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5 Types Of Business Plans (+ Customizable Templates)

Find the best form of business plan for your venture and learn to align your business plan model with a winning strategy. Grab a template to get started.

Types of business plan

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Short answer

What are the main types of business plans?

5 main types of business plans:

  1. Startup business plan

  2. One-pager business plan

  3. Operational business plan

  4. Feasibility business plan

  5. Growth business plan

Aligning your strategy with the wrong type of business plan leads to failure

Crafting a sharp business plan is non-negotiable if you want your project to lift off the ground.

Yet, many miss the mark by not adapting their strategy to the appropriate type of business plan.

It's like trying to open a door with the wrong key, frustrating and futile. This oversight can lead to miscommunication, disinterest from crucial stakeholders, and missed growth opportunities.

Here's where I step in, offering you a master key to unlock the true potential of effective business planning.

You'll learn about the strategic value of tailoring your plan to fit specific needs, whether you're kickstarting a venture, seeking investment, or plotting growth.
Let's go.

What makes a successful business plan?

Creating a business plan that stands out involves more than just outlining your business's operations. It's about highlighting how your business differentiates itself and thrives within its industry.

Drawing inspiration from expert advice on business planning, here's an overview of the key elements that make a business plan successful.

6 key elements of a winning business plan:

  1. Precision and structure: It's sharp, structured, and zeroes in on the business's main goals and strategies without unnecessary fluff.

  2. Grounded objectives and forecasts: It sets attainable objectives and includes grounded financial forecasts, informed by thorough market analysis and industry insights.

  3. Flexibility: It remains adaptable, ready to evolve alongside the business and shifting market dynamics.

  4. Audience-specific design: It's crafted with the target audience in mind, whether that's attracting investors, securing loans, or engaging customers, ensuring it resonates and meets their expectations.

  5. Clear communication: It communicates the business idea, market potential, and growth trajectory clearly and persuasively.

  6. Defined action plan: It provides a clear set of steps to be undertaken to reach the business's goals, making it practical and actionable.

Internal vs. external business plan

The difference between internal and external business plans is based on their intended audience.

Internal business plan

Internal documents tailored for departments such as marketing or HR emphasize succinct insights about the company and a more focused financial outlook. These documents usually adopt a less formal tone.

Purpose: Align your team and streamline operations.

Key approach: Focus on strategy, flexibility, and clear metrics.

Tip: Regularly review and update the plan, and encourage team feedback.

External business plan

External documents reach out to those outside your immediate circle, such as investors or partners. They provide a thorough overview of your company, including detailed financials, and maintain a formal tone, typically aimed at securing funding or establishing partnerships.

Purpose: Impress and persuade investors or partners.

Key approach: Ensure clarity, and professionalism, and tailor content to your audience.

Tip: Understand your audience's priorities, and seek expert feedback before finalizing.

5 types of business plans to align your strategy with

Picking the right business plan is a big deal for founders, managers, and leaders. But let's be honest, diving into the sea of options can feel overwhelming.

Whether you're chasing funding, dreaming of expanding or looking to streamline your operations, I've got you covered.

I'm talking about seizing opportunities to not just meet your goals but to exceed them. Let's dive in and align your ambitions with the perfect plan.

1) Startup business plan

  • Audience: External stakeholders, including investors and financial institutions.

  • Depth: Comprehensive and detailed.

  • Purpose: To outline the steps for launching a new venture and securing funding.

The startup plan is your blueprint for launching a new venture.

It's packed with everything from a punchy executive summary that grabs you with the business concept to deep dives into market trends and who you're up against.

It lays out financial forecasts with precision, giving potential backers a crystal-clear picture of where you're headed in terms of profits and what you need to get there.

This plan isn't just about pulling in funds; it's your strategic playbook for carving out a successful path forward. For newbies on the entrepreneurial scene, it's nothing short of essential.

Here’s an example of a start-up business plan:

2) One-pager business plan

  • Audience: External parties, such as potential investors, partners, and vendors.

  • Depth: High-level and succinct.

  • Purpose: To quickly communicate the business's value proposition and growth potential.

The one-page plan condenses the core of a business strategy into a succinct and impactful document, crafted to immediately capture the attention of potential investors, partners, and vendors.

It showcases the unique value proposition, targets the market with effective strategies, and highlights financial insights and growth potential.

This streamlined plan turns out to be a game-changer for entrepreneurs looking to share their vision and strategy in a clear, easy-to-understand way.

It quickly gets the point across and sparks interest from potential stakeholders, encouraging them to dive deeper.

Here’s an example of a one-pager business plan:

3) Operational business plan

  • Audience: Internal management teams and department heads.

  • Depth: Detailed, focusing on day-to-day operations and short-term goals.

  • Purpose: To streamline internal processes and enhance operational efficiency.

The operational business plan is like the company's playbook, focusing on fine-tuning every single part of your operations.

It lays out the operational goals that sync up with your big-picture strategies, breaking down the exact tasks and processes you need to nail those targets.

You've got everything mapped out, from streamlining workflows to boosting efficiency, and even who's doing what to ensure you're all pulling in the same direction.

It also covers allocating resources, from budgets to materials, ensuring every department has what it needs.

Diving into the nitty-gritty of your day-to-day, this plan is key for spotting where you can do better, ramping up productivity, and hitting your short-term goals more smoothly.

Here’s an example of an operational business plan:

4) Growth business plan

  • Audience: Both internal stakeholders for strategic alignment and external parties for investment or partnership opportunities.

  • Depth: This can vary from lean to standard, depending on the audience.

  • Purpose: To provide a strategic framework for business expansion.

The growth plan feels like launching into a new adventure, much like a startup plan, but for your next big leap.

It's about charting a course for new markets, beefing up your product lines, or scaling operations to new heights.

This plan packs deep dives into the business, financial forecasts that map out your journey, and a rundown of the resources you'll need to expand.

It's a guiding light for businesses aiming for sustainable growth, laying out a clear path and milestones to hit along the way.

Whether it's guiding your team internally or dazzling potential investors, the growth plan pulls everyone together, focusing efforts on shared growth targets.

It's about making sure every stakeholder is in sync, marching towards the same ambitious goals.

Here’s an example of a growth business plan:

5) Feasibility business plan

  • Audience: Primarily internal, though it can be external if linked to funding requests.

  • Depth: Focused and streamlined.

  • Purpose: To assess the viability of a new product or service.

A feasibility plan, or feasibility study, acts as a litmus test for proposed business expansions or new product launches.

It delves into the practicality of the idea, examining market demand, technical requirements, and financial implications.

By focusing on specific growth opportunities and analyzing them against objective standards, this plan helps decision-makers within the organization determine whether to proceed with the venture.

It's a critical step in the planning process, ensuring resources are allocated to projects with the highest potential for success.

For ventures requiring external funding, a more detailed version of this plan may be necessary to convince investors of the project's feasibility.

Don’t let poor design sabotage your business plan

Designing a business plan presentation in today's digital age goes beyond mere text on a page, it's about crafting an engaging experience that captures and retains attention.

With the shift towards digital, the presentation of your plan is as crucial as its content.

5 crucial business plan design principles:

1) Transition from static to interactive

The era of static, text-heavy presentations is behind us. Modern business plans thrive on interactivity, incorporating elements like clickable links, dynamic charts, and embedded videos.

This approach not only enriches the reader's experience but also fosters a deeper engagement with the material, making your business plan far more compelling.

Here's what a static PPT looks like compared to an interactive deck:

Static presentation

Static PowerPoint

Interactive presentation

Interactive Storydoc

2) Implement scroll-based design

Ditch the cumbersome PDF format for a scroll-based design that mirrors the seamless experience of browsing a modern website.

This design choice is intuitive and aligns with our habitual online content consumption, making your business plan both accessible and enjoyable to navigate.

Here's an example of scroll-based design:

Business plan scrollytelling example

3) Prioritize mobile-friendliness

In a world where mobile devices dominate, ensuring your business plan looks great on any screen is non-negotiable.

Adopting responsive design guarantees that your plan is legible and appealing across all devices, from smartphones to desktops, ensuring your message resonates clearly with every reader.

4) Move to online documents

Forget about clunky Word docs or static PDFs. The future is online documents that allow for real-time updates, easy sharing, and collaboration.

They're not only convenient for you but also for your busy investors, offering access from anywhere, at any time.

For more information, check out our comparison of the best business plan document types.

5) Master visual storytelling

Leverage the power of visuals infographics, charts, and graphs to narrate your business's story.

Visuals can simplify complex information, making your key points more digestible and engaging than text alone could ever achieve.

Here's a great example of visual storytelling:

Business plan visual storytelling example

All forms of business plan templates to get you started

Just as a captivating presentation can transform the way your message is received, a well-crafted business plan is your gateway to turning your business vision into reality.

Why settle for a dry, uninspiring document when you can create a business plan that's a dynamic blueprint for success?

Consider your business plan as a journey for your readers — investors, partners, or internal team members — keeping them engaged from the executive summary to the final appendix.

These business plan templates serve as the perfect foundation for this journey.

Grab one!

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Hadar Peretz

I am a Marketing Specialist at Storydoc, I research, analyze and write on our core topics of business presentations, sales, and fundraising. I love talking to clients about their successes and failures so I can get a rounded understanding of their world.

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