Skip to cookie consent
A woman selling eels and other fish in Hsipaw, Myanmar. Photo: Andrew Philip

From: Entrepreneurship – Footsteps 103

Practical advice on how to run a successful business

A business plan is a written document that states what your business will do and how this will be achieved. It is usually 4–20 pages long, depending on how complicated your business is.

Writing a business plan helps you think through all the steps needed to start your business. It can help you decide if a business idea is worth pursuing. If you apply for funding for your business, the organisation will often want to see your business plan. Below is an example structure for a business plan. 

Section 1 – Executive summary 

Here, you summarise the main elements of the business. This section should not be more than one page long. It should tell the reader all the key information they will need about the business. List: 

Section 2 – About you 

In this section you outline who you are, what experience you have and why you want to start the business. Include: 

Section 3 – Business description 

In this section, explain what you will sell and how much you will charge. If you have more than one product or service, you should describe all of them. Include: 

Section 4 – Target market 

In this section you describe the people most likely to buy from the business. 

Section 5 – Market research 

In this section you explain what the market is like, who the main competitors are and how they may affect the business. Include: 

Section 6 – Marketing plan 

Here, you explain how you will tell potential customers about your product or service. For each method of marketing you will use, cover the following questions: 

Section 7 – Operations plan 

In this section you describe the everyday workings of the business and how you will deliver the products or services. Complete only the sections relevant to your business: 

Section 8 – Financial plan 

In this section you explain how the business will perform financially. You should include forecasts of the costs of providing the product/service, the sales you plan to make, and your cash flow forecast (see this poster for more information). Include: 

Tips for writing a business plan 

  Helen Munshi

Helen Munshi is an enterprise strategy and training consultant. She has worked with organisations in Malawi and India, and has written a self-employment training course for entrepreneurs in Tanzania. Web: Email:

Similarly Tagged Content

Share this resource

If you found this resource useful, please share it with others so they can benefit too.

Sign up now to get Footsteps magazine

A free digital and print magazine for community development workers. Covering a diverse range of topics, it is published three times a year.

Sign up now

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.