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Business Plan Tips | 02 September, 2023

How to Select a Business Plan Format

As a vital tool to a business’s success, a business plan is a guideline that leads a company toward its goals and objectives. If done right, it allows businesses to navigate the complex and dynamic business landscape, strategically ensures a company’s goals are clear, and establishes a well-defined path to success. 


One may ask, “How do I write a business plan to map and achieve my business goals?”. An ideal solution to this question is to begin from molding a solid business plan format. But first:


Why Does the Format of a Business Plan Matter?

The format of a business plan is equally crucial in a good business plan as it presents information in a clear and structured manner, enabling stakeholders to clearly and confidently grasp the plans, vision, and potential of a business. 


A solid business plan structure assists an entrepreneur in organizing concepts and ideas, driving better decision-making and long-term planning. Additionally, a good format allows for flawless business plan content and overall, it creates a business plan that can highlight the purpose and competitive advantages of a business.


What Does a Good Business Plan Look Like?

This section will outline what should a business plan include. The following are business plan basics that every business must integrate in their plan:


Executive Summary

The executive summary introduces a business to its readers at the beginning of a business plan. Hence, it should include a brief overview of the following:


    • The issues a business aims to solve
    • The business’s proposed solution to the issue, which includes information on its product or service
    • The business’s specific target market or audience
    • The relevance and timeliness of the business in the current market scene
    • Financial forecast highlights
    • An introduction to the talented team that drives the business forward


It is worthy to keep in mind that the readers of the executive summary do not have prior knowledge of a business and how it operates. Explaining a business concept in a way that is easy to grasp is key for this section. 


Company Overview

The section that typically follows the executive summary in a business plan is the company overview or business description. This section provides detailed information about a company. It discusses, in great detail, the problems that a business solves and lists the individuals, organizations, and other businesses a company aims to serve.   


Market and Competitive Analysis

The evaluation of the size, characteristics, and trends of the target market is demonstrated in the market and competitive analysis section of a business plan. A business’s competitors are assessed in this part to gain an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Through this, the business will differentiate itself to capture market share and thrive in a competitive environment. The analysis further guides a company to create strategic decisions that communicate an understanding of the market’s needs to potential investors.


Service or Product Line

This section outlines a business’s product or service, with emphasis to its value to customers and product lifecycle. In case of any copyright or patent registration, this section mentions intellectual property plans.  


Sales and Marketing

The sales and marketing section details how a business foresees to gain new customers, while also keeping a decent customer retention percentage. These strategies should evolve and change to fit a business’s unique needs. Setting marketing objectives is necessary to introduce customers to a business, gain interest with its offerings, and convert these leads into paying clients.


Operational Plan

The operational plan highlights critical operational processes that a company executes in its day-to-day activities to achieve its strategic goals. This serves as a blueprint for efficient business operations as it covers the areas of production, logistics, and workforce and property management.


Personnel Plan

This section will inform business plan readers of how a company will be structured and who will manage it. It details the key individuals responsible for leading and executing a company’s initiatives. The management team’s qualifications, roles, and contributions should demonstrate their capability to drive a business towards continuous growth. An organizational chart may be added in this section as a visual supplement.



Financial projections in a business plan provide a comprehensive forecast of a company’s financial performance. These are shown through the company’s income statements, balance sheet, and cash flow statements. This section’s goal is to convince its readers that a company is stable and financially capable of conducting its operations. Financial projections offer a clear perspective of a business’s financial health, growth, and sustainability over a specific period.



The appendix may include visual representations of a business’s proposed location, market research reports cited in the plan, supplier and buyer contracts that substantiates financial projections, and other historical data on marketing and sales performance. 


Have Questions? Looking To Get Started?



How to Choose the Ultimate Format for a Business Plan

Begin business plan formatting with introducing a business to its readers through an executive summary. The executive summary should be enticing enough to push readers to read further, but also hold back on the nitty gritty of the business that will be further explained in other business plan sections. The executive summary is a crucial portion of the business plan that almost every audience member will read. 


Since a solid business plan starts with an executive summary that highlights its objectives, it should also be concluded with accurate supporting documents. An appendix may include graphs, data diagrams, and research conclusions that will substantiate the business’s operations and future goals.  



Keep Formatting Simple and Incorporate Visual Elements

General formatting may differ depending on the medium the final business plan will be presented on. For physically printed business plans, going with serif fonts makes the document look clean and organized. For plans presented on a screen, it is ideal to use sans serif font styles that are easy to read on device screens. In either structure, a 10 to 12-point font size and a single space formatting with extra in-between paragraph spacing is practical.


A cover page incorporates both visual aspects and information in one section. It showcases a business’ logo, value proposition, and contact details. In addition, charts and graphs help in communicating supplementary information and create clear comparisons of business forecasts. For businesses with products, product images will be appreciated by business plan readers. An image presents better opportunities for a business to “show” instead of narrate about its purpose.  


Obtain a Different Perspective

Consulting a friend or a professional to read a business plan will give the document a final brush up. Working on a business plan alone makes one immune to some errors made in the plan. A friend can give the business plan a once-over and catch minor spelling errors. Hiring an expert business plan writer to provide a detailed review of a business plan will ensure the readability and viability of the business as a whole. Having a second set of eyes can significantly help in identifying most of the issues in a business plan.


Keep it Concise

The ultimate goal of a business plan is to effectively communicate an entity’s business idea. This does not mean writing a lengthy document that would contend with the thickness of an encyclopedia. In reality, investors and stakeholders skim through business plans instead of reading it word per word. Building a short and readable business plan forms a higher probability for investors to clearly comprehend the business. A great tip is to start with nailing the business plan’s executive summary and following through with business details by writing a maximum of twelve pages. The target is to trim down on words without omitting the basic contents of the business plan.


Tailor Business Plan Content to Suit the Audience

The content of a business plan should resonate with its readers. It is essential to have a deep understanding of the granular details of the industry the business will operate in. That understanding is acquired by knowing who the business plan’s readers will be and writing for that specific audience. If the business plan will be presented to readers that have an in-depth knowledge of the business’s field, incorporating technical details in a business plan format will pique the interest of its designated readers even more. On the other hand, if the audience is a combination of various people from different backgrounds and industries, clearly presenting a business idea for a general audience is most ideal. This does not mean oversimplifying ideas, but it is better to keep specific facts and information for the appendix or on another document that explains these in detail.  


Decide on a Business Plan Format that Suits Your Needs

When choosing a business plan format, it is necessary to match the business’s specific needs and objectives. The format should convey a company’s business concept, strategies, and financial projections seamlessly, whether a business opts for any business planning format. A customized business plan format stays unique to a business and ensures the effectiveness of a business plan in terms of communication, decision-making, and securing funding from potential investors.



Example Business Plan Format


1. Executive Summary

1.1 Financial Overview


2. Business Overview

2.1 Mission Statement

2.2 Vision Statement

2.3 Core Values

2.4 Goals and Objectives


3. Market Analysis

3.1 Market Trends

3.2 Government Regulations

3.3 Competitive Analysis


4. Products and Services

4.1 Pricing Model

4.2 Competitive Advantages

4.3 Key Success Factors


5. Sales and Marketing Plan

5.1 Target Customers

5.2 Key Performance Indicators

5.3 SWOT Analysis


6. Operational Plan

6.1 Health and Safety

6.2 Equipment and Inventory

6.3 Location

6.4 Risk Analysis


7. Management Team 

7.1 Key Personnel

7.2 Employee Recruitment 


8. Financial Plan

8.1 Capital Requirements

8.2 Pro Forma Revenue Statement

8.3 Pro Forma Unit Statement

8.4 Pro Forma Income Statement

8.5 Pro Forma Cash Flow Statement

8.6 Pro Forma Balance Sheet


How can BSBCON help?

Overall, there are various types of business planning, each requiring tailored formats to match the unique needs and vision of each business. Download our free sample business plan template and gain access to tips in writing your own solid business plan. 


Looking to elevate your business towards new heights? Unlock your business’s full potential by enlisting the expertise of our seasoned business plan writers. Contact us today and collaborate with BSBCON to secure your business’s success.