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Business Plan Tutorial: Getting Started

Before you begin

Business plans are complex and contain a lot of data and information. Writing a business plan can feel overwhelming and complicated. But it doesn't have to be! Before diving in, spend time thinking about business plan concepts, the individual components of a plan, and the possible types of information sources needed. This preliminary work will help keep you organized from the beginning and pave the way for success as you get deeper into your plan.

General tips to keep in mind:

  • Research!
  • Be original. Catch your reader's attention. 
  • Keep it concise.


Brainstorming is a critical first step. Why should you brainstorm? Here are a few reasons:

  • Generate ideas. 
  • Organize and map your ideas.
  • Develop keywords and phrases for searching.
  • Brainstorming is a creative process that leads to new ideas and serves as a reference that can be reflected on or returned to when you get deeper into the research process. 

Brainstorm about your business idea by mapping out the following. You may want to add elements to what is shown here:

Product or service types Customer types Branding
Prices and costs Customer service Competitors
Funding Customer Experience Possible consultants
Distribution channels Promotional ideas Shareholders to bring in

Also consider these questions:

  • If you are writing a business plan for a class, what are the assignment requirements?
  • If you have a business idea that is cutting edge, will it be too challenging to research project financials?
  • If your business idea fits in an over-saturated industry, what innovations can you offer?
  • How will you communicate your idea to people outside of the industry? Remember, you are writing to potential investors, lending officers and venture capitalists. How will you get to know your audience?

Set up a working document

Set up a document where you can organize your ideas and the information you research. Use a document type that works best for you. This might be a Word doc or a Google doc. You can find template ideas on the right column of this page and free templates for your industry on the Internet. 


  • Copy and paste the template into a new blank document.
  • Provide enough space to include information, footnotes and citations. 
  • While in draft mode, include all the information you think you'll need. However, your final version should be a succinct explanation that is not repetitive. 
  • Include your assumptions. However, if you cannot support your assumptions with facts, you will need to remove them from the final plan. 
  • Cite your sources. It helps to cite your sources as you go so that you and your readers can locate them later.  

Business plan templates and handbooks