating margins as sales rise and why?

24. What percentage of your sales are recurring?

25. Who are your top five executives and what is their professional and educational background?

26. What regulatory or legal threats are present?

27. Are there international markets for this product and is the company positioned to take advantage of them?

28. Who is the largest competitor in your industry?

29. What criteria will be used to choose locations for geographic expansion?

30. How will you get this product into mass market distribution channels?

31. Is the product/service patented?

32. Who are your suppliers and or vendors?

33. Do you have more than one for each supplier/vendor of your basic raw materials or services?

34. What are your payment terms with vendors or suppliers?

35. What will cause gross and operating margins to improve as volume increases or decreases?

36. Where is the company located and how many square feet does it lease or own?

37. What is the length of the sales cycle?

38. How did you estimate returns and allowances?

39. How are sales personnel compensated? Incentivized?

40. What, as a percentage of sales, is the industry norm for R&D expenditures?

41. What is the earnings multiple of public companies like yours?

42. What is your immediate marketing objectives?

43. Does the company have a board of directors or advisors?

44. What is the ownership structure of the company? Who else is an owner?

45. How has the company been financed to date? What other financial transactions have occurred in the past?

46. Has the product generated any publicity? Where?

47. How old are the current liabilities on the balance sheet?

48. Who has prepared the historical financial statements and have they been compiled, reviewed or audited?

49. Is there any cyclically in sales?

50. What are the competitive advantages of your products?

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

David Evanson

David Evanson

David R. Evanson has more than 30 years working in the media, on Wall Street and in media relations. He has worked with investment banks, asset managers, private equity investors and institutional brokers on a variety of marketing and communications challenges. David is also a recognized financial writer, having authored five books on finance and economics, and articles in Barron’s, Forbes, Investment Dealers’ Digest, On Wall Street, Financial Planning and Entrepreneur, among others. David brings to the table a well-developed understanding of the capital markets, investments and corporate finance, and a talent for creating targeted media communications programs for financial services providers.

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key questions for business plan

Small Business Trends

How to start a pest control business.

The demand for pest control services has seen a steady climb, a trend that can be linked to shifting climate patterns and the sprawl of urban development. This rise spells an opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on a growing need. If you have a knack for problem-solving and a passion for helping others maintain safe and comfortable environments, understanding how to start a pest control business could be your first step toward a fruitful enterprise.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

The Pest Control Industry

Pest control is more than just eradicating bugs; it’s about creating safer, healthier environments for people to live and work in. As urban areas grow and environmental conditions evolve, pests adapt and flourish, making pest control an essential service. The industry is not just about the present needs but also adapting to future challenges. The demand for pest control services is resilient, even in fluctuating economies, because pests don’t take a break. Pest management has become a staple in maintaining public health and hygiene, and it’s poised for growth as new solutions and technologies emerge.

key questions for business plan

Traits of a Successful Pest Control Business Owner

Venturing into pest management means more than just understanding pests; it involves a blend of specific traits that pave the way for success. The top pest control companies share a few characteristics, including:

  • Technical Savvy: A deep understanding of pest behavior, control techniques, and safety measures, along with the right pest control equipment .
  • Business Smarts: Skill in managing finances, marketing services, and cultivating customer relationships.
  • People Skills: Whether it’s communicating with customers or leading a team, interpersonal abilities are crucial.
  • Adaptability: The capacity to learn and adjust to new methods or changes in regulations.
  • Problem-Solving: Every pest problem is a puzzle to solve, which requires critical thinking and creativity.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Key Advantages of Running Your Own Pest Control Business

When you run your own pest control business, the perks buzz around like bees to honey. Here are some of the sweet spots:

Small Business Deals

  • Regular Income: Contracts for pest control often mean regular visits, ensuring a steady stream of income.
  • Diverse Opportunities: Your business can expand into new areas like termite inspections, wildlife control, or fumigation services.
  • Client Gratitude: You’re not just removing pests; you’re restoring comfort and security to someone’s space.
  • Business Autonomy: You have the reins, meaning you can guide your business in the direction you choose, from the clients you take on to the services you offer.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Starting a Pest Control Business: Essential Steps

Starting a pest control business can be a rewarding endeavor, but it requires careful planning and adherence to regulations. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what you need to consider.

Common Pests and Solutions

Each region has its own pesky inhabitants, from bed bugs and termites to rodents and cockroaches. Understanding the common pests in your area is critical as it will shape the services you offer. For instance, humid climates may struggle more with mosquitoes, while dry regions might battle with termites. Solutions range from chemical treatments to trapping and beyond. Knowledge of these pests and their respective remedies will form the cornerstone of your service offerings.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Crafting a Pest Control Business Plan

A well-thought-out business plan is your roadmap to success, encompassing financial planning, marketing strategies, and operational procedures. Understanding how to write a business plan is essential for detailing your strategy and financial projections. This should encompass financial planning, including initial expenses like equipment, vehicles, and insurance, as well as ongoing costs such as marketing, staff salaries, and chemicals. Project your potential profit margins by analyzing service fees versus expenses. Also, your business plan should define strategies for reaching different market segments, from residential to commercial clients.

Licensing, Training, and Regulations for a Pest Control Business

Pest control is a regulated industry. Certification and training are mandatory for pest control business owners, with specific requirements varying by region. You’ll need to stay current with these regulations, which may include safety protocols, proper chemical handling, and environmental guidelines. It’s imperative to understand these aspects to ensure compliance and uphold the highest service standards.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Pest Control Equipment and Chemicals

The arsenal of a pest control company includes a variety of tools and chemicals. From sprayers and foggers to baits and pesticides, choosing the right equipment is vital. There’s also an increasing demand for eco-friendly and safe alternatives, so staying informed about green solutions can provide a competitive edge and cater to environmentally conscious consumers.

Setting Up Your Workspace and On-Site Protocols

Your business will need a home base. Whether it’s an office or a storage facility for your tools and chemicals, the space must comply with safety regulations. Moreover, establishing clear on-site protocols ensures efficient service and the safety of your staff and clients. This includes proper attire, handling of chemicals, and post-treatment procedures.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Liability Insurance for Pest Control Businesses

Liability insurance is non-negotiable. It safeguards your business from claims related to property damage or accidents resulting from the use of chemicals and other tools. Given the nature of the work, where technicians regularly enter private properties, this protection is essential for your financial and reputational security.

Marketing Your Pest Control Business

Crafting a trusted brand in a service-based industry hinges on visibility and reputation. Marketing strategies should be multi-faceted, including digital and traditional approaches. Consider exploring a pest control franchise opportunity for brand recognition.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Business Cards

Never underestimate the power of a professional business card. It’s part of your first impression and a direct link between your business and potential clients. In a highly personal service industry, a business card can be a significant driver of word-of-mouth referrals.

Social Media Presence

An active social media presence can serve as an educational platform and a means to showcase your work. Sharing before-and-after photos, tips, and customer testimonials can engage your community and build trust.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Setting Your Pest Control Service Apart

Differentiation is key. Whether it’s offering non-toxic treatments, specialty services for uncommon pests, or customer loyalty programs, carving out a unique position in the market can attract and retain clients.

Considering a Pest Control Franchise

For those less inclined to start from zero, a franchise offers a framework to operate within. It comes with benefits like brand recognition and established procedures but consider the costs and restrictions that may curb your entrepreneurial freedom.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Overcoming Challenges in the Pest Control Company

The seasonal nature of pest control can present challenges. Diversifying your services to cover a range of pests throughout the year can provide stability. Strategies like preventive maintenance packages or expanding into commercial services can help balance the seasonality of the business.

How to Start a Pest Control Business

For those interested in a different venture, learning how to start a carpet cleaning business could also present a promising opportunity. And for the groundwork of any new venture, having a business startup checklist is invaluable. Additionally, knowing the common business structures can help you decide the best legal framework for your operation, and a website startup guide can assist you in establishing an online presence for your new business.

FAQs: How to Start a Pest Control Business

Is starting a pest control business profitable.

Yes, starting a pest control business can be profitable. The profit potential hinges on various factors, such as the demand in your area, the pricing of your services, and the efficiency of your operations. Regular maintenance contracts provide a stable income stream, and the diverse nature of the services offered can lead to lucrative upsell opportunities.

What’s the Initial Investment for a Pest Control Business?

The initial investment for a pest control business varies widely. Costs include licensing and training, purchase of equipment and chemicals, vehicle expenses, insurance, and marketing. A ballpark figure can range from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the scale at which you begin. However, starting from a home office or focusing on a specific pest niche can lower initial costs.

Do you need a pest control license in all States?

Yes, a pest control license is required in all states for anyone applying pesticides as part of a business. The requirements for obtaining a license can vary significantly from state to state, but all involve some combination of education, examinations, and proof of ability to handle and apply pesticides responsibly.

How does getting a pest control license differ by state?

The process for obtaining a pest control license differs by state, with variations in the hours of training required, types of exams, and the specific topics covered. Some states might require pest control companies to have more extensive training in certain types of pest control or more comprehensive examinations. It’s essential to check with your state’s regulatory agency to understand the exact requirements for licensure.

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Monday Pricing Plans (November 2023)

Tom Nolte has over two decades of experience in HR, payroll, personnel management and operations efficiencies. Alongside his professional prowess, Tom has a passion for ethical sustainability and entrepreneurship as the founder of The Diamond Destination.

key questions for business plan

Kara is an editor from North Carolina with experience in business technology and services topics as well as health. She is dedicated to delivering clear and captivating content to readers who want to make well-informed choices. Throughout her career, Kara has collaborated with and advised many small businesses in diverse marketing roles. Such experiences offer her a distinct viewpoint on how appropriate technology and services can drive growth for entrepreneurs. Kara’s writing has appeared on,, and 

We at the MarketWatch Guides team identified as a top pick for collaboration and ease of use. is a premier solution for you as a business owner looking to implement a CRM system into your business. 

Business owners have five main plans to choose from when implementing the CRM: free, basic, standard, professional and enterprise.

Each tier has a unique set of benefits and limitations that are listed in more detail in our full review of .

This article compares the specific pricing models of, providing business owners a better understanding of the various pricing tiers and associated tools such as project management, team integrations and automation capabilities.

How Much Does Cost?

Does offer enterprise pricing, what are the best crm alternatives, use cases where excels, the bottom line, frequently asked questions about pricing.

Zoho CRM Logo offers five key pricing plans with options for small businesses all the way to enterprise implementations for large companies with complex team structures. The free version is a simplified version of the real power that this software solution provides. It allows new users to utilize fundamental CRM tools and experience the user-friendly interface for which is known.

Pricing is available both monthly and annually with an annual payment discount of 18%.

At its core, is designed to scale with your team and your needs. Our advice is to look at the pricing tiers before committing to a specific level. Most companies cannot function with the free plan alone; however, the enterprise plan may have more bells and whistles than needed for a small business new to the CRM world. Another key point to consider is that your business can always upgrade to the next tier if there is a capability that becomes critical.

Below is a chart showing the various levels and associated pricing options for’s Free Plan’s free plan is designed for small teams or individuals just starting to use a CRM solution and want to take a test drive before making a purchase commitment. This entry-level tier offers access for two users plus features to manage basic tasks and projects effectively with off-the-shelf solutions such as project visibility for additional team members that don’t require user functionality.

The free version is only limited to two users. Also, it does not allow for any automation or integrations which can pose a problem for companies using external solutions for other areas of business such as finance or marketing. is known for its ease of use and strong automation and integration capabilities, so making a decision based on the free version may not provide the full visibility needed to determine if it’s a valid solution for a business.’s Basic Plan

The Basic plan is the first paid tier plan starting at $10 per month per user. It’s ideal for small- to medium-sized teams that require a bit more flexibility and support as well as visibility needs vs. user needs such as companies with large sales teams who need consistent reporting visibility.

Two of the biggest differences between the basic and free plan are the unlimited visibility for stakeholders that don’t necessarily require a user seat and the ability to add unlimited tasks and projects.’s price point for the Basic plan also unlocks the ability to manage an unlimited quantity of projects through boards and 20 additional column types to drastically customize the complexity of each project as needed.’s Standard Plan

For $14 per month per user,’s Standard plan introduces some robust capabilities unavailable in the Free or Basic plans.

On top of unlimited views, task management, guest access and unlimited boards, 250 integrations and automations are introduced which opens up the ability to drastically improve internal processes for a business.

Additionally, the data storage cap moves from 5GB to 20GB empowering users with more capability for actions such as triggered emails with larger format attachments.

The ability to integrate allows business units to begin working more collaboratively with other departments by using workflows to manage customer tracking, data analysis and sales reminders. Automation is key to allowing teams such as sales to remain focused on selling vs. getting entrenched with monotonous, manual tasks. offers integrations with some of the most powerful and popular tools in any industry such as Google Suite, Outlook, Jira Cloud and even Salesforce. We at the MarketWatch Guides team believe the Standard tier is the best fit for small to midsize businesses.’s Pro Plan

The Pro plan is’s premium CRM offering priced at $27 per month per user and specifically designed for businesses with more complex workflows and needs for deeper internal segmentation and potentially unlimited users. Along with private boards, additional visibility structures such as Gantt charts are also included in the Pro plan.

This plan is specifically useful for advanced project management needs through the additional features such as dependency management and formula creation to further open up trigger-based automations. Aside from automation, the Pro plan offers the unique ability for internal time tracking which is key for businesses managing multiple projects that require time and cost allocations.

Yes, Enterprise level pricing is available for businesses with a user need greater than 40.  Recognizing that every enterprise has unique needs, provides custom solutions for businesses that choose to go this route. To identify the custom solution, representatives are available to meet with companies considering an Enterprise plan. 

Pricing for Enterprise plans is a combination of user-based pricing as well as customized development as defined in the planning process.

While offers a robust CRM solution, there are other platforms like Salesforce, Hubspot and Zoho CRM that might be more suited to specific needs.

For businesses looking for enterprise solutions, the MarketWatch Guides team suggests Salesforce or HubSpot as a potential alternative. For those smaller businesses not requiring custom level solutions, Zoho CRM, Freshsales and Zendesk are worth considering.

Each type of CRM has its strengths, and stands out with its intuitive interface, flexible pricing options and $0 entry point. shines in various industries, including marketing, creative agencies and project management centered companies. Its flexibility and customization options have led to numerous success stories, from streamlining project management processes to enhancing team collaboration. excels regarding the user’s ability to customize their projects. Tables are easily interchangeable, and with Pro level and above, custom formulas can further improve customization. However, most functions are as simple as click and drag.

It is easy for a project manager to jump into their dashboard to find out the status of every person on their team with Monday’s visually appealing charts and graphs.    

Key Considerations in Selecting a Plan

When choosing a plan, consider your team size, required features and budget; then use the table above when considering which package will work best for your organization. It’s also crucial to understand that as your organization grows, can adapt, allowing you to upgrade as your company takes on more projects and bigger projects with larger teams. offers a range of pricing plans to cater to different organizational needs. By understanding the features and costs associated with each plan, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your team’s requirements and budget. With this CRM platform, you can now have everything under one roof. 

How expensive is Monday CRM?

The cost varies based on the plan and additional CRM features. We recommend that you take the time to utilize the tables above to see which level fits your growing company. Plus, if you outgrow your current platform, will allow you to change your plan level at any given time.

Does Monday CRM cost extra?

Yes, even the basic CRM features have a cost associated with them. The basic plan is limited, but there are more advanced plans that come with more functionalities at an additional cost.

Does have a CRM?

Yes, even though it started out as primarily a project management tool, has expanded into a robust CRM that has all the plugins and capabilities as any of the other CRM’s out on the market today. And, with the list of plugins growing constantly, you can have confidence that the CRM will only grow moving into the future.

How much is a CRM for a small business?

CRM costs vary based on the platform and features required. Many CRMs such as are available for as little as $10 per month per user, but the real cost of CRM comes during the planning, customization and development process which greatly varies from company to company.

What is better, Monday or HubSpot?

Both platforms have their strengths; the best choice depends on specific needs such as project management, visual representation of processes or deep customer engagement. Choosing requires an in-depth program review based on specific business requirements. has a robust level of options through its five tiers from free to enterprise allowing business owners the flexibility to choose a plan that best fits their business needs.

Is better than Excel? offers more advanced project management and customer relationship management features than Excel. You can also do more advanced things with like setting up automations to cut down on the repetitive tasks. Integrations are another large part of being a leg up on Excel. Excel is a critical tool used to capture data needed for future import needs.

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FACT SHEET: President   Biden Issues Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

Today, President Biden is issuing a landmark Executive Order to ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of artificial intelligence (AI). The Executive Order establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition, advances American leadership around the world, and more. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive strategy for responsible innovation, the Executive Order builds on previous actions the President has taken, including work that led to voluntary commitments from 15 leading companies to drive safe, secure, and trustworthy development of AI. The Executive Order directs the following actions: New Standards for AI Safety and Security

As AI’s capabilities grow, so do its implications for Americans’ safety and security.  With this Executive Order, the  President directs the  most sweeping  actions  ever taken  to protect Americans from  the potential  risks  of  AI  systems :

  • Require that developers of the most powerful AI systems share their safety test results and other critical information with the U.S. government.  In accordance with the Defense Production Act, the Order will require that companies developing any foundation model that poses a serious risk to national security, national economic security, or national public health and safety must notify the federal government when training the model, and must share the results of all red-team safety tests. These measures will ensure AI systems are safe, secure, and trustworthy before companies make them public. 
  • Develop standards, tools, and tests to help ensure that AI systems are safe, secure, and trustworthy.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology will set the rigorous standards for extensive red-team testing to ensure safety before public release. The Department of Homeland Security will apply those standards to critical infrastructure sectors and establish the AI Safety and Security Board. The Departments of Energy and Homeland Security will also address AI systems’ threats to critical infrastructure, as well as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and cybersecurity risks. Together, these are the most significant actions ever taken by any government to advance the field of AI safety.
  • Protect against the risks of using AI to engineer dangerous biological materials  by developing strong new standards for biological synthesis screening. Agencies that fund life-science projects will establish these standards as a condition of federal funding, creating powerful incentives to ensure appropriate screening and manage risks potentially made worse by AI.
  • Protect Americans from AI-enabled fraud and deception by establishing standards and best practices for detecting AI-generated content and authenticating official content . The Department of Commerce will develop guidance for content authentication and watermarking to clearly label AI-generated content. Federal agencies will use these tools to make it easy for Americans to know that the communications they receive from their government are authentic—and set an example for the private sector and governments around the world.
  • Establish an advanced cybersecurity program to develop AI tools to find and fix vulnerabilities in critical software,  building on the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing AI Cyber Challenge. Together, these efforts will harness AI’s potentially game-changing cyber capabilities to make software and networks more secure.
  • Order the development of a National Security Memorandum that directs further actions on AI and security,  to be developed by the National Security Council and White House Chief of Staff. This document will ensure that the United States military and intelligence community use AI safely, ethically, and effectively in their missions, and will direct actions to counter adversaries’ military use of AI.

Protecting Americans’ Privacy

Without safeguards, AI can put Americans’ privacy further at risk. AI not only makes it easier to extract, identify, and exploit personal data, but it also heightens incentives to do so because companies use data to train AI systems.  To better protect Americans’ privacy, including from the risks posed by AI, the President calls on Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation to protect all Americans, especially kids, and directs the following actions:

  • Protect Americans’ privacy by prioritizing federal support for accelerating the development and use of privacy-preserving techniques— including ones that use cutting-edge AI and that let AI systems be trained while preserving the privacy of the training data.  
  • Strengthen privacy-preserving research   and technologies,  such as cryptographic tools that preserve individuals’ privacy, by funding a Research Coordination Network to advance rapid breakthroughs and development. The National Science Foundation will also work with this network to promote the adoption of leading-edge privacy-preserving technologies by federal agencies.
  • Evaluate how agencies collect and use commercially available information —including information they procure from data brokers—and  strengthen privacy guidance for federal agencies  to account for AI risks. This work will focus in particular on commercially available information containing personally identifiable data.
  • Develop guidelines for federal agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of privacy-preserving techniques,  including those used in AI systems. These guidelines will advance agency efforts to protect Americans’ data.

Advancing Equity and Civil Rights

Irresponsible uses of AI can lead to and deepen discrimination, bias, and other abuses in justice, healthcare, and housing. The Biden-Harris Administration has already taken action by publishing the  Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights  and issuing an  Executive Order directing agencies to combat algorithmic discrimination , while enforcing existing authorities to protect people’s rights and safety.  To ensure that AI advances equity and civil rights, the President directs the following additional actions:

  • Provide clear guidance to landlords, Federal benefits programs, and federal contractors  to keep AI algorithms from being used to exacerbate discrimination.
  • Address algorithmic discrimination  through training, technical assistance, and coordination between the Department of Justice and Federal civil rights offices on best practices for investigating and prosecuting civil rights violations related to AI.
  • Ensure fairness throughout the criminal justice system  by developing best practices on the use of AI in sentencing, parole and probation, pretrial release and detention, risk assessments, surveillance, crime forecasting and predictive policing, and forensic analysis.

Standing Up for Consumers, Patients, and Students

AI can bring real benefits to consumers—for example, by making products better, cheaper, and more widely available. But AI also raises the risk of injuring, misleading, or otherwise harming Americans.  To protect consumers while ensuring that AI can make Americans better off, the President directs the following actions:

  • Advance the responsible use of AI  in healthcare and the development of affordable and life-saving drugs. The Department of Health and Human Services will also establish a safety program to receive reports of—and act to remedy – harms or unsafe healthcare practices involving AI. 
  • Shape AI’s potential to transform education  by creating resources to support educators deploying AI-enabled educational tools, such as personalized tutoring in schools.

Supporting Workers

AI is changing America’s jobs and workplaces, offering both the promise of improved productivity but also the dangers of increased workplace surveillance, bias, and job displacement.  To mitigate these risks, support workers’ ability to bargain collectively, and invest in workforce training and development that is accessible to all, the President directs the following actions:

  • Develop principles and best practices to mitigate the harms and maximize the benefits of AI for workers  by addressing job displacement; labor standards; workplace equity, health, and safety; and data collection. These principles and best practices will benefit workers by providing guidance to prevent employers from undercompensating workers, evaluating job applications unfairly, or impinging on workers’ ability to organize.
  • Produce a report on AI’s potential labor-market impacts , and  study and identify options for strengthening federal support for workers facing labor disruptions , including from AI.

Promoting Innovation and Competition

America already leads in AI innovation—more AI startups raised first-time capital in the United States last year than in the next seven countries combined.  The Executive Order ensures that we continue to lead the way in innovation and competition through the following actions:

  • Catalyze AI research across the United States  through a pilot of the National AI Research Resource—a tool that will provide AI researchers and students access to key AI resources and data—and expanded grants for AI research in vital areas like healthcare and climate change.
  • Promote a fair, open, and competitive AI ecosystem  by providing small developers and entrepreneurs access to technical assistance and resources, helping small businesses commercialize AI breakthroughs, and encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to exercise its authorities.
  • Use existing authorities to expand the ability of highly skilled immigrants and nonimmigrants with expertise in critical areas to study, stay, and work in the United States  by modernizing and streamlining visa criteria, interviews, and reviews.

Advancing American Leadership Abroad

AI’s challenges and opportunities are global.  The Biden-Harris Administration will continue working with other nations to support safe, secure, and trustworthy deployment and use of AI worldwide. To that end, the President directs the following actions:

  • Expand bilateral, multilateral, and multistakeholder engagements to collaborate on AI . The State Department, in collaboration, with the Commerce Department will lead an effort to establish robust international frameworks for harnessing AI’s benefits and managing its risks and ensuring safety. In addition, this week, Vice President Harris will speak at the UK Summit on AI Safety, hosted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
  • Accelerate development and implementation of vital AI standards  with international partners and in standards organizations, ensuring that the technology is safe, secure, trustworthy, and interoperable.
  • Promote the safe, responsible, and rights-affirming development and deployment of AI abroad to solve global challenges,  such as advancing sustainable development and mitigating dangers to critical infrastructure.

Ensuring Responsible and Effective Government Use of AI

AI can help government deliver better results for the American people. It can expand agencies’ capacity to regulate, govern, and disburse benefits, and it can cut costs and enhance the security of government systems. However, use of AI can pose risks, such as discrimination and unsafe decisions.  To ensure the responsible government deployment of AI and modernize federal AI infrastructure, the President directs the following actions:

  • Issue guidance for agencies’ use of AI,  including clear standards to protect rights and safety, improve AI procurement, and strengthen AI deployment.  
  • Help agencies acquire specified AI products and services  faster, more cheaply, and more effectively through more rapid and efficient contracting.
  • Accelerate the rapid hiring of AI professionals  as part of a government-wide AI talent surge led by the Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Digital Service, U.S. Digital Corps, and Presidential Innovation Fellowship. Agencies will provide AI training for employees at all levels in relevant fields.

As we advance this agenda at home, the Administration will work with allies and partners abroad on a strong international framework to govern the development and use of AI. The Administration has already consulted widely on AI governance frameworks over the past several months—engaging with Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, the UAE, and the UK. The actions taken today support and complement Japan’s leadership of the G-7 Hiroshima Process, the UK Summit on AI Safety, India’s leadership as Chair of the Global Partnership on AI, and ongoing discussions at the United Nations. The actions that President Biden directed today are vital steps forward in the U.S.’s approach on safe, secure, and trustworthy AI. More action will be required, and the Administration will continue to work with Congress to pursue bipartisan legislation to help America lead the way in responsible innovation. For more on the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance AI, and for opportunities to join the Federal AI workforce, visit .

Stay Connected

We'll be in touch with the latest information on how President Biden and his administration are working for the American people, as well as ways you can get involved and help our country build back better.

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  1. Key questions for a business plan

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    A SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and is a popular strategic framework for business planners, is a great tool for questioning assumptions. The first two items refer to qualities that are internal to the business. The second two items are external factors. Consider the following in questioning ...

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