The 12 Key Components of a Business Plan (2023) – Shopify

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Entrepreneurs who create business plans are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. 

Not only can a sound plan help your business access investment capital but—as the study found—it can even determine the success or failure of your venture. 

Here are the critical components of a business plan to help you craft your own.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a document outlining your business goals and your strategies for achieving them. It might include your company’s mission statement, details about your products or services, how you plan to bring them to market, and how much time and money you need to execute the plan. 

For a thorough explanation of how to write a business plan, refer to Shopify’s guide.

A woman is meeting a business contact to share ideas in a casual environment.

12 components of a business plan

Business plans vary depending on the product or service. Some entrepreneurs choose to use diagrams and charts, while others rely on text alone. Regardless of how you go about it, good business plans tend to include the following elements:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Company description
  3. Market analysis
  4. Marketing plan
  5. Sales plan
  6. Competitive analysis 
  7. Organizational structure
  8. Products and services
  9. Operating plan
  10. Financial plan
  11. Funding sources
  12. Appendix

1. Executive summary

The executive summary briefly explains your business’s products or services and why it has the potential to be profitable. You may also include basic information about your company, such as its location and the number of employees.

2. Company description

The company description helps customers, lenders, and potential investors gain a deeper understanding of your product or service. It provides detailed descriptions of your supply chains and explains how your company plans to bring its products or services to market. 

3. Market analysis

The market analysis section outlines your plans to reach your target audience. It usually includes an estimate of the potential demand for the product or service and a summary of market research. 

The market analysis also includes information about marketing strategies, advertising ideas, or other ways of attracting customers. 

Another component of this section is a detailed breakdown of target customers. Many businesses find it helpful to analyze their target market using customer segments, often with demographic data such as age or income. This way, you can customize your marketing plans to reach different groups of customers. 

4. Marketing plan

The marketing plan section details how you plan to attract and retain customers. It covers the marketing mix: product, price, place, and promotion. It shows you understand your market and have clear, measurable goals to guide your marketing strategy.

For example, a fashion retail store might focus on online sales channels, competitive pricing strategies, high-quality products, and aggressive social media promotion.

5. Sales plan

This section focuses on the actions you’ll take to achieve sales targets and drive revenue. It’s different from a marketing plan because it’s more about the direct process of selling the product to your customer. It looks at the methods used from lead generation to closing the sale, as well as revenue targets. 

An ecommerce sales strategy might involve optimizing your online shopping experience, using targeted digital marketing to drive traffic, and employing tactics like flash sales, personalized email marketing, or loyalty programs to boost sales.

6. Competitive analysis

It’s essential that you understand your competitors and distinguish your business. There are two main types of competitors: direct and indirect competitors. 

  • Direct competitors. Direct competitors offer the same or similar products and services. For example, the underwear brand Skims is a direct competitor with Spanx.
  • Indirect competitors. Indirect competitors, on the other hand, offer different products and services that may satisfy the same customer needs. For example, cable television is an indirect competitor to Netflix.

A competitive analysis explains your business’s unique strengths that give it a competitive advantage over other businesses.

7. Organizational structure

The organizational structure explains your company’s legal structure and provides information about the management team. It also describes the business’s operating plan and details who is responsible for which aspects of the company.

8. Products and services

This component goes in-depth on what you’re actually selling and why it’s valuable to customers. It’ll provide a description of your products and services with all their features, benefits, and unique selling points. It may also discuss the current development stage of your products and plans for the future. 

The products and services section also looks at pricing strategy, intellectual property (IP) rights, and any key supplier information. For example, in an ecommerce business plan focusing on eco-friendly home products, this section would detail the range of products, explain how they are environmentally friendly, outline sourcing and production practices, discuss pricing, and highlight any certifications or eco-labels the products have received.

9. Operating plan

Here is where you explain the day-to-day operations of the business. Your operating plan will cover aspects from production or service delivery to human and resource management. It shows readers how you plan to deliver on your promises. 

For example, in a business plan for a startup selling artisanal crafts, this section would include details on how artisans are sourced, how products are cataloged and stored, the ecommerce platform used for sales, and the logistics for packaging and shipping orders worldwide.

10. Financial plan

The financial plan is one of the most critical parts of the business plan, especially for companies seeking outside funding.

A plan often includes capital expenditure budgets, forecasted income statements, and cash flow statements, which can help predict when your company will become profitable and how it expects to survive in the meantime. 

If your business is already profitable, your financial plan can help with convincing investors of future growth. At the end of the financial section, you may also include a value proposition, which estimates the value of your business.

11. Funding sources

Some businesses planning to expand or to seek funds from venture capitalists may include a section devoted to their long-term growth strategy, including ways to broaden product offerings and penetrate new markets.

12. Appendix

The final component of a business plan is the appendix. Here, you may include additional documents cited in other sections or requested by readers. These might be résumés, financial statements, product pictures, patent approvals, and legal records.

Components of a business plan FAQ

What are 8 common parts of a good business plan?

Some of the most common components of a business plan are an executive summary, a company description, a marketing analysis, a competitive analysis, an organization description, a summary of growth strategies, a financial plan, and an appendix.

What is a business plan format?

What are the 5 functions of a business plan?

A business plan explains your company’s products or services, how you expect to make money, the reliability of supply chains, and factors that might affect demand.

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