Flevy Blog is an online business magazine covering Business Strategies, Business Theories, & Business Stories.

Tips for a Great Business Plan

Featured Best Practice on Business Plan Example

24-page Word document
Business Plan Template is a tremendous time-saver that lets its users focus on the content of their business plan rather than on format and style. This template has all of the writing of an entire business plan done for you. All you need to do is fill in the appropriate information for your company [read more]

* * * *

The great writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry famously said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” This is true of life but it’s particularly true for business professionals who are drawing up a business plan. Our world is buffeted by fickle markets, the whims of consumers and hundreds of other variables. Entering those stormy business waters without a plan is like heading out to sea without a rudder.

If you’re here, though, you don’t need platitudes to be convinced of the importance of a business plan. So let’s skip the pitch and get right to the ways you can make your business plan ready for the real world.

Know Your Audience

Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were), you need to understand who your audience is. There are external and internal business plans; external business plans target lenders and investors while internal business plans give managers and employees a blueprint to the company’s values and goals. Knowing your audience lets you keep the content relevant to the reader, which will make it more effective. A venture capitalist might only be interested in user acquisition costs and growth rates but a lender will want to see things like balance sheets and statements.

Focus Your Vision

This can be the hardest part of any business plan or it can be the most fun. Make it the latter by using a strategy that works best for you. Some love to mind map, where the idea is to draw the core idea in the center, then drawing diverging ideas out of it to form a web. This visual element often helps the brain make connections between ideas and stimulate new ideas.

Others may benefit from the S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) method:

  • Strengths: Will the vision line up with the things I do well?
  • Weaknesses: What are some potential weaknesses and how can they be overcome?
  • Opportunities: What opportunities can I take advantage of?
  • Threats: What’s my contingency plan to deal with issues that might arise?

Whatever method you use, make sure it answers questions like who your market it, how you’ll scale and what consumer need you’ll be meeting.

Kill Your Darlings

This is one they might not have taught you while you were getting your business degree. There’s an age-old axiom in writing. “Kill your darlings” means to get rid of things that don’t serve the story, even if you love them. And it’s easy to fall in love with your business ideas when you’re building your business narrative. Unfortunately, loving your business idea won’t make your customers love it. That’s why it’s helpful to take a step back from your idea and look at it with fresh and critical eyes. It’s even more important to be honest with yourself. Consider the worst-case scenario. Take any claims you make to their breaking points. Make sure your goals are realistic. If something doesn’t feel right or hold up to scrutiny, don’t ignore it; address it or toss it. Our next tip might also help you do this.

Research, Research and More Research

It may be obvious but you need to do intensive research. Find hard data that could satisfy even the most hardened observer and address questions like these:

  • Who are my competitors (they’re not always who you think)?
  • What does my customer really want (it’s not always what you think)?
  • Is there really a market for my idea/product?
  • What need am I fulfilling that a consumer would realistically act on?
  • What are the costs?
  • What’s a realistic time frame?
  • What are the best-case and worst-case sales predictions?

If you’re looking for funding, you will live or die by the answers these data provide. Make sure they’re unimpeachable.

Make it Compelling

Having rock-solid data, a clear vision, a critical eye and no small amount of passion will go a long way toward making your business plan compelling, but it’s not enough. Once you have all of these things, you need to find ways to make them pop for your reader. Here’s how:

  • Be clear and concise. No one is going to want to read your business plan if it’s full of fluff. Decide what’s most important to your audience and make that info readily available with no extraneous content.
  • Use visuals. Having visual representations of your numbers and ideas (graphs, charts, images) means your readers won’t have to slog through paragraphs and paragraphs of text. Visual info is exponentially faster to absorb and has been proven to stick around in the brain longer.
  • Proofread. Nothing makes you look less professional than a sloppy, grammatically incorrect business plan. If you’re not proficient at this, find someone who can help you.

Whether you’re just starting your business career or you’ve been around a while, knowing how to design and maintain your business plan will be a critical part of your success, letting you adapt to changing climates or keep your company’s vision on track.

44-slide PowerPoint presentation
Example of a BUSINESS PLAN for an online furniture business Online retail is reaching the next stage, shaping opportunities in the home decoration industry for start-ups that change the rules of the game With an investment of EUR 100 k, Company X will launch an online home decoration brand [read more]

Do You Want to Implement Business Best Practices?

You can download in-depth presentations on Business Plan Example and 100s of management topics from the FlevyPro Library. FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.

For even more best practices available on Flevy, have a look at our top 100 lists:

These best practices are of the same as those leveraged by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by utilizing these best practice frameworks, templates, and tools. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with over 20+ years of experience.

Readers of This Article Are Interested in These Resources

55-page PDF document
This presentation is a business plan, developed by a leading strategy consulting firm, of a consumer product company. It was developed using the same approach as described in another document of ours, "How to prepare a business plan: a primer for entrepreneurs." This presentation includes [read more]

24-page Word document
14-page Word document

About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

Complimentary Business Training Guides

Many companies develop robust strategies, but struggle with operationalizing their strategies into implementable steps. This presentation from flevy introduces 12 powerful business frameworks spanning both Strategy Development and Strategy Execution. [Learn more]

  This 48-page whitepaper, authored by consultancy Envisioning, provides the frameworks, tools, and insights needed to manage serious Change—under the backdrop of the business lifecycle. These lifecycle stages are each marked by distinct attributes, challenges, and behaviors. [Learn more]

We've developed a very comprehensive collection of Strategy & Transformation PowerPoint templates for you to use in your own business presentations, spanning topics from Growth Strategy to Brand Development to Innovation to Customer Experience to Strategic Management. [Learn more]

  We have compiled a collection of 10 Lean Six Sigma templates (Excel) and Operational Excellence guides (PowerPoint) by a multitude of LSS experts. These tools cover topics including 8 Disciplines (8D), 5 Why's, 7 Wastes, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), and DMAIC. [Learn more]
Recent Articles by Corporate Function






The Flevy Business Blog (https://flevy.com/blog) is a leading source of information on business strategies, business theories, and business stories. Most of our articles are authored by management consultants and industry executives with over 20 years of experience.

Flevy (https://flevy.com) is the marketplace for business best practices, such as management frameworks, presentation templates, and financial models. Our best practice documents are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier consulting firms (like McKinsey, Bain, Accenture, BCG, and Deloitte) and used by Fortune 100 organizations. Learn more about Flevy here.

Connect with Flevy:


About Flevy.com   /   Terms   /   Privacy Policy
© . Flevy LLC. All Rights Reserved.