Business planning for startups


Business plan

A business plan is a written document that describes in detail how a business is going to achieve its goals from a marketing, financial and operational viewpoint. You should plan your business carefully before you start up. The header sections in a business plan can be thought of as a checklist of questions you need to ask yourself to reassure you that your venture will work. Writing the plan down helps to clarify your thinking, test the feasibility of your business idea, give your new business the best chance of success and to secure funding or attract investors. It helps you to understand where you want to get to and how you are going to get there.

There are endless business plan formats that you can download with guidance on how to fill them out. It is a good idea to search online for a business plan template that you like and to work your way through that. A lot of organizations will have their own business plan template that you will need to complete if applying for grants or funding through them. If you have already completed a generic business plan, it will be a lot quicker and easier to tailor your business plan to the relevant application template that you need to work on. No two business plans are the same, but they all contain similar header sections. Some of the most common and important header sections are described in the table below:

Header section


Executive Summary

An executive summary is a brief introduction and summary of your business plan. It should describe your business, the problem that it solves, your target market and financial highlights. The executive summary is written last, after you have completed all the other sections of the business plan and should include:
Mission statement – a brief summary of the business and its objectives
Company information – introduces the founders, with their biographies
Growth projections – outlines and quantifies the earning potential of the business
Products or services – describes what products and services are offered by the business
Financial information – outlines current capital for the company, including any investors

Company Description

The company description outlines vital details about your company, such as where you are located, how large the company is, what you do, and what you hope to accomplish. The company description should include:
Mission Statement – It’s a short statement that tells why the company exists and what its guiding principles are
Goals and Objectives – Describe your business goals or long term plans and the objectives or steps to achieve those goals. If your overall goal is to increase brand awareness, one objective might be to increase blog traffic by 10%.
Business Philosophy – It’s the fundamental principle for which your company is formed
Industry – Describe the industry you work in, and your business’ position within the industry including the growth prospects and the opportunities it presents
Competitive advantage – Describe the strengths and skills of your company and the advantages it has over its competition
Legal Structure – Specify your business structure and why this business structure works best
Target Market – Give a brief description of your target market and how you plan to approach it
Closing Summary – Write it as an introduction to create the first impression, so that your target audience wants to know more about your business

Market Analysis

A market analysis is a quantitative and qualitative assessment of a market. It looks into the size of the market both in volume and in value, the various customer segments and buying patterns, the competition, and the economic environment in terms of barriers to entry and regulation

Organization and Management

Here you focus on the structure of your business. How many owners does the company have? Who will operate the business? How are responsibilities delegated? What will your promotion and incentive structures be? Many people use charts and graphs to give a visual representation of these factors.

Goods and Services

In this section you give a more detailed description of your offerings. Describe how they differ from your competitors’ products and the benefits they offer your customers.


Your growth strategy is described here. How do you intend to increase your business in the near and distant future? Discuss expansion plans in this section, as well as plans to market to prospective clients. What marketing media will you use? What’s your budget? Do you have an offline plan as well as an online plan?

Financial Projections

Here you express the financial goals for your business. Outline how the marketing and sales ultimately equate to a profit. Basically, you make earnings and cost predictions in this section. This is another part of the plan where graphical representation of the information can really help. You can download an excel spreadsheet to use for bookkeeping and generating financial projections here.


Pitch deck

A pitch deck is a presentation that usually contains 10-20 slides. It is a highly visual document. The presentation is normally sent to investors as a pdf to get them interested in taking a meeting with you, or used as a visual aid during a live presentation to investors or other audiences like pitch competitions. It is a very effective tool for conveying your business concept, the value of your business, simplifying complex ideas, differentiating your business from competitors and telling the story behind your business in a shorter, more visual format than a business plan. It will normally be created after you have completed your business plan.

A pitch deck is meant to share information about your business, who it serves and why, the size of the market, your competitive advantage and how you will win in that space. It normally lays out clear go to market strategies and gives some detail on future opportunities. It describes your knowledge of the industry and your plan for launching and growing your business. It lets an investor understand where you are, where you are going and helps them to decide if they want to help you get there. The main goals of a pitch deck are to secure an in-person meeting or to kick off the conversation with an investor about joining your funding round. It is also an effective tool for attracting potential Co-Founders.

Pitch decks are particularly relevant in the tech industry.

Pitch Deck

Business plan

What is it

A short slide presentation summary of your business

A highly detailed text description of your business


10-20 slides

5 -100 pages


Highly visual with minimal text

Highly text based with minimal visuals.

When to use

Seeking equity funding from venture capitalists, angel investors, friends or family
Networking with investors
Pitch competitions
Seeking Co-Founders
Applying to business accelerators

Seeking any sort of financing from a bank
When raising larger sums of money it will be requested to conduct due diligence
When an interested investor requests it
To test business feasibility
As a reference guide to see if you are still on track