Sean Castrina

Short Business Plan vs. Comprehensive Business Plan

Oct 21, 2020 | Articles , Sean Answers | 0 comments

How do you define, compare, and contrast a short business plan vs. a comprehensive plan?

A comprehensive business plan may be needed if you are pitching to investors or applying for a loan. A business plan that is not requiring investment/ loan needs to accomplish a few things no matter the size:

  • Does it confirm why your idea will be received by the marketplace?
  • How will you acquire customers?
  • Is your pricing realistic and profitable?
  • Who and What do you need with costs to get this business off the ground?

Submit a Comment Cancel reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • 1 Minute Entrepreneur
  • 10 Minute Entrepreneur
  • College Talks
  • Developing the Entrepreneur Within
  • Live Interviews
  • Sean Answers
  • Video Series
  • February 2024
  • January 2024
  • December 2023
  • November 2023
  • October 2023
  • September 2023
  • August 2023
  • February 2023
  • January 2023
  • December 2022
  • November 2022
  • October 2022
  • September 2022
  • August 2022
  • February 2022
  • January 2022
  • December 2021
  • November 2021
  • October 2021
  • September 2021
  • August 2021
  • February 2021
  • January 2021
  • December 2020
  • November 2020
  • October 2020
  • September 2020
  • August 2020
  • February 2020
  • January 2020
  • December 2019
  • November 2019
  • October 2019
  • September 2019
  • August 2019
  • January 2019
  • December 2018
  • November 2018
  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018

short business plan vs comprehensive plan


You will receive your FREE COPY of the 8 Unbreakable Business Rules for Business Startup Success by Email IMMEDIATELY after subscribing. We will never sell your information.

Thanks! You will receive your FREE Ebook shortly! Check your email.

  • Search Search Please fill out this field.

What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

  • How to Start a Business: A Comprehensive Guide and Essential Steps 1 of 25
  • How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example 2 of 25
  • Marketing Strategy: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Create One 3 of 25
  • Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained 4 of 25
  • What Is a Marketing Plan? Types and How to Write One 5 of 25
  • Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills 6 of 25
  • Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One 7 of 25
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC): Meaning, Types, Impact 8 of 25
  • How to Write a Business Plan for a Loan 9 of 25
  • Business Startup Costs: It’s in the Details 10 of 25
  • Startup Capital Definition, Types, and Risks 11 of 25
  • Bootstrapping Definition, Strategies, and Pros/Cons 12 of 25
  • Crowdfunding: What It Is, How It Works, and Popular Websites 13 of 25
  • Starting a Business with No Money: How to Begin 14 of 25
  • A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing Business Credit 15 of 25
  • Equity Financing: What It Is, How It Works, Pros and Cons 16 of 25
  • Best Startup Business Loans 17 of 25
  • Sole Proprietorship: What It Is, Pros and Cons, and Differences From an LLC 18 of 25
  • Partnership: Definition, How It Works, Taxation, and Types 19 of 25
  • What Is an LLC? Limited Liability Company Structure and Benefits Defined 20 of 25
  • Corporation: What It Is and How to Form One 21 of 25
  • Starting a Small Business: Your Complete How-to Guide 22 of 25
  • Starting an Online Business: A Step-by-Step Guide 23 of 25
  • How to Start Your Own Bookkeeping Business: Essential Tips 24 of 25
  • How to Start a Successful Dropshipping Business: A Comprehensive Guide 25 of 25

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

  • Terms of Service
  • Editorial Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • Your Privacy Choices

Business Plan Development

Masterplans experts will help you create business plans for investor funding, bank/SBA lending and strategic direction

Investor Materials

A professionally designed pitch deck, lean plan, and cash burn overview will assist you in securing Pre-Seed and Seed Round funding

Immigration Business Plans

A USCIS-compliant business plan serves as the foundation for your E-2, L-1A, EB-5 or E-2 visa application

Customized consulting tailored to your startup's unique challenges and goals

Our team-based approach supports your project with personal communication and technical expertise.

Pricing that is competitive and scalable for early-stage business services regardless of industry or stage.

Client testimonials from just a few of the 18,000+ entrepreneurs we've worked with over the last 20 years

Free tools, research, and templates to help with business plans & pitch decks

Understanding The Distinction Between a Business Plan & Business Planning

Picture of Ben Worsley

In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, our choice of words matters. Our vocabulary can often become a veritable alphabet soup of jargon, acronyms, and those buzzwords (I'm looking at you, "disrupt").

And let's not get started on business cliches – "circle back," "synergy," “deep-dive,” etc.

Yet sometimes, it's worth pausing to consider the words we casually sprinkle around in our business conversations. In a previous article, we explored the differences between strategic and tactical business planning , two related but distinct approaches to guiding a business. Now, we're going to delve into another pair of terms that often get used interchangeably but have unique implications: "business plan" (the noun) and "business planning" (the verb).

The business plan, a noun, is a tactical document. It's typically created for a specific purpose, such as securing a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan . Think of it as a road map – it outlines the route and the destination (in this case, the coveted bank loan). But once you've reached your tactical goal (in this case, getting the loan), it often gets shoved in the glove compartment, forgotten as part of the organization's action plan until the next road trip (i.e., additional funding ).

Business planning is not a static concept, but rather a dynamic verb. It's an ongoing process that necessitates continual adjustments. It's about creating a holistic, interconnected value-creating strategic plan that benefits all stakeholders. This includes attracting top-tier employees, ensuring a return on lending or investment, and making a positive impact on the community, whether online or in real life.

That being said, the customer remains at the heart of this process. Without customers, there are no sales, no revenue, and no value. Everything else is contingent on this key element.

If we were to compare the business plan to a map, then business planning would be the journey. It's a continuous process of making strategic decisions, adapting to new paths, and steering the business towards its goals. Sometimes, it even involves redefining objectives midway.

So, let's do a "deep-dive" (I couldn't resist) into these two terms, examining their application in the real world. Along the way, we'll uncover some tools that can aid us in the ever-evolving process of strategic business planning and the more finite task of crafting a winning business plan.

The Business Plan is a Document

Alright, let's take a closer look at a phrase we've all tossed around: the business plan. Imagine it as the detailed blueprint of your organization's goals, strategies, and tactics. It's like the North Star for your entrepreneurial ship, shedding light on the key questions: what, why, how, and when (speaking of questions, here are some FAQs about the business plan ).

Writing a solid business plan isn't easy , especially if you're just dipping your toes into the world of business planning. But don’t worry; we'll get to that (eventually).

So, let's break it down. What does a business plan document consist of, exactly?

  • Executive Summary: Just as it sounds, this is a quick overview of the nitty-gritty that's in the rest of your business plan. It's the introduction to your organization, highlighting your mission statement and serving up the essential details like ownership, location, and structure.
  • Company Overview: This is where you will detail your products and/or services, their pricing, and the operational plan. If you're opening a restaurant, this section is where you present your menu, and it's also where you talk about your ingredient sourcing, the type of service you'll provide, and the ambiance you're aiming for. 
  • Market Analysis Summary: This section demands a comprehensive analysis of your industry, target market, competitors, and your unique selling proposition. Without access to top-notch (and often not free) research tools, it can be challenging to find current industry data. Check out our  guide on the best market research tools to get started.
  • Strategy and Implementation Summary: Here, you'll lay out your short-term and long-term objectives along with the strategies you'll implement to attract and retain customers. This is where you’ll talk about all the different marketing and sales strategies you'll use to charm your future customers.
  • Management Summary: This is your chance to spotlight your company's key personnel. Detail the profiles of your key leaders, their roles, and why they're perfect for it. Don't shy away from acknowledging talent gaps that need to be filled, and do share how you plan to fill them!
  • Pro Forma Financials: This is where you get down to the dollars and cents with a detailed five-year revenue forecast along with crucial financial statements like the balance sheet and the profit & loss statement.

A business plan is an essential instrument, not just for securing funding, but also for communicating long-term goals and objectives to key stakeholders. But, while a business plan is essential for many circumstances, it's important to understand its scope and limitations. It's a tactical tool, an important one, but it's not the be-all and end-all of business strategy. Which brings us to our next point of discussion: business planning.

Business Planning is a Process

If we view the business plan as a blueprint, then business planning is the architect. But let's be clear: we're not building just any old house here. We're building the  Winchester Mystery House of business. Just as the infamous Winchester House was  constantly under construction , with new rooms being added and old ones revamped, so too is your business in a state of perpetual evolution. It's a dynamic, ongoing process, not a one-and-done event.

In the realm of business planning, we're always adding 'rooms' and 'corridors' – new products, services, and market strategies – to our 'house'. And just as  Sarah Winchester reputedly consulted spirits in her Séance Room to guide her construction decisions, we consult our customers, market data, and strategic insights to guide our strategy. We're in a constant state of assessing, evolving, executing, and improving.

Business planning touches all corners of your venture. It includes areas such as product development, market research, and strategic management. It's not about predicting the future with absolute certainty – we’re planners, not fortune tellers. It's about setting a course and making calculated decisions, preparing to pivot when circumstances demand it (think global pandemics).

Business planning is not a 'set it and forget it' endeavor. It's akin to being your company's personal fitness coach, nudging it to continually strive for better. Much like physical fitness, if you stop the maintenance, you risk losing your hard-earned progress.

Business Planning Case Study: Solo Stove

Now that summer is here, my Solo Stove stands as a tangible testament to effective business planning.

For those unfamiliar, Solo Stove started with a simple yet innovative product – a smoke-limiting outdoor fire pit that garnered over $1.1 million on Kickstarter in 2016, far exceeding its original objective. Since then, it has expanded its portfolio with products tailored to outdoor enthusiasts. From flame screens and fire tools to color-changing flame additives, each product is designed to fit seamlessly into modern outdoor spaces, exuding a rugged elegance that resonates with their target audience.

This strategic product development, a cornerstone of business planning, has allowed Solo Stove to evolve from a product to a lifestyle brand. By continually listening to their customers, probing their desires and needs, and innovating to meet those needs, they've built a brand that extends beyond the products they sell.

Their strategy also includes a primary "Direct To Consumer" (DTC) revenue model, executed via their e-commerce website. This model, while challenging due to increased customer acquisition costs, offers significant benefits, including higher margins since revenue isn’t split with a retailer or distributor, and direct interaction with the customer.

Through its primary business model,  Solo Stove has amassed an email database of over 3.4 million customers . This competitive advantage allows for ongoing evaluation of customer needs, driving product innovation and improvement, and enabling effective marketing that strengthens their mission. The success of this approach is evident in the company's growth: from 2018 to 2020,  Solo Stove’s revenue grew from $16 million to $130 million , a 185% CAGR.

While  85% of their revenue comes from online DTC channels, Solo Stove has also enhanced their strategic objectives by partnering with select retailers that align with their reputation, demographic, and commitment to showcasing Solo Brands’ product portfolio and providing superior customer service.

Solo Stove's success underscores how comprehensive business planning fosters regular assessment, constant evolution, and continual improvement. It's more than setting goals – it's about ceaselessly uncovering ways to deliver value to your customers and grow your business.

However, even successful businesses like Solo Stove can explore additional strategic initiatives for growth and diversification, aligning with their strategic direction and operational planning. For instance, a subscription model could provide regular deliveries of products or a service warranty, creating a consistent revenue stream and increasing customer loyalty. Alternatively, a B2B model could involve partnerships with adventure tourism operators, who could purchase Solo Stove products in bulk.

These complementary business models, when integrated into the operational plan, could support the primary DTC model by driving customer acquisition, providing ongoing revenue streams and expanding the customer base. This strategic direction ensures that Solo Stove continues to thrive in a competitive market.

The Interplay between the Business Plan (Noun) and Business Planning (Verb)

In the realm of business strategy, there's an intriguing chicken-and-egg conundrum: which comes first, the business plan or business planning? The answer is both straightforward and complex: they're two sides of the same coin, each indispensable in its own right and yet inextricably linked.

The process of business planning informs and modifies the business plan, just as the business plan provides a strategic foundation for the planning process. This interplay embodies the concept of Model-Based Planning™, where the business model serves as a guide, yet remains flexible to the insights and adaptations borne out of proactive business planning.

Let's revisit the Solo Stove story to elucidate this concept. Their business model, primarily direct-to-consumer, laid the groundwork for their strategy. Yet, it was through continuous business planning  –  the assessment of customer feedback, market trends, and sales performance –  that they were able to refine their model, expand their product portfolio, and enhance their growth objectives. Their business plan wasn't a static document but a living entity, evolving through the insights gleaned from ongoing business planning.

So, how can you harness the power of both the tactical business plan and strategic business planning in your organization? Here are a few guiding principles:

  • Embrace Model-Based Planning™: Start with a robust business model that outlines your strategic plan. But remember, this isn't set in stone—it's a guiding framework that will evolve over time as you gain insights from your strategic planning process.
  • Make business planning a routine: Regularly review and update your business plan based on your findings from market research, customer feedback, and internal assessments. Use it as a living document that grows and adapts with your business.
  • Foster open communication: Keep all stakeholders informed about updates to your business plan and the insights that informed these changes. This promotes alignment and ensures everyone is working towards the same goals.
  • Be agile and adaptable: A key part of business planning is being ready to pivot when necessary . Whether it's a global pandemic or a shift in consumer preferences, your ability to respond swiftly and strategically to changing circumstances is crucial for long-term success.

Fanning the Flames: From Planning to Plan

The sparks truly ignite when you understand the symbiotic relationship between tactical business plans, strategic business planning, and the achievement of strategic goals. Crafting a tactical business plan (the noun) requires initial planning (the verb), but then you need to embark on continuous strategic planning (the verb) to review, refine, and realign your strategic business plan (the noun). It's a rhythm of planning, execution, review, and adjustment, all guided by key performance indicators.

Business planning, therefore, isn't a one-off event, but rather an active, ongoing process. A business plan needs constant nurturing and adjustment to stay relevant and guide your organization's path to success. This understanding frames your business plan not as a static document, but as a living, breathing entity, evolving with each step your business takes and each shift in the business landscape. It's a strategic roadmap, continually updated to reflect your organization's objectives and the ever-changing business environment.

How to Write a Management Summary for Your Business Plan

How to Write a Management Summary for Your Business Plan

Entrepreneurs are often celebrated for their uncanny ability to understand others – their customers, the market, and the ever-evolving global...

Understanding Venture Debt vs Venture Capital

Understanding Venture Debt vs Venture Capital

Despite growth in sectors like artificial intelligence, venture capital funding has seen better days. After peaking at $347.5 billion in 2021, there...

Going Beyond Writing: The Multifaceted Role of Business Plan Consultants

Going Beyond Writing: The Multifaceted Role of Business Plan Consultants

Picture of Masterplans Staff

Most people think of a professional business plan company primarily as a "business plan writer." However, here at Masterplans, we choose to approach...

  • Search Search Please fill out this field.
  • Building Your Business
  • Becoming an Owner
  • Business Plans

A Comprehensive Business Plan Template for Small Business

Business Plans Differ, But Have Several Common Elements

Alyssa Gregory is an entrepreneur, writer, and marketer with 20 years of experience in the business world. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a community for entrepreneurs, and has authored more than 2,500 articles for The Balance and other popular small business websites.

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

Executive Summary

Company description, products or services, market analysis, marketing strategy, management summary, financial analysis, appendices and supporting info.

Business plans are a challenging startup step for many small business owners who are pitching their business ideas to investors or credit institutions for funding. Because of the vastness of information, business plans can be one of the most overwhelming parts of starting a business.

However, it's an important part of starting a business that you should not skip. One survey found that people who created a business plan were twice as likely to successfully grow their business and attract lenders or investors than those who don't.  

Business plans come in many shapes and sizes; your goal is to convince individuals to buy into your vision, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach to that. However, there are a few common elements no plan should lack. Follow this business plan outline that walks you through each section of a basic plan in the order they typically appear.

The executive summary is the first section of your small business plan that is typically written last. This section highlights at least one important statement from each of the other sections in your business plan, while also including basic information about your business such as your business name and location, description of your business and its products and/or services, your management team, and the company's mission statement.

The company description section of your business plan is typically the second section, coming after the executive summary. 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. This section also describes the vision and direction of the company so potential lenders and partners can develop an accurate impression of who you are.

The products or services section of your business plan should clearly describe what products and/or services you're selling with an emphasis on the value you're providing to your customers or clients. This section will also include pricing information, a comparison to similar products or services in the market, and an outline of future offerings.

The market analysis section of your business plan comes after the products and services section and should provide a detailed overview of the industry you intend to sell your product or service in, including statistics to support your claims. This section also includes information about the industry, target market, and competition.

The marketing strategy section of your business plan builds upon the market analysis section. This section outlines where your business fits into the market and how you will price, promote, and sell your product or service.

The management summary section describes how your business is structured, introduces who is involved, outlines external resources, and explains how the business is managed.

The financial analysis section should contain the details for financing your business now, what will be needed for future growth, and an estimation of your operating expenses and gross revenue.

The appendix includes information that supports your statements, assumptions, and reasoning used in the other sections of your business plan. This may include graphs, charts, statistics, photos, marketing materials, research, and other relevant data.

Bplans. " Why Plan Your Business? Look At This Data ." Accessed Jan. 26, 2020.

Financial Model, Business Plan and Dashboard Templates - FinModelsLab

Everything You Need to Know About Writing a Comprehensive Business Plan

By henry sheykin, introduction.

Creating a comprehensive business plan is essential when starting a business or planning a major business project. A comprehensive business plan is a written document that outlines the company's long-term goals and strategies for achieving them. It covers all aspects of a business including company objectives, organizational structure, execution plans, marketing strategies, financial forecasts, and budgeting.

The benefits of a comprehensive business plan are numerous. Developing a plan helps entrepreneurs determine the viability of their venture and what resources are needed to drive it forward. It also helps to keep the business focused and on track, allowing business owners to measure and adjust when needed. And, it is an invaluable tool for pitching to potential investors, showing them that you have taken the time to prepare a solid and thoughtful plan for their investment.

Assess Your Industry

Developing a comprehensive business plan requires you to research and analyze the industry trends and competitive landscape. Taking the time to assess the industry can provide invaluable information you need to succeed in the competitive business world. This step can help you refine your plan so that it meets the needs of customers in the industry.

Research the Industry

When creating a business plan, it is important to research the industry thoroughly. This includes gathering data on current industry trends and understanding the primary customer demographic. This type of research can be completed by conducting surveys and interviews, as well as reading industry reports and studying current trends.

Analyze the Competition

Establishing a competitive analysis should be another major task when creating a business plan. Identifying the competition can help you pinpoint improvements and areas of differentiation for your business. This research can be completed by looking at similar businesses and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, you can assess their customers, their services, and their pricing models.

  • Analyze the marketing activities of your competitors.
  • Review the success rate of their services.
  • Understand their pricing models.
  • Gather information on customers and their feedback.

Articulate Your Unique Value Proposition

Before you can fully articulate your unique value proposition (UVP), you must identify your offering. What services and/or products are you offering customers? What sets your offering apart from your competitors? What are the key features that make your offering attractive to customers? All of these questions should be answered when articulating your UVP.

Identify Your Offering

The first step in articulating your UVP is to clearly define what your offering is. What services and/or products does your business provide? Identifying your offering will help to shape and focus your UVP.

Highlight Key Features

Once you’ve identified your offering, it’s time to start highlighting the key features that make your offering unique or attractive to customers. What sets you apart from your competitors? Make sure you are highlighting the features most relevant to your customer’s needs and interests. Highlighting key features should be a key part of your UVP.

Creating a comprehensive business plan is an important step in launching any successful business. It’s essential that you articulate your unique value proposition (UVP) clearly in your business plan. To do this, first identify your offering and then highlight the key features that make it attractive to customers. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be well on your way to writing a comprehensive business plan.

Research Your Target Market

When writing a comprehensive business plan, it is essential to research your target market. A thorough analysis of customer demographics and assessment of current needs can help you shape your business in a way that both meets customer needs and makes them eager to buy from you.

Analyze Customer Demographics

Understanding the different types of customers that you'll be marketing to is essential when preparing your business plan. You can create customer personas to understand the different kinds of customers you may be dealing with. The information you collect should include a customer's occupation, age, gender, values, beliefs, and buying behaviors. In some cases, looking through online customer reviews may also be helpful in understanding the type of customers you'll be dealing with.

Assess Current Needs

It is also important to understand the current needs of your target market. Taking the time to survey your customers will help you find the problem that they’re facing and how your product can help them. After collecting relevant data from surveys, you can further analyze it to better understand the needs of your customers. Additionally, you can look through industry reports to find any emerging trends in the target market.

Outline Your Marketing Strategy

A well-defined marketing strategy is essential for any business plan. It outlines how you can reach the market, promote your products and services, and achieve your business goals. If you’re taking the time to write a business plan, you should make sure to include a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Define Your Goals

Before you can outline your entire marketing strategy, you need to determine what your goals are for your business. What do you want to achieve during the next few years? What market do you want to reach, and what type of products or services do you have to offer them? Establishing clear goals will help you shape your marketing strategy and ensure that your business plan is comprehensive.

Consider Various Tactics

Once you know the goals of your marketing strategy, you need to consider different tactics for achieving them. What kind of promotional campaigns will you use? What type of advertising channels will you use? How will you measure the success of your campaigns? Think about the different ways you can reach your target market and how each can help you better achieve your goals.

You may also want to consider digital marketing techniques. While traditional methods such as television, radio, and print advertisements are often effective, digital marketing can prove to be just as successful, if not more so. Digital marketing tactics include SEO, email campaigns, social media, and more, and can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

Develop Your Financial Plan

Writing a comprehensive business plan requires you to consider all aspects, especially financials. A solid financial plan will help you to create realistic goals and prevent financial difficulties. Here are some tips for creating a financial plan for your business:

Establish an Operating Budget

An operating budget is a crucial element of your financial plan. It should include expenses, such as labor and materials costs, and revenues, such as sales and investments. Calculate your break-even analysis point, which is the point at which your revenues exceed your costs and profits occur. It's essential to build a budget that's realistic, so you can grow and manage your cash flow. Sticking to your budget and reviewing it regularly will help your business to stay on track.

Calculate Your Break-Even

The break-even analysis helps you to determine your profit and loss position and provides an insight into what sales are necessary to cover all costs. You can calculate your break-even by adding your fixed costs, such as rent and utilities, to your variable costs, such as labor and materials. Divide this total by your average sales price to calculate your break-even point. This point gives you an indication of how your business is performing and helps you to adjust your budget accordingly.

Writing a comprehensive business plan is a vital process for any entrepreneur looking to launch and operate a successful business. Comprehensive plans include both long-term and short-term goals, a marketing strategy, industry research, cash flow projection , an operational plan and thorough financial statements.

Developing an effective business plan requires research and critical thinking. A well-developed plan should be detailed and achievable, but also flexible enough to accommodate changing market conditions. Business owners should take a strategic approach to planning, making sure that all elements are seamlessly integrated with the overall mission and goals of the enterprise.

Writing a comprehensive business plan sets out a clear roadmap for success. The key elements of a successful plan include outlining a clear mission and setting achievable, measurable goals. It is essential to build a sound financial plan, analyze the competitive environment, define marketing and promotional strategies, and devise an operation plan that allows for scalability.

Effective plans should also include contingency plans for dealing with potential risks and challenges. By outlining the necessary steps for success and carefully crafting a comprehensive business plan, entrepreneurs can make sure their business is on the right track for sustainable success.

Summarize the key elements of a comprehensive business plan

The key elements of a comprehensive business plan include both long-term and short-term goals, a marketing strategy, industry research, cash flow projection, an operational plan and thorough financial statements. Additionally, effective plans should also include contingency plans for dealing with potential risks and challenges.

Wrap up by emphasizing the importance of taking the plan into action

Writing a comprehensive plan sets out a clear roadmap for success. It is essential to build a sound financial plan, analyze the competitive environment, define marketing and promotional strategies, and devise an operation plan that allows for scalability. By outlining the necessary steps for success and carefully crafting a plan, entrepreneurs can make sure their business is on the right track for sustainable success.

Excel financial model

$169.00 $99.00 Get Template

Related Blogs

  • Uncovering the Benefits of Investing in an Annual Report: Key Takeaways and Understanding
  • Crafting an Effective Budgeting Process for FP&A
  • Understanding the Basics of Scenario Planning
  • Investing in Blockchain Startups
  • Common Mistakes to Avoid with Pro Forma

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

.css-s5s6ko{margin-right:42px;color:#F5F4F3;}@media (max-width: 1120px){.css-s5s6ko{margin-right:12px;}} Join us: Learn how to build a trusted AI strategy to support your company's intelligent transformation, featuring Forrester .css-1ixh9fn{display:inline-block;}@media (max-width: 480px){.css-1ixh9fn{display:block;margin-top:12px;}} .css-1uaoevr-heading-6{font-size:14px;line-height:24px;font-weight:500;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;color:#F5F4F3;}.css-1uaoevr-heading-6:hover{color:#F5F4F3;} .css-ora5nu-heading-6{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-box-pack:start;-ms-flex-pack:start;-webkit-justify-content:flex-start;justify-content:flex-start;color:#0D0E10;-webkit-transition:all 0.3s;transition:all 0.3s;position:relative;font-size:16px;line-height:28px;padding:0;font-size:14px;line-height:24px;font-weight:500;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;color:#F5F4F3;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover{border-bottom:0;color:#CD4848;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover path{fill:#CD4848;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover div{border-color:#CD4848;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover div:before{border-left-color:#CD4848;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:active{border-bottom:0;background-color:#EBE8E8;color:#0D0E10;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:active path{fill:#0D0E10;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:active div{border-color:#0D0E10;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:active div:before{border-left-color:#0D0E10;}.css-ora5nu-heading-6:hover{color:#F5F4F3;} Register now .css-1k6cidy{width:11px;height:11px;margin-left:8px;}.css-1k6cidy path{fill:currentColor;}

  • Business strategy |
  • What is strategic planning? A 5-step gu ...

What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

Julia Martins contributor headshot

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. In this article, we'll guide you through the strategic planning process, including why it's important, the benefits and best practices, and five steps to get you from beginning to end.

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. The strategic planning process informs your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals.

Strategic planning helps you clearly define your company’s long-term objectives—and maps how your short-term goals and work will help you achieve them. This, in turn, gives you a clear sense of where your organization is going and allows you to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. Think of it this way—if your goals and objectives are your destination on a map, your strategic plan is your navigation system.

In this article, we walk you through the 5-step strategic planning process and show you how to get started developing your own strategic plan.

How to build an organizational strategy

Get our free ebook and learn how to bridge the gap between mission, strategic goals, and work at your organization.

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization’s mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives. The product of the planning cycle is a strategic plan, which is shared throughout the company.

What is a strategic plan?

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

A strategic plan is the end result of the strategic planning process. At its most basic, it’s a tool used to define your organization’s goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them.

Typically, your strategic plan should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your organizational goals, including your long-term goals and short-term, yearly objectives

Any plan of action, tactics, or approaches you plan to take to meet those goals

What are the benefits of strategic planning?

Strategic planning can help with goal setting and decision-making by allowing you to map out how your company will move toward your organization’s vision and mission statements in the next three to five years. Let’s circle back to our map metaphor. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Build a strong organizational culture by clearly defining and aligning on your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Align everyone around a shared purpose and ensure all departments and teams are working toward a common objective.

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go and achieve desired outcomes.

Promote a long-term vision for your company rather than focusing primarily on short-term gains.

Ensure resources are allocated around the most high-impact priorities.

Define long-term goals and set shorter-term goals to support them.

Assess your current situation and identify any opportunities—or threats—allowing your organization to mitigate potential risks.

Create a proactive business culture that enables your organization to respond more swiftly to emerging market changes and opportunities.

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process involves a structured methodology that guides the organization from vision to implementation. The strategic planning process starts with assembling a small, dedicated team of key strategic planners—typically five to 10 members—who will form the strategic planning, or management, committee. This team is responsible for gathering crucial information, guiding the development of the plan, and overseeing strategy execution.

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the planning process. 

Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment

Before you can define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders, like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future.

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services.

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether about the product, business practices, or the day-to-day company culture.

Consider different types of strategic planning tools and analytical techniques to gather this information, such as:

A balanced scorecard to help you evaluate four major elements of a business: learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 


What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 


What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your company’s goals and objectives

To begin strategy development, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your vision, mission, and current position to identify and define your goals—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” “What’s the ideal future state of this company?” This can help you figure out which path you need to take to get there.

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents, such as:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose.

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision.

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company.

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market.

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years.

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in.

Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and determine performance metrics

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Take your current business position and strategy into account, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives, and build out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your plan should be created or revisited as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable. These KPIs will help you track progress and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Implement and share your plan

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Strategy implementation involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to the strategic plan, so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and the overall strategy map. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management platform .  

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process, to ensure all team members understand the strategic plan and how to implement it effectively. 

Define what “success” looks like by mapping your strategic plan to key performance indicators.

Ensure that the actions outlined in the strategic plan are integrated into the daily operations of the organization, so that every team member's daily activities are aligned with the broader strategic objectives.

Utilize tools and software—like a work management platform—that can aid in implementing and tracking the progress of your plan.

Regularly monitor and share the progress of the strategic plan with the entire organization, to keep everyone informed and reinforce the importance of the plan.

Establish regular check-ins to monitor the progress of your strategic plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

Once you’ve created and implemented your new strategic framework, the final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Remember, your strategic plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to revisit and update the plan if your company changes directions or makes new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan. Make sure to review your plan regularly—meaning quarterly and annually—to ensure it’s still aligned with your organization’s vision and goals.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever, even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

Build a smarter strategic plan with a work management platform

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

A work management platform plays a pivotal role in this process. It acts as a central hub for your strategic plan, ensuring that every task and project is directly tied to your broader company goals. This alignment is crucial for visibility and coordination, allowing team members to see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s success. 

By leveraging such a platform, you not only streamline workflow and enhance team productivity but also align every action with your strategic objectives—allowing teams to drive greater impact and helping your company move toward goals more effectively. 

Strategic planning FAQs

Still have questions about strategic planning? We have answers.

Why do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics that will help your company be successful.

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed.

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What is a strategic planning template?

A strategic planning template is a tool organizations can use to map out their strategic plan and track progress. Typically, a strategic planning template houses all the components needed to build out a strategic plan, including your company’s vision and mission statements, information from any competitive analyses or SWOT assessments, and relevant KPIs.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. business plan?

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, you should create a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements?

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose.

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose.

A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. company objectives?

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a business case?

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a project plan?

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

What’s the difference between strategic management vs. strategic planning?

A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives.

Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you will achieve your big-picture goals, strategic management also helps you organize your resources and figure out the best action plans for success. 

Related resources

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

Unmanaged business goals don’t work. Here’s what does.

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

How Asana uses work management to effectively manage goals

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

Beat thrash for good: 4 organizational planning challenges and solutions

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

How Asana uses work management to streamline project intake processes

  • Get Started

Home >> #realtalk Blog >> Manage a business >> Business plan, strat…

Business plan, strategic plan, operational plan: why all 3 are important

By Andrea Nazarian

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

When you’re in the early stages of running your business, it’s easy to get lost when thinking about all the things you need to organize in order to grow. This is where making a business plan, strategic plan and operational plan comes into play. 

A business plan outlines the “what” and “how” of your business, while a strategic plan sets the long-term vision. Operational plans dive into day-to-day tasks. We’ll explain their roles, differences, and how they work together. 

In this post, we’ll break down these concepts, explain the difference between them and why all three are important.  By understanding these plans, you’ll gain the tools to steer your ship, set big goals, and navigate the everyday waters with confidence and success.

Get your team in sync with our easy-to-use, all-in-one employee app.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan, just like a blueprint for building a house, shows the general path for your business to follow. Besides the essential facts, it’s the tool that conveys your vision to potential investors, partners, and your own team.

A business plan is your business’s roadmap to success. It’s a detailed guide that helps you understand where your business is headed and how to get there. In this plan, you outline your business goals, what products or services you offer, who your customers are, and how you’ll reach them. 

Writing a business plan is one of many tips for starting a business you can tap into to get off the ground. 

Your business plan includes financials 

Your business plan also includes financial details, like how much money you’ll need and how you’ll make money. It’s important to outline everything because it helps you make smarter decisions, attract investors or loans, and stay on track as you grow. 

Think of your business plan as a game plan that keeps you focused and prepared for whatever comes your way.

What is a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan is a detailed plan that lays out where you want your business to be in the future and how you’ll get there. In this plan, you outline your long-term goals, the actions you’ll take to move towards those goals, and the major steps to reach those goals.

A strategic plan helps you make smart choices about things like which products to focus on, how to stand out from competitors, and where to expand. It’s like your compass for making decisions that match your vision. 

Goal setting in your strategic plan 

Setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound) is a clear way to put your strategic plan into actionable tasks. 

This plan also keeps you flexible – you can adjust it as your business grows and the market changes. By having a solid strategic plan, you’re setting yourself up for success, making sure all your actions lead to reaching those big dreams you have for your business.

What is an Operational Plan?

An operational plan is where the nitty-gritty of running your business happens. An operational plan is like your playbook for your day-to-day tasks . 

It spells out exactly how you’ll execute your strategies outlined in your strategic plan and reach your goals outlined in your business plan.

In your operational plan, you break things down: who’s doing what, when and how. It’s like giving clear instructions to your team on tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities.

From managing the kitchen in a restaurant to handling customer orders in a salon, it’s all in the operational plan.

It also covers how you’ll maintain quality, manage resources, and handle any bumps along the way. Think of it as your action plan – turning your grand ideas into reality, step by step. 

What’s the Difference Between a Business Plank, Strategic Plan and Operational Plan?

Business plan.

  • Focus: This is the big blueprint for your entire business. It explains what your business does, who your customers are, how you’ll make money, and your long-term goals.
  • Timeframe: Usually covers a few years and includes financial projections.
  • Use: It’s your pitch to investors and guides your business decisions.

Strategic plan:

  • Focus: This is the long-term vision. It’s about where you want your business to go and the major steps to get there.
  • Timeframe: Often covers 3-5 years.
  • Use: It guides big choices like expanding, new products, and setting direction.

Operational plan:

  • Focus: This is the detailed game plan for your day-to-day business operations. It’s about how you’ll execute your strategies.
  • Timeframe: Covers the short term, usually a year or less.
  • Use: It’s the instructions for your team on tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities.

In short, a business plan is your overall roadmap, a strategic plan sets the direction for growth, and an operational plan makes sure everything runs smoothly day by day. They work together to keep your business on track and thriving.

Why is Having a Business Plan, Strategic Plan and Operational Plan Important?

Having a business plan, a strategic plan, and an operational plan is like having a superhero trio for your business. Here’s why they’re so important:

Business Plan:

  • Clarity: It gives you a clear path for your business journey. You know what you’re doing, who your customers are, and how to make money.
  • Guidance: It helps you make smart choices and stay on track to reach your goals.
  • Attractiveness: Investors and lenders like to see a solid plan before supporting your business.

Strategic Plan:

  • Direction: It’s like a compass for your long-term vision. It tells you where your business is headed and how to get there.
  • Big Goals: It sets ambitious goals like growing big, launching new things, and standing out from the crowd.
  • Adaptation: It helps you adjust when things change, keeping your business aligned with your dreams.

Operational Plan:

  • Smooth Sailing: It’s your step-by-step guide for daily tasks. You know who does what and when.
  • Efficiency: It makes things run smoothly and helps you manage resources well.
  • Quality Control: It ensures your products or services are top-notch and consistent.

Together, these plans are like your business’s superpowers. They make sure your business is not just surviving, but thriving..

Strategic Plan Example

Let’s say your restaurant, Brenda’s Bistro, wants to become the ultimate dining spot in your community, celebrated for your fantastic dishes and top-notch hospitality.

Brenda’s Bistro’s mission is to create unforgettable dining experiences by offering a diverse menu crafted from locally sourced ingredients, while delivering outstanding customer service.

  • Achieve a 20% increase in revenue within the next two years.
  • Expand the customer base by targeting families and young professionals through special promotions.
  • Introduce a new themed menu every season to keep customers excited and engaged.

Strategies and Initiatives:

  • Strengthen Brenda’s Bistro online presence by sharing engaging content on your website and social media accounts regularly.
  • Partner with local farmers to ensure your ingredients are fresh, sustainable, and support the community.
  • Launch loyalty programs and offer discounts to encourage repeat visits.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  • Monitor revenue growth every quarter to track progress toward your goal.
  • Collect customer feedback through surveys and online reviews to measure satisfaction.
  • Evaluate the success of your seasonal menus based on the number of orders and positive feedback.

How to Make a Strategic Plan

Crafting a strategic plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal; each company’s unique goals require a tailored approach. 

Let’s break down the essential steps to shape that core plan.

1. Gather the key people

Start by bringing together the important voices. This usually includes your executive board, managers, and sometimes outside investors. 

Their insights and suggestions are like puzzle pieces that fit into a successful strategic plan.

2: Find your business’ strengths and weaknesses 

Your strategy needs to know where your company stands both inside and out. Begin with a SWOT analysis, checking your internal strengths and weaknesses, plus external opportunities and threats. 

Gather insights from gap analysis, looking at competitors, and listening to customer and employee feedback give you the bigger picture.

3. Set Goals

Now, create goals from all that info. Match these goals with your mission, vision, and values. 

Pick the ones that make a big impact, make sense for the long haul, and line up with your values. Examples can be reaching certain sales targets, or a certain number of followers on your business’ social media. 

4.Make a game plan 

Time for an action plan. Break down each goal into strategies, initiatives, and tactics. Depending on your goals, these could be marketing plans , tech upgrades, or smart partnerships. 

You don’t need tons of details here; that’s what the operational plan covers. Also, set up key performance metrics to measure your progress.

5. Review and and tweak

Schedule regular check-ins to review your plan. This is where you reflect and adjust if needed. Good financial info comes in handy here. 

How often you do this depends on your business’s rhythm – maybe monthly for new businesses or yearly for more established ones.

Remember, your strategic plan is your map to success. Tailor it, review it, and let it guide you toward your goals.

Now that your strategic plan is sorted, let’s dive into the power of operational planning to make those goals a reality.

How to Make an Operational Plan

It’s time to take that big-picture strategic plan and break it into doable steps. First, check out the long-term goals. 

Figure out which departments need to team up to reach which goal. Ask questions like: What kind of resources does the business already have access to? 

What’s missing? Any money financial risks coming up? This helps you see which parts of your business need a boost to hit those goals.

1. Nail down your budget

Make a budget based on what each department in your business needs to reach the big goals. What does your kitchen staff need? How about front-of-house staff?

With your match-up between goals and areas, spread your budget where it’ll give the best bang for your buck. 

Remember to keep some cash aside for surprises and changes. A solid budget is like a shield against unexpected stuff.

2. Set targets

Each goal you’re chasing needs a target. Think carefully here – not too wild that your team loses heart, but not too tiny that the big plan stays out of reach. 

Realistic targets are your secret weapon. An example target could be selling 100 orders’ worth of a certain dish by the end of the month.

3. Check in with your team regularly 

Don’t just set and forget. Schedule regular check-ins with your staff to see how things are going. 

Are you hitting those targets? Are things humming along? 

These feedback sessions with your employees are like checkups for your plan. If things are off, you can tweak the plan to get back on track.

Homebase’s free mobile app has a built-in messenger tool to make it easy to stay connected. Send messages to individuals, groups, or your entire team.

3. Stay open and data-driven

Keep communication flowing during reviews. And don’t forget the data – it’s your treasure map. 

Numbers show where you’re doing well and where there’s room to improve. Use your POS software or an employee management tool like Homebase to help you make data-informed decisions on how to improve your business operations. 

With Homebase’s workforce forecasting and smart scheduling tools, you can save on labor costs for your business. 

With all this, your operational plan becomes a real powerhouse, making sure your business charges ahead toward those big dreams.

Make Your Business Plan, Strategic Plan and Operational Plan Work for You

In the bustling world of business, having a roadmap is essential for success. The triumphant trio of a business plan, strategic plan, and operational plan work together to steer your ship towards greatness. 

These plans aren’t just fancy paperwork – they’re important tools that guide your every move. 

By understanding each plan’s role and significance, you’re armed with the superpowers needed to navigate the complex business waters. 

A business plan provides clarity, a strategic plan offers direction, and an operational plan ensures smooth sailing. Together, they fuel your business’s journey from survival to thriving, making sure you’re not just a player in the game, but a true champion.

Here are 10 small business tools you can use to put these three plans into action.

FAQs About Business Plan, Strategic Plan and Operational Plan

Why do i need a business plan.

A business plan acts as a roadmap for your business journey. It outlines your goals, customers, and how you’ll make money. It’s crucial for attracting investors and making smart decisions. 

What’s the purpose of a strategic plan?

A strategic plan sets your long-term vision and goals. It guides big choices like expanding and standing out. It’s like a compass, helping you stay on course towards success.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan and an operational plan?

While a strategic plan sets long-term goals, an operational plan focuses on day-to-day tasks. It’s like a playbook that tells your team exactly what to do to reach those goals.

Remember:  This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

Related posts

March 25, 2024

How to Start a Cleaning Business in 6 Steps

So you want to start a cleaning business. You want to work for yourself, you love a good Mr. Clean…

Top 5 Work Hours Trackers For Your Small Business

An accurate way to track employee hours is essential to so many different aspects of your business. If you’re not…

March 22, 2024

What you need to know about Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

Everyone from individual taxpayers to small businesses has likely heard about gross income or total annual income. This is the…

How to Start a Construction Business in 8 Easy Steps

Being able to build something from the ground up is an incredible skill: a skill you can monetize into your…

March 20, 2024

Evaluating Your Team: What Qualifies as Full-time Hours?

As a business, you have to classify your employees the right way. This is the key to staying in line…

What is Base Pay? A Beginner’s Guide

While you may be flying solo as you start your small business, at some point you may want to hire…

Subscribe to our newsletter

Looking for ways to stay up to date on employment laws and small business news?

Homebase makes managing hourly work easier for over 100,000 local businesses. With free employee scheduling , time tracking , and team communication , managers and employees can spend less time on paperwork and more time on growing their business.

  • Hiring & onboarding
  • Team communication
  • Employee happiness
  • HR & compliance
  • Integrations
  • Food & beverage
  • Beauty & wellness
  • Medical & veterinary
  • Home & repair
  • Hospitality & leisure
  • Education & caregiving
  • Contact sales
  • Become a Partner
  • Careers – We’re hiring!
  • #realtalk Blog

The Difference Between A Strategic Plan and a Comprehensive Plan

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

No more questioning whether you need to make a strategic plan or a comprehensive plan.

A local government comprehensive plan is a long-term planning document outlining the vision, goals, and strategies for the physical, economic, and social development of your community. It’s a guide for decision-making and policy development, encouraging the growth and development in your area to be aligned with its values and priorities. More than a zoning map, more than a downtown plan, more than a housing plan, these plans encompass everything.

On the other hand, you have local a strategic plan; a shorter-term planning document that outlines specific actions and resources needed for you to hit the goals and objectives outlined in the broader, overarching plan. It focuses on the implementation of specific programs and projects, while typically being reviewed and updated on a more regular basis (5 years) to remain relevant and effective.

This post is aimed to answer the remaining questions you might have when deciding which type of plan to get started on. The components of the two can vary significantly, as each plan has a different – short and long-term – focus. Let’s figure out which mindset you’ll need to consider more!

The things we’ll be breaking down in this article, and some key takeaways are:

  • A brief background of the planning process
  • The basic components of each type of plan
  • When to utilize each type of plan
  • And one more thing

Local Government Strategic Plan

A strategic plan enables your community is able to implement the goals and objectives outlined in its broader master plan in a timely and effective manner. It provides a roadmap for achieving these goals, and it helps different departments, agencies, and stakeholders in and around the area to coordinate their efforts.

This type of plan helps monitor and track the progress toward achieving the goals your municipality has outlined. It provides metrics and benchmarks that you’ll use to measure progress, and it helps identify any challenges or roadblocks that may be preventing goals to be achieved.

Building one of these helps allocate resources effectively. By outlining the specific actions and resources needed to achieve the community’s goals, a strategic plan makes sure the resources are being used in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Another benefit of having a plan with a shorter lens is that it helps adapt to changes and challenges that may arise over time. By regularly reviewing and updating the plan, your community remains relevant and responsive to changing circumstances and needs.

In short, while a comprehensive plan provides a long-term vision and framework for decision-making, a strategic plan helps your municipality gather and facilitate resources to achieve its goals in a timely and effective manner. Both are important tools for local governments, working hand-in-hand to help everyone achieve their overall vision and goals.

Local Government Comprehensive Plan

A comprehensive plan guides your community’s growth and development with a clear vision and set of goals. It regulates resources that are used in a way that’s consistent with its values and priorities, rather than being driven by short-term interests or pressures.

The longer lens plan helps coordinate the efforts of different departments, agencies, and stakeholders within the area. It provides a common framework for decision-making and aligns all parties with the same goals and objectives.

Third, this type of plan can help attract investment and support to the locality. By outlining a clear vision and set of goals, a comprehensive plan helps build support and buy-in from both public and private sector partners, which can in turn lead to increased resources and support for the area.

Leaders can help address and resolve conflicts and challenges. By providing a framework for decision-making and a process for engaging stakeholders, an overarching plan helps build consensus and mitigate tensions that arise as the community grows and changes.

In short, a comprehensive plan is a critical tool for local governments, making sure your municipality is well-planned, well-managed, and able to achieve its goals and objectives. It provides a long-term vision and framework for decision-making, and it helps to coordinate the efforts of different stakeholders within the community.

Making the case for both

Both plans are important tools for local governments, as they enable you to be well-planned, well-managed, and achieve goals and objectives. The comprehensive plan provides a long-term vision and framework for decision-making, while the strategic plan helps to ensure that the community has the resources and plans in place to achieve its goals in a timely and effective manner.

Another important aspect of planning is data collection and analysis. Local governments can use a variety of data sources, such as census data, land use data, and economic data, to inform the development of their plans. This allows your plan to be based on sound data and analysis, rather than assumptions or guesses.

There are a number of different methods that can be used to create your plans. One common approach is to engage the community in the planning process through public meetings, workshops, and surveys. Doing this makes sure the plan reflects the values and priorities of the residents, and it can also help to build support and buy-in for the plan.

A short video produced by Laredo, Texas

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

We thought you might also like:

  • Interview – James Weaver, (Former) Senior City Planner – Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Bowman and Kearney textbooks
  • What Is Economic Development?
  • The American Planning Association website

Pingback: What Are Comprehensive Plans | govStrategy

Pingback: About The American Planning Association | govStrategy

Leave a Comment Cancel

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

How To Write An Effective Business Proposal


Published: Feb 28, 2024, 2:00pm

How To Write An Effective Business Proposal

Table of Contents

What is a business proposal, business plan vs. business proposal, objectives of a business proposal, essential elements of a business proposal, 7 steps to write a business proposal, bottom line, frequently asked questions (faqs).

Writing a business proposal is a crucial skill if you wish to run a successful and profitable business. Knowing how to write a business proposal is not necessary for presenting your product or services in the best possible manner. It’s about convincing others that your solutions are the best fit for their needs. Crafting an effective business proposal can open doors to immense opportunities.

In this article, you will learn the essential components of an effective business proposal as well as techniques that ensure your proposal captures and retains client interest. Let’s dive in and explore the art of creating compelling business proposals.

A business proposal is a document designed to persuade a potential client or customer to buy a specific product or service. It’s a tailored argument that outlines the benefits of your approach, solution or product, specifically addressing the requirements of the recipient. A business proposal must not only communicate your vision but also persuade the recipient of the proposal to take positive action.

Featured Partners


$0 + State Fees

Varies By State & Package


On ZenBusiness' Website

Northwest Registered Agent

$39 + State Fees

Northwest Registered Agent

On Northwest Registered Agent's Website


On LegalZoom's Website

Types of Business Proposals

Understanding the different types of business proposals is key to selecting the right approach for your situation. Typically, proposals are categorized into two main types: solicited and unsolicited.

Solicited proposals are those that are requested by a potential client, often in response to a request for proposal (RFP). These tend to have a prescribed format and specific requirements, making it crucial to follow the guidelines provided. Unsolicited proposals are not requested by a client but are sent proactively. They require a more persuasive approach as you’re introducing a solution to a problem the client may not have actively considered.

Additionally, there are informal and formal proposals. Typically, informal proposals are shorter and used in a more relaxed business setting or with existing clients. In contrast, formal proposals are longer, more detailed and used in situations requiring thorough analysis and presentation, often for new clients or large projects.

A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the overall vision, strategy and goals of your business. In contrast, a business proposal is a targeted pitch to a specific client or organization, offering a solution to a problem or a strategy for achieving a specific goal.

A business plan is primarily used for internal planning and, often, to secure funding from investors. A typical business plan includes an overview of your business model, market analysis, financial projections and long-term strategic plans. However, unlike the broad scope of a business plan, a proposal is your chance to showcase how your services or products can benefit the prospective client, tailored to their specific needs and challenges.

While a business plan lays out the path your business intends to take, a business proposal is a direct response to a potential client’s problem, demonstrating how you intend to solve it effectively.

A business proposal is a strategic tool that can be used in negotiations, aiming to convince a potential client or partner of the value as well as viability of your proposed solution to their problem or need. Here are some of the most important objectives of a business proposal.

To Persuade

The core objective of a business proposal is to persuade the recipient that your solution is the best fit for their problem or need. It’s about making a compelling case for your approach, services or products.

A well-written proposal also informs the reader. It should provide all necessary details about your solution, including how it works, its benefits and why it stands out from the competition.

To Establish Credibility

Through your proposal, you demonstrate your understanding of the client’s needs and your capability to meet them. This is your chance to showcase your expertise and past successes.

To Initiate a Dialogue

A good proposal also serves as a starting point for further discussions. It opens up a channel of communication with the potential client, inviting them to negotiate terms, ask questions and seek clarifications.

Understanding these objectives can guide the tone, content and structure of your proposal. Listing your products or services is not enough. You need to craft a narrative that aligns with the client’s needs and paints a clear picture of how you can fulfill those needs effectively and efficiently.

To create an effective business proposal that persuades the recipient to take action, include these key components:

  • Title page and table of contents: Begin with a professional title page that includes the proposal’s title, your company’s name, the date and the recipient’s name. For easier navigation, especially in longer proposals, include a table of contents.
  • Executive summary: This section provides a concise overview of the proposal, summarizing the key points. It should be engaging and highlight why they should read the proposal.
  • Problem statement or needs assessment: Clearly define the issue or need your proposal is addressing. Demonstrating a deep understanding of the client’s challenges is essential here.
  • Proposed solution: Elaborate on your proposed solution, detailing how it specifically tackles the client’s problem or need. This section should be clear, convincing and aligned with the client’s objectives.
  • Pricing and terms: Offer a transparent breakdown of the pricing structure and any terms and conditions related to your services. Clarity in this section helps avoid future misunderstandings.
  • Qualifications and experience: Showcase your credentials, expertise and any relevant experience or success stories. This is necessary to build trust and credibility.
  • Call to action (CTA) and closing remarks: Conclude with a strong call to action that encourages the client to proceed or engage further. Briefly summarize the primary benefits of choosing your solution to reinforce your proposal’s value.

Start an LLC Online Today With ZenBusiness

Click on the state below to get started.

Crafting a compelling business proposal requires the right blend of clarity, persuasion and attention to detail. The key to a successful business proposal is not just in what you include, but how you present it. Follow this step-by-step guide to ensure your proposal stands out:

  • Start with the executive summary: Begin with a strong executive summary that captures the essence of your proposal. This should be persuasive and highlight the benefits of your solution. Remember, this might be the only part some decision-makers read.
  • Address the problem clearly: In the problem statement, be specific about the client’s challenge. Use language that resonates with them, demonstrating that you truly understand their needs.
  • Detail your proposed solution: Break down your solution into digestible sections. Be clear about how each part of your solution addresses the problem. Use bullet points or subheadings for readability.
  • Outline pricing and terms: Present your pricing clearly. Include different packages or options if applicable. Be transparent about any conditions or terms to build trust.
  • Showcase your credentials: Use the qualifications section to build credibility. Highlight past successes, relevant experience and any unique skills or resources that make your solution the best choice.
  • Craft a persuasive conclusion: End with a persuasive conclusion that reiterates the benefits of your solution. A strong call to action should encourage the client to take the next step, whether it’s a meeting, a phone call or signing a contract.
  • Proofread and edit: Ensure your proposal is free of errors. A well-edited proposal reflects professionalism and attention to detail.

After submitting the proposal, plan a follow-up strategy. This might include a phone call or an email to discuss any questions and reiterate your interest in working with the client.

Design and Presentation Tips

The visual appeal of your business proposal plays a crucial role in its effectiveness. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while writing a proposal:

  • Keep the design professional and clean, using your brand colors and logo for consistency.
  • Utilize white space effectively to enhance readability.
  • For longer proposals, use charts, graphs and bullet points to break up text and illustrate points clearly.
  • Ensure that the format is compatible with various devices, as clients may view your proposal on different screens.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

In business proposal writing, common pitfalls can significantly reduce your chances of success. Here are a few for your reference:

  • Avoid overcomplicating your language; clarity and conciseness are more important than demonstrating language skills.
  • Do not make unrealistic promises or overestimate results as this can damage credibility.
  • Tailor your proposal to the specific client or their industry. Do not have a standard proposal for everyone.
  • Grammatical errors can detract from your professionalism, so edit and proofread the proposal before sharing.

Start A Limited Liability Company Online Today with ZenBusiness

Click to get started.

In this article we’ve explored the essentials of crafting effective business proposals, distinguishing them from business plans and highlighting key components as well as common pitfalls. Equipped with these insights, your next step should be to apply this knowledge in practice.

Creating a versatile business proposal template can be a great starting point. You can then customize the template to create business proposals that win you clients and drive business success.

What is the main point of a business proposal?

The main point of a business proposal is to present a tailored solution to a specific client or business problem. It aims to persuade the recipient that your approach or service is the best fit for their needs, outlining how it offers value and addresses their unique challenges. The proposal serves as a strategic tool for initiating business relationships and securing contracts.

How do you structure a business funding proposal?

A business funding proposal is structured to concisely present your business idea, market potential and financial needs. It typically includes an executive summary, a detailed description of the business, market analysis, specifics of the financial request and a plan for funds utilization. The proposal also highlights your business’s management team, projected financials and return on investment to assure potential investors of the viability and profitability of the venture.

What are the three main types of business proposals?

The three main types of business proposals are:

  • Formally solicited proposals: These are written in response to an official request for a proposal (RFP), often with specific guidelines and format requirements outlined by the potential client.
  • Informally solicited proposals: These proposals are created based on casual or less formal requests, often following verbal conversations or discussions with a potential client who has expressed interest but hasn’t issued a formal RFP.
  • Unsolicited proposals: These are proposals initiated by the sender and presented to potential clients who have not requested them. They often require a more persuasive approach as they aim to create a need or solution the potential client may not have previously considered.
  • Best LLC Services
  • Best Registered Agent Services
  • Best Trademark Registration Services
  • Top LegalZoom Competitors
  • Best Business Loans
  • Best Business Plan Software
  • ZenBusiness Review
  • LegalZoom LLC Review
  • Northwest Registered Agent Review
  • Rocket Lawyer Review
  • Inc. Authority Review
  • Rocket Lawyer vs. LegalZoom
  • Bizee Review (Formerly Incfile)
  • Swyft Filings Review
  • Harbor Compliance Review
  • Sole Proprietorship vs. LLC
  • LLC vs. Corporation
  • LLC vs. S Corp
  • LLP vs. LLC
  • DBA vs. LLC
  • LegalZoom vs. Incfile
  • LegalZoom vs. ZenBusiness
  • LegalZoom vs. Rocket Lawyer
  • ZenBusiness vs. Incfile
  • How To Start A Business
  • How to Set Up an LLC
  • How to Get a Business License
  • LLC Operating Agreement Template
  • 501(c)(3) Application Guide
  • What is a Business License?
  • What is an LLC?
  • What is an S Corp?
  • What is a C Corp?
  • What is a DBA?
  • What is a Sole Proprietorship?
  • What is a Registered Agent?
  • How to Dissolve an LLC
  • How to File a DBA
  • What Are Articles Of Incorporation?
  • Types Of Business Ownership

Next Up In Company Formation

  • Best Online Legal Services
  • How To Write A Business Plan
  • Member-Managed LLC Vs. Manager-Managed LLC
  • Starting An S-Corp
  • LLC Vs. C Corp
  • How Much Does It Cost To Start An LLC?

Best New Hampshire Registered Agent Services Of 2024

Best New Hampshire Registered Agent Services Of 2024

Natalie Cusson

Employer Staffing Solutions Group Review 2024: Features, Pricing & More

Lauren Holznienkemper

How To Sell Clothes Online In 2024

Katherine Haan

2024 SEO Checklist

Jennifer Simonson

16 Ways to Make Money From Home in 2024

Anna Baluch

LLC Name Requirements, Ideas & Examples

Belle Wong, J.D.

A seasoned small business and technology writer and educator with more than 20 years of experience, Shweta excels in demystifying complex tech tools and concepts for small businesses. Her work has been featured in NewsWeek, Huffington Post and more. Her postgraduate degree in computer management fuels her comprehensive analysis and exploration of tech topics.

Jibility logo

  • Meet The Team
  • Partnerships
  • Testimonials

Menu Icon

Strategic Plan vs Business Plan – Which Matters More for Leaders?

By Jibility Co-Founder Chuen Seet

In the world of business, strategic planning and business planning are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing . Strategic planning is a long-term planning process that helps a company define its vision, mission, and objectives. Business planning, on the other hand, is a short-term planning process that helps a company define its goals and strategies to achieve those goals.

Both strategic planning and business planning are important for leaders, but which one matters more? In this blog post, we will explore the differences between strategic planning and business planning and why strategic planning should be a top priority for leaders.

What is a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan is a long-term plan that outlines a company’s vision, mission, and objectives. It is a comprehensive plan that guides a company’s actions over the next three to five years. A strategic plan helps a company identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats ( SWOT ) and develop strategies to capitalize on its strengths and opportunities while mitigating its weaknesses and threats.

A strategic plan helps a company create a roadmap for the future. It outlines the company’s goals and objectives, the strategies it will use to achieve those goals, and the metrics it will use to measure its progress. A strategic plan helps a company stay focused and aligned with its vision and mission.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a short-term plan that outlines a company’s goals and strategies for the next year or two. A business plan helps a company define its products or services, target market, competition, marketing strategy, sales strategy, and financial projections. It is a tactical plan that helps a company achieve its goals in the short term.

A business plan helps a company allocate its resources effectively. It outlines the company’s budget, cash flow, and profit and loss projections. A business plan helps a company make informed decisions about its operations and investments.

Strategic Plan vs Business Plan: Which Matters More for Leaders?

Both strategic planning and business planning are important for leaders. However, strategic planning takes priority because it provides the long-term vision for the company. A strategic plan helps a company stay focused on its mission and vision and guides its decisions over the long term.

Business planning is important for day-to-day operations, but it is not a substitute for strategic planning. A company that only focuses on short-term goals and tactics may miss out on long-term opportunities.

If you are a leader, it is important to have a strategic plan in place to help you stay focused on your mission and vision, and guide your decisions over the long term. It will help you anticipate future trends and challenges and prepare for them. So, invest the time and resources to create a comprehensive strategic plan for your company and ensure that it is regularly updated and reviewed. By doing so, you will be able to steer your company towards success and stay ahead of the competition.

More on Strategic Planning

Capability-based planning vs Traditional Project Planning Approaches How to Create an Agile Strategic Planning Process 10 Tips for Conducting a Successful Strategic Planning Session 6 Steps to Create an Effective Implementation Plan

Jibility Helps Business Leader Close the Strategy Execution Gap

When you are ready to implement your strategy, Jibility can help you formulate a proven strategic roadmap by stepping you through our unique 6-step method to create a strategic roadmap that actually works. Try Jibility for free today.

Get started for free

Privacy overview.

short business plan vs comprehensive plan

Traditional Business Plan Vs. Lean Startup Plan: Which Is Better?

D id you know that business plans come in not one, but two categories? More often than not, when we think of a business plan we think of a traditional format. This means a hefty document, about 30 to 40 pages in length, written three to five years out that outlines every detail that can contribute to the success of the business.

A lean startup plan, on the other hand, requires less time and detail to put together, but must be able to communicate the future of the business in an articulate manner.

Which type of business plan should you draft for your startup? If you’re not sure whether one format is preferable over the other, read on.

Traditional business plan

A traditional plan skewers towards being more lengthy and detailed than those in lean startup format; it's essentially a blueprint that gives you a glimpse into the future of your startup .

Inside every traditional business plan , you’ll need to cover the following areas:

Executive summary— Here you should be able to explain, in no more than two pages, who you and your business are, what your company does, what industry it’s in, where you’re located (or will be located), when you will begin conducting business if you haven’t started already, how the business will make money, and why consumers will want the goods and/or services offered by the business.

Business description, concept, and strategy— This section contains more information about your products and/or services, including what they do, what makes them unique and distinctive, where the idea for your business came from, where you’re at in the development stages, and overall goals and strategies for the business, along with its projected timeline.

Industry analysis— Who is your competition? Here, you will analyze competitors of your brand and touch on their offerings, company background, and why consumers will choose your services over theirs.

Market analysis— Now that you understand your competition, who is your target audience? This section defines your target market, their needs, and how your business will be able to attract, capture, and retain this audience.

Organization and management— If you have management or staff employed, this section allows you to share their biographies, backgrounds, and core responsibilities.

Financial projections— This gives readers a glimpse into the cash flow of your business. It’s a table-heavy area that includes projected profit and loss, a 12-month income statement, expenses budget, sales forecast, and a break-even analysis with the revenue needed for your initial investment. And speaking of investment …

Financing request— If you are seeking funding from investors , this is the section to outline the amount of money requested, how it will be spent, and the manner in which it is spent.

Appendix— Your appendix should include industry studies, letters of incorporation, trademark registrations, and partnership agreements, just to name a few documents.

Lean startup plan

If you need to write a business plan quickly or if your business is fairly simple and straightforward to explain, your format of choice is likely a lean startup plan. This is less of an intensive blueprint and more of a quick summary—sometimes no longer than one page!

No matter how short and sweet your structure is, a lean startup plan should contain the following elements:

Value proposition— The value that your small business brings to its respective market, summed up in a clear statement.

Key partnerships, resources, and activities— More information about the partners working alongside your business, strategies for gaining a competitive advantage, and resources, such as intellectual property or capital, used to create value for your target audience.

Customer segments, channels, and relationships. Who is your audience? Where can you reach them? How will you build a lasting relationship together? Define your target market, methods for being able to talk to them, and strategies for establishing the customer experience.

Revenue streams— Explain and list out the revenue streams your business has for making money. Make sure to include a quick section that defines your cost structure strategy, too.

Which format does your business need?

The good news about writing a business plan? There’s room for editing. If you’re not satisfied with the format or need to make changes, you can always revise the document. There’s also the option to switch formats—if you start off with a lean plan, but want to shift to a more traditional plan, and vice versa.

Regardless of the format, the important thing is to be concise and critical about your business from the beginning. Your business plan works to align your team towards a common vision for the company and evaluate its feasibility as objectively and critically as possible. Having this kind of document contributes to the success of the business and positions you as a confident CEO.

RELATED: Two Critical But Often Ignored Business Plan Ingredients

Traditional and lean business plans FAQs

Below we have summarized the most important questions and answers on the subject:

What's the difference between a traditional business plan and a lean startup plan?

A business plan in a traditional format is about 30 to 40 pages in length and is written several years out. It outlines every detail that could contribute to the success of the business. A lean startup plan, on the other hand, requires less time and detail to put together. It is more like a summary, and may be no longer than a page.

What are the pros of a traditional business plan?

A traditional business plan will give deeper insights into the potential future of a business than a lean startup plan, and will include detailed analyses of the industry and market as well as in-depth financial projections. These can help your business design a plan for the future, including specific goals and objectives.

What are three things to include in a traditional business plan?

  • Executive summary —You should be able to explain who you and your business are, what your company does, what industry it’s in, where you’re located, how the business will make money, and why consumers will want your goods and/or services.
  • Business description, concept, and strategy —This section describes what your products do, what makes them unique, and overall goals and strategies for the business, along with its projected timeline.
  • Industry analysis —You will analyze competitors of your brand and touch on their offerings, company background, and why consumers will choose your services over theirs.

Traditional Business Plan Vs. Lean Startup Plan: Which Is Better?

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Here’s how you know

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Report Fraud
  • Read Consumer Alerts
  • Get Consumer Alerts
  • Visit

View all Consumer Alerts

Credit, Loans, and Debt

Learn about getting and using credit, borrowing money, and managing debt.

View Credit, Loans, and Debt

Jobs and Making Money

What to know when you're looking for a job or more education, or considering a money-making opportunity or investment.

View Jobs and Making Money

Unwanted Calls, Emails, and Texts

What to do about unwanted calls, emails, and text messages that can be annoying, might be illegal, and are probably scams.

View Unwanted Calls, Emails, and Texts

Identity Theft and Online Security

How to protect your personal information and privacy, stay safe online, and help your kids do the same.

View Identity Theft and Online Security

  • Search Show/hide Search menu items Items per page 20 50 100 Filters Fulltext search

Refunds for Benefytt customers who paid for health plans and products


Did you pay  Benefytt , which also did business as “MyBenefitsKeeper,” for a health plan or product that didn’t deliver the comprehensive insurance coverage the company promised? You might be getting some of your money back.

The FTC will return nearly $100 million dollars to Benefytt customers who paid for health plans the FTC says were falsely marketed as comprehensive health insurance or an “Obamacare” plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Here’s what to know about refunds:

  • Customers who paid Benefytt $1,000 or more between 2017 and 2022 will get some money back. Checks will be mailed automatically and should arrive within the next two weeks.
  • Cash or deposit the check as soon as possible. Refund checks expire after 90 days. 
  • For more information or questions, call the refund administrator, Epiq Systems, at 888-574-3126.
  • The FTC never requires you to pay money or give account information to cash a refund check. Anyone who contacts you and says they’ll help you file for a refund or get your money back — if you pay them first — is a scammer.

Before you sign up for health coverage or products:

  • Compare plans, coverage, and prices at a trusted source . and state marketplaces are the first stop for information about comprehensive, ACA-compliant health insurance coverage.
  • Find out more about the seller.  Ask for the name of the agent and the agency that's offering you a plan. Search online for the names plus “complaint,” “scam,” or “fraud.” Read what others are saying.
  • Check with your  state insurance commissioner’s office  to see if they have a license and find out if there are complaints. If they don’t have a license, what they’re selling is not insurance.

Resist pressure to make a decision on the spot. Legitimate health plans won’t pressure you to make a decision on the spot, and they’ll always give you a chance to compare their plan with other options.

Did you pay Benefytt for a health plan or product?  You might be getting a refund.  Learn more:

Add new comment

Read our privacy act statement.

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s  computer user records  system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s  Privacy Act system notices . For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy .

Read Our Comment Policy

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

How about my bill that went into collections for 2700$? They said they would pay for colonoscopy. I really took it up the ass for mybenefitskeeper. The refund is a far cry from what I feel I deserve! Thanks alot


  1. The Essential Guide to Making a Business Plan

    short business plan vs comprehensive plan

  2. How to Write a Business Plan

    short business plan vs comprehensive plan

  3. Creating a Business Plan: Why it Matters and Where to Start

    short business plan vs comprehensive plan

  4. Comprehensive Planning: Prioritizing for Success

    short business plan vs comprehensive plan

  5. Writing A Business Plan

    short business plan vs comprehensive plan

  6. A Complete Guide On Small Business Plan Examples (2022)

    short business plan vs comprehensive plan


  1. Business Progress Technique || Professional Business Plan

  2. New BUSINESS ପେଲା ଲେଲି କରି PLAN DISCUSSION || Business Development Idea

  3. Low Competition Business Idea

  4. No investment Business Plan || Business Starting Ideas for Beginners

  5. Low Cost Business Idea In 2024

  6. META FORCE Short business plan || Punit Sharma || Meta force Hindi plan || Blockchain technology


  1. Short Business Plan vs. Comprehensive Business Plan

    How do you define, compare, and contrast a short business plan vs. a comprehensive plan? A comprehensive business plan may be needed if you are pitching to investors or applying for a loan. A business plan that is not requiring investment/ loan needs to accomplish a few things no matter the size: Does it confirm why your idea will be received ...

  2. Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One

    Business Plan: A business plan is a written document that describes in detail how a business, usually a new one, is going to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written plan from a ...

  3. What Is A Business Plan (& Do I Really Need One?)

    The business plan is more than a set of numbers and projections; it's the embodiment of the business vision. It communicates the essence of the business to stakeholders, turning abstract ideas into a concrete operational plan. It's a vital tool for leadership to articulate and formalize the vision, setting the stage for strategic execution.

  4. Understanding The Distinction Between a Business Plan & Business Planning

    It's a rhythm of planning, execution, review, and adjustment, all guided by key performance indicators. Business planning, therefore, isn't a one-off event, but rather an active, ongoing process. A business plan needs constant nurturing and adjustment to stay relevant and guide your organization's path to success.

  5. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  6. How to Write a Comprehensive Business Plan

    An established business can use historical data to outline its financial performance. Use information from the past three years minimum. These include income statements, balance sheets and cash ...

  7. How To Write A Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    1. Investors Are Short On Time. If your chief goal is using your business plan to secure funding, then it means you intend on getting it in front of an investor. And if there's one thing investors are, it's busy. So keep this in mind throughout writing a business plan.

  8. How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

    Determine how you can best reach potential customers. Evaluate your competition. Your marketing plan must set you apart from your competition, and you can't stand out unless you know your ...

  9. Comprehensive Business Plan Outline for Small Business

    A Comprehensive Business Plan Template for Small Business. Business plans are a challenging startup step for many small business owners who are pitching their business ideas to investors or credit institutions for funding. Because of the vastness of information, business plans can be one of the most overwhelming parts of starting a business.

  10. Business Strategy: A Complete Guide

    A business plan is a yearlong plan of action for a specific department or business unit, outlining a specific subset of goals and activities. A strategic plan (sometimes called a corporate strategy) is different: A strategic plan identifies a broad set of objectives an organization will strive to achieve over the course of the next three to ...

  11. 7 Types of Business Plans

    Startup plan A startup plan is a business plan a new company gives to potential investors in the hopes of receiving startup funding. Startup plans operate as initial plans that businesses can adjust as needed as a company grows. A comprehensive plan will include the following information: Executive summary; Overview of the company; Management ...

  12. Effective Strategic Plans and Business Plans: Understanding the

    Elements of a Business Plan. A business plan is a detailed document that outlines how a company will achieve its short-term and long-term goals. While it shares some elements with a strategic plan, a business plan is more focused on the day-to-day operations of the business. Key components of a business plan include:

  13. Writing a Comprehensive Business Plan

    A comprehensive business plan is a written document that outlines the company's long-term goals and strategies for achieving them. It covers all aspects of a business including company objectives, organizational structure, execution plans, marketing strategies, financial forecasts, and budgeting. The benefits of a comprehensive business plan ...

  14. How To Write A Basic Business Plan

    1. Executive Summary. A snapshot of your business plan as a whole, touching on your company's profile, mission, and the main points of your plan. Think of it as an elevator pitch that presents ...

  15. Business Plan Executive Summary Example & Template

    Bottom Line. Writing an executive summary doesn't need to be difficult if you've already done the work of writing the business plan itself. Take the elements from the plan and summarize each ...

  16. Strategic Planning: 5 Planning Steps, Process Guide [2024] • Asana

    Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment. Before you can define where you're going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

  17. Business plan vs. Strategic plan vs. Operational plan (2024)

    A business plan outlines the "what" and "how" of your business, while a strategic plan sets the long-term vision. Operational plans dive into day-to-day tasks. We'll explain their roles, differences, and how they work together. In this post, we'll break down these concepts, explain the difference between them and why all three are ...

  18. PDF How to write a strategic plan

    Overcoming Challenges and Pitfalls. Challenge of consensus over clarity. Challenge of who provides input versus who decides. Preparing a long, ambitious, 5 year plan that sits on a shelf. Finding a balance between process and a final product. Communicating and executing the plan. Lack of alignment between mission, action, and finances.

  19. Strategic Plan vs Comprehensive Plan

    In short, a comprehensive plan is a critical tool for local governments, making sure your municipality is well-planned, well-managed, and able to achieve its goals and objectives. It provides a long-term vision and framework for decision-making, and it helps to coordinate the efforts of different stakeholders within the community. ...

  20. How To Write An Effective Business Proposal

    A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines the overall vision, strategy and goals of your business. In contrast, a business proposal is a targeted pitch to a specific client or ...

  21. Strategic Plan vs Business Plan

    A business plan helps a company define its products or services, target market, competition, marketing strategy, sales strategy, and financial projections. It is a tactical plan that helps a company achieve its goals in the short term. A business plan helps a company allocate its resources effectively.

  22. Traditional Business Plan Vs. Lean Startup Plan: Which Is Better?

    A traditional business plan will give deeper insights into the potential future of a business than a lean startup plan, and will include detailed analyses of the industry and market as well as in ...

  23. PDF Lesson 1: Subcontracting Program vs. SB Participation Overview

    Small Business Participation and Source Selection (cont'd), 5) State if small business participation is based on TCV and explain how percentages and dollars should be stated in the subcontracting plan (if a plan is required) 6) Explain how offers will be rated 7) Evaluate small business past performance (compliance with FAR 52.219-8 and/or FAR

  24. Refunds for Benefytt customers who paid for health plans and products

    The FTC will return nearly $100 million dollars to Benefytt customers who paid for health plans the FTC says were falsely marketed as comprehensive health insurance or an "Obamacare" plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).