• 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.

what are the benefits of business 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

what are the benefits of business plan

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

Do you REALLY need a business plan?

The top three questions that I get asked most frequently as a professional business plan writer will probably not surprise you:

  • What is the purpose of a business plan – why is it really required?
  • How is it going to benefit my business if I write a business plan?
  • Is a business plan really that important – how can I actually use it?

Keep reading to get my take on what the most essential advantages of preparing a business plan are—and why you may (not) need to prepare one.

Business Plan Purpose and Importance

The importance, purpose and benefit of a business plan is in that it enables you to validate a business idea, secure funding, set strategic goals – and then take organized action on those goals by making decisions, managing resources, risk and change, while effectively communicating with stakeholders.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of the important business planning benefits can catapult your business forward:

1. Validate Your Business Idea

The process of writing your business plan will force you to ask the difficult questions about the major components of your business, including:

  • External: industry, target market of prospective customers, competitive landscape
  • Internal: business model, unique selling proposition, operations, marketing, finance

Business planning connects the dots to draw a big picture of the entire business.

And imagine how much time and money you would save if working through a business plan revealed that your business idea is untenable. You would be surprised how often that happens – an idea that once sounded so very promising may easily fall apart after you actually write down all the facts, details and numbers.

While you may be tempted to jump directly into start-up mode, writing a business plan is an essential first step to check the feasibility of a business before investing too much time and money into it. Business plans help to confirm that the idea you are so passionate and convinced about is solid from business point of view.

Take the time to do the necessary research and work through a proper business plan. The more you know, the higher the likelihood that your business will succeed.

2. Set and Track Goals

Successful businesses are dynamic and continuously evolve. And so are good business plans that allow you to:

  • Priorities: Regularly set goals, targets (e.g., sales revenues reached), milestones (e.g. number of employees hired), performance indicators and metrics for short, mid and long term
  • Accountability: Track your progress toward goals and benchmarks
  • Course-correction: make changes to your business as you learn more about your market and what works and what does not
  • Mission: Refer to a clear set of values to help steer your business through any times of trouble

Essentially, business plan is a blueprint and an important strategic tool that keeps you focused, motivated and accountable to keep your business on track. When used properly and consulted regularly, it can help you measure and manage what you are working so hard to create – your long-term vision.

As humans, we work better when we have clear goals we can work towards. The everyday business hustle makes it challenging to keep an eye on the strategic priorities. The business planning process serves as a useful reminder.

3. Take Action

A business plan is also a plan of action . At its core, your plan identifies where you are now, where you want your business to go, and how you will get there.

Planning out exactly how you are going to turn your vision into a successful business is perhaps the most important step between an idea and reality. Success comes not only from having a vision but working towards that vision in a systematic and organized way.

A good business plan clearly outlines specific steps necessary to turn the business objectives into reality. Think of it as a roadmap to success. The strategy and tactics need to be in alignment to make sure that your day-to-day activities lead to the achievement of your business goals.

4. Manage Resources

A business plan also provides insight on how resources required for achieving your business goals will be structured and allocated according to their strategic priority. For example:

Large Spending Decisions

  • Assets: When and in what amount will the business commit resources to buy/lease new assets, such as computers or vehicles.
  • Human Resources: Objectives for hiring new employees, including not only their pay but how they will help the business grow and flourish.
  • Business Space: Information on costs of renting/buying space for offices, retail, manufacturing or other operations, for example when expanding to a new location.

Cash Flow It is essential that a business carefully plans and manages cash flows to ensure that there are optimal levels of cash in the bank at all times and avoid situations where the business could run out of cash and could not afford to pay its bills.

Revenues v. Expenses In addition, your business plan will compare your revenue forecasts to the budgeted costs to make sure that your financials are healthy and the business is set up for success.

5. Make Decisions

Whether you are starting a small business or expanding an existing one, a business plan is an important tool to help guide your decisions:

Sound decisions Gathering information for the business plan boosts your knowledge across many important areas of the business:

  • Industry, market, customers and competitors
  • Financial projections (e.g., revenue, expenses, assets, cash flow)
  • Operations, technology and logistics
  • Human resources (management and staff)
  • Creating value for your customer through products and services

Decision-making skills The business planning process involves thorough research and critical thinking about many intertwined and complex business issues. As a result, it solidifies the decision-making skills of the business owner and builds a solid foundation for strategic planning , prioritization and sound decision making in your business. The more you understand, the better your decisions will be.

Planning Thorough planning allows you to determine the answer to some of the most critical business decisions ahead of time , prepare for anticipate problems before they arise, and ensure that any tactical solutions are in line with the overall strategy and goals.

If you do not take time to plan, you risk becoming overwhelmed by countless options and conflicting directions because you are not unclear about the mission , vision and strategy for your business.

6. Manage Risk

Some level of uncertainty is inherent in every business, but there is a lot you can do to reduce and manage the risk, starting with a business plan to uncover your weak spots.

You will need to take a realistic and pragmatic look at the hard facts and identify:

  • Major risks , challenges and obstacles that you can expect on the way – so you can prepare to deal with them.
  • Weaknesses in your business idea, business model and strategy – so you can fix them.
  • Critical mistakes before they arise – so you can avoid them.

Essentially, the business plan is your safety net . Naturally, business plan cannot entirely eliminate risk, but it can significantly reduce it and prepare you for any challenges you may encounter.

7. Communicate Internally

Attract talent For a business to succeed, attracting talented workers and partners is of vital importance.

A business plan can be used as a communication tool to attract the right talent at all levels, from skilled staff to executive management, to work for your business by explaining the direction and growth potential of the business in a presentable format.

Align performance Sharing your business plan with all team members helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the long-term vision and strategy.

You need their buy-in from the beginning, because aligning your team with your priorities will increase the efficiency of your business as everyone is working towards a common goal .

If everyone on your team understands that their piece of work matters and how it fits into the big picture, they are more invested in achieving the objectives of the business.

It also makes it easier to track and communicate on your progress.

Share and explain business objectives with your management team, employees and new hires. Make selected portions of your business plan part of your new employee training.

8. Communicate Externally

Alliances If you are interested in partnerships or joint ventures, you may share selected sections of your plan with the potential business partners in order to develop new alliances.

Suppliers A business plan can play a part in attracting reliable suppliers and getting approved for business credit from suppliers. Suppliers who feel confident that your business will succeed (e.g., sales projections) will be much more likely to extend credit.

In addition, suppliers may want to ensure their products are being represented in the right way .

Professional Services Having a business plan in place allows you to easily share relevant sections with those you rely on to support the organization, including attorneys, accountants, and other professional consultants as needed, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Advisors Share the plan with experts and professionals who are in a position to give you valuable advice.

Landlord Some landlords and property managers require businesses to submit a business plan to be considered for a lease to prove that your business will have sufficient cash flows to pay the rent.

Customers The business plan may also function as a prospectus for potential customers, especially when it comes to large corporate accounts and exclusive customer relationships.

9. Secure Funding

If you intend to seek outside financing for your business, you are likely going to need a business plan.

Whether you are seeking debt financing (e.g. loan or credit line) from a lender (e.g., bank or financial institution) or equity capital financing from investors (e.g., venture or angel capital), a business plan can make the difference between whether or not – and how much – someone decides to invest.

Investors and financiers are always looking at the risk of default and the earning potential based on facts and figures. Understandably, anyone who is interested in supporting your business will want to check that you know what you are doing, that their money is in good hands, and that the venture is viable in the long run.

Business plans tend to be the most effective ways of proving that. A presentation may pique their interest , but they will most probably request a well-written document they can study in detail before they will be prepared to make any financial commitment.

That is why a business plan can often be the single most important document you can present to potential investors/financiers that will provide the structure and confidence that they need to make decisions about funding and supporting your company.

Be prepared to have your business plan scrutinized . Investors and financiers will conduct extensive checks and analyses to be certain that what is written in your business plan faithful representation of the truth.

10. Grow and Change

It is a very common misconception that a business plan is a static document that a new business prepares once in the start-up phase and then happily forgets about.

But businesses are not static. And neither are business plans. The business plan for any business will change over time as the company evolves and expands .

In the growth phase, an updated business plan is particularly useful for:

Raising additional capital for expansion

  • Seeking financing for new assets , such as equipment or property
  • Securing financing to support steady cash flows (e.g., seasonality, market downturns, timing of sale/purchase invoices)
  • Forecasting to allocate resources according to strategic priority and operational needs
  • Valuation (e.g., mergers & acquisitions, tax issues, transactions related to divorce, inheritance, estate planning)

Keeping the business plan updated gives established businesses better chance of getting the money they need to grow or even keep operating.

Business plan is also an excellent tool for planning an exit as it would include the strategy and timelines for a transfer to new ownership or dissolution of the company.

Also, if you ever make the decision to sell your business or position yourself for a merger or an acquisition , a strong business plan in hand is going to help you to maximize the business valuation.

Valuation is the process of establishing the worth of a business by a valuation expert who will draw on professional experience as well as a business plan that will outline what you have, what it’s worth now and how much will it likely produce in the future.

Your business is likely to be worth more to a buyer if they clearly understand your business model, your market, your assets and your overall potential to grow and scale .

Related Questions

Business plan purpose: what is the purpose of a business plan.

The purpose of a business plan is to articulate a strategy for starting a new business or growing an existing one by identifying where the business is going and how it will get there to test the viability of a business idea and maximize the chances of securing funding and achieving business goals and success.

Business Plan Benefits: What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan benefits businesses by serving as a strategic tool outlining the steps and resources required to achieve goals and make business ideas succeed, as well as a communication tool allowing businesses to articulate their strategy to stakeholders that support the business.

Business Plan Importance: Why is business plan important?

The importance of a business plan lies in it being a roadmap that guides the decisions of a business on the road to success, providing clarity on all aspects of its operations. This blueprint outlines the goals of the business and what exactly is needed to achieve them through effective management.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Get more articles just like this straight into your mailbox.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

How to Write a Business Plan: Step-by-Step Guide + Examples

Determined female African-American entrepreneur scaling a mountain while wearing a large backpack. Represents the journey to starting and growing a business and needing to write a business plan to get there.

Noah Parsons

24 min. read

Updated March 18, 2024

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to write a business plan that’s detailed enough to impress bankers and potential investors, while giving you the tools to start, run, and grow a successful business.

  • The basics of business planning

If you’re reading this guide, then you already know why you need a business plan . 

You understand that planning helps you: 

  • Raise money
  • Grow strategically
  • Keep your business on the right track 

As you start to write your plan, it’s useful to zoom out and remember what a business plan is .

At its core, a business plan is an overview of the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy: how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. 

A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It’s also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. 

After completing your plan, you can use it as a management tool to track your progress toward your goals. Updating and adjusting your forecasts and budgets as you go is one of the most important steps you can take to run a healthier, smarter business. 

We’ll dive into how to use your plan later in this article.

There are many different types of plans , but we’ll go over the most common type here, which includes everything you need for an investor-ready plan. However, if you’re just starting out and are looking for something simpler—I recommend starting with a one-page business plan . It’s faster and easier to create. 

It’s also the perfect place to start if you’re just figuring out your idea, or need a simple strategic plan to use inside your business.

Dig deeper : How to write a one-page business plan

Brought to you by

LivePlan Logo

Create a professional business plan

Using ai and step-by-step instructions.

Secure funding

Validate ideas

Build a strategy

  • What to include in your business plan

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business and your plans. It comes first in your plan and is ideally just one to two pages. Most people write it last because it’s a summary of the complete business plan.

Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. 

In fact, it’s common for investors to ask only for the executive summary when evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation , or more in-depth financial forecasts .

Your executive summary should include:

  • A summary of the problem you are solving
  • A description of your product or service
  • An overview of your target market
  • A brief description of your team
  • A summary of your financials
  • Your funding requirements (if you are raising money)

Dig Deeper: How to write an effective executive summary

Products and services description

This is where you describe exactly what you’re selling, and how it solves a problem for your target market. The best way to organize this part of your plan is to start by describing the problem that exists for your customers. After that, you can describe how you plan to solve that problem with your product or service. 

This is usually called a problem and solution statement .

To truly showcase the value of your products and services, you need to craft a compelling narrative around your offerings. How will your product or service transform your customers’ lives or jobs? A strong narrative will draw in your readers.

This is also the part of the business plan to discuss any competitive advantages you may have, like specific intellectual property or patents that protect your product. If you have any initial sales, contracts, or other evidence that your product or service is likely to sell, include that information as well. It will show that your idea has traction , which can help convince readers that your plan has a high chance of success.

Market analysis

Your target market is a description of the type of people that you plan to sell to. You might even have multiple target markets, depending on your business. 

A market analysis is the part of your plan where you bring together all of the information you know about your target market. Basically, it’s a thorough description of who your customers are and why they need what you’re selling. You’ll also include information about the growth of your market and your industry .

Try to be as specific as possible when you describe your market. 

Include information such as age, income level, and location—these are what’s called “demographics.” If you can, also describe your market’s interests and habits as they relate to your business—these are “psychographics.” 

Related: Target market examples

Essentially, you want to include any knowledge you have about your customers that is relevant to how your product or service is right for them. With a solid target market, it will be easier to create a sales and marketing plan that will reach your customers. That’s because you know who they are, what they like to do, and the best ways to reach them.

Next, provide any additional information you have about your market. 

What is the size of your market ? Is the market growing or shrinking? Ideally, you’ll want to demonstrate that your market is growing over time, and also explain how your business is positioned to take advantage of any expected changes in your industry.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write a market analysis

Competitive analysis

Part of defining your business opportunity is determining what your competitive advantage is. To do this effectively, you need to know as much about your competitors as your target customers. 

Every business has some form of competition. If you don’t think you have competitors, then explore what alternatives there are in the market for your product or service. 

For example: In the early years of cars, their main competition was horses. For social media, the early competition was reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

A good competitive analysis fully lays out the competitive landscape and then explains how your business is different. Maybe your products are better made, or cheaper, or your customer service is superior. Maybe your competitive advantage is your location – a wide variety of factors can ultimately give you an advantage.

Dig Deeper: How to write a competitive analysis for your business plan

Marketing and sales plan

The marketing and sales plan covers how you will position your product or service in the market, the marketing channels and messaging you will use, and your sales tactics. 

The best place to start with a marketing plan is with a positioning statement . 

This explains how your business fits into the overall market, and how you will explain the advantages of your product or service to customers. You’ll use the information from your competitive analysis to help you with your positioning. 

For example: You might position your company as the premium, most expensive but the highest quality option in the market. Or your positioning might focus on being locally owned and that shoppers support the local economy by buying your products.

Once you understand your positioning, you’ll bring this together with the information about your target market to create your marketing strategy . 

This is how you plan to communicate your message to potential customers. Depending on who your customers are and how they purchase products like yours, you might use many different strategies, from social media advertising to creating a podcast. Your marketing plan is all about how your customers discover who you are and why they should consider your products and services. 

While your marketing plan is about reaching your customers—your sales plan will describe the actual sales process once a customer has decided that they’re interested in what you have to offer. 

If your business requires salespeople and a long sales process, describe that in this section. If your customers can “self-serve” and just make purchases quickly on your website, describe that process. 

A good sales plan picks up where your marketing plan leaves off. The marketing plan brings customers in the door and the sales plan is how you close the deal.

Together, these specific plans paint a picture of how you will connect with your target audience, and how you will turn them into paying customers.

Dig deeper: What to include in your sales and marketing plan

Business operations

The operations section describes the necessary requirements for your business to run smoothly. It’s where you talk about how your business works and what day-to-day operations look like. 

Depending on how your business is structured, your operations plan may include elements of the business like:

  • Supply chain management
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Equipment and technology
  • Distribution

Some businesses distribute their products and reach their customers through large retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and grocery store chains. 

These businesses should review how this part of their business works. The plan should discuss the logistics and costs of getting products onto store shelves and any potential hurdles the business may have to overcome.

If your business is much simpler than this, that’s OK. This section of your business plan can be either extremely short or more detailed, depending on the type of business you are building.

For businesses selling services, such as physical therapy or online software, you can use this section to describe the technology you’ll leverage, what goes into your service, and who you will partner with to deliver your services.

Dig Deeper: Learn how to write the operations chapter of your plan

Key milestones and metrics

Although it’s not required to complete your business plan, mapping out key business milestones and the metrics can be incredibly useful for measuring your success.

Good milestones clearly lay out the parameters of the task and set expectations for their execution. You’ll want to include:

  • A description of each task
  • The proposed due date
  • Who is responsible for each task

If you have a budget, you can include projected costs to hit each milestone. You don’t need extensive project planning in this section—just list key milestones you want to hit and when you plan to hit them. This is your overall business roadmap. 

Possible milestones might be:

  • Website launch date
  • Store or office opening date
  • First significant sales
  • Break even date
  • Business licenses and approvals

You should also discuss the key numbers you will track to determine your success. Some common metrics worth tracking include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition costs
  • Profit per customer
  • Repeat purchases

It’s perfectly fine to start with just a few metrics and grow the number you are tracking over time. You also may find that some metrics simply aren’t relevant to your business and can narrow down what you’re tracking.

Dig Deeper: How to use milestones in your business plan

Organization and management team

Investors don’t just look for great ideas—they want to find great teams. Use this chapter to describe your current team and who you need to hire . You should also provide a quick overview of your location and history if you’re already up and running.

Briefly highlight the relevant experiences of each key team member in the company. It’s important to make the case for why yours is the right team to turn an idea into a reality. 

Do they have the right industry experience and background? Have members of the team had entrepreneurial successes before? 

If you still need to hire key team members, that’s OK. Just note those gaps in this section.

Your company overview should also include a summary of your company’s current business structure . The most common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership

Be sure to provide an overview of how the business is owned as well. Does each business partner own an equal portion of the business? How is ownership divided? 

Potential lenders and investors will want to know the structure of the business before they will consider a loan or investment.

Dig Deeper: How to write about your company structure and team

Financial plan

Last, but certainly not least, is your financial plan chapter. 

Entrepreneurs often find this section the most daunting. But, business financials for most startups are less complicated than you think, and a business degree is certainly not required to build a solid financial forecast. 

A typical financial forecast in a business plan includes the following:

  • Sales forecast : An estimate of the sales expected over a given period. You’ll break down your forecast into the key revenue streams that you expect to have.
  • Expense budget : Your planned spending such as personnel costs , marketing expenses, and taxes.
  • Profit & Loss : Brings together your sales and expenses and helps you calculate planned profits.
  • Cash Flow : Shows how cash moves into and out of your business. It can predict how much cash you’ll have on hand at any given point in the future.
  • Balance Sheet : A list of the assets, liabilities, and equity in your company. In short, it provides an overview of the financial health of your business. 

A strong business plan will include a description of assumptions about the future, and potential risks that could impact the financial plan. Including those will be especially important if you’re writing a business plan to pursue a loan or other investment.

Dig Deeper: How to create financial forecasts and budgets

This is the place for additional data, charts, or other information that supports your plan.

Including an appendix can significantly enhance the credibility of your plan by showing readers that you’ve thoroughly considered the details of your business idea, and are backing your ideas up with solid data.

Just remember that the information in the appendix is meant to be supplementary. Your business plan should stand on its own, even if the reader skips this section.

Dig Deeper : What to include in your business plan appendix

Optional: Business plan cover page

Adding a business plan cover page can make your plan, and by extension your business, seem more professional in the eyes of potential investors, lenders, and partners. It serves as the introduction to your document and provides necessary contact information for stakeholders to reference.

Your cover page should be simple and include:

  • Company logo
  • Business name
  • Value proposition (optional)
  • Business plan title
  • Completion and/or update date
  • Address and contact information
  • Confidentiality statement

Just remember, the cover page is optional. If you decide to include it, keep it very simple and only spend a short amount of time putting it together.

Dig Deeper: How to create a business plan cover page

How to use AI to help write your business plan

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT can speed up the business plan writing process and help you think through concepts like market segmentation and competition. These tools are especially useful for taking ideas that you provide and converting them into polished text for your business plan.

The best way to use AI for your business plan is to leverage it as a collaborator , not a replacement for human creative thinking and ingenuity. 

AI can come up with lots of ideas and act as a brainstorming partner. It’s up to you to filter through those ideas and figure out which ones are realistic enough to resonate with your customers. 

There are pros and cons of using AI to help with your business plan . So, spend some time understanding how it can be most helpful before just outsourcing the job to AI.

Learn more: 10 AI prompts you need to write a business plan

  • Writing tips and strategies

To help streamline the business plan writing process, here are a few tips and key questions to answer to make sure you get the most out of your plan and avoid common mistakes .  

Determine why you are writing a business plan

Knowing why you are writing a business plan will determine your approach to your planning project. 

For example: If you are writing a business plan for yourself, or just to use inside your own business , you can probably skip the section about your team and organizational structure. 

If you’re raising money, you’ll want to spend more time explaining why you’re looking to raise the funds and exactly how you will use them.

Regardless of how you intend to use your business plan , think about why you are writing and what you’re trying to get out of the process before you begin.

Keep things concise

Probably the most important tip is to keep your business plan short and simple. There are no prizes for long business plans . The longer your plan is, the less likely people are to read it. 

So focus on trimming things down to the essentials your readers need to know. Skip the extended, wordy descriptions and instead focus on creating a plan that is easy to read —using bullets and short sentences whenever possible.

Have someone review your business plan

Writing a business plan in a vacuum is never a good idea. Sometimes it’s helpful to zoom out and check if your plan makes sense to someone else. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to read and understand.

Don’t wait until your plan is “done” to get a second look. Start sharing your plan early, and find out from readers what questions your plan leaves unanswered. This early review cycle will help you spot shortcomings in your plan and address them quickly, rather than finding out about them right before you present your plan to a lender or investor.

If you need a more detailed review, you may want to explore hiring a professional plan writer to thoroughly examine it.

Use a free business plan template and business plan examples to get started

Knowing what information you need to cover in a business plan sometimes isn’t quite enough. If you’re struggling to get started or need additional guidance, it may be worth using a business plan template. 

If you’re looking for a free downloadable business plan template to get you started, download the template used by more than 1 million businesses. 

Or, if you just want to see what a completed business plan looks like, check out our library of over 550 free business plan examples . 

We even have a growing list of industry business planning guides with tips for what to focus on depending on your business type.

Common pitfalls and how to avoid them

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re writing your business plan. Some entrepreneurs get sucked into the writing and research process, and don’t focus enough on actually getting their business started. 

Here are a few common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Not talking to your customers : This is one of the most common mistakes. It’s easy to assume that your product or service is something that people want. Before you invest too much in your business and too much in the planning process, make sure you talk to your prospective customers and have a good understanding of their needs.

  • Overly optimistic sales and profit forecasts: By nature, entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future. But it’s good to temper that optimism a little when you’re planning, and make sure your forecasts are grounded in reality. 
  • Spending too much time planning: Yes, planning is crucial. But you also need to get out and talk to customers, build prototypes of your product and figure out if there’s a market for your idea. Make sure to balance planning with building.
  • Not revising the plan: Planning is useful, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned. As you learn more about what’s working and what’s not—revise your plan, your budgets, and your revenue forecast. Doing so will provide a more realistic picture of where your business is going, and what your financial needs will be moving forward.
  • Not using the plan to manage your business: A good business plan is a management tool. Don’t just write it and put it on the shelf to collect dust – use it to track your progress and help you reach your goals.
  • Presenting your business plan

The planning process forces you to think through every aspect of your business and answer questions that you may not have thought of. That’s the real benefit of writing a business plan – the knowledge you gain about your business that you may not have been able to discover otherwise.

With all of this knowledge, you’re well prepared to convert your business plan into a pitch presentation to present your ideas. 

A pitch presentation is a summary of your plan, just hitting the highlights and key points. It’s the best way to present your business plan to investors and team members.

Dig Deeper: Learn what key slides should be included in your pitch deck

Use your business plan to manage your business

One of the biggest benefits of planning is that it gives you a tool to manage your business better. With a revenue forecast, expense budget, and projected cash flow, you know your targets and where you are headed.

And yet, nothing ever goes exactly as planned – it’s the nature of business.

That’s where using your plan as a management tool comes in. The key to leveraging it for your business is to review it periodically and compare your forecasts and projections to your actual results.

Start by setting up a regular time to review the plan – a monthly review is a good starting point. During this review, answer questions like:

  • Did you meet your sales goals?
  • Is spending following your budget?
  • Has anything gone differently than what you expected?

Now that you see whether you’re meeting your goals or are off track, you can make adjustments and set new targets. 

Maybe you’re exceeding your sales goals and should set new, more aggressive goals. In that case, maybe you should also explore more spending or hiring more employees. 

Or maybe expenses are rising faster than you projected. If that’s the case, you would need to look at where you can cut costs.

A plan, and a method for comparing your plan to your actual results , is the tool you need to steer your business toward success.

Learn More: How to run a regular plan review

Free business plan templates and examples

Kickstart your business plan writing with one of our free business plan templates or recommended tools.

what are the benefits of business plan

Free business plan template

Download a free SBA-approved business plan template built for small businesses and startups.

Download Template

what are the benefits of business plan

One-page plan template

Download a free one-page plan template to write a useful business plan in as little as 30-minutes.

what are the benefits of business plan

Sample business plan library

Explore over 500 real-world business plan examples from a wide variety of industries.

View Sample Plans

How to write a business plan FAQ

What is a business plan?

A document that describes your business , the products and services you sell, and the customers that you sell to. It explains your business strategy, how you’re going to build and grow your business, what your marketing strategy is, and who your competitors are.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

A business plan helps you understand where you want to go with your business and what it will take to get there. It reduces your overall risk, helps you uncover your business’s potential, attracts investors, and identifies areas for growth.

Having a business plan ultimately makes you more confident as a business owner and more likely to succeed for a longer period of time.

What are the 7 steps of a business plan?

The seven steps to writing a business plan include:

  • Write a brief executive summary
  • Describe your products and services.
  • Conduct market research and compile data into a cohesive market analysis.
  • Describe your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Outline your organizational structure and management team.
  • Develop financial projections for sales, revenue, and cash flow.
  • Add any additional documents to your appendix.

What are the 5 most common business plan mistakes?

There are plenty of mistakes that can be made when writing a business plan. However, these are the 5 most common that you should do your best to avoid:

  • 1. Not taking the planning process seriously.
  • Having unrealistic financial projections or incomplete financial information.
  • Inconsistent information or simple mistakes.
  • Failing to establish a sound business model.
  • Not having a defined purpose for your business plan.

What questions should be answered in a business plan?

Writing a business plan is all about asking yourself questions about your business and being able to answer them through the planning process. You’ll likely be asking dozens and dozens of questions for each section of your plan.

However, these are the key questions you should ask and answer with your business plan:

  • How will your business make money?
  • Is there a need for your product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How are you different from the competition?
  • How will you reach your customers?
  • How will you measure success?

How long should a business plan be?

The length of your business plan fully depends on what you intend to do with it. From the SBA and traditional lender point of view, a business plan needs to be whatever length necessary to fully explain your business. This means that you prove the viability of your business, show that you understand the market, and have a detailed strategy in place.

If you intend to use your business plan for internal management purposes, you don’t necessarily need a full 25-50 page business plan. Instead, you can start with a one-page plan to get all of the necessary information in place.

What are the different types of business plans?

While all business plans cover similar categories, the style and function fully depend on how you intend to use your plan. Here are a few common business plan types worth considering.

Traditional business plan: The tried-and-true traditional business plan is a formal document meant to be used when applying for funding or pitching to investors. This type of business plan follows the outline above and can be anywhere from 10-50 pages depending on the amount of detail included, the complexity of your business, and what you include in your appendix.

Business model canvas: The business model canvas is a one-page template designed to demystify the business planning process. It removes the need for a traditional, copy-heavy business plan, in favor of a single-page outline that can help you and outside parties better explore your business idea.

One-page business plan: This format is a simplified version of the traditional plan that focuses on the core aspects of your business. You’ll typically stick with bullet points and single sentences. It’s most useful for those exploring ideas, needing to validate their business model, or who need an internal plan to help them run and manage their business.

Lean Plan: The Lean Plan is less of a specific document type and more of a methodology. It takes the simplicity and styling of the one-page business plan and turns it into a process for you to continuously plan, test, review, refine, and take action based on performance. It’s faster, keeps your plan concise, and ensures that your plan is always up-to-date.

What’s the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan?

A business plan covers the “who” and “what” of your business. It explains what your business is doing right now and how it functions. The strategic plan explores long-term goals and explains “how” the business will get there. It encourages you to look more intently toward the future and how you will achieve your vision.

However, when approached correctly, your business plan can actually function as a strategic plan as well. If kept lean, you can define your business, outline strategic steps, and track ongoing operations all with a single plan.

See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

what are the benefits of business plan

Table of Contents

  • Use AI to help write your plan
  • Common planning mistakes
  • Manage with your business plan
  • Templates and examples

Related Articles

what are the benefits of business plan

4 Min. Read

Create a positioning statement

what are the benefits of business plan

Sourcing and fulfillment

what are the benefits of business plan

6 Min. Read

Demonstrate business traction

what are the benefits of business plan

14 Min. Read

5-year business plan

The Bplans Newsletter

The Bplans Weekly

Subscribe now for weekly advice and free downloadable resources to help start and grow your business.

We care about your privacy. See our privacy policy .

Garrett's Bike Shop

The quickest way to turn a business idea into a business plan

Fill-in-the-blanks and automatic financials make it easy.

No thanks, I prefer writing 40-page documents.

LivePlan pitch example

Discover the world’s #1 plan building software

what are the benefits of business plan

Plan Smarter, Grow Faster:

25% Off Annual Plans! Save Now

Tool graphics

0 results have been found for “”

 Return to blog home

15 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

Posted january 21, 2022 by noah parsons.

what are the benefits of business plan

As a small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur, a business plan can seem more like a hurdle you have to overcome than a useful tool. It’s a barrier that’s keeping you from moving forward with your business. Maybe the bank won’t review your loan application without a business plan or a potential investor has asked to see your business plan before they will meet with you. 

But, writing a business plan doesn’t have to feel like a homework assignment. Instead, think of writing a business plan as an investment in your business. It’s a tool to figure out a strong and financially viable strategy for growth. And, it’s even been scientifically proven that planning will increase your chances of success and help you grow faster. 

Still not convinced? Read on for our definitive list of reasons why you should write a plan for your business.

What is the key purpose of a business plan? 

Imagine you’re setting out on a journey. You know what your final destination is, but you haven’t figured out how to get there. While it might be fun to just start driving and figure things out as you go, your trip will most likely take longer than you anticipated and cost you more. If you instead take a look at a map and chart the best way to get to your destination, you’ll arrive on time and on budget. Planning for your business isn’t that much different. 

The primary purpose of a business plan is to help you figure out where you want to go with your business and how you’re going to get there. It helps you set your direction and determine a winning strategy. A solid business plan will set your business up for success and help you build an unbeatable company.

If you start off without a plan, you may go down some interesting detours, but you’re unlikely to grow quickly or stick to your budget.

Why do you need to write a business plan?

Establishing a strategic roadmap for your business is the primary benefit of writing a business plan. But what does that really look like for you and your business? Here are our top 15 reasons why you should write a business plan.

1. Reduce your risk

Writing a business plan takes some of the risk out of starting a business. It ensures that you’re thinking through every facet of your business to determine if it can truly be viable. 

Does your solution fit the market? Are your startup or operational costs manageable? Will your proposed business model actually generate sales? What sort of milestones would you need to hit to achieve profitability? These are all questions associated with business risk that you can answer with your plan.

For those already running a business, writing a plan can help you better manage ongoing risk. Should you bring on a new employee? What does cash flow look like for your next month, quarter, or even year? Are you on track to meet your milestones or do you need to change your focus? Keep your plan up to date, review it regularly and you can easily answer these questions and mitigate risk.

2. Uncover your business’s potential

Writing a business plan helps you think about the customers you are serving and what their needs are. Exploring those customer needs will help you uncover new opportunities for your business to serve them and potentially expose new products and services that you could offer. When you use your business plan to manage your business, you’ll be able to see the parts of your strategy that are working and those that aren’t. For example, you may have invested in new marketing efforts to sell one of your products, but that strategy just isn’t working out. With a business plan in hand, you’ll be able to see what’s going to plan and where you need to make adjustments to your strategy, pivoting to new opportunities that will drive profitability.

3. Test a new business idea

When you have a new business idea, it really helps to spend a little time thinking through all the details. A business plan will help you think about your target market, your budget, how much money you’ll need to launch, and how your idea will actually work before you spend any real money. A business plan will also help you easily share your idea with other people to get input and feedback before you get started. 

We recommend using a one-page business plan to test ideas quickly and easily. 

4. Attract investors and get funding to start and grow your business

Sharing your business idea with investors requires a business plan. Now, you probably won’t share a long, detailed business plan to get investors interested, but you probably will share your executive summary — which is an overview of your business plan. Investors may never actually ask for your full business plan, but they will certainly ask you questions that you’ll only be able to answer if you’ve taken the time to write a plan. 

At the very least, they’ll want to see your financial forecasts , so you should be prepared for this. If you end up pitching your business to investors, whether in-person or remotely , having a business plan written makes it much easier to translate the right information into a pitch deck. In short, you’ll have all of the right information ready and available to show why your business is worth investing in.

fill-in-the-blank LivePlan

5. Plan for different scenarios

Even if you have a plan in place, things rarely actually go to plan. The world is always changing, customer tastes change, and new competitors arrive on the scene. Having a plan allows you to experiment with different scenarios to see how changes to your business will impact your forecasts, budgets, profitability, and cash flow. 

6. Research shows that business plans definitely work

A Journal of Management Studies study found that businesses that take the time to plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t. Our own 2021 small business research study found that 58% of small business owners that have or are working on a plan feel confident in their business, even amidst a crisis. And a study in Small Business Economics found that entrepreneurs that write business plans for their ideas are 152% more likely to actually start their businesses. There’s plenty of additional research that links planning with success, so it’s a proven fact that you won’t be wasting your time when you write your plan.

7. Build a better budget and a financial forecast

A core component of any business plan is a financial forecast. When you take the time to plan, you’ll have to think through your expense budget, your sales goals, and the cash that it’s going to take to keep your doors open, purchase inventory, and more. 

The beauty of incorporating forecasts into your business plan is that you don’t need to have the exact numbers to start. You can work with general assumptions and compare against competitive benchmarks to set a baseline for your business. As you operate and collect financial data you can then begin to update your forecasts to generate a more accurate view of how your business will operate.

8. Determine your financial needs

Without a business plan, it’s impossible to really know how much money it’s going to take to start and run your business. You don’t just need money for your initial purchases. You need to have enough cash in the bank to keep your business afloat while you get fully up and running. A plan will help you determine exactly how much money you’ll need and help you keep track of your cash flow and runway .

9. Attract employees

Especially if you’re a young startup company, attracting employees can be hard. Without a proven track record, why should someone take a risk to work for you? Having a business plan can help solve that problem. Your plan can help a prospective employee understand your business strategy and plans for growth so that they can feel confident joining your team. It’s also incredibly useful in determining when and if it’s feasible for you to bring on more employees . 

10. Get your team all on the same page

A great strategy for your business can only be successful if your team understands it. By documenting your strategy with a business plan, you can easily get everyone on the same page, working towards the same goals. It’s even better if you regularly review your plan with members of your team. This ensures that everyone is consistently going back to the core strategy documentation, analyzing it, and exploring how it impacts individual and team goals .

11. Manage your business better 

A business plan is all about setting goals for your company — both financial goals and milestones you hope to accomplish. When you use your plan to regularly check in on your business to see how you’re doing and what your progress is, you’re managing your business. Regular review , ideally monthly, will help you build a strong, resilient business.

12. Understand your market and build a marketing plan

No matter how good your idea is, you have to figure out who your ideal customers are and how you’re going to get the word out to them. That’s where a marketing plan comes in. It can be an indispensable tool for figuring out how you get your first customers as well as your thousandth customer. 

13. It’s easier than you think

You may be procrastinating in writing a business plan because it sounds like a lot of work. The truth is that planning is much less complicated than you think. Start small with a one-page business plan that you complete in half an hour . From there, refine your plan until your idea is solid. At that point, you can invest a little more time in a more detailed business plan. Just start with the basics and expand from there.

14. You’ll sleep better at night

When you have a plan for your business, you have peace of mind. You know that you’ve invested the time to figure out a business model that actually works and you’ve considered different financial scenarios so you can handle the unexpected. And, you’ve got a management tool to run your business better than your competitors. 

15. Effectively navigate a crisis

Having a business plan not only helps you create a roadmap for your business but also helps you navigate unforeseen events. Large-scale economic downturns, supply shortages, payment delays, cash flow problems, and any number of other issues are bound to pop up. But, you can be prepared to face each crisis head-on by leveraging your business plan.

A plan helps you assess your current situation, determine how the crisis will alter your plan, and begin to explore what it will take to recover. With a little planning, you can even prepare your business for future downturns with this same process. It’ll make crisis planning easier and ideally recession-proof your business by having the right plan and processes in place.

Don’t wait, start writing your business plan today

There are plenty of reasons to write a business plan, but the real reason is about finding success for you and your business. Taking the time to plan is an investment in yourself and your business that will pay dividends, whether you’re starting a new business or taking your existing business to the next level. 

You can jump-start your business plan writing process with our article covering how to write a business plan in as little as 30-minutes .

If you’re looking for a tool to help you get more from your business plan, we recommend trying out LivePlan . Our business planning and management tool will guide you through the entire process, including all of your financial forecasts, without ever requiring that you open a spreadsheet.

Like this post? Share with a friend!

Noah Parsons

Noah Parsons

Posted in business plan writing, join over 1 million entrepreneurs who found success with liveplan, like this content sign up to receive more.

Subscribe for tips and guidance to help you grow a better, smarter business.

You're all set!

Exciting business insights and growth strategies will be coming your way each month.

We care about your privacy. See our privacy policy .

Sign up for our newsletter for product updates, new blog posts, and the chance to be featured in our Small Business Spotlight!

what are the benefits of business plan

The importance of a business plan

Business plans are like road maps: it’s possible to travel without one, but that will only increase the odds of getting lost along the way.

Owners with a business plan see growth 30% faster than those without one, and 71% of the fast-growing companies have business plans . Before we get into the thick of it, let’s define and go over what a business plan actually is.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a 15-20 page document that outlines how you will achieve your business objectives and includes information about your product, marketing strategies, and finances. You should create one when you’re starting a new business and keep updating it as your business grows.

Rather than putting yourself in a position where you may have to stop and ask for directions or even circle back and start over, small business owners often use business plans to help guide them. That’s because they help them see the bigger picture, plan ahead, make important decisions, and improve the overall likelihood of success. ‍

Why is a business plan important?

A well-written business plan is an important tool because it gives entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as their employees, the ability to lay out their goals and track their progress as their business begins to grow. Business planning should be the first thing done when starting a new business. Business plans are also important for attracting investors so they can determine if your business is on the right path and worth putting money into.

Business plans typically include detailed information that can help improve your business’s chances of success, like:

  • A market analysis : gathering information about factors and conditions that affect your industry
  • Competitive analysis : evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
  • Customer segmentation : divide your customers into different groups based on specific characteristics to improve your marketing
  • Marketing: using your research to advertise your business
  • Logistics and operations plans : planning and executing the most efficient production process
  • Cash flow projection : being prepared for how much money is going into and out of your business
  • An overall path to long-term growth

10 reasons why you need a business plan

I know what you’re thinking: “Do I really need a business plan? It sounds like a lot of work, plus I heard they’re outdated and I like figuring things out as I go...”.

The answer is: yes, you really do need a business plan! As entrepreneur Kevin J. Donaldson said, “Going into business without a business plan is like going on a mountain trek without a map or GPS support—you’ll eventually get lost and starve! Though it may sound tedious and time-consuming, business plans are critical to starting your business and setting yourself up for success.

To outline the importance of business plans and make the process sound less daunting, here are 10 reasons why you need one for your small business.

1. To help you with critical decisions

The primary importance of a business plan is that they help you make better decisions. Entrepreneurship is often an endless exercise in decision making and crisis management. Sitting down and considering all the ramifications of any given decision is a luxury that small businesses can’t always afford. That’s where a business plan comes in.

Building a business plan allows you to determine the answer to some of the most critical business decisions ahead of time.

Creating a robust business plan is a forcing function—you have to sit down and think about major components of your business before you get started, like your marketing strategy and what products you’ll sell. You answer many tough questions before they arise. And thinking deeply about your core strategies can also help you understand how those decisions will impact your broader strategy.

*While subscribed to Wave’s Pro Plan, get 2.9% + $0 (Visa, Mastercard, Discover) and 3.4% + $0 (Amex) per transaction for unlimited transactions during the offer period. After the offer ends: over 10 transactions per month at 2.9% + $0.60 (Visa, Mastercard, Discover) and 3.4% + $0.60 (Amex) per transaction. Discover processing is only available to US customers. See full terms and conditions.

See Terms of Service for more information.

Send invoices, get paid, track expenses, pay your team, and balance your books with our financial management software.

2. To iron out the kinks

Putting together a business plan requires entrepreneurs to ask themselves a lot of hard questions and take the time to come up with well-researched and insightful answers. Even if the document itself were to disappear as soon as it’s completed, the practice of writing it helps to articulate your vision in realistic terms and better determine if there are any gaps in your strategy.

3. To avoid the big mistakes

Only about half of small businesses are still around to celebrate their fifth birthday . While there are many reasons why small businesses fail, many of the most common are purposefully addressed in business plans.

According to data from CB Insights , some of the most common reasons businesses fail include:

  • No market need : No one wants what you’re selling.
  • Lack of capital : Cash flow issues or businesses simply run out of money.
  • Inadequate team : This underscores the importance of hiring the right people to help you run your business.
  • Stiff competition : It’s tough to generate a steady profit when you have a lot of competitors in your space.
  • Pricing : Some entrepreneurs price their products or services too high or too low—both scenarios can be a recipe for disaster.

The exercise of creating a business plan can help you avoid these major mistakes. Whether it’s cash flow forecasts or a product-market fit analysis , every piece of a business plan can help spot some of those potentially critical mistakes before they arise. For example, don’t be afraid to scrap an idea you really loved if it turns out there’s no market need. Be honest with yourself!

Get a jumpstart on your business plan by creating your own cash flow projection .

4. To prove the viability of the business

Many businesses are created out of passion, and while passion can be a great motivator, it’s not a great proof point.

Planning out exactly how you’re going to turn that vision into a successful business is perhaps the most important step between concept and reality. Business plans can help you confirm that your grand idea makes sound business sense.

A graphic showing you a “Business Plan Outline.” There are four sections on the left side: Executive Summary at the top, Company Description below it, followed by Market Analysis, and lastly Organization and Management. There was four sections on the right side. At the top: “Service or Product Line.” Below that, “Marketing and Sales.” Below that, “Funding Request.” And lastly: “Financial Projections.” At the very bottom below the left and right columns is a section that says “Appendix.

A critical component of your business plan is the market research section. Market research can offer deep insight into your customers, your competitors, and your chosen industry. Not only can it enlighten entrepreneurs who are starting up a new business, but it can also better inform existing businesses on activities like marketing, advertising, and releasing new products or services.

Want to prove there’s a market gap? Here’s how you can get started with market research.

5. To set better objectives and benchmarks

Without a business plan, objectives often become arbitrary, without much rhyme or reason behind them. Having a business plan can help make those benchmarks more intentional and consequential. They can also help keep you accountable to your long-term vision and strategy, and gain insights into how your strategy is (or isn’t) coming together over time.

6. To communicate objectives and benchmarks

Whether you’re managing a team of 100 or a team of two, you can’t always be there to make every decision yourself. Think of the business plan like a substitute teacher, ready to answer questions any time there’s an absence. Let your staff know that when in doubt, they can always consult the business plan to understand the next steps in the event that they can’t get an answer from you directly.

Sharing your business plan with team members also helps ensure that all members are aligned with what you’re doing, why, and share the same understanding of long-term objectives.

7. To provide a guide for service providers

Small businesses typically employ contractors , freelancers, and other professionals to help them with tasks like accounting , marketing, legal assistance, and as consultants. Having a business plan in place allows you to easily share relevant sections with those you rely on to support the organization, while ensuring everyone is on the same page.

8. To secure financing

Did you know you’re 2.5x more likely to get funded if you have a business plan?If you’re planning on pitching to venture capitalists, borrowing from a bank, or are considering selling your company in the future, you’re likely going to need a business plan. After all, anyone that’s interested in putting money into your company is going to want to know it’s in good hands and that it’s viable in the long run. Business plans are the most effective ways of proving that and are typically a requirement for anyone seeking outside financing.

Learn what you need to get a small business loan.

9. To better understand the broader landscape

No business is an island, and while you might have a strong handle on everything happening under your own roof, it’s equally important to understand the market terrain as well. Writing a business plan can go a long way in helping you better understand your competition and the market you’re operating in more broadly, illuminate consumer trends and preferences, potential disruptions and other insights that aren’t always plainly visible.

10. To reduce risk

Entrepreneurship is a risky business, but that risk becomes significantly more manageable once tested against a well-crafted business plan. Drawing up revenue and expense projections, devising logistics and operational plans, and understanding the market and competitive landscape can all help reduce the risk factor from an inherently precarious way to make a living. Having a business plan allows you to leave less up to chance, make better decisions, and enjoy the clearest possible view of the future of your company.

Understanding the importance of a business plan

Now that you have a solid grasp on the “why” behind business plans, you can confidently move forward with creating your own.

Remember that a business plan will grow and evolve along with your business, so it’s an important part of your whole journey—not just the beginning.

Related Posts

Now that you’ve read up on the purpose of a business plan, check out our guide to help you get started.

what are the benefits of business plan

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.

what are the benefits of business plan

Be Stress Free and Tax Ready 🙌 70% Off for 4 Months. BUY NOW & SAVE

70% Off for 4 Months Buy Now & Save

Wow clients with professional invoices that take seconds to create

Quick and easy online, recurring, and invoice-free payment options

Automated, to accurately track time and easily log billable hours

Reports and tools to track money in and out, so you know where you stand

Easily log expenses and receipts to ensure your books are always tax-time ready

Tax time and business health reports keep you informed and tax-time ready

Automatically track your mileage and never miss a mileage deduction again

Time-saving all-in-one bookkeeping that your business can count on

Track project status and collaborate with clients and team members

Organized and professional, helping you stand out and win new clients

Set clear expectations with clients and organize your plans for each project

Client management made easy, with client info all in one place

Pay your employees and keep accurate books with Payroll software integrations

  • Team Management

FreshBooks integrates with over 100 partners to help you simplify your workflows

Send invoices, track time, manage payments, and more…from anywhere.

  • Freelancers
  • Self-Employed Professionals
  • Businesses With Employees
  • Businesses With Contractors
  • Marketing & Agencies
  • Construction & Trades
  • IT & Technology
  • Business & Prof. Services
  • Accounting Partner Program
  • Collaborative Accounting™
  • Accountant Hub
  • Reports Library
  • FreshBooks vs QuickBooks
  • FreshBooks vs HoneyBook
  • FreshBooks vs Harvest
  • FreshBooks vs Wave
  • FreshBooks vs Xero
  • Free Invoice Generator
  • Invoice Templates
  • Accounting Templates
  • Business Name Generator
  • Estimate Templates
  • Help Center
  • Business Loan Calculator
  • Mark Up Calculator

Call Toll Free: 1.866.303.6061


  • All Articles
  • Productivity
  • Project Management
  • Bookkeeping

Resources for Your Growing Business

The importance of business plan: 5 key reasons.

The Importance of Business Plan: 5 Key Reasons

A key part of any business is its business plan. They can help define the goals of your business and help it reach success. A good business plan can also help you develop an adequate marketing strategy. There are a number of reasons all business owners need business plans, keep reading to learn more!

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Is a Business Plan?

5 reasons you need a well-written business plan, how do i make a business plan, key takeaways.

A business plan contains detailed information that can help determine its success. Some of this information can include the following:

  • Market analysis
  • Cash flow projection
  • Competitive analysis
  • Financial statements and financial projections
  • An operating plan

A solid business plan is a good way to attract potential investors. It can also help you display to business partners that you have a successful business growing. In a competitive landscape, a formal business plan is your key to success.

what are the benefits of business plan

Check out all of the biggest reasons you need a good business plan below.

1. To Secure Funding

Whether you’re seeking funding from a venture capitalist or a bank, you’ll need a business plan. Business plans are the foundation of a business. They tell the parties that you’re seeking funding from whether or not you’re worth investing in. If you need any sort of outside financing, you’ll need a good business plan to secure it.

2. Set and Communicate Goals

A business plan gives you a tangible way of reviewing your business goals. Business plans revolve around the present and the future. When you establish your goals and put them in writing, you’re more likely to reach them. A strong business plan includes these goals, and allows you to communicate them to investors and employees alike.

3. Prove Viability in the Market

While many businesses are born from passion, not many will last without an effective business plan. While a business concept may seem sound, things may change once the specifics are written down. Often, people who attempt to start a business without a plan will fail. This is because they don’t take into account all of the planning and funds needed to get a business off of the ground.

Market research is a large part of the business planning process. It lets you review your potential customers, as well as the competition, in your field. By understanding both you can set price points for products or services. Sometimes, it may not make sense to start a business based on the existing competition. Other times, market research can guide you to effective marketing strategies that others lack. To have a successful business, it has to be viable. A business plan will help you determine that.

4. They Help Owners Avoid Failure

Far too often, small businesses fail. Many times, this is due to the lack of a strong business plan. There are many reasons that small businesses fail, most of which can be avoided by developing a business plan. Some of them are listed below, which can be avoided by having a business plan:

  • The market doesn’t need the business’s product or service
  • The business didn’t take into account the amount of capital needed
  • The market is oversaturated
  • The prices set by the business are too high, pushing potential customers away

Any good business plan includes information to help business owners avoid these issues.

what are the benefits of business plan

5. Business Plans Reduce Risk

Related to the last reason, business plans help reduce risk. A well-thought-out business plan helps reduce risky decisions. They help business owners make informed decisions based on the research they conduct. Any business owner can tell you that the most important part of their job is making critical decisions. A business plan that factors in all possible situations helps make those decisions.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to help you create a business plan. A simple search can lead you to helpful tools, like a business plan template . These are helpful, as they let you fill in the information as you go. Many of them provide basic instructions on how to create the business plan, as well.

If you plan on starting a business, you’ll need a business plan. They’re good for a vast number of things. Business plans help owners make informed decisions, as well as set goals and secure funding. Don’t put off putting together your business plan!

If you’re in the planning stages of your business, be sure to check out our resource hub . We have plenty of valuable resources and articles for you when you’re just getting started. Check it out today!


Comp Time Vs Overtime: What's the Difference?

Save Time Billing and Get Paid 2x Faster With FreshBooks

Want More Helpful Articles About Running a Business?

Get more great content in your Inbox.

By subscribing, you agree to receive communications from FreshBooks and acknowledge and agree to FreshBook’s Privacy Policy . You can unsubscribe at any time by contacting us at [email protected].

👋 Welcome to FreshBooks

To see our product designed specifically for your country, please visit the United States site.

  • Starting a Business
  • Growing a Business
  • Business News
  • Science & Technology
  • Money & Finance
  • Subscribers For Subscribers
  • ELN Write for Entrepreneur
  • Store Entrepreneur Store
  • Spotlight Spotlight
  • United States
  • Asia Pacific
  • Middle East
  • South Africa

Copyright © 2024 Entrepreneur Media, LLC All rights reserved. Entrepreneur® and its related marks are registered trademarks of Entrepreneur Media LLC

10 Business Plan Benefits You Might Be Forgetting If you think creating a business plan is not for you, think again. Here are ten ways your business plan can help you be a better entrepreneur.

By Tim Berry • Sep 6, 2013

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Too many people don't bother to write a business plan because they think it's too hard or unnecessary unless you're looking for funding . That's a shame. These myths keep a lot of people from the benefits of planning.

If you're still skeptical, here are 10 benefits to business planning you shouldn't be overlooking:

  • You'll stay on strategy. It's hard to stick to strategy through the daily routine and interruptions. Use a business plan to summarize the main points of your strategy and as a reminder of what it both includes and rules out.
  • Business objectives will be clear. Use your plan to define and manage specific measurable objectives like web visitors, sales, margins or new product launches. Define success in objective terms.
  • Your educated guesses will be better. Use your plan to refine your educated guesses about things like potential market, sales, costs of sales, sales drivers, lead processing and business processes.
  • Priorities will make more sense. Aside from the strategy, there are also priorities for other factors of your business like growth, management and financial health. Use your plan to set a foundation for these, then to revise as the business evolves.
  • You'll understand interdependencies. Use a plan to keep track of what needs to happen and in what order. For example, if you have to time a product release to match a testing schedule or marketing to match a release, your business plan can be invaluable in keeping you organized and on track.
  • Milestones will keep you on track. Use a business plan to keep track of dates and deadlines in one place. This is valuable even for the one-person business and vital for teams.
  • You'll be better at delegating. The business plan is an ideal place to clarify who is responsible for what. Every important task should have one person in charge. Your plan keeps track.
  • Managing team members and tracking results will be easy. So many people acknowledge the need for regular team member reviews and just as many admit they hate the reviews. The plan is a great format for getting things in writing and following up on the difference between expectations and results with course corrections.
  • You can better plan and manage cash flow. No business can afford to mismanage cash. And simple profits are rarely the same as cash. A cash flow plan is a great way to tie together educated guesses on sales, costs, expenses, assets you need to buy and debts you have to pay.
  • Course corrections will keep your business from flopping. Having a business plan gives you a way to be proactive -- not reactive -- about business. Don't wait for things to happen. Plan them. Follow up by tracking the results and making course corrections. It's a myth that a business plan is supposed to predict the future. Instead, it sets expectations and establishes assumptions so you can manage the future with course corrections.

You don't need a big formal business plan to reap these benefits. Instead, think of your business plan as a collection of lists, bullet points and tables. Think of it as something that lives on the computer, not on paper. It's just big enough to do its job.

Entrepreneur, Business Planner and Angel Investor

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick Red Arrow

  • She Never Wanted to Start a Business , But Chronic Insomnia Was Motivation — Here's How She Achieved 8 Figures in Sales and 8 Hours of Sleep a Night
  • Lock There's a Retirement Crisis on the Horizon — See How Your Savings Compare to the Rest of Your Generation's
  • Lock Is There a Superior Diet for the Entrepreneur? The 'Father of Biohacking' Shares What He Eats for High Energy, Low Body Fat and Optimal Output
  • This Startup Pays Users to Watch Ads While Streaming Their Favorite Shows
  • Lock A Side Hustle Consultant Shares the Most Lucrative Gigs Right Now
  • He Owns and Operates a Dozen Popular Nightlife Venues in New York — Here's How He Kept All of His Businesses Afloat in a Crisis

Most Popular Red Arrow

After being laid off twice in 2 years, he realized he could 'be brave,' or 'fail to attain my potential.' now his business makes over $1 million a month..

At 41, Josh Grinstead knew he was at a crossroads.

I Was a 25-Year-Old Nurse When I Started a Side Hustle to Combat Anxiety. It Made $1 Million in 7 Months — Then Sold for a Life-Changing Amount.

Sarah Michelle Boes knew there had to be a better way to prepare for her stress-inducing nurse practitioner's exam — so she created it.

MacKenzie Scott Donates $640 Million to Non-Profits After Elon Musk's 'Ex-Wife' Comment on X

The winning applicants span 38 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Dell Reportedly Told Remote Employees to Come Back to the Office or Forgo the Chance to Be Promoted

Dell laid off 5% of its workforce, around 6,650 workers, in February 2023.

Want to Attract Success? Don't Do These 9 Things

We are constantly told what to do if we want success — but what about the habits to avoid?

How to Provide More Value to Your Customers And Scale Your Company

Here are three value-add products and services that can help your business scale.

Successfully copied link


Table of Contents

What is a business plan, the advantages of having a business plan, the types of business plans, the key elements of a business plan, best business plan software, common challenges of writing a business plan, become an expert business planner, business planning: it’s importance, types and key elements.

Business Planning: It’s Importance, Types and Key Elements

Every year, thousands of new businesses see the light of the day. One look at the  World Bank's Entrepreneurship Survey and database  shows the mind-boggling rate of new business registrations. However, sadly, only a tiny percentage of them have a chance of survival.   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, about 50% in their fifth year.

Research from the University of Tennessee found that 44% of businesses fail within the first three years. Among those that operate within specific sectors, like information (which includes most tech firms), 63% shut shop within three years.

Several  other statistics  expose the abysmal rates of business failure. But why are so many businesses bound to fail? Most studies mention "lack of business planning" as one of the reasons.

This isn’t surprising at all. 

Running a business without a plan is like riding a motorcycle up a craggy cliff blindfolded. Yet, way too many firms ( a whopping 67%)  don't have a formal business plan in place. 

It doesn't matter if you're a startup with a great idea or a business with an excellent product. You can only go so far without a roadmap — a business plan. Only, a business plan is so much more than just a roadmap. A solid plan allows a business to weather market challenges and pivot quickly in the face of crisis, like the one global businesses are struggling with right now, in the post-pandemic world.  

But before you can go ahead and develop a great business plan, you need to know the basics. In this article, we'll discuss the fundamentals of business planning to help you plan effectively for 2021.  

Now before we begin with the details of business planning, let us understand what it is.

No two businesses have an identical business plan, even if they operate within the same industry. So one business plan can look entirely different from another one. Still, for the sake of simplicity, a business plan can be defined as a guide for a company to operate and achieve its goals.  

More specifically, it's a document in writing that outlines the goals, objectives, and purpose of a business while laying out the blueprint for its day-to-day operations and key functions such as marketing, finance, and expansion.

A good business plan can be a game-changer for startups that are looking to raise funds to grow and scale. It convinces prospective investors that the venture will be profitable and provides a realistic outlook on how much profit is on the cards and by when it will be attained. 

However, it's not only new businesses that greatly benefit from a business plan. Well-established companies and large conglomerates also need to tweak their business plans to adapt to new business environments and unpredictable market changes. 

Before getting into learning more about business planning, let us learn the advantages of having one.

Since a detailed business plan offers a birds-eye view of the entire framework of an establishment, it has several benefits that make it an important part of any organization. Here are few ways a business plan can offer significant competitive edge.

  • Sets objectives and benchmarks: Proper planning helps a business set realistic objectives and assign stipulated time for those goals to be met. This results in long-term profitability. It also lets a company set benchmarks and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) necessary to reach its goals. 
  • Maximizes resource allocation: A good business plan helps to effectively organize and allocate the company’s resources. It provides an understanding of the result of actions, such as, opening new offices, recruiting fresh staff, change in production, and so on. It also helps the business estimate the financial impact of such actions.
  • Enhances viability: A plan greatly contributes towards turning concepts into reality. Though business plans vary from company to company, the blueprints of successful companies often serve as an excellent guide for nascent-stage start-ups and new entrepreneurs. It also helps existing firms to market, advertise, and promote new products and services into the market.
  • Aids in decision making: Running a business involves a lot of decision making: where to pitch, where to locate, what to sell, what to charge — the list goes on. A well thought-out business plan provides an organization the ability to anticipate the curveballs that the future could throw at them. It allows them to come up with answers and solutions to these issues well in advance.
  • Fix past mistakes: When businesses create plans keeping in mind the flaws and failures of the past and what worked for them and what didn’t, it can help them save time, money, and resources. Such plans that reflects the lessons learnt from the past offers businesses an opportunity to avoid future pitfalls.
  • Attracts investors: A business plan gives investors an in-depth idea about the objectives, structure, and validity of a firm. It helps to secure their confidence and encourages them to invest. 

Now let's look at the various types involved in business planning.

Become a Business and Leadership Professional

  • Top 10 skills in demand Business Analysis As A Skill In 2020
  • 14% Growth in Jobs Of Business Analysis Profile By 2028

Business Analyst

  • Industry-recognized certifications from IBM and Simplilearn
  • Masterclasses from IBM experts

Post Graduate Program in Business Analysis

  • Certificate from Simplilearn in collaboration with Purdue University
  • Become eligible to be part of the Purdue University Alumni Association

Here's what learners are saying regarding our programs:

Sauvik Pal

Assistant Consultant at Tata Consultancy Services , Tata Consultancy Services

My experience with Simplilearn has been great till now. They have good materials to start with, and a wide range of courses. I have signed up for two courses with Simplilearn over the past 6 months, Data Scientist and Agile and Scrum. My experience with both is good. One unique feature I liked about Simplilearn is that they give pre-requisites that you should complete, before a live class, so that you go there fully prepared. Secondly, there support staff is superb. I believe there are two teams, to cater to the Indian and US time zones. Simplilearn gives you the most methodical and easy way to up-skill yourself. Also, when you compare the data analytics courses across the market that offer web-based tutorials, Simplilearn, scores over the rest in my opinion. Great job, Simplilearn!

Vy Tran

I was keenly looking for a change in my domain from business consultancy to IT(Business Analytics). This Post Graduate Program in Business Analysis course helped me achieve the same. I am proficient in business analysis now and am looking for job profiles that suit my skill set.

Business plans are formulated according to the needs of a business. It can be a simple one-page document or an elaborate 40-page affair, or anything in between. While there’s no rule set in stone as to what exactly a business plan can or can’t contain, there are a few common types of business plan that nearly all businesses in existence use.  

Here’s an overview of a few fundamental types of business plans. 

  • Start-up plan: As the name suggests, this is a documentation of the plans, structure, and objections of a new business establishments. It describes the products and services that are to be produced by the firm, the staff management, and market analysis of their production. Often, a detailed finance spreadsheet is also attached to this document for investors to determine the viability of the new business set-up.
  • Feasibility plan: A feasibility plan evaluates the prospective customers of the products or services that are to be produced by a company. It also estimates the possibility of a profit or a loss of a venture. It helps to forecast how well a product will sell at the market, the duration it will require to yield results, and the profit margin that it will secure on investments. 
  • Expansion Plan: This kind of plan is primarily framed when a company decided to expand in terms of production or structure. It lays down the fundamental steps and guidelines with regards to internal or external growth. It helps the firm to analyze the activities like resource allocation for increased production, financial investments, employment of extra staff, and much more.
  • Operations Plan: An operational plan is also called an annual plan. This details the day-to-day activities and strategies that a business needs to follow in order to materialize its targets. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of the managing body, the various departments, and the company’s employees for the holistic success of the firm.
  • Strategic Plan: This document caters to the internal strategies of the company and is a part of the foundational grounds of the establishments. It can be accurately drafted with the help of a SWOT analysis through which the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can be categorized and evaluated so that to develop means for optimizing profits.

There is some preliminary work that’s required before you actually sit down to write a plan for your business. Knowing what goes into a business plan is one of them. 

Here are the key elements of a good business plan:

  • Executive Summary: An executive summary gives a clear picture of the strategies and goals of your business right at the outset. Though its value is often understated, it can be extremely helpful in creating the readers’ first impression of your business. As such, it could define the opinions of customers and investors from the get-go.  
  • Business Description: A thorough business description removes room for any ambiguity from your processes. An excellent business description will explain the size and structure of the firm as well as its position in the market. It also describes the kind of products and services that the company offers. It even states as to whether the company is old and established or new and aspiring. Most importantly, it highlights the USP of the products or services as compared to your competitors in the market.
  • Market Analysis: A systematic market analysis helps to determine the current position of a business and analyzes its scope for future expansions. This can help in evaluating investments, promotions, marketing, and distribution of products. In-depth market understanding also helps a business combat competition and make plans for long-term success.
  • Operations and Management: Much like a statement of purpose, this allows an enterprise to explain its uniqueness to its readers and customers. It showcases the ways in which the firm can deliver greater and superior products at cheaper rates and in relatively less time. 
  • Financial Plan: This is the most important element of a business plan and is primarily addressed to investors and sponsors. It requires a firm to reveal its financial policies and market analysis. At times, a 5-year financial report is also required to be included to show past performances and profits. The financial plan draws out the current business strategies, future projections, and the total estimated worth of the firm.

The importance of business planning is it simplifies the planning of your company's finances to present this information to a bank or investors. Here are the best business plan software providers available right now:

  • Business Sorter

The importance of business planning cannot be emphasized enough, but it can be challenging to write a business plan. Here are a few issues to consider before you start your business planning:

  • Create a business plan to determine your company's direction, obtain financing, and attract investors.
  • Identifying financial, demographic, and achievable goals is a common challenge when writing a business plan.
  • Some entrepreneurs struggle to write a business plan that is concise, interesting, and informative enough to demonstrate the viability of their business idea.
  • You can streamline your business planning process by conducting research, speaking with experts and peers, and working with a business consultant.

Whether you’re running your own business or in-charge of ensuring strategic performance and growth for your employer or clients, knowing the ins and outs of business planning can set you up for success. 

Be it the launch of a new and exciting product or an expansion of operations, business planning is the necessity of all large and small companies. Which is why the need for professionals with superior business planning skills will never die out. In fact, their demand is on the rise with global firms putting emphasis on business analysis and planning to cope with cut-throat competition and market uncertainties.

While some are natural-born planners, most people have to work to develop this important skill. Plus, business planning requires you to understand the fundamentals of business management and be familiar with business analysis techniques . It also requires you to have a working knowledge of data visualization, project management, and monitoring tools commonly used by businesses today.   

Simpliearn’s Executive Certificate Program in General Management will help you develop and hone the required skills to become an extraordinary business planner. This comprehensive general management program by IIM Indore can serve as a career catalyst, equipping professionals with a competitive edge in the ever-evolving business environment.

What Is Meant by Business Planning?

Business planning is developing a company's mission or goals and defining the strategies you will use to achieve those goals or tasks. The process can be extensive, encompassing all aspects of the operation, or it can be concrete, focusing on specific functions within the overall corporate structure.

What Are the 4 Types of Business Plans?

The following are the four types of business plans:

Operational Planning

This type of planning typically describes the company's day-to-day operations. Single-use plans are developed for events and activities that occur only once (such as a single marketing campaign). Ongoing plans include problem-solving policies, rules for specific regulations, and procedures for a step-by-step process for achieving particular goals.

Strategic Planning

Strategic plans are all about why things must occur. A high-level overview of the entire business is included in strategic planning. It is the organization's foundation and will dictate long-term decisions.

Tactical Planning

Tactical plans are about what will happen. Strategic planning is aided by tactical planning. It outlines the tactics the organization intends to employ to achieve the goals outlined in the strategic plan.

Contingency Planning

When something unexpected occurs or something needs to be changed, contingency plans are created. In situations where a change is required, contingency planning can be beneficial.

What Are the 7 Steps of a Business Plan?

The following are the seven steps required for a business plan:

Conduct Research

If your company is to run a viable business plan and attract investors, your information must be of the highest quality.

Have a Goal

The goal must be unambiguous. You will waste your time if you don't know why you're writing a business plan. Knowing also implies having a target audience for when the plan is expected to get completed.

Create a Company Profile

Some refer to it as a company profile, while others refer to it as a snapshot. It's designed to be mentally quick and digestible because it needs to stick in the reader's mind quickly since more information is provided later in the plan.

Describe the Company in Detail

Explain the company's current situation, both good and bad. Details should also include patents, licenses, copyrights, and unique strengths that no one else has.

Create a marketing plan ahead of time.

A strategic marketing plan is required because it outlines how your product or service will be communicated, delivered, and sold to customers.

Be Willing to Change Your Plan for the Sake of Your Audience

Another standard error is that people only write one business plan. Startups have several versions, just as candidates have numerous resumes for various potential employers.

Incorporate Your Motivation

Your motivation must be a compelling reason for people to believe your company will succeed in all circumstances. A mission should drive a business, not just selling, to make money. That mission is defined by your motivation as specified in your business plan.

What Are the Basic Steps in Business Planning?

These are the basic steps in business planning:

Summary and Objectives

Briefly describe your company, its objectives, and your plan to keep it running.

Services and Products

Add specifics to your detailed description of the product or service you intend to offer. Where, why, and how much you plan to sell your product or service and any special offers.

Conduct research on your industry and the ideal customers to whom you want to sell. Identify the issues you want to solve for your customers.

Operations are the process of running your business, including the people, skills, and experience required to make it successful.

How are you going to reach your target audience? How you intend to sell to them may include positioning, pricing, promotion, and distribution.

Consider funding costs, operating expenses, and projected income. Include your financial objectives and a breakdown of what it takes to make your company profitable. With proper business planning through the help of support, system, and mentorship, it is easy to start a business.

Our Business And Leadership Courses Duration And Fees

Business And Leadership Courses typically range from a few weeks to several months, with fees varying based on program and institution.

Get Free Certifications with free video courses

Business Analysis Basics

Business and Leadership

Business Analysis Basics

Business Intelligence Fundamentals

Data Science & Business Analytics

Business Intelligence Fundamentals

Learn from Industry Experts with free Masterclasses

From Concept to Market - How to Excel at Product Management in 2024 with SP Jain Program

Ascend the Product Management Career Ladder in 2024 with UC San Diego

Career Information Session: Find Out How to Become a Business Analyst with IIT Roorkee

Recommended Reads

Business Intelligence Career Guide: Your Complete Guide to Becoming a Business Analyst

Corporate Succession Planning: How to Create Leaders According to the Business Need

Top Business Analyst Skills

Business Analytics Basics: A Beginner’s Guide

Financial Planning for Businesses Across the Globe

How to Become a Business Analyst

Get Affiliated Certifications with Live Class programs

  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Growthink logo white

20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

Written by Dave Lavinsky

20 Reasons Why you need a business plan

What is the Purpose of a Business Plan?

The purpose of a business plan is to provide a clear roadmap for the company’s future. It outlines the vision, goals, and strategies of the business, guiding entrepreneurs and stakeholders in understanding its operations and objectives. A well-crafted business plan template helps attract investors and funding by showcasing the potential for profitability and growth.

Top 20 Reasons Why you Need a Business Plan

1. to prove that you’re serious about your business.

A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties — employees, investors, partners and yourself — that you are committed to building the business. Creating your plan forces you to think through and select the strategies that will propel your growth.

2. To Establish Business Milestones

The business plan should clearly lay out the long-term milestones that are most important to the success of your business. To paraphrase Guy Kawasaki, a milestone is something significant enough to come home and tell your spouse about (without boring him or her to death). Would you tell your spouse that you tweaked the company brochure? Probably not. But you’d certainly share the news that you launched your new website or reached $1M in annual revenues.

3. To Better Understand Your Competition

Creating the business plan forces you to analyze the competition. All companies have competition in the form of either direct or indirect competitors, and it is critical to understand your company’s competitive advantages. And if you don’t currently have competitive advantages, to figure out what you must do to gain them.

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

Quickly & easily complete your business plan: Download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template and finish your business plan & financial model in hours.

4. To Better Understand Your Customer

Why do they buy when they buy? Why don’t they when they don’t? An in-depth customer analysis is essential to an effective business plan and to a successful business. Understanding your customers will not only allow you to create better products and services for them, but will allow you to more cost-effectively reach them via advertising and promotions.

5. To Enunciate Previously Unstated Assumptions

The process of actually writing the business plan helps to bring previously “hidden” assumptions to the foreground. By writing them down and assessing them, you can test them and analyze their validity. For example, you might have assumed that local retailers would carry your product; in your business plan, you could assess the results of the scenario in which this didn’t occur.

6. To Assess the Feasibility of Your Venture

How good is this opportunity? The business plan process involves researching your target market, as well as the competitive landscape, and serves as a feasibility study for the success of your venture. In some cases, the result of your planning will be to table the venture. And it might be to go forward with a different venture that may have a better chance of success.

7. To Document Your Revenue Model

How exactly will your business make money? This is a critical question to answer in writing, for yourself and your investors. Documenting the revenue model helps to address challenges and assumptions associated with the model. And upon reading your plan, others may suggest additional revenue streams to consider.

8. To Determine Your Financial Needs

Does your business need to raise capital? How much? One of the purposes of a business plan is to help you to determine exactly how much capital you need and what you will use it for. This process is essential for raising capital for business and for effectively employing the capital. It will also enable you to plan ahead, particularly if you need to raise additional funding in the future.

9. To Attract Investors

A formal business plan is the basis for financing proposals. The business plan answers investors’ questions such as: Is there a need for this product/service? What are the financial projections? What is the company’s exit strategy? While investors will generally want to meet you in person before writing you a check, in nearly all cases, they will also thoroughly review your business plan.

10. To Reduce the Risk of Pursuing the Wrong Opportunity

The process of creating the business plan helps to minimize opportunity costs. Writing the business plan helps you assess the attractiveness of this particular opportunity, versus other opportunities. So you make the best decisions.

11. To Force You to Research and Really Know Your Market

What are the most important trends in your industry? What are the greatest threats to your industry? Is the market growing or shrinking? What is the size of the target market for your product/service? Creating the business plan will help you to gain a wider, deeper, and more nuanced understanding of your marketplace. And it will allow you to use this knowledge to make decisions to improve your company’s success.

12. To Attract Employees and a Management Team

To attract and retain top quality talent, a business plan is necessary. The business plan inspires employees and management that the idea is sound and that the business is poised to achieve its strategic goals. Importantly, as you grow your company, your employees and not you will do most of the work. So getting them aligned and motivated will be key to your success.

13. To Plot Your Course and Focus Your Efforts

The business plan provides a roadmap from which to operate, and to look to for direction in times of doubt. Without a business plan, you may shift your short-term strategies constantly without a view to your long-term milestones. You wouldn’t go on a long driving trip without a map; think of your business plan as your map.

14. To attract partners

Partners also want to see a business plan, in order to determine whether it is worth partnering with your business. Establishing partnerships often requires time and capital, and companies will be more likely to partner with your venture if they can read a detailed explanation of your company.

15. To Position Your Brand

Creating the business plan helps to define your company’s role in the marketplace. This definition allows you to succinctly describe the business and position the brand to customers, investors, and partners. With the industry, customer and competitive insight you gain during the business planning process, you can best determine how to position your brand.

16. To Judge the Success of Your Business

A formal business plan allows you to compare actual operational results versus the business plan itself. In this way, it allows you to clearly see whether you have achieved your strategic, financing, and operational goals (and why you have or have not).

17. To Reposition Your Business to Deal with Changing Conditions

For example, during difficult economic conditions, if your current sales and operational models aren’t working, you can rewrite your business plan to define, try, and validate new ideas and strategies.

18. To Document Your Marketing Plan

How are you going to reach your customers? How will you retain them? What is your advertising budget? What price will you charge? A well-documented marketing plan is essential to the growth of a business. And the marketing strategies and tactics you use will evolve each year, so revisiting your marketing plan at least annually is critical.

19. To Understand and Forecast Your Company’s Staffing Needs

After completing your business plan, you will not be surprised when you are suddenly short-handed. Rather, your business plan provides a roadmap for your staffing needs, and thus helps to ensure smoother expansion. Importantly your plan can not only help you understand your staffing needs, but ensure your timing is right as it takes time to recruit and train great employees.

20. To Uncover New Opportunities

Through the process of brainstorming, white-boarding and creative interviewing, you will likely see your business in a different light. As a result, you will often come up with new ideas for marketing your product/service and running your business. It’s coming up with these ideas and executing on them which is often the difference between a business that fails or just survives and one that thrives.

Business Plan FAQs

What is a business plan.

A business plan is a document that details your business concept and strategy for growth.

A business plan helps guide your company's efforts and, if applicable, gives investors and lenders the information they need to decide whether or not to fund your company. A business plan template helps you to most easily complete your plan.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

A business plan provides details about your company, competition, customers and industry so that you make the best possible decisions to grow your company.

What is the Importance of a Business Plan?

The 3 most important purposes of a business plan are 1) to create an effective strategy for growth, 2) to determine your future financial needs, and 3) to attract investors (including angel investors and VC funding ) and lenders.

Why is a Business Plan Important to an Entrepreneur?

Business plans help entrepreneurs take their visions and turn them into tangible action plans for success.

Need help with your business plan? 

  • Speak with a professional business plan consultant from our team.
  • Use our simple business plan template .
  • Check out our business plan examples .
  • Or, if you’re creating your own PPM, you can save time and money with Growthink’s private placement memorandum template .
  • Learn more about us via our Growthink Business Plan Review page

The World’s #1 Business Plan Template

Would you like to know the quickest and easiest way to create a winning business plan?

And how to use it to raise funding, improve your strategy, or both?

Well, we’ve developed the ultimate business plan template to help you do this. Simply click below to learn more.

Business plan template

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template & Guide for Small Businesses

what are the benefits of business plan

Business Agility Pty Ltd

Your partners in business and leadership success.

Call: +61 448 101 507

  • Oct 24, 2020

The Top 5 Benefits of Having a Business Plan

Whether you’re starting a small business or exploring ways to expand an existing business, a Business Plan is an important tool to help guide your decisions. An effective Business Plan is a roadmap to success, providing clarity on all aspects of your business, from marketing and finance, through to operations, products, services, people and how you will be better than your competitors.

what are the benefits of business plan

The purpose of a business plan is to help articulate a strategy for starting or changing your business. It defines how you will achieve your most important business objectives. A good Business Plan should help you to sleep at night if you are a business owner.

For existing businesses, a business plan should be updated annually as a way to guide growth and navigate expansion into new markets. Your plan should include explicit objectives for hiring new employees, what structure you will have, what products and services your business will provide, how you will promote them and how you will finance business operations.

If you are considering starting a business, a Business Plan can help you to check the viability of a business before investing too much time or money in it. It also provides insight on steps to be taken, resources required for achieving your business goals and a timeline of anticipated results.

The Benefits of Having a Business Plan:​

1. Increased Clarity

A business plan can bring clarity to the decision-making process regarding key aspects of the business such as capital investments, leases, resourcing, etc. You can't do everything. A good Business Plan will help you identify business critical priorities and milestones to focus on.

2. Creation of a Marketing Roadmap

Marketing is an important aspect of a business plan. It helps to define your target market(s), target customers and how you will promote and place your product / service to these markets / customers.

3. Support for Funding

Whether you’re seeking credit from a bank or capital from investors, a business plan that answers questions about profitability and revenue generation is often required.

4. Helps to Secure Talent

For a business to succeed, attracting talented workers and partners is vital. Part of a business plan’s purpose is to help bring in the right talent, at the right time. Staff want to understand the vision, how the business will achieve its goals, and how they can contribute to this in their own roles.

5. Provides Structure

A business plan provides structure and defines business management objectives. It becomes a reference tool to keep the business on track with sales targets and operational milestones. When used properly and consulted regularly, it can help measure and manage your priority areas of focus.

Download your Business Plan template for $49.99 + GST here.

Many people engage us as business coaches to take a weekly / fortnightly step-by-step approach to the development of their own Business Plans, with the added benefit of our expertise and guidance throughout the process. In this way, you learn the essential aspects of running a successful business, while crafting your very own business plan over 8-12 weeks.

If you would like more information about how to create an effective Business Plan for your business, with our guidance, then please don't hesitate to contact Business Agility. We are business coaches who are former CEOs and MDs. We know what it takes to be successful in business.

what are the benefits of business plan

Recent Posts

Round 2 of the Boosting Female Founders Initiative is Now Open

The Top 5 Benefits of Having a Marketing Plan

Lottery West COVID-19 Relief Fund: 'Strengthening & Adapting Organisations' Grant Now Open!

1 komentaras

iSchoolConnect is an arising computer based intelligence innovation stage that paces up the most common career counselling way of applying to schools and courses abroad and assists you with getting into the best colleges on the planet. University of British Columbia

what are the benefits of business plan

BENEFITS OF A BUSINESS PLAN: Benefits and Drawbacks

  • by Folakemi Adegbaju
  • August 15, 2023
  • No comments
  • 7 minute read

benefits of a business plan drawbacks entrepreneur writing

Table of Contents Hide

#1. you gain an understanding of your market, #2. evaluate risk, #3. you can get outside funding, #4. you can check the financial numbers, #5. you focus your strategies, #6. it will help you steer your business as you start and grow, #1. a great business plan requires great implementation practices, #2. a business plan can turn out to be inaccurate, #3. it creates an environment of false certainty, benefits of a business plan for an entrepreneur, final thoughts, what is the main purpose of a business plan, what needs to be in a business plan, who reads a business plan and what information are they looking for.

A good business plan can be said to be a road map to success, outlining all parts of your company, from marketing and finance to operations, products, services, and people, as well as how you will outperform your competitor. However, does the thought of writing your first business plan seem intimidating? Well, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs deal with this crucial phase of starting a business. This article will outline and explain the benefits and drawbacks of writing a business plan for you as an entrepreneur.

Are you ready? Enjoy the ride with us.

Benefits of a Business Plan

A business plan can assist you in determining the profitability of a  business before putting too much time or money into it if you are thinking of starting one. It also includes information on the procedures to take, the resources needed to achieve your business objectives, and a schedule for potential results. The style and content of a business plan can vary significantly. 

You’ll be reactive rather than proactive if you don’t have a business plan, and growth will be much more difficult. More importantly, the lack of a business plan would discourage potential investors and creditors, making it incredibly difficult to raise funds. Finally, if you don’t have a business plan, you won’t have anything to fall back on if things don’t go your way, so even a minor problem might quickly escalate.

If you’re starting a business, there are a couple of things that come first, including; registration of your business name, getting a tax ID, choosing a business structure, applying for the necessary permissions and licenses, and so on. For example, let’s say you need to start up a jewelry business. These and more are what you’d have to consider. However, just to take the stress off your plate, we already have a comprehensive jewelry business plan with a 3-year financial projection in place. All you’d need at this point is a business name.

So, what can a good business plan help you achieve?  Here are six benefits of writing a business plan:

Knowing how to conduct a market analysis is one of the benefits of writing a business plan. You examine your industry, target market, and rivals when conducting this research. You can spot patterns in decisions that may benefit or hurt your business.

One of the benefits of writing a business plan is the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes. Learning from the mistakes of others takes less time and money than learning from your own mistakes. The better prepared you are to cope with the many components of your market, the easier it will be to deal with problems later on.

A business plan can also assist you in evaluating the risks involved with your business. To avoid failure, you must first identify and manage risks. A business plan will require you to consider the risks you’re taking and decide whether they’re worth taking or if you should change your plan.

A business plan is required to obtain funds from lenders or investors. Lenders want to know they’re putting their money into a business that will stay and flourish. You must present a business plan to lenders that outlines the steps you will follow as a business owner. It’s a good idea to structure your ideas, even if your lenders are friends and relatives.

A business plan aids others in comprehending your passion and determining where their money will be spent. Clearly communicating your ideas to investors can help you demonstrate that you can get your business off the ground and grow it. You’ll also need to know how to construct a business plan’s exit strategy. A successful business is useless to your investors if they can’t get their money back at some point.

Financial estimates for your organization are included in business plans. While the forecasts aren’t a look into the future, they do reflect a prediction of your financial situation. It will be critical to plan for expenses in order to keep operations running smoothly. Cash flow estimates allow you to understand if your objectives are realistic. They also point out patterns that could be detrimental to your company. The quicker you recognize potential problems, the faster you can fix them.

Make sure your estimates are in line with your expectations. Have you set aside sufficient funds to complete the job at hand? Check your figures again to make sure you’re ready to handle your finances in the future.

The entrepreneur in you is itching to get started right away. A business plan, on the other hand, can assist you in determining the ideal methods for your business. Work on all the crucial aspects before venturing into ownership.

This benefit of a business plan also aids in work prioritization. You can determine which difficulties to handle first by examining the big vision of your business. A business plan might also assist you in deciding which activities to tackle later.

Consider a business plan to be a GPS to get your business up and running. Another one of the benefits of writing a good business plan is that it will walk you through each step of beginning and running a business. Your business plan will serve as a road map for how to establish, run, and grow your new business. It’s a technique to think about and outline all of the important aspects of how your business will operate.

Drawbacks of a Business Plan

A business plan has its own benefits and drawbacks, one of which is the stress involved in putting together all you need. So, as an entrepreneur, you’d always need to talk to a professional to make it easier for you to write a business plan.

And guess what? We have a team here at BusinessYield Consult to provide you with the necessary information you’d need starting out.

Meanwhile, here are other drawbacks you need to consider in writing a business plan:

Many businesses make a plan that sits on a bookshelf or on a storage device since it was created for one specific reason: to raise funds. A great business plan should become an inherent part of the organization once it has allocated particular responsibilities to specific job categories and laid the groundwork for data collection and metric production. Unfortunately, over the years, bad implementation has ruined many outstanding business plans.

Involving the “proper” people in the business planning process is critical. These are the people who will have an impact on the long-term plan of your business. Most business owners believe they can avoid these drawbacks by writing their own business plan, but this takes skill in a variety of sectors to be effective. For the greatest possible business plan, a diverse variety of perspectives and input is normally required, because otherwise, blind spots of inaccuracy can lead to plenty of unforeseen effects.

This basically means you’d need professionals like BusinessYield Consult for more optimal results.

It’s crucial to remember that a business plan is nothing more than a forecast based on current plans and data. We live in an ever-changing world where nothing is guaranteed. If a business plan has too much predictability, it may be unable to adjust to the changes that the world forces upon it. It might cause a business to miss out on an intriguing new opportunity because they are so focused on achieving one particular objective.

The benefits and drawbacks of a business plan illustrate that it is an important component of a good business but a thorough plan may not be required in all situations. The purpose of a business plan should be apparent to assess the current in order to make the best prediction of future results.  You’ll be able to boost your chances of success if you can plan for disruptions as well. For example, if you want to start a car detailing business and you feel there might be a disruption or crisis, in the long run, a good business plan can help you fix any issues. But either way, you may also need to speak with professionals to help you out.

Every entrepreneur needs a business to build and develop their business. A business plan comes with a lot of benefits for you as an entrepreneur.

Here are some of the benefits of a business plan for an entrepreneur:

  • Provides guidance for opening new or expanding existing business /adaptability
  • It acts as a management tool for the business/monitoring tool / identifies strengths
  • It’s a tool for evaluating business performance
  • It lays the strategy to be used in marketing the products
  • Facilitates acquisition of loans from financial institutions and other financiers

The benefits of a business plan are more than the drawbacks and you can see why it is necessary for you to get a business plan as soon as possible. It is compulsory for you to know the benefits and drawbacks of a business plan so as to know how to fix things right in your business plan as an entrepreneur.

The main purpose of a Business Plan is to evaluate, characterize, and analyze a business opportunity or an existing business, as well as to assess its technological, economic, and financial viability.

An executive overview, products and services, marketing strategy and analysis, financial planning, and a budget should all be included in a good business plan.

It’s the lenders. A financial institution will want to examine a well-written business plan before approving a business loan. This assists the lender in determining whether the business objectives are reasonable and whether you’ve accurately forecasted various expenses and potential earnings.

Related Articles

  • 4 MAIN PARTS OF A BUSINESS PLAN: 4 Necessary Business Plan Components
  • Advantages of a Business Plan: Definition and What It Entails

' src=

Folakemi Adegbaju

She is a passionate copywriter and a good listener

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Best Cheap Car Insurance for New Drivers in the UK

Scottish widows life insurance reviews.

We noticed you're visiting from Netherlands. We've updated our prices to Euro for your shopping convenience. Use Pound sterling instead. Dismiss

The future of Medicare Advantage

Table of contents, payer considerations in 2024 as medicare advantage changes, sweeping changes to medicare advantage: how payers could respond, this year us health insurers have to navigate strong crosscurrents from demographic shifts, regulatory changes, and member preferences. how they react now can have an impact for years to come., by gabe isaacson, dan jamieson , sonja pedersen-green, and cara repasky.

The undeniable story of early 2024 for US health insurers has been the sustained economic pressures that Medicare Advantage (MA) payers are experiencing. This was borne out in 2023 year-end financial results, with several MA payers pointing to inpatient and outpatient care utilization being higher than expected, consequently increasing the medical-loss ratio.

Looking ahead, the financial pressure on payers could worsen. In its 2025 advance notice for new payment rates, the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) notes that there will be an aggregate revenue growth (3.7 percent) 1 “2025 Medicare Advantage and Part D advance notice fact sheet,” CMS, January 31, 2024. when the increase (3.86 percent) driven by the risk score trend is included. Payers’ estimates of this number, however, vary widely.

Taken together, these headwinds only exacerbate the imperative for MA payers to contain costs. Savings will need to come from both medical costs and value-based care, as well as administrative expenses and product design changes. Yet none of this lessens the need to invest sufficiently to achieve growth expectations and Star-rating aspirations.

Cost-containment imperatives don’t lessen the need for MA payers to invest sufficiently to achieve growth expectations and Star-rating aspirations.

Higher utilization in 2023 was likely spurred by delayed care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other acute triggers in excess of historical trends. As the extent and longevity of these acute triggers are uncertain, payers can continue to monitor the research. But in the longer term, they can also continue to focus on how the aging of the Medicare population is likely to continue driving utilization, indicating that this could be a new normal. Similarly, some other seemingly gradual changes could nonetheless be disruptive this year.

Besides planning for demographic shifts, payers will need to navigate changes to Star ratings and rethink product designs and distribution channels. All of these factors are expected to complicate growth and revenue. As we consider the decisions that payers will need to contemplate, five key trends are coming into clear focus for the year ahead: the need for a product reset, an aging population, Star-rating pressures, opportunities in special needs plans (SNPs), and broker channel constraints.

Product reset

The cost-containment imperative for MA payers means that a focus on ROI in product design is already emerging as an undercurrent in 2024 and is expected to be a priority in the 2025 bid cycle. Regulatory changes are putting pressure on top-line revenue and may seemingly warrant retrenchment, but instead we suggest that payers make calculated trade-offs and reevaluate their portfolios. In recent years, with more cash on hand, the focus has been on increasing product richness—for example, through new and more generous benefits, increasingly in cash and cash-equivalent forms—to drive growth.

However, as CMS starts to ask more questions on benefit utilization to assess efficiencies, 2 David Kopans and Sua Yoon, “CMS upends Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits data reporting for payers,” DLA Piper, February 27, 2024. we expect to see a more triangulated focus on designing benefits for not just growth but also retention (for example, ease of use and vendor stability) and member outcomes (for example, proactive engagement in seeking care and flex card allowance focused on medical coverage rather than broader retail access). Even with possible new reporting requirements and nascent recommendations regarding standardization, supplemental benefits are expected to go from being nice to have to an offering that provides meaningful strategic upside. With the number of plan options increasing every year, the market may have reached a saturation point, leading to benefit designs that evolve from a buffet to a curated menu.

Payers were clearly grappling with these choices in the 2024 pricing cycle. Some pulled back in select markets and aligned investment to risk-bearing providers, whereas others employed a broader stance to deliver richness across markets in pursuit of a nationwide approach to membership. 3 McKinsey analysis of CMS landscape files. In 2024 and beyond, payers may see more value in having a concise narrative for distribution partners and beneficiaries rather than the “all things to all people” approach of recent years.

In 2024 and beyond, payers may see more value in having a concise narrative for distribution partners and beneficiaries rather than the ‘all things to all people’ approach of recent years.

A critical question for this year is whether the market has reached a tipping point in benefit generosity focused on growth and will shift to an environment in which payers are more intentional about ROI through member retention and improved health.

Aging population

Nearly half of the MA-eligible population will be aged 75 or older by 2030, up from roughly 40 percent at the present time. 4 McKinsey analysis of US Census Bureau data. This increase, along with labor-shortage concerns, has triggered rising qualms about a potential crisis in eldercare. Healthcare worker vacancies reached 710,000 in May 2023, and the educational pipeline indicates that the gap is likely to expand in the next decade . This makes 2024 a pivotal year to put in place solutions to rebuild the depleted workforce of doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, home health aides, nursing home workers, and other integral supporters of eldercare.

Besides the foundational solutions needed to address workforce challenges, we expect to see a shift toward next-generation care models to better help the higher-need aging population access the right care at the right time at the right cost. These models often use technology and data to personalize care through, for example, wearables, remote monitoring, telehealth, and sophisticated data platforms. This responsibility falls heavily on payers—not only those that already own many of these services, but also those that shoulder the responsibility of engaging members to navigate this complex web.

Of crucial concern are whether the emerging crisis will prompt those payers that aren’t already vertically integrated to begin down this path, whether it will encourage those that are vertically integrated to continue with M&A and investments in healthcare delivery, and if the next decade of investment will vary from the primary care–centric investments to date.

Star-rating pressures

Another year brings another set of changes to Star ratings for payers to adapt to. For one, implementation of Tukey method guardrails for rating year 2024 will raise the bar on the Star program . The new provision nixes performance outliers from calculations, which in turn contributes to more challenging cut points. Also in the current rating cycle, plans will face the deweighting of member experience measures, which will place relatively more emphasis on clinical and pharmacy metrics. 5 “The impact of Stars 2024: An interview with industry leader Mick Twomey,” blog entry, AdhereHealth, October 20, 2023. Payers will need to focus on member and provider engagement through both omnichannel outreach and an on-the-ground presence, an area that has traditionally seen lower investment. And it could well be that clinical and pharmacy metrics, even when properly collected, won’t affect Star ratings as positively as member experience measures have.

Looking ahead, another important change to the Star program is that a health equity index will replace the reward factor, which benefited plans with high and consistent performance across various measures. The index, though, will do more for plans with high performance on a subset of measures for their low-income-subsidy, dual-eligible, and disabled populations. For payers with fewer of these members or less experience in serving these populations, building out these capabilities will be a multiyear effort. We expect to see payers invest in these populations through both traditional care and addressing social determinants of health.

A vital matter is whether payers can adjust to the new guidelines and reverse the downward trend in Star ratings over the past couple of years.

Opportunities in SNPs

The market for SNPs, driven by both demographic and regulatory trends, will continue to be an area of increased focus. As top-line MA population growth begins to slow, payers are continuing to seek out pockets of growth, and chronic-condition SNPs may be an emerging opportunity. They grew faster in last year’s enrollment period than dual-eligible SNPs (D-SNPs) did for the top three payers.

D-SNPs, however, remain the largest of the SNPs. Recent years have seen substantial growth in their population, with payer entry and investment to match. This isn’t lost on state governments. While not a nationwide phenomenon, more states continue to move into highly integrated and fully integrated models for the D-SNPs. New models are expected in 2026 for Illinois, Michigan, and Rhode Island, and many more states are likely to be close behind. Recent surveys point to 17 additional states that are considering pursuing new D-SNP contracting strategies. 6 Alice Burns, Maiss Mohamed, and Maria T. Peña, “Medicaid arrangements to coordinate Medicare and Medicaid for dual-eligible individuals,” KFF, April 27, 2023.

McKinsey analysis indicates that while MA should remain a high-growth profit pool overall , the dual-eligible cohort is expected to see EBITDA increase by more than 10 percent by 2027. 7 Neha Patel and Shubham Singhal, “ What to expect in US healthcare in 2024 and beyond ,” McKinsey, January 25, 2024. This means that payers are now grappling with the increasing imperative to invest further in Medicaid capabilities and partnerships, including through connecting with community partners and social organizations, to remain viable in this market.

A central issue is whether payers will make the needed proactive moves to prepare—whether the state they work within forces it or not—to build the capabilities necessary to remain viable for the D-SNP population.

Broker channel constraints

Payers and brokers have been abuzz since CMS’s November 2023 announcement “proposing to redefine ‘compensation’ to set a clear, fixed amount that agents and brokers can be paid regardless of the plan the beneficiary enrolls in.” 8 “Contract year 2025 policy and technical changes to the Medicare Advantage Plan Program, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program, Medicare Cost Plan Program, and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, and Health Information Technology Standards,” CMS, November 6, 2023. With customer acquisition costs widely pushing north of $2,000 across the country, these compensation caps could—if implemented as proposed—have a meaningful impact on the financial solvency of the largest field-marketing organizations and brokerages. 9 Based on McKinsey analysis of earning filings for publicly traded brokerages.

Although the compensation cap won’t affect those naturally aging into Medicare from commercial plans, it will affect other groups, as brokers have developed superior marketing and sales capabilities for them. To date, payers have used broker channels for their efficiency and high-volume capabilities, but the expected pressure on the broker business raises questions of sustainability and competitiveness.

To date, payers have used broker channels for their efficiency and high-volume capabilities, but the expected pressure on the broker business raises questions of sustainability and competitiveness.

A fundamental query is whether the new compensation caps will be a forcing mechanism for payers to bring more distribution into internal systems by enhancing and scaling their own marketing and sales capabilities.

Although 2024 has just begun, we already see some MA payers adjusting their outlook for the rest of the year. The sustained increase in utilization is only adding upward pressure on cost structures, while the CMS 2025 advance notice is putting downward pressure on revenue. We expect that the trends discussed in this article will deepen disruptions for MA payers. The next few months and the next round of financial results will be telling about which payers have anticipated these changes successfully, setting them up for success for years to come.


Gabe Isaacson is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Pittsburgh office, where Cara Repasky is a partner; Dan Jamieson is a partner in the Chicago office; and Sonja Pedersen-Green is an associate partner in the Minneapolis office.

The authors wish to thank Emily Pender for her contributions to this article.

This article was edited by Querida Anderson, a senior editor in the New York office.

The Medicare Advantage program will look meaningfully different in the years ahead. Payers will need to consider transformational moves in the near term to improve their ability to compete in the long term.

About the authors.

The Medicare ecosystem is facing a series of simultaneous challenges, disruptions, and opportunities that add up to one certainty: this market will look meaningfully different in the years ahead. Medicare Advantage (MA) is projected to be the line of business that drives the most profit for payers in 2026, 10 Neha Patel and Shubham Singhal, “ What to expect in US healthcare in 2023 and beyond ,” McKinsey, January 9, 2023. even while headwinds are emerging in the Medicare program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is projecting the Medicare trust fund will run out of money in 2031, 11 2023 annual report of the Boards of Trustees of the federal Hospital Insurance and federal Supplementary Medical Insurance trust funds , CMS, March 31, 2023. although investors continue to pour billions into acquisitions of payers, care delivery partners, and related healthcare services and technology providers across the Medicare value chain. Additionally, market penetration of Medicare Advantage (MA) remains hugely variable nationwide, with only about 12 percent of beneficiaries in MA plans in some states but about 60 percent in others. 12 For example, MA penetration in Michigan is about 59 percent and in Wyoming is about 13 percent. For more, see MA State/County Penetration 2023 06, CMS, June 2023. Meaningful disruptions—in demographics, regulations, and member preferences—compound the uncertainty, making it difficult for payers and other Medicare participants to chart a path forward. By making transformational moves in the near term, payers can improve their ability to compete in the years to come.

The strategic decisions private Medicare payers make now will determine their ability to have competitive capabilities and position themselves to succeed as the market changes. Some large payers and investors have already begun placing strategic bets to capture future growth (for example, buying up primary-care centers whose patients are enrolled in MA plans), despite the climate of uncertainty. By closely monitoring the ongoing shifts in Medicare, continually adjusting their priorities, and building new capabilities, payers can position themselves to succeed.

Disruptive trends are shaking up the Medicare landscape

Payers are considering strategies to better address the aging population, a succession of pending regulatory changes, and shifts in member preferences for benefits and engagement.

Demographic shifts

The demographic profile of Medicare beneficiaries and eligible individuals is skewing older. From 2020 to 2030, seniors aged 75 to 79, 80 to 84, and 85 and older are projected to grow as a proportion of all seniors. This is a shift from the 2015–20 period, when growth was more heavily in the cohort aged 65 to 74. 13 McKinsey analysis of US Census data.

For many of these aging and higher-need members, today’s popular plans (for example, those with zero or negative premiums, rich supplemental benefits, or leaner core medical coverage) may no longer be the best fit. To retain members, payers may need to counsel them to switch to products that better match their evolving health needs, although some members are likely to resist, at least initially.

Medicare beneficiaries aged 85 and older average more than twice the monthly medical costs of those aged 65 to 69 and are more than three times as likely to have at least one hierarchical condition category. 14 McKinsey analysis of 2021 Medicare Fee-for-Service data. This creates a substantial increase in clinical burden that will require payers to develop new capabilities in care management, social determinants of health (SDoH), and health equity—in line with CMS’s priorities. In the meantime, payers will continue to advance their capabilities as risk-bearing entities operating under capitated models. Specifically, where diagnosed conditions are most acute, payers could pursue specialist-centric risk arrangements. As needs intensify and mobility declines, payers could also develop intensive, home-based care models.

Along with the aging Medicare population, MA membership growth is slowing. We estimate that annual growth in MA membership will slow from more than 8 percent in 2022 to about 3 percent in 2031. As growth slows in historically strong and currently penetrated (primarily urban) markets, payers will seek to build the networks and capabilities to grow in historically less penetrated markets, such as those with large rural populations (Exhibit 1).

Regulatory environment

The most sweeping set of regulatory changes to the Medicare Advantage program since the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 will go into effect in the next three years, affecting rates, risk adjustment, Star ratings, and Part D. To adjust, these changes necessitate a nimble response from payers.

MA rates. The 1.12 percent effective MA rate decrease—the change in the amount paid per enrollee per year to payers by CMS—marks the first decline since 2015 (Exhibit 2). 15 This rate excludes the CMS-estimated 4.4 percent rate increase from MA risk score trend. This translates to a loss to payers of an average of $150 per member per year. 16 The 1.12 percent effective rate decrease equates to a roughly $4.7 billion loss in payment to MA plans, or about $150 per member considering 2023 MA membership. For more, see “Fact sheet: 2021 Medicare Advantage and Part D rate announcement,” CMS, March 31, 2023.

Risk adjustment. CMS announced changes to MA risk adjustment following careful analysis, including observed higher-than-expected risk scores compared with fee-for-service (FFS). 17 Report to the Congress: Medicare payment policy , Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, March 2022. CMS has refreshed the risk adjustment model to bring it more in line with FFS, driving MA rates down by 2.16 percent, on average. 18 “Fact sheet: 2021 Medicare Advantage and Part D rate announcement,” March 31, 2023. Risk adjustment remains a high-priority topic for payers as they respond to CMS’s Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) Final Rule, which is expected to enable CMS to recoup $4.7 billion over the next ten years. 19 “Medicare Advantage Risk Adjustment Data Validation final rule (CMS-4185-F2),” CMS, January 30, 2023; McKinsey analysis of historical audit results.

Star ratings. For calendar year 2024, CMS reduced payment rates by 1.24 percent in response to a decline in average MA Star ratings, which resulted largely from expiring COVID-19 provisions and scheduled measure adjustments. 20 “Fact sheet: 2021 Medicare Advantage and Part D rate announcement,” March 31, 2023. Star ratings reached a record high in rating year 2022, with 90 percent of members in plans rated with four or more Stars; that number has fallen to 72 percent in 2023. 21 “2023 Medicare Advantage and Part D Star ratings,” CMS, October 6, 2022; “Fact sheet – 2022 Part C and D Star ratings,” CMS, October 8, 2021. Payers will likely face further headwinds from Stars technical changes—for example, removal of contract performance outliers using the Tukey method and revisions to disaster provisions—and the introduction of the health equity index (HEI). Starting with 2027 Star ratings, the new HEI will reward contracts for high measure-level scores with low-income subsidy, dual eligible, and disabled enrollees. 22 “2024 Medicare Advantage and Part D final rule (CMS-4201-F),” CMS, April 5, 2023.

According to a simulation of the removal of the current reward factor and addition of the proposed new HEI reward, 1.7 percent (seven) of MA prescription-drug contracts gained a half star on the overall rating, while 13.4 percent (54) of contracts lost a half star on the overall rating. 23 Medicare program; contract year 2024 policy and technical changes to the Medicare Advantage program, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit program, Medicare cost plan program, Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D overpayment provisions of the Affordable Care Act and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly; health information technology standards and implement specifications , Federal Register, December 27, 2022. Historically, payers have been able to respond to technical adjustments, the addition or expiration of certain metrics, and other changes to the Stars program, but the magnitude of these changes will be their biggest test yet.

Part D. As a result of CMS changes to Part D plans, payers will be prohibited from collecting back-end payments from pharmacies via direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees and will be required to assume greater responsibility for catastrophic drug coverage. Payers will lose more than $11 billion in plan revenue from lost DIR fees, equivalent to 74 percent of revenue from member premiums in 2021 (Exhibit 3). 24 Adam J. Fein, The 2023 economic report on U.S. pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers , Drug Channels Institute, March 2023; 2022 annual report of the Boards of Trustees of the federal Hospital Insurance and federal Supplementary Medical Insurance trust funds , CMS, June 2, 2022. Additionally, reinsurance payments are currently the largest and fastest-growing source of payer revenues. In 2025, however, government coverage for reinsurance will drop by three-quarters, from 80 percent of catastrophic costs to 20 percent, leading to dramatic decreases in reinsurance payments to payers. 25 Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Pub. L. No. 117-169, 136 Stat. 1818, 2022.

Shifting member preferences

Members’ preferences for engagement with MA plans are fundamentally changing—in line with the seamless, omnichannel, and customer-centric experiences they now routinely enjoy with B2C companies such as retailers and technology providers. Most prominently, this change manifests in their rising preferences for digital engagement. 26 Gabe Isaacson, Marina Ivanenko, and Cara Repasky, “ Digital engagement now typifies the Medicare Advantage experience ,” McKinsey, March 9, 2023. This appears first in the extent to which beneficiaries increasingly rely on e-brokers when shopping for MA plans. Of the more than seven million beneficiaries who enrolled in a new MA plan in 2022, more than one-third (about two million) used an e-broker, highlighting a meaningful shift to digital channels compared with even five years ago. 27 McKinsey analysis of earnings reports for SelectQuote (about 617,000 beneficiaries in 2022), eHealth (about 322,000 in 2022), and GoHealth (about 830,000 in 2022). Triangulated with expert interviews for private and broader market (more than 400,000 beneficiaries in 2022).

Beyond shopping, our recent survey data indicates that more than two-thirds of members reported using technology in the onboarding journey to understand benefit coverage, manage prescription drugs, and navigate physician networks. 28 “ Digital engagement ,” March 9, 2023. More broadly, delivering a distinctive omnichannel experience will be critical in retention of members and performing well on Stars ratings. The quality of members’ experiences will be a core component of competitive differentiation in the future.

How payers can respond to the changing Medicare landscape

Payers can address changes in Medicare with near-term, targeted interventions and simultaneously carry out transformative initiatives. In the near term, they could consider the following:

  • Pursuing sizable growth opportunities in underpenetrated populations (such as high- and low-income rural areas) with renewed focus and creativity to build products and networks—potentially augmented by virtual care—that will appeal to members traditionally less inclined to enroll in MA and historically presented with fewer plan options.
  • Actively engaging in the evolving marketing and sales ecosystem—by diversifying their portfolio of partners to include more field brokers and e-brokers—to enable payers to reach more eligible individuals in their preferred (increasingly digital) channels. By supplementing their captive internal-distribution channels, which rely heavily on standard mailers and other traditional methods, they could also broaden their reach into, for example, communities with a higher proportion of minority residents or residents of relatively low socioeconomic status.
  • Prioritizing investment in the Stars program to meet evolving beneficiary needs and address Stars performance and, therefore, revenue headwinds. Investment in Stars could be targeted to address SDoH needs, close clinical care gaps, and improve clinical outcomes for an increasingly aging population with more acute care needs, allowing payers to deliver a best-in-class member experience.
  • Expanding digital engagement (such as through applications, text, and chatbots) to meet changing member preferences, and develop wraparound support services to increase member uptake and proficiency.

Additionally, a series of transformative initiatives could best position payers to navigate the future Medicare ecosystem.

Serve members with efficiency. For payers facing substantial margin pressure, administrative costs, which commonly exceed $100 per member per month (PMPM), 29 Phil Ellenberg et al., “Medicare Advantage organizations financial results for 2021,” Milliman, December 1, 2022. are increasingly unsustainable. Plans can consider entirely new ways of managing administrative costs and running their budgets without sacrificing service quality. Although attaining economies of scale can create cost efficiencies, the distributed nature of MA membership creates challenges. Many single-state payers can boast a strong market presence yet have only tens of thousands of members. For most payers, reducing administrative costs will require investment in nonscale performance levers.

Typically, increasing cost efficiencies would require a meaningful investment in automation, data-backed decision making, and continuous reallocation of resources. Specific actions to consider include the following:

  • embarking on true zero-based budgeting, 30 Zero-based budgeting means building a budget from scratch with no carry-over spending allocated. targeting an administrative cost of less than $80 to $100 PMPM so that it could better withstand any changes in top-line revenue
  • expanding reliance on shared technology platforms and services to manage costs while also investing strategically in products and capabilities
  • investing now in innovative technologies that will soon become standard, including, for example, chatbots to assist members with support and requests (such as generative AI) and self-serve portals with tools to help members find the best plan for them

Deliver seamless shopping, enrollment, and onboarding experiences. Demographic changes will result in fewer seniors enrolling in MA, expanding opportunities to reach new and existing members. Payers could create and deliver an integrated experience from shopping to enrolling and onboarding to attract and retain members. In a 2022 survey of MA members, nearly half indicated they had shopped around to assess product options in the year prior, 31 “ Digital engagement ,” March 9, 2023. highlighting the imperative for easily navigable websites and distinctive benefits positioning.

To achieve their growth targets, payers will also likely expand their reliance on brokers and other third-party partners. Success will hinge on having clearly defined member journeys and integrated internal and external channels (for example, call centers and onboarding). Multidirectional, real-time data sharing paired with efforts by payers to educate and enable brokers would allow the integrated distribution unit to optimally attract and retain members in a lower-growth environment.

Know each member and personalize engagement. Knowing members as individuals is becoming crucial to meeting their shopping preferences, implementing best-fit engagement channels, managing disease states, ensuring access to quality care, and supporting evolving care needs.

Although payers have vast repositories of data, their databases (for example, for customer-relationship-management and care-management tracking) have traditionally been siloed. Payers have also typically defaulted to standard reporting and struggled to perform ad hoc analytical queries to understand the full scope of member engagement. And they have relied extensively on third-party Stars vendors who engage in sporadic calling campaigns to engage members in their healthcare journeys.

Instead, payers could consider differentiating themselves in their engagement with members by meeting the standards set by leading retail and e-commerce players. This might entail establishing a singular view of each member over the span of their Medicare journey and using unique member identifiers to track data points and touchpoints across channels such as brokers, care managers, and physicians. With a holistic view of each member at their fingertips, customer service representatives could provide better support. Payers could develop AI-enabled predictive capabilities to provide personalized engagement plans and smart interventions. Ultimately, this improved transparency could unleash a ripple effect of better care, improved health outcomes, and an elevated experience for each member.

Convene and enable a redefined care-delivery landscape. The payer’s role in the care domain has expanded over time from utilization management to care management and, increasingly, care delivery. Some payers are carving out a leadership role as a convener of a care delivery ecosystem (encompassing the set of care models, physicians, capabilities, and services that surround a patient) while leaving care provisioning to clinicians. They are investing in enablement partnerships and acquisitions while working hand in hand with physicians to improve outcomes for Medicare members in meaningful risk-sharing arrangements.

Payers could accelerate this trend by assessing the clinical needs of their membership and mapping them to the care delivery landscape in their geography. For example, payers that have members with substantial clinical needs (for example, large populations with chronic kidney disease or special-needs plans for chronic conditions) might invest in or partner with specialists or advanced in-home care delivery partners. Payers with a large rural population could consider supplementing their care delivery footprint to address care gaps (for example, through virtual-care models).

Many payers would benefit from simultaneously pursuing multiple strategies, particularly as acuity in the Medicare population accelerates. Important considerations include aligning their incentives with those of physicians and patients and protecting physician independence in clinical decision making.

Payers could also use member data and conduct advanced analytics to match members with effective care models and enable physicians to deliver the highest quality of care.

A mature care delivery ecosystem would meet every member where they are through a combination of value-based care models (with physicians who can deliver against them), next-generation models (for example, rural-focused care), in-home primary and specialty care, and advanced care models.

Reimagine the product portfolio in line with MA membership needs. Payers often grapple with variable economics across the product portfolio. Newer members are typically enrolled in the most generous products with, for example, expansive dental and vision benefits, flex cards that cover not only over-the-counter medications but also food and wellness, and Part B givebacks (in which payers cover a set monthly amount toward a member’s premium).

These newer products are also the most economically challenging for payers. But although they would struggle to sustainably offer, for example, a $100 Part B giveback benefit, legacy members paying higher premiums (at least for now) effectively subsidize these offerings, resulting in an overall profitable membership mix. This trend, encouraged by many distribution partners, is unsustainable for payers, as evidenced by a number of previously high-growth MA plans that are now retrenching, rolling back benefits, and potentially causing meaningful disruptions in healthcare for tens of thousands of members.

The trend also doesn’t bode well for members as they age and their needs evolve. While members are relatively young and healthy, preferred provider organization (PPO) plans with $0 premiums and rich supplemental benefits but lighter core medical benefits can be a fit. These members, unconcerned with a higher maximum out-of-pocket cost, see supplemental benefits flowing directly to their personal bottom line—an especially appealing proposition at a time of high inflation and broader economic uncertainty. However, as the MA membership skews older, likely correlating with increasing medical needs, plans with richer medical benefits and lower maximum out-of-pocket costs may make more sense.

Payers can start now to evolve their product offerings and messaging to serve these members, including by rationalizing the supplemental benefit portfolio and reinvesting in core medical benefits that matter most to members’ health. In parallel, they can devise ways to counsel members to ensure they are continually enrolled in the right plan for their needs, perhaps over decades.

Given members’ increasing proclivity to shop, a proactive stance by payers will be rewarded. Payers could consider strategically engaging brokers, for example, to enable intrapayer plan movements. Although some payers and distributors have already begun to do this on an ad hoc basis (by, for example, proactively moving members to plans within their portfolios that have better Star ratings), taking a more strategic approach could help retain members within the payer’s ecosystem.

The MA market has been on an upward trajectory for years, with a continual stream of investor dollars chasing double-digit growth rates annually, enabling a thriving ecosystem of payers, care delivery partners, and services and technology companies. The variety of disruptions emerging, however, means that the winning strategies of the past five years are unlikely to be sufficient to meet members’ evolving needs and preferences. Success in the future will be determined by bold moves made now.

Gabe Isaacson is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Pittsburgh office, where Cara Repasky is a partner; Dan Jamieson is a partner in the Chicago office, where Emily Pender is a consultant; and Sonja Pedersen-Green is an associate partner in the Minneapolis office.

Related Articles

An elderly lady accessing healthcare online with ease

Digital engagement now typifies the Medicare Advantage experience

A patient receiving an injection from a nurse

Reimagining public health programs to deliver equitable impact

Physician listens to the new staff member - stock photo

Medicare Advantage Star ratings may decline with new methodology

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

What should I do if I get a call claiming there is a problem with my Social Security number or account?

Programs to get more help while on SSI

Sign up for free programs that help you save money and take care of basic needs.

Explore other government programs

If you get SSI, you can usually get federal benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and state benefits like Medicaid. SNAP helps pay for food, and Medicaid helps pay doctor and hospital bills. Help from these programs won’t affect your SSI payment. 

Your state might also have other programs to help you, like rent rebates and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). 

Visit benefits.gov to see what programs are available

Make a work or business plan

A Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) lets you set aside money to get a new job or start a business. The money you save doesn’t count toward your SSI resource limit, and you may be eligible for a higher income limit to help you save. 

Learn more about PASS

Save for disability-related expenses

If you were under age 26 when you became disabled, you can save for disability-related expenses with an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account. The first $100,000 in an ABLE account won’t count toward your SSI resource limit. 

Learn more about ABLE accounts

overhead view of a factory

New to Climate Change?

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

Scopes 1, 2 and 3 are ways of classifying climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions . When companies and other organizations make plans to control their climate pollution, many start by sorting their activities into these different scopes. And because this system is used so widely, understanding it can help all of us read these climate plans clearly and judge how thorough and ambitious they are.

The three scopes and what they cover

Scope 1 emissions are greenhouse gases a company puts into the atmosphere with its own property. For instance, when a company burns oil or gas to heat its buildings , these heating fuels create greenhouse gases. Those emissions belong in scope 1.   Scope 2 emissions come from electricity the company buys from the electric grid . These are “indirect” emissions that happen at distant power plants. Still, as with scope 1 emissions, the company is clearly and solely responsible for them: if it used less electricity, there would be less demand for coal, gas and other climate-polluting energy sources.   Scope 3 emissions include all other indirect sources of greenhouse gases from the company’s operations. These might be connected with the day-to-day running of the company: for instance, if a company’s employees drive to work, the gasoline they burn falls under scope 3. They might be upstream in the organization’s supply chain, like when a car company buys steel: manufacturing that steel creates some greenhouse gases. Or the emissions might be downstream, like when a car company sells a car, which someone then fills with gas, creating more scope 3 emissions. 

Slippery scope 3

Scope 3 emissions sometimes raise knotty questions about who is “really” responsible. For example, a car can create scope 3 emissions for the driver’s employer, and the company that made the car, and the oil company that extracted the oil to be refined into gasoline. Is this a sort of double (or triple) counting?   Yes, but the point of counting these emissions is to outline the many ways companies can make a difference on climate change. The driver’s employer can lower emissions by making it easier for its employees to walk or take public transit to work. The car manufacturer can lower emissions by making its cars more energy-efficient, or by making electric vehicles instead. Even the oil company could explore alternative fuels that produce less climate pollution when burned. All of them have power to put fewer greenhouse gases in the air.   Another challenge of scope 3 is measurement. Imagine again our car company buying steel. It doesn’t run the steel foundry: how can it be sure how much climate pollution is created for each ton of steel it buys?   There are two main ways companies solve this. One is “environmentally extended input-output analysis,” which sounds complicated but simply means that every type of product and service—steel, paper, waste disposal, air travel —is given an average value for the emissions it creates per dollar spent. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency keeps a set of computer models for just this purpose.   This is helpful when companies plan to deal with scope 3 emissions by buying less stuff, like an office going paperless. But for our car company, it’s not the right approach: the steel is absolutely needed to build the cars. This company would be better served with “process-based lifecycle assessment,” engaging with suppliers all down the supply chain to learn how the steel is made and how much climate pollution is created at each step, calculated for each ton of steel instead of each dollar. This strategy takes much more work and data, but in the end, the company can choose less polluting steel, and even work with its suppliers to improve their processes.

The savvy climate plan reader

Scopes 1, 2 and 3 were invented as part of the “Greenhouse Gas Protocol,” a joint effort by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to create worldwide standards for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. This project published its first set of corporate standards in 2001, introducing scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions to the world.   Today, many large companies have or are developing targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions—often to “ net zero ”—and associated climate mitigation plans. Most of these plans use the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.   Once you know about scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, these targets and climate plans become easier to read and judge. Almost all plans pledge to cut scope 1 and 2 emissions. Does the plan also lay out what those emissions are today? Is it specific about its targets: how much emissions will be cut, and by what date? Is there a plan for how these cuts will be achieved?   A smaller but growing number of companies also track their scope 3 emissions. If a plan does not mention scope 3, you might ask: how important is that for this kind of business? For companies high upstream in the supply chain, most emissions probably fall in scopes 1 and 2: think of a mining company producing raw iron ore, whose emissions mostly come from its own mining and processing equipment. But for downstream manufacturers like our car company, scope 3 emissions are by far the most important, and a climate plan that ignores them will not be a very serious one.   If a climate plan does mention scope 3, you can also consider how specific it is. Is it mainly concerned with day-to-day operations, like travel and waste? Does it also include the goods and services the company buys? How about the products it sells, and how they are used? And how is it measuring emissions—and will that give it the information it needs to change its practices?

Published March 20, 2024.

Jeremy Gregory

More Resources for Learning

Keep exploring.

With more Explainers from our library:


Climate Targets

solar panels at a research institute in Reno, Nevada

Net Zero Emissions

The New York Stock Exchange

Investing and Climate Change

Mit climate news in your inbox.

House Republicans want to raise the Social Security age. It could hurt those who 'work their whole lives and die sooner,' the agency's head says.

  • House Republicans proposed raising the age for receiving Social Security benefits.
  • Social Security benefits are already facing funding issues over the next decade.
  • The proposed change has sparked criticism from both Democrats and some Republicans.

Insider Today

House Republicans have a plan to raise the age at which Americans receive Social Security benefits — and the agency's leader isn't on board.

Earlier this week, the Republican Study Committee unveiled their fiscal year 2025 budget proposal — called Fiscal Sanity to Save America — which consisted of nearly 200 pages of funding priorities for key issues, including taxes , higher education , and healthcare.

The budget also addressed an issue that has long been contentious across both parties: Social Security. According to the proposal, the committee wants to "make modest adjustments to the retirement age for future retirees to account for increases in life expectancy." The proposal did not specify the exact age they're eyeing for Americans to receive their benefits, but it would likely be above the current threshold of 67 years old.

The committee's chairman Kevin Hern emphasized in the budget that "we cannot be clearer: we WILL NOT adjust or delay retirement benefits for any senior in or near retirement."

Still, the proposal has some administration officials concerned for future retirees. During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Thursday, Social Security Commissioner Martin O'Malley said that "we have to be mindful of people who really do hard work, hard labor, their whole lives, and who die sooner than those of us who are privileged enough to do work that is not as taxing on our bodies and our physical well-being."

Related stories

Full Social Security benefits are already in jeopardy over the next decade. In March 2023, the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees estimated that the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund might only be able to pay out full benefits over the next decade, which is earlier than anticipated.

"My dad had an expression, 'Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.' The Republican Study Committee budget shows what Republicans value," President Biden said in a statement on the RSC budget. "This extreme budget will cut Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act. It endorses a national abortion ban. The Republican budget will raise housing costs and prescription drugs costs for families. And it will shower giveaways on the wealthy and biggest corporations. Let me be clear: I will stop them."

Even some Republican lawmakers have been critical of the House's budget proposal. GOP Sen. Josh Hawley called the plan "the stupidest thing I ever heard," according to The Hill, and GOP Sen. Mitt Romney warned his House colleagues of the consequences of putting forth this plan during an election year.

"Talk about a gift to the Democrats," Romney said . "Seems like people have lost their political ear if they think any adjustments to the benefits of Social Security makes sense to talk about at any time, let alone during an election year."

Retirement is already looking bleak for some seniors, who are facing lower incomes and high healthcare and housing costs . A little over half of Americans over the age of 65 are earning under $30,000 a year, according to Census Bureau's Current Population Survey . And for many Americans, Social Security is a financial lifeline in their later years. Among typical retirees , just under 80% say Social Security is a source of income — a far greater share than retirement savings or wages.

Biden said that his "budget represents a different future," one where "we protect Social Security so the working people who built this country can retire with dignity."

"I see a future for all Americans and I will never stop fighting for that future," he said.

Watch: Surprising misconceptions about Trump and Biden ahead of the 2024 election

what are the benefits of business plan

  • Main content

what are the benefits of business plan

Envision Board Must Face Employee Stock Ownership Plan Lawsuit

By Jacklyn Wille

Jacklyn Wille

Envision Management Holding Inc.'s board of directors must face a lawsuit over the company’s employee stock ownership plan in a case that’s already been to the Tenth Circuit, a district judge said.

Judge Charlotte N. Sweeney on Thursday denied the board’s motion to dismiss , saying the case involved factual disputes that should be resolved after discovery. Sweeney, who sits in the US District Court for the District of Colorado, announced her decision in a short docket entry that didn’t include a lengthy analysis of the case.

The proposed class action targets a 2017 transaction in which the medical imaging ...

Learn more about Bloomberg Law or Log In to keep reading:

Learn about bloomberg law.

AI-powered legal analytics, workflow tools and premium legal & business news.

Already a subscriber?

Log in to keep reading or access research tools.


  1. 14 Critical Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan

    Here's every reason why you need a business plan. 1. Business planning is proven to help you grow 30 percent faster. Writing a business plan isn't about producing a document that accurately predicts the future of your company. The process of writing your plan is what's important. Writing your plan and reviewing it regularly gives you a ...

  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. 11 Important Business Plan Benefits & Purposes

    Let's take a closer look at how each of the important business planning benefits can catapult your business forward: 1. Validate Your Business Idea. The process of writing your business plan will force you to ask the difficult questions about the major components of your business, including: External: industry, target market of prospective ...

  4. What Are the Benefits of a Business Plan?

    The business plan is a fundamental tool and is necessary for a startup that needs a sense of direction. One of the reasons a business plan is so important is that it is one of the main ...

  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. What Is a Business Plan? Definition and Essentials Explained

    It describes the structure of your organization, how it operates, as well as the financial expectations and actual performance. A business plan can help you explore ideas, successfully start a business, manage operations, and pursue growth. In short, a business plan is a lot of different things. It's more than just a stack of paper and can be ...

  7. How to Write a Business Plan: Guide + Examples

    Most business plans also include financial forecasts for the future. These set sales goals, budget for expenses, and predict profits and cash flow. A good business plan is much more than just a document that you write once and forget about. It's also a guide that helps you outline and achieve your goals. After completing your plan, you can ...

  8. Business Plans: The Ultimate Guide To Building A Good Plan

    6. Strategy and implementation plans. When it comes to starting a business, having a solid plan of attack is essential. That's why the strategy and implementation plan section of your business ...

  9. 15 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

    Here are our top 15 reasons why you should write a business plan. 1. Reduce your risk. Writing a business plan takes some of the risk out of starting a business. It ensures that you're thinking through every facet of your business to determine if it can truly be viable.

  10. The importance of a business plan

    To outline the importance of business plans and make the process sound less daunting, here are 10 reasons why you need one for your small business. 1. To help you with critical decisions. The primary importance of a business plan is that they help you make better decisions. Entrepreneurship is often an endless exercise in decision making and ...

  11. 12 Reasons You Need a Business Plan

    10. Have all the information in your plan when you're ready to sell. Sell your business when it's time to put it on the market so you can help buyers understand what you have, what it's worth, and ...

  12. The Importance of Business Plan: 5 Key Reasons

    A business plan contains detailed information that can help determine its success. Some of this information can include the following: Market analysis. Cash flow projection. Competitive analysis. Financial statements and financial projections. An operating plan. A solid business plan is a good way to attract potential investors.

  13. 10 Business Plan Benefits You Might Be Forgetting

    Business objectives will be clear. Use your plan to define and manage specific measurable objectives like web visitors, sales, margins or new product launches. Define success in objective terms ...

  14. Why You Need A Written Business Plan

    Finally, a written business plan is an excellent communication device. With this one document, you can effectively communicate exactly what your business is and how it functions to anyone. As I ...

  15. Business Planning: It's Importance, Types and Key Elements

    Financial Plan: This is the most important element of a business plan and is primarily addressed to investors and sponsors. It requires a firm to reveal its financial policies and market analysis. At times, a 5-year financial report is also required to be included to show past performances and profits.

  16. The Importance of a Business Plan for Entrepreneurs: 18 ...

    13. To share your business plans with coworkers and family. When you open a business, you will likely get a lot of questions about what you do from previous coworkers and family members. Drafting a business plan can help you answer these questions, sharing your goals and plans with them.

  17. Business Plan

    2. Focusing device. Formulating a concrete plan of action enables an organized manner of conducting business and reduces the possibility of losses due to uncalculated risks. Business plans act as reference tools for management and employees as they solidify the flow of communication, authority, and task allocation. 3.

  18. 20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

    Top 20 Reasons Why you Need a Business Plan. 1. To Prove That You're Serious About Your Business. A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties — employees, investors, partners and yourself — that you are committed to building the business. Creating your plan forces you to think through and select the strategies that ...

  19. The Top 5 Benefits of Having a Business Plan

    The Benefits of Having a Business Plan: . 1. Increased Clarity. A business plan can bring clarity to the decision-making process regarding key aspects of the business such as capital investments, leases, resourcing, etc. You can't do everything. A good Business Plan will help you identify business critical priorities and milestones to focus on. 2.

  20. BENEFITS OF A BUSINESS PLAN: Benefits and Drawbacks

    The benefits and drawbacks of a business plan illustrate that it is an important component of a good business but a thorough plan may not be required in all situations. The purpose of a business plan should be apparent to assess the current in order to make the best prediction of future results.

  21. The Benefits of Sustainability: Why build an eco-friendly business

    8 benefits of building a sustainable business. The most obvious and important reason for building a sustainable business is making a positive impact on the health of the planet. However, there are upsides beyond moving the needle on issues like climate change and pollution. ... From there, you can create a sustainability plan tailored to your ...

  22. The future of Medicare Advantage

    Payers will lose more than $11 billion in plan revenue from lost DIR fees, equivalent to 74 percent of revenue from member premiums in 2021 (Exhibit 3). 24 Adam J. Fein, The 2023 economic report on U.S. pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers, Drug Channels Institute, March 2023; 2022 annual report of the Boards of Trustees of the federal ...

  23. Programs to get more help while on SSI

    If you get SSI, you can usually get federal benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and state benefits like Medicaid. ... A Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) lets you set aside money to get a new job or start a business. The money you save doesn't count toward your SSI resource limit, and you may be eligible for a ...

  24. Scope 1, 2 and 3 Emissions

    The savvy climate plan reader. Scopes 1, 2 and 3 were invented as part of the "Greenhouse Gas Protocol," a joint effort by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to create worldwide standards for measuring greenhouse gas emissions.

  25. Republicans Propose Raising Age to Get Social Security Benefits

    House Republicans have a plan to raise the age at which Americans receive Social Security benefits — and the agency's leader isn't on board.. Earlier this week, the Republican Study Committee ...

  26. Zoe's Place (Mammoet Business Fives-Total Warrior)

    Mammoet is participating in this year's Business Fives event, a charity football event in Tees Valley, as well as taking part in Total Warrior. We are raising money for Zoe's Place, and every donation will make a difference. Thank you in advance for contributing to this cause.

  27. Social Security commissioner vows to end benefit 'clawback cruelty'

    New Social Security Commissioner Martin O'Malley has unveiled a four-step plan to tackle overpayment issues that vex beneficiaries.

  28. Envision Board Must Face Employee Stock Ownership Plan Lawsuit

    Envision Management Holding Inc.'s board of directors must face a lawsuit over the company's employee stock ownership plan in a case that's already been to the Tenth Circuit, a district judge said. Judge Charlotte N. Sweeney on Thursday denied the board's motion to dismiss, saying the case ...

  29. Royals, Chiefs release community benefits ...

    The news comes as the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs ask Jackson County voters to approve a 3/8th-cent sales tax that would help fund a downtown ballpark.