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The Ultimate Business Plan Questionnaire You Need in 2024

  • May 31, 2024

business plan questionnaire

Feeling overwhelmed with all the information needed to include in a business plan or not getting where exactly to start? Not a problem, you’re not alone! It is where a well-designed business plan questionnaire can be a lifesaver!

A business plan questionnaire is a list of questions designed to support you in the business planning process so that you organize the plan properly and do not miss out on any essential points.

It also helps you in identifying the gaps in your plan. The only thing you need to do is answer all the questions practically, and Voila you will have all the things you need in a plan.

So, let’s proceed without any further delay!

Questions your business plan should answer

The business plan questionnaire helps you with writing your plan. It will give you directions for the future and allow you to analyze each aspect of the firm. Be sure to provide practical answers to every question. Here are the questions you need to consider:

1. Executive Summary

An executive summary is a brief of the whole plan and is responsible for grabbing the reader’s attention to get further interested in your firm. Some questions your executive summary should answer are:

  • What is the business and what does it do?
  • What is the problem here and how is it being solved by your business?
  • What product or service are you providing?
  • What is the Return on Investment (ROI)?
  • Why will your business succeed?

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questionnaire in business plan

2. Company Overview

Now that readers have gone through the overview, they would want to know your business in detail. Some of the questions this section should include:

  • What is the business name, and what is its legal structure?
  • What is the business’s mission and vision statement?
  • When was the firm founded, and what is its history?
  • Where is the business located?
  • Who are the founders of the business, and what is their educational background & experience?
  • Why did you start this particular business?
  • What are the future growth goals of your business?

3. Market and Industry Analysis

A good market & industry analysis shows that you know your competitive landscape and understand your competitor’s strengths & weaknesses, along with their market positioning. Some of the questions this section should solve are:

  • What is the current market size for your product or service?
  • What are the recent trends?
  • Who is your target audience & prospective customers?
  • What is the growth potential?
  • What are the entry barriers in the industry?
  • What are some rules and regulations that impact your firm?

4. Competitive Analysis

Once you know the market, it is important to understand your competitors to know how well your products or services will perform against theirs. Here are a few questions to consider for this section:

  • Who are your direct and indirect competitors?
  • What is their target market?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is their market share & position?
  • What is your competitive advantage?
  • What is their pricing strategy?
  • What is their marketing strategy?
  • What are some opportunities or threats posed by competitors?

5. Products and Services

The product or services section is where you showcase your product or services in detail along with their descriptions. Below are the questions for this section:

  • What products or services are being offered by your business?
  • What makes your product or services unique from competitors?
  • What is the current stage of development of your product or services?
  • What are the quality measures that you will incorporate to maintain the quality of your product or services?
  • Are there any additional services you provide?
  • How are your products or services delivered?

6. Sales and Marketing Plan

The sales and marketing plan section outlines the strategies that you will include to promote your product or services, attract new customers & retain old ones.

Here are certain questions that this section should answer:

  • Who are your target customers?
  • What are your competitive advantages?
  • Are there any existing customers?
  • What is your sales volume target?
  • What is your budget for marketing activities?
  • How will you convert leads into customers?
  • How will you enhance the overall customer satisfaction?

7. Operations Plan

An operation plan compels you to know all the hows of your business like how you will meet the goals or how much time you will need to complete the tasks. In short, it outlines the specific strategies to turn your goals into reality.

Some of the common questions it should solve are:

  • How will you deliver your product or service?
  • What equipment and resources will you need?
  • How will you manage your inventory?
  • How will you check the quality of your product or service?
  • How will you handle customer inquiries and complaints?
  • How much and what training do your employees need to work efficiently?

8. Management Team

A strong business is the result of the shared expertise of all people working for it. So, this is the section where you showcase the management team of your business and what they bring to the table. Here are some questions for this section:

  • Who are the key management members of the firm?
  • What experience and educational background do they have?
  • Who is the founder/CEO of the business?
  • How will the management team make decisions?
  • Do you have an advisory board in place?
  • How many employees does your business need?
  • Do any team members have specific market knowledge?

9. Financial Plan

The financial plan is where you outline your forecasted revenues, expenses, and profits, giving insight into the business’s financial health. Here are certain questions this section should address:

  • What are the startup costs of your company?
  • What is your current financial planning & situation?
  • What is the projected profitability of the business?
  • How much funding are you seeking?
  • What is the expected return on investment (ROI) for investors?
  • What is the revenue model?
  • What is the break-even point?

10. Appendix

The appendix is the last section of the plan. Here, you can provide all the supporting documentation that validates the other contents of the plan. Some of the things to include in your appendix are:

  • Resumes of the key management team members
  • Copies of any agreement with the suppliers or anyone else
  • Copies of legal documentation
  • Organizational charts
  • Marketing materials

These were some of the business plan questions to ask while writing the plan. Let us move ahead and learn more about the questionnaire!

How to use this questionnaire?

When you use the business plan questionnaire correctly, you won’t miss any important details, and your answers will be clear and organized. Thus, this section walks you through the usage of the questionnaire. Follow the below steps:

  • Review questions: Read the entire questionnaire first, and try to understand its scope and try to understand the information needed to answer those questions.
  • Gather information: Gather data and other relevant documents, like financial statements, market research, and other relevant operational details.
  • Answer honestly: Be very honest while replying to all the questions, because one lie and your readers will take zero interest in your business.
  • Develop the plan: Use the answers as a foundation to draft a comprehensive plan.
  • Review & edit: Review the draft, fill in any gaps, and make adjustments for clarity. You can even ask someone else to review it and give you feedback.

Prepare a detailed business plan using Upmetrics

So, that’s it! The above sample survey questionnaire for a plan will guide you in writing your plan.

But for constant guidance, while writing the whole business plan, you can consider using Upmetrics .

It has 400+ customizable business plan templates , which means every business has a suitable sample for them. Apart from that, it provides you with AI assistant that helps you auto-write your plan, answer your business-related queries, and guide you at each step.

So, if you are someone looking to write a business plan, create a pitch deck, or prepare financial projections, then Upmetrics is the best stop.

Build your Business Plan Faster

with step-by-step Guidance & AI Assistance.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can i use a business plan questionnaire to create a complete business strategy.

Yes, you can use a business plan questionnaire to create the entire plan. A questionnaire forces you to go through every different aspect of the business. Thus, a questionnaire can be a helpful tool for organizing and outlining the key elements of a plan.

Who should use a business plan questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a helpful tool for all people related to the business planning process. Like advisors & consultants, small business owners, existing businesses, individuals, non-profit organizations, and anyone who is creating a business plan.

What are the benefits of completing a business plan questionnaire?

Completing a plan offers various advantages like:

  • Clarifies business goals, strategies, and market positioning
  • Recognizes potential challenges, allowing for risk management
  • Ensures that all the essential components are addressed in your plan
  • Increases the chances of funding by encouraging to prepare a well-prepared and data-backed plan

About the Author

questionnaire in business plan

Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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  • 21 Business Survey Questions + [Template Examples]


As you work on growing your business and making the best entrepreneurial decisions, you would need to carry out a lot of research, which is where you need a business surveys.  Business surveys make research easy and equip you with relevant information for better decision-making.

Knowing what a business survey is, how to create one, and seamlessly administer it should be a priority for any organization. When properly implemented, a business survey can aid the exponential growth of any organization 

What is a Business Survey? 

A business survey is a research tool that is used for collecting relevant data about a business from a predetermined audience. It is made up of a set of structured questions that help you to gather information about industry dynamics, market preferences, competition, and other important business variables. 

For instance, a restaurant may need to find out how the customers rate its overall service delivery. To achieve this, it can administer a customer satisfaction survey that allows the customers to provide feedback on different aspects of the business. 

To get the right information through a business survey, you must ask the right questions. With a business survey, you will gather first-hand information and gain interesting insights that are crucial to the overall growth of your organization. 

Importance of Business Surveys 

  • A business survey helps you to gather important insights for different aspects of your business. Gathering first-hand information from customers allows you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business and to improve on organizational processes. 
  • With a business survey, you would be able to gather feedback from your customers. Asking customers to provide feedback on your business helps you to know where you stand and also identify any areas of the business that need improvement. 
  • Data gathered via a business survey would help you improve your customer experience and build lasting client relationships. When you provide excellent service delivery for clients, you would record repeated patronage and expand your client base.
  • A business survey plays a major role in the optimization of overall business operations. Data gathered from such surveys highlights areas needing improvement in your business which you can concentrate your resources on. 
  • It is an essential step towards making objective and unbiased business decisions.  

Types of Business Survey 

Customer surveys.

A customer survey is a type of business survey that is used to collect first-hand information on the perceptions of your customers. Typically, it consists of questions that bother on the opinions and expectations of your customers as they interact with your business and make use of your product or service. 

Since customers lie at the heart of every business, it is important to always be abreast of their needs and to also understand how they view your organization. Working with this data would help you to improve your business processes for better service delivery. 

Top Customer Survey Questions for Businesses  

  • How would you rate our service delivery? 
  • What was your experience like? 
  • Did our customer service representative resolve the issue on time?
  • Are you satisfied with the resolution of this issue?
  • Are you satisfied with the available payment methods? 
  • How can we improve our service delivery for you?
  • Do you have any suggestions/comments to help us serve you better?
  • How likely are you to recommend us to your network?
  • How easy is the purchasing process with our company?
  • Did you find our website useful? 

Customer Survey Templates For Businesses

  • Customer Complaint Form  

Use this customer complaint form template to gather information on the challenges faced by customers for easy resolution. With this form, you can collect important information that will be useful in swiftly addressing any issues faced by customers as they interact with your products or services. 

  • Customer Satisfaction Survey

Conducting a customer satisfaction survey helps you to find out if your customers are satisfied with your products or services. With this survey, you would be able to know what your customers think about your product or service and the extent to which your product meets their needs. 

  • Restaurant Satisfaction Survey

Allow customers to rate your service delivery after a hearty meal, by carrying out a restaurant satisfaction survey . Data gathered via this survey helps you to improve your overall service delivery and provide a great customer experience for your clients. 

  • Website Evaluation Survey

Use this website evaluation survey template to gather feedback from users about your website. This survey allows users to share their experience using your website. 

  • Event Satisfaction Survey

An event satisfaction survey is an important tool that is used to gather feedback from event attendees. This survey provides meaningful insights into attendees’ perceptions of different aspects of your event and also helps you to improve on future events.

  • Post-event Survey

This survey allows attendees to assess your event . Here, attendees can rate their overall experience and provide specific feedback on different aspects of your event also make specific suggestions for improving future events. 

  • Online Feedback Form

An online feedback form is used to seamlessly collect feedback on business processes from customers. With this form, you can easily collect, organize, and process useful information from customers on products, services, and other aspects of your business.

Product Surveys

A product survey is a tool that is used to gather information on what users think about a product. It helps you to understand users’ experiences with your product and to also gather information for improving the overall product experience. 

You can administer a product survey as part of market research before the launch of a new product. This will help you get first-hand information about what the market really wants and create a product that meets these needs. 

Every contact a consumer (or customer) has with your product goes a long way in determining his or her perception of your business. Collecting feedback on users’ experiences gives you an opportunity to understand the concerns of your customers and make sure your product is meeting their needs. 

Top Product Survey Questions for Businesses

  • How often do you use our product?
  • What product features do you find useful?
  • How likely are you to recommend this product? 
  • What value does this product provide for you?
  • Did the product meet your expectations?
  • How would you describe our product?
  • How satisfied are you with the product?
  • How long have you been using our product?
  • What are the top 3 benefits you get from our product?
  • How can we make this product better for you? 

Product Survey Template For Businesses

  • Customer Complaint Form

A customer complaint form is useful in improving your product and customer experience. With this form, you would be able to collect information on any issues faced by your customers and swiftly resolve them for a better user experience. 

  • Product Pricing Survey

Use this product pricing survey template to sample opinions on product pricing. If you are launching a new product and want to avoid pricing your product above or below the market standard, you need to get customer feedback on your product’s price. 

  • Internet Usage Survey

An internet usage survey is used to gather information on the daily “internet behaviors” of respondents. With this survey, you would understand how the internet fits into the everyday lives of your customers. It can be used as part of market research for a product. 

  • Product Evaluation Form

Administering a product evaluation survey is one of the most important steps you can take after launching a new product. This survey allows you to gather feedback from users on different aspects of your product in order to improve the product as needed. 

Market Surveys 

A market survey is an important method of gathering information about the preferences of the target market. It is made up of a set of structured questions that bother on the inclinations of consumers, their behaviors, expectations, and purchasing power. 

A market survey is an important aspect of market research because it helps organizations to collect insightful feedback from users. With this information, you can develop effective marketing strategies for upcoming products and services, and also improve on the features of existing products. 

A market survey helps you to make business decisions from an informed point of view. Rather than basing business decisions on sentiments or guesses, you would be able to depend on actual data from your target market to drive objective decision-making. 

With the data from a market survey, you would better understand consumer demographics and record higher customer acquisition rates. Not only that, but the information retrieved from the target market via market surveys and segmentation is also a source of creating definite and long-term marketing plans for a product. 

Top Market Survey Questions for Businesses

  • Would you choose this product?
  • What do you like about this product or service?
  • How can we improve this product for you?
  • What do you like most about the competing products in the market?
  • Would you choose this product over its competitors?
  • What is your monthly shopping budget?
  • Is our payment plan convenient for you? 
  • Would you recommend this product to others?
  • What do you dislike about this product?
  • Do you think our product is the best in the market?

Market Survey Templates For Businesses

  • Market Survey Form Template

This is important for market research and is used to collect information about market preferences and consumer behaviors. With this form template, you’d gain insights into the needs of your target market. 

  • Demographic Survey

A demographic survey is made up of a set of questions that help you to gather information about your target market. With a demographic survey, you would be able to collect relevant consumer data such as age, occupation, educational status, income level, etc. 

It is also very useful in creating an accurate buyer persona.

How to Create a Business Survey with Formplus

  • Sign in to your Formplus account to access the form builder. Click on the “create new form” button on your dashboard. 
  • Enter the title of your form (e.g. Business Survey Form).
  • You can click or drag and drop preferred fields to your business survey. 


  • Save your business survey to access the form customization section. Here, you can modify your form’s appearance by adding background images, including your organization’s logo, and changing the form layout. 


  • Use the multiple sharing options to share your business survey form with respondents. You can send out email notifications to respondents or share the form with your online community via the social media direct sharing buttons. 

Understanding what a business survey is and how to go about it would help you make better decisions for your organization. A business survey provides useful insights into market preferences and behaviors which are extremely important for the formulation of growth strategies for your business.  

In this article, we’ve discussed different types of business surveys with question samples and we’ve also shared meaningful tips for creating a good business survey. You can use Formplus to create and administer different business surveys for your organization with little or no hassles. 


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135 Business Plan Questions

Embarking on the business journey of your dreams begins with a robust business plan. This plan is not just a document—it’s the roadmap to your success, painting a clear picture of where you’re headed and how you plan to get there.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a hopeful startup pioneer, the questions I’ve compiled are designed as your compass, guiding you through the intricate landscape of business strategy.

From your executive summary to the details of your financial projections, each question serves to dig deep into the essence of your vision, solidifying your plan with precision and care.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • What is the core mission of your business?
  • How would you describe your company’s business model in simple terms?
  • What unique problem does your business solve for its customers?
  • What are the short-term and long-term goals of the company?
  • Who are the intended clients or customers of your business?
  • What is the vision statement for your business?
  • Who are the founders and key team members, and what are their roles?
  • How does your company set itself apart from the competition?
  • What are the main achievements or milestones of your business to date?
  • What key opportunities do you see in the market?
  • How much funding are you seeking, and how will it be used?
  • What are the main products or services your company offers?
  • What is the current stage of your business (concept, start-up, growth)?
  • How do you see your company evolving in the next five years?
  • Can you summarize the financial outlook and projections for your company?

Company Description Considerations

  • What is the legal structure of your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation)?
  • How did the idea for the business originate, and how has it been developed?
  • Who are the target customers, and why will they choose your business?
  • What are the key elements of your business’s operations?
  • What are the specific advantages of your location or facilities, if any?
  • How does your company’s history and background set it up for success?
  • What business sector or industry does your company fall under?
  • How does your company contribute to the economy and community?
  • What partnerships or collaborations are essential to your business?
  • What are the core values and culture of your company?
  • How does your business respond to changes in the market?
  • What relevant certifications, licenses, or permits does your business hold?
  • What are the main risks and challenges your business faces?
  • What role does sustainability play in your company’s operations?
  • How does diversity and inclusion manifest in your company?

Market Analysis

  • Who is your primary target market, and what are their defining characteristics?
  • How large is the target market, and what is its projected growth?
  • What are the trends and themes currently shaping your target market?
  • Who are your top competitors, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your market share, or what market share do you project to capture?
  • How do your target customers make their purchasing decisions?
  • What factors influence the demand for your products or services?
  • What barriers to entry exist in your market, and how can they be overcome?
  • How does pricing play a role in your market position?
  • What is your value proposition to customers in comparison to competitors?
  • How might technology impact your market in the future?
  • What are the legal or regulatory factors affecting your market?
  • How have external factors like the economy affected your market historically?
  • How does geography affect your market and business model?
  • What are the risks associated with your target market?

Organization and Management Structure

  • Who comprises the leadership team, and what are their backgrounds?
  • What is the organizational structure of your business?
  • How will your management team help achieve the business’s goals?
  • What gaps exist in your current team, and how do you plan to fill them?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of your management team members?
  • How does the management structure align with your business strategy?
  • How does your team make decisions and communicate internally?
  • What systems are in place for performance management and accountability?
  • What is your plan for recruiting and retaining skilled employees?
  • How do you approach leadership development and training?
  • How does the current team’s expertise align with the business goals?
  • What are the board of directors’ roles, if applicable?
  • How do you plan to create a productive company culture?
  • What external advisors or consultants does the business use, and why?
  • How have you planned for succession in key management roles?

Service or Product Line Inquiry

  • What are the main products or services your business offers?
  • How do these products or services fulfill customer needs?
  • What is unique about your products or services?
  • How does product/service quality compare to competitors?
  • What is the lifecycle of your products or services?
  • How is your product or service produced or delivered?
  • Are there any patents, copyrights, or trademarks involved?
  • What research and development activities are you pursuing?
  • How do you plan to expand your product or service range?
  • What customer feedback have you received about your product or service?
  • How does your product or service adapt to changes in the market?
  • What is the pricing strategy for your products or services?
  • How does your product or service contribute to your brand image?
  • What are the future plans for developing your product or service?
  • How do warranty or guarantee terms play into your offering?

Marketing and Sales Strategies

  • What marketing channels will you use to reach your target audience?
  • How will you position your company within the market?
  • What promotional strategies will you utilize to attract customers?
  • What is your sales forecast for the first year and beyond?
  • How will you set sales targets and measure success?
  • What sales tactics will you employ to enhance customer acquisition?
  • How will your marketing and sales strategies evolve as the business grows?
  • What is your approach to online and social media marketing?
  • What customer relationship management processes will you put in place?
  • How do you plan to establish your brand identity?
  • What partnerships or sponsorships will you leverage to enhance marketing?
  • What are your strategies for repeat business and customer loyalty?
  • What is your process for tracking marketing ROI?
  • How do customer service and support fit into your sales strategy?
  • How does your marketing strategy cater to different customer segments?

Funding Request Fundamentals

  • How much total funding is required to reach your business objectives?
  • What specific purposes will the funding be used for?
  • What is your proposed timeline for the utilization of funds?
  • What types of funding (e.g., equity, loan) are you pursuing?
  • How will investors or lenders get a return on their investment?
  • What is the current financial position of the business?
  • How much equity are you willing to exchange for investment?
  • What are the key financial milestones that the funding will help achieve?
  • What are the terms you’re seeking for any loans?
  • How do you plan to manage cash flow and ensure financial stability?
  • What collateral, if any, are you offering to back up your funding request?
  • How does the funding impact your business’s financial projections?
  • What is the exit strategy for investors?
  • How will additional funding influence your strategic business decisions?
  • What contingencies do you have in place if you don’t secure the expected funding?

Financial Projections and Feasibility

  • What are your financial forecasts for the next three to five years?
  • How did you arrive at your revenue and expense estimates?
  • What are the key assumptions underlying your financial projections?
  • What are the projected cash flow statements for the next few years?
  • What is your break-even analysis showing?
  • What are your strategies for maintaining a healthy profit margin?
  • How do you plan to monitor and manage financial risks?
  • What is your approach to pricing and cost control?
  • How will you balance reinvestment in the business with profitability?
  • What financial metrics will you use to gauge business performance?
  • How will you handle unexpected financial shortfalls or emergencies?
  • What is your strategy for financial record-keeping and accounting?
  • How do customer payment terms and cycles affect your cash flow?
  • What financial software or tools do you use for projections?
  • How will financial trends and economic conditions potentially impact your projections?

Appendix and Supporting Documents

  • What supporting documents will you include in the appendix?
  • How will these documents reinforce your business plan’s credibility?
  • What resumes or biographies of your team members will you present?
  • What legal documents are relevant to include (e.g., licenses, permits)?
  • How can we access extensive market studies mentioned in the plan?
  • What are your key technical product specifications or service descriptions?
  • How do your financial statements and accounting documents get audited?
  • What testimonials or case studies from customers can you showcase?
  • What press coverage or media mentions has your business received?
  • Can you provide industry endorsements or expert opinions?
  • How will technology prototypes or demos be made available for review?
  • What are your policies and procedures manuals like?
  • How do your charts, graphs, and tables support your plan’s data?
  • What correspondence or contracts with suppliers/partners are appropriate to include?
  • How does your intellectual property documentation reflect on your business’s value?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can i write a business plan myself, or should i hire a professional.

Writing a business plan yourself is possible, especially with the aid of specific questions that cover all business aspects. However, hiring a professional can provide expertise and a polished result, particularly if you seek significant funding.

How often should I update my business plan?

Regular updates are crucial—annually at minimum or more often if your business is rapidly changing. This keeps your business plan relevant and useful as a dynamic, guiding document.

What’s the most critical part of a business plan?

While all sections are important, the Executive Summary is critical as it’s often the first (and sometimes only) part read by potential investors or partners. Clear and compelling financial projections are also vital for potential funders.

Final Thoughts

As your blueprint comes together, remember that the strength of your business plan lies in its details and its ability to represent the vision and practicalities of your enterprise honestly.

The questions outlined will challenge you to think critically, anticipate future hurdles, and prepare for success. With these comprehensive inquiries as your cornerstone, you can turn your business from a dream into an actionable, thriving reality.

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Bea Mariel Saulo

Use This Business Plan Questionnaire to Strategize Your Company’s Growth

Use This Business Plan Questionnaire to Strategize Your Company’s Growth

Without a plan, running a business is like setting off on a trek into the wilderness with no map, no knowledge of your destination, and no understanding of how you will get there.

Writing a business plan may sound like a chore, but it can ultimately generate value in terms of attracting investment and plotting future growth. Business planning can feel all the more daunting for new business owners as it is difficult to determine where you would like to be in 12 months, let alone five years down the track.

While some business plans are intended to be internal documents only, most are written to help attract an investor or procure a business loan. We have created the following business plan questionnaire to help guide business owners through the process.

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is like a 30-second elevator pitch. It should be written with the assumption that a busy lender or investor will give it no more than a glance before making the decision to 1) ignore it or 2) find out more. Don’t be boring — find a way to hook the reader’s attention from the outset. However, avoid going into too much detail.

  • What problem does your business solve, and how?
  • What makes your business uniquely qualified to succeed?
  • What are its core strengths?
  • How much money do you need from the lender/investor?
  • What will be their ROI ?
  • Why should the lender/investor find out more?

2. The Business

Now that you have hooked the reader’s attention with the executive summary, they will want to know more about the business itself.

  • What is your business mission/vision?
  • What sector does the business belong to?
  • Where is the business located?
  • What is the business ownership structure?
  • What products or services do you offer?
  • What is the potential for future growth?
  • What differentiates this business from its competitors?

3. Production

The nuts and bolts of the plan, this section tells the lender/investor how your product or service is produced. This is another area where business planners risk going into too much detail. Keep things simple, concise, and free from technical jargon.

  • How is your product or service produced?
  • What does it cost to produce your product or service?
  • What facilities, equipment, and materials are needed?
  • Who are your main suppliers?
  • What licenses or permits are required for operation?

4. Personnel

This section should reassure the reader that your business is in safe hands and that there is a management plan to support future growth.

  • Who manages the business?
  • Who is on the management team?
  • What are their key skills and qualifications?
  • How many employees does your business have?
  • Is there an adequate pool of talent for future hires?
  • Do you have an organizational chart?
  • Do you have a management strategy?

5. Customers

Demonstrate that you have researched the size of the market, know who your customers are, and are familiar with any competitors who have the potential to erode your market share. 

  • What is the size of the market?
  • What are your customer demographics?
  • What do you charge for your products or services?
  • What market share do you currently have, and what share do you plan to achieve?
  • Who are your key competitors?
  • What is your marketing strategy?

This part of your business plan must be 100% accurate. Keep in mind that some readers will skip straight to this part after reading the executive summary. 

  • If a new business: What costs are involved in setting up your business?
  • What will be your estimated business income for the coming year?
  • What is your projected business income for the coming three years?
  • What is the breakeven point, and what sales volume is needed to make a profit?
  • What are your overheads?
  • What are your current assets and liabilities?
  • How much are you asking the lender/investor for? 

A common flaw in business plans is that they are frequently built upon best-case scenarios and do not consider the impacts of risk events — such as an economic downturn — taking place. Acknowledge the risks, and show how they will be prepared for and mitigated.

  • What are the main risks that could impact the business?
  • How likely are they, and how significant would the impacts be?
  • How are these risks managed?
  • Do you have a business contingency plan?  

After detailing the current state of the business, it’s time to turn to future growth. Use this section to establish that the business has an opportunity to grow, along with a plan to do so.

  • Do you have a growth strategy?
  • By what percentage do you intend to grow, and by when?
  • What are your growth milestones?
  • What additional resources will be needed to support growth?

9. Call to Action

Conclude your business plan by reiterating the main request for an investment or loan. Provide a call to action to set up a meeting.

10. Supporting Documentation

Include any documentation needed to support the information above, such as financial details, copies of operating licenses, or your marketing, personnel, and growth strategies.

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  • How to Write a Business Contingency Plan

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30+ Business Plan Questions & Step-By-Step Business Plan Guide

Last Updated:  

30 May 2024

Table Of Contents

  • 30+ Business Plan Question s

8 Steps to Creating a Full-Proof Business Plan

  • SurveySparrow: The Best Business Plan Tool

Whether in business, marketing, or sales, you know how crucial a solid business plan is to your success. It’s not just about getting started—it’s about setting a clear direction for growth and innovation. This blog is your first step toward clarity and strategy.

Creating a comprehensive business plan is critical for entrepreneurs and business owners. It serves as a roadmap for your business and helps secure funding from investors and banks.

A well-crafted business plan should address key areas of your business, providing a detailed overview of its objectives, strategies, and financial projections.

Here’s a guide structured around crucial categories, each followed by pertinent business plan questions that will help in developing a robust business plan

30 Critical Business Plan Questions to Ask

Whether you’re steering a startup toward uncharted territories, aiming to elevate an established brand, or driving relentless sales growth, your business plan is the compass that guides your strategy, operations, and financial foresight.

Understanding this, we’ve compiled 30 questions designed to ignite your planning process and refine your business strategy.

Here we go.

Executive Summary

  • What is your business’s mission statement?
  • What products or services does your business offer?
  • Who are the founders, and what is their background?
  • What is the current stage of the business (concept, start-up, expansion)?
  • What are the key financial highlights?

Market Analysis

6. Who is your target market, and how large is it? 7. What are the current trends and growth in your industry? 8. Who are your competitors, and what are their strengths and weaknesses? 9. How does your business fit into the market? 10. What is your unique value proposition?

Wait, wouldn’t you need a survey to run these questions and gather feedback? What if I told you that you can do that easily with Surveysparrow .

If you’re ready to chart your business path, grab our Free Business Plan Questionnaire Template . Begin your journey to success now.

Sign up for free with your email and start using it right away.

 Marketing and Sales Strategy

11. How will you reach your target market (marketing channels)? 12. What is your pricing strategy? 13. How do you plan to sell your product or service? 14. What is your sales forecast for the first year? 15. How will you measure the success of your marketing efforts?

Operations Plan

16. What is the location of your business, and why? 17. What facilities and equipment do you need? 18. Who are your suppliers, and what are your supply chain logistics? 19. What is the production process? 20. How will you ensure quality control and customer service?

Management and Organization

21. Who makes up the management team, and what are their roles? 22. How does your organizational structure look? 23. What are the backgrounds of your team members? 24. What gaps in expertise or knowledge exist in your team? 25. How will you fill these gaps (hiring, advisors, etc.)?

Financial Plan

26. What are your startup costs? 27. What is your break-even analysis? 28. What are your projected profit and loss statements for the first 1-3 years? 29. What are your cash flow projections? 30. What are the assumptions underlying your financial projections?

By carefully answering these questions, you can construct a thorough business plan that addresses all the critical components needed for your business’s success. Remember, a business plan is not a static document; it should evolve as your business grows and adapts to market changes.

  • A Journey Begins: Identifying the Problem
  • The Voyage of Discovery: Defining Your Customers
  • The Battle Plan: Reaching Your Customers
  • Understanding the Landscape: Identifying Your Competitors
  • The Strategy Map: Outlining Your Operational Plan
  • Charting the Course: Defining Your Business Structure
  • The Guardian of Your Venture: Creating a Risk Management Plan
  • Calculating the Costs: Budgeting and Financial Projections

1. Identify the Problem

Just as any memorable journey starts with a step, every successful business starts with identifying a problem.

The burning question to answer here is: what problem is your business attempting to solve? Remember, the more specific the issue, the better your chances of designing a unique solution that customers will flock to.

2. Define Your Customers

Identifying your target customer is crucial in the business planning process. This involves understanding and defining your potential customers’ specific demographics, psychographics, behaviors, and needs.

By doing this, you can tailor your products, services, and marketing strategies to meet their specific needs. The more precisely you can define your target audience , the more effectively you can serve them and set your business up for success.

3. Reach Your Customers

Now that You’ve discovered your target customers. Now comes the next challenge: How do you reach them?

Consider all possible marketing channels. Will it be social media? Email newsletters? Influencer partnerships? The choice is yours, but ensure it aligns with where your customers spend their time. After all, there’s no point in sending smoke signals if your customers are tuned into the radio.

 4. Identify Your Competitors

Now you have your bearings; it’s time to study the lay of the land. This means understanding your competition. The question is: Who are they, and how do they solve the same problem?

Understanding your competitors will help you differentiate your business and position it uniquely in the market. After all, in the quest for customer loyalty, your unique selling proposition (USP) is your Excalibur.

 5. Outline Your Operational Plan

So, you’ve identified the problem, defined your customers, planned your marketing, and sized up the competition. You’re almost ready to set sail. But first, there’s another significant piece of the business puzzle to put in place: your operational plan.

Your operational plan should include a detailed plan for sourcing deals. Using the Grata data deal sourcing platform can further help streamline this process and ensure you have access to the most relevant and up-to-date information.

How will your business function day-to-day? What resources will you need? Answering these business plan questions will help you create a clear blueprint of your business operations, ensuring your venture runs as smoothly as a well-oiled machine.

6. Define Your Business Structure

One question that’s often overlooked in the excitement of crafting business plans is this: What is your business structure? Sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC ?

Your business structure will significantly affect taxation, liability, and other legalities. It’s like choosing the right ship for your journey – you need one that will safely weather the storms of your entrepreneurial voyage.

7. Create a Risk Management Plan

In the entrepreneurship journey, bumps and detours are part of the course. Having a risk management plan is essential. The business plan question is: What potential obstacles might you face, and how will you mitigate them?

A well-thought-out risk management plan ensures you’re prepared for the challenges ahead.

8. Create Budget and Financial Projections

Now, onto the numbers. What will be the cost of starting and running your business? How soon before you break even? Financial forecasts might seem as daunting as navigating uncharted waters, but they’re vital in answering the essential business-related question : Will your venture be financially viable?

How Can SurveySparrow Help You in Critical Business Planning

With SurveySparrow by your side, you’re never alone in your business planning journey. Its extensive suite of customer and employee experience tools offers invaluable insights to help answer all these key questions in your business plan.

Use SurveySparrow to conduct comprehensive market research, understand customer behavior, and even keep tabs on employee satisfaction. With this trusty tool, you’re well-equipped to answer all your business plan questions, ensuring your entrepreneurial journey is successful.

Here’s how you can do it.

Market Research : SurveySparrow allows you to design and distribute surveys to gather insights about your market. You can explore potential customer needs, preferences, and pain points and evaluate market trends and size, all of which are critical inputs for your business plan.

Customer Segmentation and Profiling : Using SurveySparrow, you can categorize your potential customers based on their preferences, behavior, demographics, and more. This can help you define your target market, tailor your offerings, and devise effective marketing strategies.

Competitor Analysis : By surveying consumers, you can gain insights about your competitors – their strengths, weaknesses, and what customers think of them. This data can be vital in positioning your business uniquely in the market.

Pricing Strategy : You can use surveys to understand what customers are willing to pay for your product or service, helping you devise a suitable pricing strategy.

Risk Assessment : Use surveys to gather feedback about potential risks or barriers to your business. Understanding these risks in advance can help you form strategies to mitigate them.

Employee Engagement : If you plan to have employees, understanding their needs and expectations is crucial for crafting your operations plan and culture. SurveySparrow can assist with gathering employee feedback and gauging engagement .

Product Testing : Before launching, you can use SurveySparrow to get feedback on your product or service. This can help you fine-tune it according to your target market’s needs and preferences.

Financial Projections : The data you gather from customer and market surveys can help inform your sales forecasts and financial projections, key business plan components .

In short, SurveySparrow can offer a wealth of information, helping you answer the critical questions in your business plan. You’re better equipped to create a robust, data-driven business plan by leveraging these tools.

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That’s All of It.

Remember, every successful business starts with a comprehensive business plan. And every comprehensive business plan starts with answering the right questions. So, go ahead and take the plunge. Your entrepreneurial journey awaits, and with SurveySparrow as your co-pilot, you’re set for an exciting voyage.

After all, the sky’s the limit regarding what you can achieve in the business world. Onwards and upwards, future tycoons!

Passionate, eidetic, and a writer at large.

Growth Marketer at SurveySparrow

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questionnaire in business plan

Home QuestionPro Business

How to Do Market Research for a Business Plan

Business plan research.

For a successful market research and analysis business plan, you will need answers to many critical  market research questions . What demographic is your product or service most likely to appeal to? What is the forecast for the industry you are in? How have other products or services similar to your own done over time? What are your competitors doing right or wrong and how can you capitalize on any market openings?

All these questions have to be addressed to have a strong Market Analysis section within the business plan. If not, when it comes time to deliver your business plan to a potential investor, they will quickly spot the lack of factual data to back up your business promises and they will most likely walk away. To get a strong Market Analysis section, make sure to do your homework and include relevant data, graphs, and charts to make your case.

How to Get Started with Market Research

First, you need to gather your resources and collect data to get the numbers right. Let’s go over how you can do market research for a variety of topics included in your Market Analysis section. They are:

  • Demographics – If you have been managing a website, you already know a bit about the demographics your niche attracts. Using Google Analytics or you can find out not only your own demographics, but those of your top competitors. This can help you find ways to create different sales channels and campaigns to target different demographics from income level and age to other important factors.

Do Your Research

  • Product or Service Review – The product or service lifecycle will need to be reviewed to make sure you are not trying to promote a product or service in an over-saturated market. You can look at product sales on different websites that specialize in specific industries. For instance, if you’re thinking of promoting a new electronic device, you can obtain market research on product sales information from the Consumer Electronics organization at
  • Competitors Analysis – You will have to visit your competitor’s websites and do analytical research for traffic, sales, and niche to make sure you can compete successfully. You can also get valuable insights on how well their business is doing by simply adding your name to a marketing list so that they will send you their news more often.
  • Risks and Opportunities – This will take a bit of thinking to determine how you can best exploit your competitors weaknesses and emphasize your strengths in the marketplace. You will want to differentiate your offering enough from your competitors so that your target audience has a clear choice. Never compete solely on price as that is a failing strategy that ends up with the lowest price driving everyone out of business. Instead, look at the features and services your competitor offers and improve upon them and/or find a way to widen your market share geographically in ways that they cannot, for whatever reason.

Select your respondents

A business plan is not a document written once and then forgotten. Economic and market forces in your day-to-day operations will cause you to review the document every year to see where you have met your objectives, where you haven’t, and how to revise the business plan when you find out more about the market conditions. New market conditions will also impact how you proceed and will need to be included in a newer version of your business plan so that your business stays nimble and is flexible enough to meet new challenges with clearer insights than before. This will ensure the survival of your business in the short-term and provide a good basis for long-term prosperity.


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50 Questions Your Business Plan Should Answer

questionnaire in business plan

S adly, most investors don't read business plans. However, writing one is the only way you will be able to answer the following 50 questions which an investor will ask you:

1. What is the price of your product or service and why?

2. How much capital is required to execute your business plan?

3. How much is the company is worth?

4. What existing products/services does your company provide?

5. What is the use of the proceeds?

6. On a summary basis, what is the historical financial performance of the company (even if, and perhaps particularly if, you have no revenues)?

7. On a summary basis, what is the projected financial performance of the company?

8. What new products/services are being developed and when will they be ready for market?

9. What is the size of the market for your product in dollars?

10. What is the size of the market in terms of units?

11. How has the market for the product/service changed over the past 5 years and why?

12. How do you anticipate it will change going forward?

13. At what rate is the market for your product growing?

14. Is the competition highly concentrated or highly fragmented?

15. What is your distribution channel and why is it the best one?

16. On a broad level, what are the elements of your marketing strategy?

17. What does it cost to generate a lead, and what is the ratio of leads to sales?

18. What funding is being allocated to new product development from the financing and from ongoing operations?

19. How many potential customers have you talked to?

20. What are the gross and margins on your product/service? Why are they superior or inferior to a competitor?

21. What is your assumptions on the bad debt and collection period for outstanding receivables?

22. What are your working capital needs once sales take off and how will these needs be addressed?

23. What will happen to gross and operating margins as sales rise and why?

24. What percentage of your sales are recurring?

25. Who are your top five executives and what is their professional and educational background?

26. What regulatory or legal threats are present?

27. Are there international markets for this product and is the company positioned to take advantage of them?

28. Who is the largest competitor in your industry?

29. What criteria will be used to choose locations for geographic expansion?

30. How will you get this product into mass market distribution channels?

31. Is the product/service patented?

32. Who are your suppliers and or vendors?

33. Do you have more than one for each supplier/vendor of your basic raw materials or services?

34. What are your payment terms with vendors or suppliers?

35. What will cause gross and operating margins to improve as volume increases or decreases?

36. Where is the company located and how many square feet does it lease or own?

37. What is the length of the sales cycle?

38. How did you estimate returns and allowances?

39. How are sales personnel compensated? Incentivized?

40. What, as a percentage of sales, is the industry norm for R&D expenditures?

41. What is the earnings multiple of public companies like yours?

42. What is your immediate marketing objectives?

43. Does the company have a board of directors or advisors?

44. What is the ownership structure of the company? Who else is an owner?

45. How has the company been financed to date? What other financial transactions have occurred in the past?

46. Has the product generated any publicity? Where?

47. How old are the current liabilities on the balance sheet?

48. Who has prepared the historical financial statements and have they been compiled, reviewed or audited?

49. Is there any cyclically in sales?

50. What are the competitive advantages of your products?

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

David Evanson

David Evanson

David R. Evanson has more than 30 years working in the media, on Wall Street and in media relations. He has worked with investment banks, asset managers, private equity investors and institutional brokers on a variety of marketing and communications challenges. David is also a recognized financial writer, having authored five books on finance and economics, and articles in Barron’s, Forbes, Investment Dealers’ Digest, On Wall Street, Financial Planning and Entrepreneur, among others. David brings to the table a well-developed understanding of the capital markets, investments and corporate finance, and a talent for creating targeted media communications programs for financial services providers.

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  • 9+ Business Plan Questionnaire Templates in PDF | MS Word

1. Business Plan Questionnaire in PDF

2. supporting business plan questionnaire, 3. simple business plan questionnaire, 4. aquaculture business plan questionnaire, 5. printable business plan questionnaire, 6. marketing and business plan questionnaire, 7. basic business plan questionnaire, 8. business plan and project questionnaire, 9. formal business plan questionnaire, 10. new practice business questionnaire in doc, what is a business plan, what questions does a business plan answer, what are the objectives of a business plan, how do you write business objectives, what are the company aims and purposes, what are some good business questions to ask, what is the basic structure of a business plan, what are the elements of a business plan, what is required for a business to succeed, what is the most significant resource for a business, what are the financial resources, school templates.

A business plan is a precise, genuine evaluation of a business venture’s possibilities for achievement in the market. It is basically a process to manage the central risks of facing a venture. Have a look at the business plan questionnaire plan templates provided down below and choose the one that best fits your purpose.

questionnaire in business plan

  • What type of business are you in?
  • How will the business earn money?
  • What does your business require to get off the ground?
  • What is the working budget ?
  • Who are your clients?
  • How will you communicate with your clients?
  • What sets you separated from the competition?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses?
  • Becoming and staying successful
  • The productivity of people and supplies
  • Exceptional customer service
  • Employee appeal and retention
  • Mission-driven core values
  • Sustainable growth
  • Make sure each action is steady with your worth and your purposes.
  • Create a schedule .
  • Map out as many steps as feasible.
  • The purpose of setting more solid business goals needs to be tied tightly to your organization’s compliance to act.
  • What obstacle does your business determine?
  • How does your business make an income?
  • Which parts of your business are not successful?
  • Is your cash flow accurate each month?
  • What is your pricing approach and why?
  • Executive Summary
  • Organization Description
  • Market Study
  • Organization and Management
  • Service or Product Line
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Funding Request
  • Financial Projections

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Minimalist Business Plan Presentation Template

Creative business plan presentation template, business plan in entrepreneurship template, 3 year business plan template, startup agency company profile template, joint business plan template, strategic business plan presentation template, business action plan presentation template, business pitch deck template, business proposal presentation template.

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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.


28 Questionnaire Examples, Questions, & Templates to Survey Your Clients

Swetha Amaresan

Published: May 15, 2023

The adage "the customer is always right" has received some pushback in recent years, but when it comes to conducting surveys , the phrase is worth a deeper look. In the past, representatives were tasked with solving client problems as they happened. Now, they have to be proactive by solving problems before they come up.

Person fills out a questionnaire surrounded by question mark scrabble tiles

Salesforce found that 63% of customers expect companies to anticipate their needs before they ask for help. But how can a customer service team recognize these customer needs in advance and effectively solve them on a day-to-day basis?

→ Free Download: 5 Customer Survey Templates [Access Now]

A customer questionnaire is a tried-and-true method for collecting survey data to inform your customer service strategy . By hearing directly from the customer, you'll capture first-hand data about how well your service team meets their needs. In this article, you'll get free questionnaire templates and best practices on how to administer them for the most honest responses.

Table of Contents:

Questionnaire Definition

Survey vs. questionnaire, questionnaire templates.

  • Questionnaire Examples

Questionnaire Design

Survey question examples.

  • Examples of Good Survey Questions

How to Make a Questionnaire

A questionnaire is a research tool used to conduct surveys. It includes specific questions with the goal to understand a topic from the respondents' point of view. Questionnaires typically have closed-ended, open-ended, short-form, and long-form questions.

The questions should always stay as unbiased as possible. For instance, it's unwise to ask for feedback on a specific product or service that’s still in the ideation phase. To complete the questionnaire, the customer would have to imagine how they might experience the product or service rather than sharing their opinion about their actual experience with it.

Ask broad questions about the kinds of qualities and features your customers enjoy in your products or services and incorporate that feedback into new offerings your team is developing.

What makes a good questionnaire?

Define the goal, make it short and simple, use a mix of question types, proofread carefully, keep it consistent.

A good questionnaire should find what you need versus what you want. It should be valuable and give you a chance to understand the respondent’s point of view.

Make the purpose of your questionnaire clear. While it's tempting to ask a range of questions simultaneously, you'll get more valuable results if you stay specific to a set topic.

According to HubSpot research , 47% of those surveyed say their top reason for abandoning a survey is the time it takes to complete.

So, questionnaires should be concise and easy to finish. If you're looking for a respondent’s experience with your business, focus on the most important questions.

questionnaire in business plan

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Your questionnaire should include a combination of question types, like open-ended, long-form, or short-ended questions.

Open-ended questions give users a chance to share their own answers. But closed-ended questions are more efficient and easy to quantify, with specific answer choices.

If you're not sure which question types are best, read here for more survey question examples .

While it's important to check spelling and grammar, there are two other things you'll want to check for a great questionnaire.

First, edit for clarity. Jargon, technical terms, and brand-specific language can be confusing for respondents. Next, check for leading questions. These questions can produce biased results that will be less useful to your team.

Consistency makes it easier for respondents to quickly complete your questionnaire. This is because it makes the questions less confusing. It can also reduce bias.

Being consistent is also helpful for analyzing questionnaire data because it makes it easier to compare results. With this in mind, keep response scales, question types, and formatting consistent.

In-Depth Interviews vs. Questionnaire

Questionnaires can be a more feasible and efficient research method than in-depth interviews. They are a lot cheaper to conduct. That’s because in-depth interviews can require you to compensate the interviewees for their time and give accommodations and travel reimbursement.

Questionnaires also save time for both parties. Customers can quickly complete them on their own time, and employees of your company don't have to spend time conducting the interviews. They can capture a larger audience than in-depth interviews, making them much more cost-effective.

It would be impossible for a large company to interview tens of thousands of customers in person. The same company could potentially get feedback from its entire customer base using an online questionnaire.

When considering your current products and services (as well as ideas for new products and services), it's essential to get the feedback of existing and potential customers. They are the ones who have a say in purchasing decisions.

A questionnaire is a tool that’s used to conduct a survey. A survey is the process of gathering, sampling, analyzing, and interpreting data from a group of people.

The confusion between these terms most likely stems from the fact that questionnaires and data analysis were treated as very separate processes before the Internet became popular. Questionnaires used to be completed on paper, and data analysis occurred later as a separate process. Nowadays, these processes are typically combined since online survey tools allow questionnaire responses to be analyzed and aggregated all in one step.

But questionnaires can still be used for reasons other than data analysis. Job applications and medical history forms are examples of questionnaires that have no intention of being statistically analyzed. The key difference between questionnaires and surveys is that they can exist together or separately.

Below are some of the best free questionnaire templates you can download to gather data that informs your next product or service offering.

What makes a good survey question?

Have a goal in mind, draft clear and distinct answers and questions, ask one question at a time, check for bias and sensitivity, include follow-up questions.

To make a good survey question, you have to choose the right type of questions to use. Include concise, clear, and appropriate questions with answer choices that won’t confuse the respondent and will clearly offer data on their experience.

Good survey questions can give a business good data to examine. Here are some more tips to follow as you draft your survey questions.

To make a good survey, consider what you are trying to learn from it. Understanding why you need to do a survey will help you create clear and concise questions that you need to ask to meet your goal. The more your questions focus on one or two objectives, the better your data will be.

You have a goal in mind for your survey. Now you have to write the questions and answers depending on the form you’re using.

For instance, if you’re using ranks or multiple-choice in your survey, be clear. Here are examples of good and poor multiple-choice answers:

Poor Survey Question and Answer Example


  • Contains the tallest mountain in the United States.
  • Has an eagle on its state flag.
  • Is the second-largest state in terms of area.
  • Was the location of the Gold Rush of 1849.

Good Survey Question and Answer Example

What is the main reason so many people moved to California in 1849?

  • California's land was fertile, plentiful, and inexpensive.
  • The discovery of gold in central California.
  • The East was preparing for a civil war.
  • They wanted to establish religious settlements.

In the poor example, the question may confuse the respondent because it's not clear what is being asked or how the answers relate to the question. The survey didn’t fully explain the question, and the options are also confusing.

In the good example above, the question and answer choices are clear and easy to understand.

Always make sure answers and questions are clear and distinct to create a good experience for the respondent. This will offer your team the best outcomes from your survey.

It's surprisingly easy to combine multiple questions into one. They even have a name — they’re called "double-barreled" questions. But a good survey asks one question at a time.

For example, a survey question could read, "What is your favorite sneaker and clothing apparel brand?" This is bad because you’re asking two questions at once.

By asking two questions simultaneously, you may confuse your respondents and get unclear answers. Instead, each question should focus on getting specific pieces of information.

For example, ask, "What is your favorite sneaker brand?" then, "What is your favorite clothing apparel brand?" By separating the questions, you allow your respondents to give separate and precise answers.

Biased questions can lead a respondent toward a specific response. They can also be vague or unclear. Sensitive questions such as age, religion, or marital status can be helpful for demographics. These questions can also be uncomfortable for people to answer.

There are a few ways to create a positive experience with your survey questions.

First, think about question placement. Sensitive questions that appear in context with other survey questions can help people understand why you are asking. This can make them feel more comfortable responding.

Next, check your survey for leading questions, assumptions, and double-barreled questions. You want to make sure that your survey is neutral and free of bias.

Asking more than one survey question about an area of interest can make a survey easier to understand and complete. It also helps you collect more in-depth insights from your respondents.

1. Free HubSpot Questionnaire Template

HubSpot offers a variety of free customer surveys and questionnaire templates to analyze and measure customer experience. Choose from five templates: net promoter score, customer satisfaction, customer effort, open-ended questions, and long-form customer surveys.

2. Client Questionnaire Template

It's a good idea to gauge your clients' experiences with your business to uncover opportunities to improve your offerings. That will, in turn, better suit their lifestyles. You don't have to wait for an entire year to pass before polling your customer base about their experience either. A simple client questionnaire, like the one below, can be administered as a micro survey several times throughout the year. These types of quick survey questions work well to retarget your existing customers through social media polls and paid interactive ads.

1. How much time do you spend using [product or service]?

  • Less than a minute
  • About 1 - 2 minutes
  • Between 2 and 5 minutes
  • More than 5 minutes

2. In the last month, what has been your biggest pain point?

  • Finding enough time for important tasks
  • Delegating work
  • Having enough to do

3. What's your biggest priority right now?

  • Finding a faster way to work
  • Problem-solving
  • Staff development


3. Website Questionnaire Template

Whether you just launched a brand new website or you're gathering data points to inform a redesign, you'll find customer feedback to be essential in both processes. A website questionnaire template will come in handy to collect this information using an unbiased method.

1. How many times have you visited [website] in the past month?

  • More than once

2. What is the primary reason for your visit to [website]?

  • To make a purchase
  • To find more information before making a purchase in-store
  • To contact customer service

3. Are you able to find what you're looking for on the website homepage?

4. Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire Template

If you've never surveyed your customers and are looking for a template to get started, this one includes some basic customer satisfaction questions. These will apply to just about any customer your business serves.

1. How likely are you to recommend us to family, friends, or colleagues?

  • Extremely unlikely
  • Somewhat unlikely
  • Somewhat likely
  • Extremely likely

2. How satisfied were you with your experience?

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

3. Rank the following items in terms of their priority to your purchasing process.

  • Helpful staff
  • Quality of product
  • Price of product
  • Ease of purchase
  • Proximity of store
  • Online accessibility
  • Current need
  • Appearance of product

4. Who did you purchase these products for?

  • Family member
  • On behalf of a business

5. Please rate our staff on the following terms:

  • Friendly __ __ __ __ __ Hostile
  • Helpful __ __ __ __ __ Useless
  • Knowledgeable __ __ __ __ __ Inexperienced
  • Professional __ __ __ __ __ Inappropriate

6. Would you purchase from our company again?

7. How can we improve your experience for the future?


5. Customer Effort Score Questionnaire Template

The following template gives an example of a brief customer effort score (CES) questionnaire. This free template works well for new customers to measure their initial reaction to your business.

1. What was the ease of your experience with our company?

  • Extremely difficult
  • Somewhat difficult
  • Somewhat easy
  • Extremely easy

2. The company did everything it could to make my process as easy as possible.

  • Strongly disagree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Strongly agree

3. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being "extremely quickly" and 10 being "extremely slowly"), how fast were you able to solve your problem?

4. How much effort did you have to put forth while working with our company?

  • Much more than expected
  • Somewhat more than expected
  • As much as expected
  • Somewhat less than expected
  • Much less than expected

6. Demographic Questionnaire Template

Here's a template for surveying customers to learn more about their demographic background. You could substantiate the analysis of this questionnaire by corroborating the data with other information from your web analytics, internal customer data, and industry data.

1. How would you describe your employment status?

  • Employed full-time
  • Employed part-time
  • Freelance/contract employee
  • Self-employed

2. How many employees work at your company?

3. How would you classify your role?

  • Individual Contributor

4. How would you classify your industry?

  • Technology/software
  • Hospitality/dining
  • Entertainment

Below, we have curated a list of questionnaire examples that do a great job of gathering valuable qualitative and quantitative data.

4 Questionnaire Examples

1. customer satisfaction questions.

patient satisfaction survey

Learn more about HubSpot's Customer Survey software.


Multiple-choice questions offer respondents several answers to choose from. This is a popular choice of questionnaire format since it's simple for people to fill out and for companies to analyze.

Multiple-choice questions can be in single-answer form (respondents can only choose one response) or multiple-answer form (respondents can choose as many responses as necessary).

Multiple-choice survey question examples : "Which of the following social media platforms do you use most often?"

Survey question examples: Multiple choice

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Rating Scale

Rating scale questions offer a scale of numbers and ask respondents to rate topics based on the sentiments assigned to that scale. This is effective when assessing customer satisfaction.

Rating scale survey question examples : "Rate your level of satisfaction with the customer service you received today on a scale of 1-10."

Survey question examples: Rating Scale

Yes or no survey questions are a type of dichotomous question. These are questions that only offer two possible responses. They’re useful because they’re quick to answer and can help with customer segmentation.

Yes or no survey questions example : "Have you ever used HubSpot before?"

Likert Scale

Likert scale questions assess whether a respondent agrees with the statement, as well as the extent to which they agree or disagree.

These questions typically offer five or seven responses, with sentiments ranging from items such as "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree." Check out this post to learn more about the Likert scale .

Likert scale survey question examples : “How satisfied are you with the service from [brand]?”

Survey question examples: Likert Scale

Open-ended questions ask a broader question or offer a chance to elaborate on a response to a close-ended question. They're accompanied by a text box that leaves room for respondents to write freely. This is particularly important when asking customers to expand on an experience or recommendation.

Open-ended survey question examples : "What are your personal goals for using HubSpot? Please describe."

Survey question examples: Open-Ended

Matrix Table

A matrix table is usually a group of multiple-choice questions grouped in a table. Choices for these survey questions are usually organized in a scale. This makes it easier to understand the relationships between different survey responses.

Matrix table survey question examples : "Rate your level of agreement with the following statements about HubSpot on a scale of 1-5."

Survey question examples: Matrix table

Rank Order Scaling

These questions ask respondents to rank a set of terms by order of preference or importance. This is useful for understanding customer priorities.

Rank order scaling examples : "Rank the following factors in order of importance when choosing a new job."

Survey question examples: Rank order scaling

Semantic Differential Scale

This scale features pairs of opposite adjectives that respondents use for rating, usually for a feature or experience. This type of question makes it easier to understand customer attitudes and beliefs.

Semantic differential scale question examples : "Rate your overall impression of this brand as friendly vs. unfriendly, innovative vs. traditional, and boring vs. exciting."

Survey question examples: Semantic differential scale

Side-By-Side Matrix

This matrix table format includes two sets of questions horizontally for easy comparison. This format can help with customer gap analysis.

Side-by-side matrix question examples : "Rate your level of satisfaction with HubSpot's customer support compared to its ease of use."

Survey question examples: Side-by-side matrix

Stapel Scale

The Stapel rating scale offers a single adjective or idea for rating. It uses a numerical scale with a zero point in the middle. This survey question type helps with in-depth analysis.

Stapel scale survey question examples : "Rate your overall experience with this product as +5 (excellent) to -5 (terrible)."

Survey question examples: Stapel scale

Constant Sum Survey Questions

In this question format, people distribute points to different choices based on the perceived importance of each point. This kind of question is often used in market research and can help your team better understand customer choices .

Constant sum survey question examples : "What is your budget for the following marketing expenses: Paid campaigns, Events, Freelancers, Agencies, Research."

Survey question examples: Constant sum

Image Choice

This survey question type shows several images. Then, it asks the respondent to choose the image that best matches their response to the question. These questions are useful for understanding your customers’ design preferences.

Image choice survey questions example : "Which of these three images best represents your brand voice?"

Survey question examples: Image chooser

Choice Model

This survey question offers a hypothetical scenario, then the respondent must choose from the presented options. It's a useful type of question when you are refining a product or strategy.

Choice model survey questions example : "Which of these three deals would be most appealing to you?"

Click Map Questions

Click map questions offer an image click on specific areas of the image in response to a question. This question uses data visualization to learn about customer preferences for design and user experience.

Click map question examples : "Click on the section of the website where you would expect to find pricing information."

Survey question examples: Choice model

Data Upload

This survey question example asks the respondent to upload a file or document in response to a question. This type of survey question can help your team collect data and context that might be tough to collect otherwise.

Data upload question examples : "Please upload a screenshot of the error you encountered during your purchase."

Survey question examples: Data Upload

Benchmarkable Questions

This question type asks a respondent to compare their answers to a group or benchmark. These questions can be useful if you're trying to compare buyer personas or other customer groups.

Benchmarkable survey questions example : "Compare your company's marketing budget to other companies in your industry."

Good Survey Questions

  • What is your favorite product?
  • Why did you purchase this product?
  • How satisfied are you with [product]?
  • Would you recommend [product] to a friend?
  • Would you recommend [company name] to a friend?
  • If you could change one thing about [product], what would it be?
  • Which other options were you considering before [product or company name]?
  • Did [product] help you accomplish your goal?
  • How would you feel if we did not offer this product, feature, or service?
  • What would you miss the most if you couldn't use your favorite product from us?
  • What is one word that best describes your experience using our product?
  • What's the primary reason for canceling your account?
  • How satisfied are you with our customer support?
  • Did we answer all of your questions and concerns?
  • How can we be more helpful?
  • What additional features would you like to see in this product?
  • Are we meeting your expectations?
  • How satisfied are you with your experience?

1. "What is your favorite product?"

This question is a great starter for your survey. Most companies want to know what their most popular products are, and this question cuts right to the point.

It's important to note that this question gives you the customer's perspective, not empirical evidence. You should compare the results to your inventory to see if your customers' answers match your actual sales. You may be surprised to find your customers' "favorite" product isn't the highest-selling one.

2. "Why did you purchase this product?"

Once you know their favorite product, you need to understand why they like it so much. The qualitative data will help your marketing and sales teams attract and engage customers. They'll know which features to advertise most and can seek out new leads similar to your existing customers.

3. "How satisfied are you with [product]?"

When you have a product that isn't selling, you can ask this question to see why customers are unhappy with it. If the reviews are poor, you'll know that the product needs reworking, and you can send it back to product management for improvement. Or, if these results are positive, they may have something to do with your marketing or sales techniques. You can then gather more info during the questionnaire and restrategize your campaigns based on your findings.

4. "Would you recommend [product] to a friend?"

This is a classic survey question used with most NPS® surveys. It asks the customer if they would recommend your product to one of their peers. This is extremely important because most people trust customer referrals more than traditional advertising. So, if your customers are willing to recommend your products, you'll have an easier time acquiring new leads.

5. "Would you recommend [company name] to a friend?"

Similar to the question above, this one asks the customer to consider your business as a whole and not just your product. This gives you insight into your brand's reputation and shows how customers feel about your company's actions. Even if you have an excellent product, your brand's reputation may be the cause of customer churn . Your marketing team should pay close attention to this question to see how they can improve the customer experience .

6. "If you could change one thing about [product], what would it be?"

This is a good question to ask your most loyal customers or ones that have recently churned. For loyal customers, you want to keep adding value to their experience. Asking how your product can improve helps your development team find flaws and increases your chances of retaining a valuable customer segment.

For customers that have recently churned, this question gives insight into how you can retain future users that are unhappy with your product or service. By giving these customers a space to voice their criticisms, you can either reach out and offer solutions or relay feedback for consideration.

7. "Which other options were you considering before [product or company name]?"

If you're operating in a competitive industry, customers will have more than one choice when considering your brand. And if you sell variations of your product or produce new models periodically, customers may prefer one version over another.

For this question, you should offer answers to choose from in a multiple-selection format. This will limit the types of responses you'll receive and help you get the exact information you need.

8. "Did [product] help you accomplish your goal?"

The purpose of any product or service is to help customers reach a goal. So, you should be direct and ask them if your company steered them toward success. After all, customer success is an excellent retention tool. If customers are succeeding with your product, they're more likely to stay loyal to your brand.

9. "How would you feel if we did not offer this product, feature, or service?"

Thinking about discontinuing a product? This question can help you decide whether or not a specific product, service, or feature will be missed if you were to remove it.

Even if you know that a product or service isn't worth offering, it's important to ask this question anyway because there may be a certain aspect of the product that your customers like. They'll be delighted if you can integrate that feature into a new product or service.

10. "If you couldn't use your favorite product from us, what would you miss the most about it?"

This question pairs well with the one above because it frames the customer's favorite product from a different point of view. Instead of describing why they love a particular product, the customer can explain what they'd be missing if they didn't have it at all. This type of question uncovers "fear of loss," which can be a very different motivating factor than "hope for gain."

11. "What word best describes your experience using our product?"

Your marketing team will love this question. A single word or a short phrase can easily sum up your customers’ emotions when they experience your company, product, or brand. Those emotions can be translated into relatable marketing campaigns that use your customers’ exact language.

If the responses reveal negative emotions, it's likely that your entire customer service team can relate to that pain point. Rather than calling it "a bug in the system," you can describe the problem as a "frustrating roadblock" to keep their experience at the forefront of the solution.

12. "What's the primary reason for canceling your account?"

Finding out why customers are unhappy with your product or service is key to decreasing your churn rate . If you don't understand why people leave your brand, it's hard to make effective changes to prevent future turnover. Or worse, you might alter your product or service in a way that increases your churn rate, causing you to lose customers who were once loyal supporters.

13. "How satisfied are you with our customer support?"

It's worth asking customers how happy they are with your support or service team. After all, an excellent product doesn't always guarantee that customers will stay loyal to your brand. Research shows that one in six customers will leave a brand they love after just one poor service experience.

14. "Did we answer all of your questions and concerns?"

This is a good question to ask after a service experience. It shows how thorough your support team is and whether they're prioritizing speed too much over quality. If customers still have questions and concerns after a service interaction, your support team is focusing too much on closing tickets and not enough on meeting customer needs .

15. "How can we be more helpful?"

Sometimes it's easier to be direct and simply ask customers what else you can do to help them. This shows a genuine interest in your buyers' goals which helps your brand foster meaningful relationships with its customer base. The more you can show that you sincerely care about your customers' problems, the more they'll open up to you and be honest about how you can help them.

16. What additional features would you like to see in this product?

With this question, your team can get inspiration for the company's next product launch. Think of the responses as a wish list from your customers. You can discover what features are most valuable to them and whether they already exist within a competitor's product.

Incorporating every feature suggestion is nearly impossible, but it's a convenient way to build a backlog of ideas that can inspire future product releases.

17. "Are we meeting your expectations?"

This is a really important question to ask because customers won't always tell you when they're unhappy with your service. Not every customer will ask to speak with a manager when they're unhappy with your business. In fact, most will quietly move on to a competitor rather than broadcast their unhappiness to your company. To prevent this type of customer churn, you need to be proactive and ask customers if your brand is meeting their expectations.

18. "How satisfied are you with your experience?"

This question asks the customer to summarize their experience with your business. It gives you a snapshot of how the customer is feeling in that moment and their perception of your brand. Asking this question at the right stage in the customer's journey can tell you a lot about what your company is doing well and where you can stand to improve.

Next, let's dig into some tips for creating your own questionnaire.

Start with templates as a foundation. Know your question types. Keep it brief when possible. Choose a simple visual design. Use a clear research process. Create questions with straightforward, unbiased language. Make sure every question is important. Ask one question at a time. Order your questions logically. Consider your target audience. Test your questionnaire.

1. Use questionnaire templates.

Rather than build a questionnaire from scratch, consider using questionnaire templates to get started. HubSpot's collection of customer-facing questionnaire templates can help you quickly build and send a questionnaire to your clients and analyze the results right on Google Drive.

net promoter score questionnaire templates

Vrnda LeValley , customer training manager at HubSpot, recommends starting with an alignment question like, "Does this class meet your expectations?" because it gives more context to any positive or negative scores that follow. She continues, "If it didn't meet expectations, then there will potentially be negative responses across the board (as well as the reverse)."

3. Keep it brief, when possible.

Most questionnaires don't need to be longer than a page. For routine customer satisfaction surveys, it's unnecessary to ask 50 slightly varied questions about a customer's experience when those questions could be combined into 10 solid questions.

The shorter your questionnaire is, the more likely a customer will complete it. Plus a shorter questionnaire means less data for your team to collect and analyze. Based on the feedback, it will be a lot easier for you to get the information you need to make the necessary changes in your organization and products.

4. Choose a simple visual design.

There's no need to make your questionnaire a stunning work of art. As long as it's clear and concise, it will be attractive to customers. When asking questions that are important to furthering your company, it's best to keep things simple. Select a font that’s common and easy to read, like Helvetica or Arial. Use a text size that customers of all abilities can navigate.

A questionnaire is most effective when all the questions are visible on a single screen. The layout is important. If a questionnaire is even remotely difficult to navigate, your response rate could suffer. Make sure that buttons and checkboxes are easy to click and that questions are visible on both computer and mobile screens.

5. Use a clear research process.

Before planning questions for your questionnaire, you'll need to have a definite direction for it. A questionnaire is only effective if the results answer an overarching research question. After all, the research process is an important part of the survey, and a questionnaire is a tool that's used within the process.

In your research process, you should first come up with a research question. What are you trying to find out? What's the point of this questionnaire? Keep this in mind throughout the process.

After coming up with a research question, it's a good idea to have a hypothesis. What do you predict the results will be for your questionnaire? This can be structured in a simple "If … then …" format. A structured experiment — yes, your questionnaire is a type of experiment — will confirm that you're only collecting and analyzing data necessary to answer your research question. Then, you can move forward with your survey .

6. Create questions with straightforward, unbiased language.

When crafting your questions, it's important to structure them to get the point across. You don't want any confusion for your customers because this may influence their answers. Instead, use clear language. Don't use unnecessary jargon, and use simple terms in favor of longer-winded ones.

You may risk the reliability of your data if you try to combine two questions. Rather than asking, "How was your experience shopping with us, and would you recommend us to others?" separate it into two separate questions. Customers will be clear on your question and choose a response most appropriate for each one.

You should always keep the language in your questions unbiased. You never want to sway customers one way or another because this will cause your data to be skewed. Instead of asking, "Some might say that we create the best software products in the world. Would you agree or disagree?" it may be better to ask, "How would you rate our software products on a scale of 1 to 10?" This removes any bias and confirms that all the responses are valid.

7. Ask only the most important questions.

When creating your questionnaire, keep in mind that time is one of the most valuable commodities for customers. Most aren't going to sit through a 50-question survey, especially when they're being asked about products or services they didn't use. Even if they do complete it, most of these will be half-hearted responses from fatigued customers who simply want to be finished with it.

If your questionnaire has five or 55 questions, make sure each has a specific purpose. Individually, they should be aimed at collecting certain pieces of information that reveal new insights into different aspects of your business. If your questions are irrelevant or seem out of place, your customers will be easily derailed by the survey. And, once the customer has lost interest, it'll be difficult to regain their focus.

8. Ask one question at a time.

Since every question has a purpose, ask them one at a time. This lets the customer focus and encourages them to share a thoughtful response. This is particularly important for open-ended questions where customers need to describe an experience or opinion.

By grouping questions together, you risk overwhelming busy customers who don't have time for a long survey. They may think you're asking them too much, or they might see your questionnaire as a daunting task. You want your survey to appear as painless as possible. Keeping your questions separated will make it more user-friendly.

9. Order your questions logically.

A good questionnaire is like a good book. The beginning questions should lay the framework, the middle ones should cut to the core issues, and the final questions should tie up all loose ends. This flow keeps customers engaged throughout the entire survey.

When creating your questionnaire, start with the most basic questions about demographics. You can use this information to segment your customer base and create different buyer personas.

Next, add in your product and services questions. These are the ones that offer insights into common customer roadblocks and where you can improve your business's offerings. Questions like these guide your product development and marketing teams looking for new ways to enhance the customer experience.

Finally, you should conclude your questionnaire with open-ended questions to understand the customer journey. These questions let customers voice their opinions and point out specific experiences they've had with your brand.

10. Consider your target audience.

Whenever you collect customer feedback, you need to keep in mind the goals and needs of your target audience. After all, the participants in this questionnaire are your active customers. Your questions should be geared toward the interests and experiences they've already had with your company.

You can even create multiple surveys that target different buyer personas. For example, if you have a subscription-based pricing model, you can personalize your questionnaire for each type of subscription your company offers.

11. Test your questionnaire.

Once your questionnaire is complete, it's important to test it. If you don't, you may end up asking the wrong questions and collecting irrelevant or inaccurate information. Start by giving your employees the questionnaire to test, then send it to small groups of customers and analyze the results. If you're gathering the data you're looking for, then you should release the questionnaire to all of your customers.

How Questionnaires Can Benefit Your Customer Service Strategy

Whether you have one customer or 1000 customers, their opinions matter when it comes to the success of your business. Their satisfaction with your offerings can reveal how well or how poorly your customer service strategy and business are meeting their needs. A questionnaire is one of the most powerful, cost-effective tools to uncover what your customers think about your business. When analyzed properly, it can inform your product and service launches.

Use the free questionnaire templates, examples, and best practices in this guide to conduct your next customer feedback survey.

Now that you know the slight difference between a survey and a questionnaire, it’s time to put it into practice with your products or services. Remember, a good survey and questionnaire always start with a purpose. But, a great survey and questionnaire give data that you can use to help companies increase the way customers respond to their products or services because of the questions.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld, and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Formulating a Business Plan with Questionnaire

questionnaire in business plan

Looking to start up your own business? If you happen to be one of those people, then this article is meant for you. Drafting your own business plans means that you have an initial idea on how your business is going to turn out and how it is going to survive in the next couple of years. A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business.

  • Questionnaire Examples in PDF
  • What Is a Questionnaire?

Business Plan Questionnaire Example

business plan questionnaire 1 638

Size: 68 KB

Business plans can help you get funding or bring on new business partners. Investors want to feel confident they’ll see a return on their investment as it is the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a good and smart choice.

Picking the Right Business Plan

There is no right or wrong business plan- there is only the plan that can best suit your needs. Businessmen and investors would normally make use of the traditional business plan as they are more common that make use of a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. The disadvantage of this however is that it tends to be quite tedious and straining to make since it requires to be at least a few dozen pages long due to the careful detail that will have to be used and since it is more comprehensive that way.  You may also see what is a survey questionnaire?

1. Traditional business plan format

In drafting said business plan, there is actually no need to exactly follow the business plan outline. What is crucial for you to include are these 9 aspects that can be found in a typical traditional business plan format.

2. Executive summary

This is known as the executive summary since it is in this section that you will be explaining on what your company is about and why the said business is going to be successful. Included in your executive summary should also be your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company’s leadership team, employees, and your store location.

3. Company description

Another crucial aspect that should be included in your business plan must also be the company description. What exactly does your company do and who does it cater to? What services can it provide the customers and where does it see itself a couple of years from now? Try to also list down the strengths that the company can offer to its clients as to make a name for itself. Make sure that in writing the company description, it would have to be detailed and smart-sounding. You may also like research questionnaire examples & samples .

4. Market analysis

Now that you have already described the your company completely, it is high time for you to conduct your own market analysis and what kind of target market do you think it tends to attract. Who are you catering to? Do you know the likes and dislikes of your clientele? Are you aware of the growing competition? And if you are, do you think you can serve their products better? Try to keep in mind that businesses who are in the same industry tend to have the same niche market. You just have to find out on what aspects do you think you can do better. You may also check out assessment questionnaire examples .

5. Organization and management

Now that the foundations have already been formed, it is then time to lay out on who is in charge and who does what in the company. And for that, you need to form an organizational chart to help. When forming an organizational chart, you will be tasked to list down all the personnel involved with the company, what division or branch do they represent and their role in the company? By listing them down, it means that this certain member or team is accountable for that kind of task and whatever results their team has managed to achieve will be given due credit or will be held responsible if they have somehow failed.  You might be interested in student questionnaire examples .

 6. Service or product line

Describe what you sell or what service you offer. Explain how it benefits your customers and what the product life cycle looks like. Share your plans for intellectual property, like copyright or patent filings. If you’re doing research and development for your service or product, explain it in detail.

7. Marketing and sales

There is no single strategy for marketing a said product nor is there a perfect marketing or sales strategy. There is only the value of giving up or not giving up. When you know that Strategy A has not been working for quite sometime, will you proceed to Strategy B or will you keep going with the former until it starts working? Truth be told, you can go with either. Because in the world of business, everything is achieved by either lots of preparation or by sheer luck. Sometimes, you just have to go with your instincts and guts.

And sometimes, you would need to prepare extensively to ensure that the plan works. But without even bothering to advertise or market your product for the whole public to know about, how can it then be successful? Reach out to the local media, hire graphic designers to do with attractive posters and simple billboards for you. If you do, then there is absolutely no reason to worry.

8. Funding request

Specify whether you want debt or equity, the terms you’d like applied, and the length of time your request will cover. Give a detailed description of how you’ll use your funds. Specify if you need funds to buy equipment or materials, pay salaries, or cover specific bills until revenue increases. Always include a description of your future strategic financial plans just in case.

9. Financial projections

Provide a prospective financial outlook for the next five years. Include forecasted income statements , balance sheets , cash flow statements , and capital expenditure budgets. For the first year, be even more specific and use quarterly — or even monthly — projections.

10. Appendix

The appendix simply refers to the supporting documents that you would need to include to make your business plan more substantial. Example of these are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference , licenses, permits, or patents, legal documents, permits, and other contracts.

Business Plan Questionnaire Essay Example

Business Plan Questionnaire Essay Mode

Size: 102 KB

Questions to Ask Before Drafting a Business Plan

1) What is the need that your business exists to satisfy?

  • Just as there are billions of people who have different needs and wants, there are simply thousands of different kinds of businesses that can help satisfy their needs. If you are an entrepreneur or a businessman looking for a way to set his mark on the world, take a moment or a breather to ask yourself if the the business is really worth pursuing and what need or want can it satisfy that is not already found in the market? If you already know the answer to those questions, then it is a decision that you have to stick by. You may also see how to prepare a questionnaire .

2) How will your business satisfy the need?

  • Introduce and describe the business itself. Consider including a mission or vision statement with objectives detailing how the business satisfies the need in the market. Remember not to fake it. Once you begin to fake your answers, then people will immediately see through the lie and begin doubting as to whether the business is worth it or not.

3) How does your company differentiate itself?

  • As mentioned before, you are not the only business in that particular kind of industry. Acknowledge the simple fact that there were others before you and that there will be others after you if you are not careful. But two fast food restaurants do not exactly serve the same food as their competitors, now do they? Obviously, they have their pros and cons. As the owner or the one in-charge of handling the business, it is crucial that you try to describe your business model and competitive advantage. In that way, you are not only looking at the tree in front of you, but the whole forest surrounding you. You may also see questionnaire templates & examples .

4) Who will be the key players in the business?

  • Who are going to be the ones running the show and doing most of the legwork? It is important to name those people and point out as to the role that they are going to play in contributing to the success of the company. You may also like survey questionnaire examples .

5) How big is the market you are entering?

  • Only after understanding the industry you are entering – its size, attractiveness and profit potential – can you truly justify the opportunity.

New Business Plan Questionnaire Example

Business Plan Questionnaire Example

Size: 69 KB

Keep in mind that you need to be committed from the start ’till the end when formulating your business plan.


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20 business survey questions to ask your customers

How to Create a Survey

20 business survey questions to ask your customers

Examples of business survey questions, market research questions, product feedback questions, customer service feedback questions, brand recognition questions.

How can you know if your customers are happy with your products and services and plan to continue purchasing? All you have to do is ask!

Customer surveys are a great way to gather insights that will help you make decisions about the future of your company. The questions you ask will depend on the survey’s purpose. Do you want to research a potential new market or solicit customer feedback? Or maybe you want to measure brand awareness or understand the competitor landscape.

Whatever your goal, keep reading to learn which business survey questions to ask in order to get more meaningful insights.

Youtube Embed Poster: 4FtU5Se2kx0

Goals for business survey questions

“Surveys are an easy and non-intrusive way to get business data that would otherwise be impossible to get,” says Harrison Tanner Baron, CEO and founder of Growth Generators , a digital marketing agency.

When drafting your questions, it’s important to have a clear objective in mind: What does your organization want to achieve by asking these questions? This will help you determine what types of questions to ask, the order in which to ask them, and whom to ask.

Here are some of the most common business survey goals:

  • Learn more about the target audience. Market research surveys that ask questions related to demographics and customer needs help businesses learn more about their customer base and what they want in terms of products and services.

Find out  marketing research survey tips  in our guide.

  • Get insight on a specific product or service. A company that’s releasing a new product or service may launch it for a small audience first and survey their responses to see what can be improved before releasing it into the wider market.
  • Improve customer service. How an organization treats its customers determines whether they choose to come back or not. Business survey questions that seek to understand a customer’s experience can help organizations improve their service processes.
  • Understand their competitive position. Questions around brand recognition help the company see how customers perceive it in the wider market. This can impact branding strategies and marketing approaches.

“Feedback from customers is worth its weight in gold,” says Baron. “Big box stores have surveys on the bottom of their receipts, and online companies automate surveys. The data can help drive more sales, but, more importantly, it can be used to improve the overall customer experience.”

Baron notes that some companies may think customer surveys are a bit invasive. “However, most people are happy to participate for a chance to win a gift card or store credit,” he notes.

“The main drawback of customer surveys is that sometimes customers can give feedback that may be hard for businesses to stomach,” says Baron. It’s important to be open to all kinds of responses — both positive and negative — when conducting customer surveys.

Check it out…

Learn the right questions to ask your customers about products, services, and target audiences, and more.

These types of questions help organizations make decisions about the future direction of their company, such as markets to target or products to develop.

  • What is your most pressing daily challenge?
  • If you had an ideal solution to this problem, what would it look like?
  • Are you more likely to fix the problem yourself or hire someone to do it for you?
  • How likely are you to purchase this product?
  • What do you value most in a product: affordability, quality, or the time it saves?

Questions like these produce valuable insight into how consumers view a product and where it could use some improvements. They can also help businesses project future sales.

  • What surprised you about this product?
  • Does this product live up to your expectations?
  • How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend?
  • What do you like least about using this product?
  • If you could change anything about this product, what would it be?

These questions are important because they aid in customer retention efforts and enable businesses to fine-tune their customer service processes.

  • How would you rate your experience at our store today?
  • How likely are you to return to our e-commerce store?
  • Will you recommend our business to a friend?
  • Did the customer service representative resolve your issue effectively?
  • If you could change anything about your experience today, what would it be?

Organizations ask these questions to see where they stand in the industry, how they can improve their image, and how they can become more memorable.

  • Which company is the leader in this industry?
  • What is the most memorable marketing campaign you’ve seen in this industry?
  • Why would you choose a certain business over another in this industry?
  • Do you view our organization as an expert in this industry?
  • What is more valuable to you when choosing a business: name recognition or price point?

Business survey questions with Jotform

Ready to create your own business survey ? Baron notes that good business survey questions can help your organization make more money by uncovering what your target audience wants.

Jotform has you covered with thousands of form and survey templates for a wide array of business needs , including tax forms, demographic surveys, job applications, and many more. Each survey template is fully customizable, so you can edit the content, colors, and logos to create an attractive-looking survey that will help you meet your business goals.

Thank you for helping improve the Jotform Blog. 🎉


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How To Start A Business In 11 Steps (2024 Guide)

Katherine Haan

Updated: Apr 7, 2024, 1:44pm

How To Start A Business In 11 Steps (2024 Guide)

Table of Contents

Before you begin: get in the right mindset, 1. determine your business concept, 2. research your competitors and market, 3. create your business plan, 4. choose your business structure, 5. register your business and get licenses, 6. get your finances in order, 7. fund your business, 8. apply for business insurance, 9. get the right business tools, 10. market your business, 11. scale your business, what are the best states to start a business, bottom line, frequently asked questions (faqs).

Starting a business is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences you can have. But where do you begin? There are several ways to approach creating a business, along with many important considerations. To help take the guesswork out of the process and improve your chances of success, follow our comprehensive guide on how to start a business. We’ll walk you through each step of the process, from defining your business idea to registering, launching and growing your business.

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The public often hears about overnight successes because they make for a great headline. However, it’s rarely that simple—they don’t see the years of dreaming, building and positioning before a big public launch. For this reason, remember to focus on your business journey and don’t measure your success against someone else’s.

Consistency Is Key

New business owners tend to feed off their motivation initially but get frustrated when that motivation wanes. This is why it’s essential to create habits and follow routines that power you through when motivation goes away.

Take the Next Step

Some business owners dive in headfirst without looking and make things up as they go along. Then, there are business owners who stay stuck in analysis paralysis and never start. Perhaps you’re a mixture of the two—and that’s right where you need to be. The best way to accomplish any business or personal goal is to write out every possible step it takes to achieve the goal. Then, order those steps by what needs to happen first. Some steps may take minutes while others take a long time. The point is to always take the next step.

Most business advice tells you to monetize what you love, but it misses two other very important elements: it needs to be profitable and something you’re good at. For example, you may love music, but how viable is your business idea if you’re not a great singer or songwriter? Maybe you love making soap and want to open a soap shop in your small town that already has three close by—it won’t be easy to corner the market when you’re creating the same product as other nearby stores.

If you don’t have a firm idea of what your business will entail, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you love to do?
  • What do you hate to do?
  • Can you think of something that would make those things easier?
  • What are you good at?
  • What do others come to you for advice about?
  • If you were given ten minutes to give a five-minute speech on any topic, what would it be?
  • What’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but lacked resources for?

These questions can lead you to an idea for your business. If you already have an idea, they might help you expand it. Once you have your idea, measure it against whether you’re good at it and if it’s profitable.

Your business idea also doesn’t have to be the next Scrub Daddy or Squatty Potty. Instead, you can take an existing product and improve upon it. You can also sell a digital product so there’s little overhead.

What Kind of Business Should You Start?

Before you choose the type of business to start, there are some key things to consider:

  • What type of funding do you have?
  • How much time do you have to invest in your business?
  • Do you prefer to work from home or at an office or workshop?
  • What interests and passions do you have?
  • Can you sell information (such as a course), rather than a product?
  • What skills or expertise do you have?
  • How fast do you need to scale your business?
  • What kind of support do you have to start your business?
  • Are you partnering with someone else?
  • Does the franchise model make more sense to you?

Consider Popular Business Ideas

Not sure what business to start? Consider one of these popular business ideas:

  • Start a Franchise
  • Start a Blog
  • Start an Online Store
  • Start a Dropshipping Business
  • Start a Cleaning Business
  • Start a Bookkeeping Business
  • Start a Clothing Business
  • Start a Landscaping Business
  • Start a Consulting Business
  • Start a Photography Business
  • Start a Vending Machine Business

Most entrepreneurs spend more time on their products than they do getting to know the competition. If you ever apply for outside funding, the potential lender or partner wants to know: what sets you (or your business idea) apart? If market analysis indicates your product or service is saturated in your area, see if you can think of a different approach. Take housekeeping, for example—rather than general cleaning services, you might specialize in homes with pets or focus on garage cleanups.

Primary Research

The first stage of any competition study is primary research, which entails obtaining data directly from potential customers rather than basing your conclusions on past data. You can use questionnaires, surveys and interviews to learn what consumers want. Surveying friends and family isn’t recommended unless they’re your target market. People who say they’d buy something and people who do are very different. The last thing you want is to take so much stock in what they say, create the product and flop when you try to sell it because all of the people who said they’d buy it don’t because the product isn’t something they’d buy.

Secondary Research

Utilize existing sources of information, such as census data, to gather information when you do secondary research. The current data may be studied, compiled and analyzed in various ways that are appropriate for your needs but it may not be as detailed as primary research.

Conduct a SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Conducting a SWOT analysis allows you to look at the facts about how your product or idea might perform if taken to market, and it can also help you make decisions about the direction of your idea. Your business idea might have some weaknesses that you hadn’t considered or there may be some opportunities to improve on a competitor’s product.

questionnaire in business plan

Asking pertinent questions during a SWOT analysis can help you identify and address weaknesses before they tank your new business.

A business plan is a dynamic document that serves as a roadmap for establishing a new business. This document makes it simple for potential investors, financial institutions and company management to understand and absorb. Even if you intend to self-finance, a business plan can help you flesh out your idea and spot potential problems. When writing a well-rounded business plan, include the following sections:

  • Executive summary: The executive summary should be the first item in the business plan, but it should be written last. It describes the proposed new business and highlights the goals of the company and the methods to achieve them.
  • Company description: The company description covers what problems your product or service solves and why your business or idea is best. For example, maybe your background is in molecular engineering, and you’ve used that background to create a new type of athletic wear—you have the proper credentials to make the best material.
  • Market analysis: This section of the business plan analyzes how well a company is positioned against its competitors. The market analysis should include target market, segmentation analysis, market size, growth rate, trends and a competitive environment assessment.
  • Organization and structure: Write about the type of business organization you expect, what risk management strategies you propose and who will staff the management team. What are their qualifications? Will your business be a single-member limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation ?
  • Mission and goals: This section should contain a brief mission statement and detail what the business wishes to accomplish and the steps to get there. These goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, action-orientated, realistic and time-bound).
  • Products or services: This section describes how your business will operate. It includes what products you’ll offer to consumers at the beginning of the business, how they compare to existing competitors, how much your products cost, who will be responsible for creating the products, how you’ll source materials and how much they cost to make.
  • Background summary: This portion of the business plan is the most time-consuming to write. Compile and summarize any data, articles and research studies on trends that could positively and negatively affect your business or industry.
  • Marketing plan: The marketing plan identifies the characteristics of your product or service, summarizes the SWOT analysis and analyzes competitors. It also discusses how you’ll promote your business, how much money will be spent on marketing and how long the campaign is expected to last.
  • Financial plan: The financial plan is perhaps the core of the business plan because, without money, the business will not move forward. Include a proposed budget in your financial plan along with projected financial statements, such as an income statement, a balance sheet and a statement of cash flows. Usually, five years of projected financial statements are acceptable. This section is also where you should include your funding request if you’re looking for outside funding.

Learn more: Download our free simple business plan template .

Come Up With an Exit Strategy

An exit strategy is important for any business that is seeking funding because it outlines how you’ll sell the company or transfer ownership if you decide to retire or move on to other projects. An exit strategy also allows you to get the most value out of your business when it’s time to sell. There are a few different options for exiting a business, and the best option for you depends on your goals and circumstances.

The most common exit strategies are:

  • Selling the business to another party
  • Passing the business down to family members
  • Liquidating the business assets
  • Closing the doors and walking away

Develop a Scalable Business Model

As your small business grows, it’s important to have a scalable business model so that you can accommodate additional customers without incurring additional costs. A scalable business model is one that can be replicated easily to serve more customers without a significant increase in expenses.

Some common scalable business models are:

  • Subscription-based businesses
  • Businesses that sell digital products
  • Franchise businesses
  • Network marketing businesses

Start Planning for Taxes

One of the most important things to do when starting a small business is to start planning for taxes. Taxes can be complex, and there are several different types of taxes you may be liable for, including income tax, self-employment tax, sales tax and property tax. Depending on the type of business you’re operating, you may also be required to pay other taxes, such as payroll tax or unemployment tax.

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When structuring your business, it’s essential to consider how each structure impacts the amount of taxes you owe, daily operations and whether your personal assets are at risk.

An LLC limits your personal liability for business debts. LLCs can be owned by one or more people or companies and must include a registered agent . These owners are referred to as members.

  • LLCs offer liability protection for the owners
  • They’re one of the easiest business entities to set up
  • You can have a single-member LLC
  • You may be required to file additional paperwork with your state on a regular basis
  • LLCs can’t issue stock
  • You’ll need to pay annual filing fees to your state

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

An LLP is similar to an LLC but is typically used for licensed business professionals such as an attorney or accountant. These arrangements require a partnership agreement.

  • Partners have limited liability for the debts and actions of the LLP
  • LLPs are easy to form and don’t require much paperwork
  • There’s no limit to the number of partners in an LLP
  • Partners are required to actively take part in the business
  • LLPs can’t issue stock
  • All partners are personally liable for any malpractice claims against the business

Sole Proprietorship

If you start a solo business, you might consider a sole proprietorship . The company and the owner, for legal and tax purposes, are considered the same. The business owner assumes liability for the business. So, if the business fails, the owner is personally and financially responsible for all business debts.

  • Sole proprietorships are easy to form
  • There’s no need to file additional paperwork with your state
  • You’re in complete control of the business
  • You’re personally liable for all business debts
  • It can be difficult to raise money for a sole proprietorship
  • The business may have a limited lifespan


A corporation limits your personal liability for business debts just as an LLC does. A corporation can be taxed as a C corporation (C-corp) or an S corporation (S-corp). S-corp status offers pass-through taxation to small corporations that meet certain IRS requirements. Larger companies and startups hoping to attract venture capital are usually taxed as C-corps.

  • Corporations offer liability protection for the owners
  • The life span of a corporation is not limited
  • A corporation can have an unlimited number of shareholders
  • Corporations are subject to double taxation
  • They’re more expensive and complicated to set up than other business structures
  • The shareholders may have limited liability

Before you decide on a business structure, discuss your situation with a small business accountant and possibly an attorney, as each business type has different tax treatments that could affect your bottom line.

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There are several legal issues to address when starting a business after choosing the business structure. The following is a good checklist of items to consider when establishing your business:

Choose Your Business Name

Make it memorable but not too difficult. Choose the same domain name, if available, to establish your internet presence. A business name cannot be the same as another registered company in your state, nor can it infringe on another trademark or service mark that is already registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Business Name vs. DBA

There are business names, and then there are fictitious business names known as “Doing Business As” or DBA. You may need to file a DBA if you’re operating under a name that’s different from the legal name of your business. For example, “Mike’s Bike Shop” is doing business as “Mike’s Bikes.” The legal name of the business is “Mike’s Bike Shop,” and “Mike’s Bikes” is the DBA.

You may need to file a DBA with your state, county or city government offices. The benefits of a DBA include:

  • It can help you open a business bank account under your business name
  • A DBA can be used as a “trade name” to brand your products or services
  • A DBA can be used to get a business license

Register Your Business and Obtain an EIN

You’ll officially create a corporation, LLC or other business entity by filing forms with your state’s business agency―usually the Secretary of State. As part of this process, you’ll need to choose a registered agent to accept legal documents on behalf of your business. You’ll also pay a filing fee. The state will send you a certificate that you can use to apply for licenses, a tax identification number (TIN) and business bank accounts.

Next, apply for an employer identification number (EIN) . All businesses, other than sole proprietorships with no employees, must have a federal employer identification number. Submit your application to the IRS and you’ll typically receive your number in minutes.

Get Appropriate Licenses and Permits

Legal requirements are determined by your industry and jurisdiction. Most businesses need a mixture of local, state and federal licenses to operate. Check with your local government office (and even an attorney) for licensing information tailored to your area.

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Open a Business Bank Account

Keep your business and personal finances separate. Here’s how to choose a business checking account —and why separate business accounts are essential. When you open a business bank account, you’ll need to provide your business name and your business tax identification number (EIN). This business bank account can be used for your business transactions, such as paying suppliers or invoicing customers. Most times, a bank will require a separate business bank account to issue a business loan or line of credit.

Hire a Bookkeeper or Get Accounting Software

If you sell a product, you need an inventory function in your accounting software to manage and track inventory. The software should have ledger and journal entries and the ability to generate financial statements.

Some software programs double as bookkeeping tools. These often include features such as check writing and managing receivables and payables. You can also use this software to track your income and expenses, generate invoices, run reports and calculate taxes.

There are many bookkeeping services available that can do all of this for you, and more. These services can be accessed online from any computer or mobile device and often include features such as bank reconciliation and invoicing. Check out the best accounting software for small business, or see if you want to handle the bookkeeping yourself.

Determine Your Break-Even Point

Before you fund your business, you must get an idea of your startup costs. To determine these, make a list of all the physical supplies you need, estimate the cost of any professional services you will require, determine the price of any licenses or permits required to operate and calculate the cost of office space or other real estate. Add in the costs of payroll and benefits, if applicable.

Businesses can take years to turn a profit, so it’s better to overestimate the startup costs and have too much money than too little. Many experts recommend having enough cash on hand to cover six months of operating expenses.

When you know how much you need to get started with your business, you need to know the point at which your business makes money. This figure is your break-even point.

In contrast, the contribution margin = total sales revenue – cost to make product

For example, let’s say you’re starting a small business that sells miniature birdhouses for fairy gardens. You have determined that it will cost you $500 in startup costs. Your variable costs are $0.40 per birdhouse produced, and you sell them for $1.50 each.

Let’s write these out so it’s easy to follow:

This means that you need to sell at least 456 units just to cover your costs. If you can sell more than 456 units in your first month, you will make a profit.

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There are many different ways to fund your business—some require considerable effort, while others are easier to obtain. Two categories of funding exist: internal and external.

Internal funding includes:

  • Personal savings
  • Credit cards
  • Funds from friends and family

If you finance the business with your own funds or with credit cards, you have to pay the debt on the credit cards and you’ve lost a chunk of your wealth if the business fails. By allowing your family members or friends to invest in your business, you are risking hard feelings and strained relationships if the company goes under. Business owners who want to minimize these risks may consider external funding.

External funding includes:

  • Small business loans
  • Small business grants
  • Angel investors
  • Venture capital
  • Crowdfunding

Small businesses may have to use a combination of several sources of capital. Consider how much money is needed, how long it will take before the company can repay it and how risk-tolerant you are. No matter which source you use, plan for profit. It’s far better to take home six figures than make seven figures and only keep $80,000 of it.

Funding ideas include:

  • Invoice factoring: With invoice factoring , you can sell your unpaid invoices to a third party at a discount.
  • Business lines of credit: Apply for a business line of credit , which is similar to a personal line of credit. The credit limit and interest rate will be based on your business’s revenue, credit score and financial history.
  • Equipment financing: If you need to purchase expensive equipment for your business, you can finance it with a loan or lease.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) microloans: Microloans are up to $50,000 loans that can be used for working capital, inventory or supplies and machinery or equipment.
  • Grants: The federal government offers grants for businesses that promote innovation, export growth or are located in historically disadvantaged areas. You can also find grants through local and regional organizations.
  • Crowdfunding: With crowdfunding , you can raise money from a large group of people by soliciting donations or selling equity in your company.

Choose the right funding source for your business by considering the amount of money you need, the time frame for repayment and your tolerance for risk.

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You need to have insurance for your business , even if it’s a home-based business or you don’t have any employees. The type of insurance you need depends on your business model and what risks you face. You might need more than one type of policy, and you might need additional coverage as your business grows. In most states, workers’ compensation insurance is required by law if you have employees.

Work With an Agent To Get Insured

An insurance agent can help determine what coverages are appropriate for your business and find policies from insurers that offer the best rates. An independent insurance agent represents several different insurers, so they can shop around for the best rates and coverage options.

Basic Types of Business Insurance Coverage

  • Liability insurance protects your business against third-party claims of bodily injury, property damage and personal injury such as defamation or false advertising.
  • Property insurance covers the physical assets of your business, including your office space, equipment and inventory.
  • Business interruption insurance pays for the loss of income if your business is forced to close temporarily due to a covered event such as a natural disaster.
  • Product liability insurance protects against claims that your products caused bodily injury or property damage.
  • Employee practices liability insurance covers claims from employees alleging discrimination, sexual harassment or other wrongful termination.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses and income replacement for employees who are injured on the job.
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Business tools can help make your life easier and make your business run more smoothly. The right tools can help you save time, automate tasks and make better decisions.

Consider the following tools in your arsenal:

  • Accounting software : Track your business income and expenses, prepare financial statements and file taxes. Examples include QuickBooks and FreshBooks.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software : This will help you manage your customer relationships, track sales and marketing data and automate tasks like customer service and follow-ups. Examples include Zoho CRM and
  • Project management software : Plan, execute and track projects. It can also be used to manage employee tasks and allocate resources. Examples include Airtable and ClickUp.
  • Credit card processor : This will allow you to accept credit card payments from customers. Examples include Stripe and PayPal.
  • Point of sale (POS) : A system that allows you to process customer payments. Some accounting software and CRM software have POS features built-in. Examples include Clover and Lightspeed.
  • Virtual private network (VPN) : Provides a secure, private connection between your computer and the internet. This is important for businesses that handle sensitive data. Examples include NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
  • Merchant services : When customers make a purchase, the money is deposited into your business account. You can also use merchant services to set up recurring billing or subscription payments. Examples include Square and Stripe.
  • Email hosting : This allows you to create a professional email address with your own domain name. Examples include G Suite and Microsoft Office 365.

Many business owners spend so much money creating their products that there isn’t a marketing budget by the time they’ve launched. Alternatively, they’ve spent so much time developing the product that marketing is an afterthought.

Create a Website

Even if you’re a brick-and-mortar business, a web presence is essential. Creating a website doesn’t take long, either—you can have one done in as little as a weekend. You can make a standard informational website or an e-commerce site where you sell products online. If you sell products or services offline, include a page on your site where customers can find your locations and hours. Other pages to add include an “About Us” page, product or service pages, frequently asked questions (FAQs), a blog and contact information.

Optimize Your Site for SEO

After getting a website or e-commerce store, focus on optimizing it for search engines (SEO). This way, when a potential customer searches for specific keywords for your products, the search engine can point them to your site. SEO is a long-term strategy, so don’t expect a ton of traffic from search engines initially—even if you’re using all the right keywords.

Create Relevant Content

Provide quality digital content on your site that makes it easy for customers to find the correct answers to their questions. Content marketing ideas include videos, customer testimonials, blog posts and demos. Consider content marketing one of the most critical tasks on your daily to-do list. This is used in conjunction with posting on social media.

Get Listed in Online Directories

Customers use online directories like Yelp, Google My Business and Facebook to find local businesses. Some city halls and chambers of commerce have business directories too. Include your business in as many relevant directories as possible. You can also create listings for your business on specific directories that focus on your industry.

Develop a Social Media Strategy

Your potential customers are using social media every day—you need to be there too. Post content that’s interesting and relevant to your audience. Use social media to drive traffic back to your website where customers can learn more about what you do and buy your products or services.

You don’t necessarily need to be on every social media platform available. However, you should have a presence on Facebook and Instagram because they offer e-commerce features that allow you to sell directly from your social media accounts. Both of these platforms have free ad training to help you market your business.

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To scale your business, you need to grow your customer base and revenue. This can be done by expanding your marketing efforts, improving your product or service, collaborating with other creators or adding new products or services that complement what you already offer.

Think about ways you can automate or outsource certain tasks so you can focus on scaling the business. For example, if social media marketing is taking up too much of your time, consider using a platform such as Hootsuite to help you manage your accounts more efficiently. You can also consider outsourcing the time-consumer completely.

You can also use technology to automate certain business processes, including accounting, email marketing and lead generation. Doing this will give you more time to focus on other aspects of your business.

When scaling your business, it’s important to keep an eye on your finances and make sure you’re still profitable. If you’re not making enough money to cover your costs, you need to either reduce your expenses or find ways to increase your revenue.

Build a Team

As your business grows, you’ll need to delegate tasks and put together a team of people who can help you run the day-to-day operations. This might include hiring additional staff, contractors or freelancers.

Resources for building a team include:

  • Hiring platforms: To find the right candidates, hiring platforms, such as Indeed and Glassdoor, can help you post job descriptions, screen résumés and conduct video interviews.
  • Job boards: Job boards such as Craigslist and Indeed allow you to post open positions for free.
  • Social media: You can also use social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to find potential employees.
  • Freelance platforms: Using Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr can help you find talented freelancers for one-time or short-term projects. You can also outsource certain tasks, such as customer service, social media marketing or bookkeeping.

You might also consider partnering with other businesses in your industry. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you could partner with a florist, photographer, catering company or venue. This way, you can offer your customers a one-stop shop for all their wedding needs. Another example is an e-commerce store that partners with a fulfillment center. This type of partnership can help you save money on shipping and storage costs, and it can also help you get your products to your customers faster.

To find potential partnerships, search for businesses in your industry that complement what you do. For example, if you’re a web designer, you could partner with a digital marketing agency.

You can also search for businesses that serve the same target market as you but offer different products or services. For example, if you sell women’s clothing, you could partner with a jewelry store or a hair salon.

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To rank the best states to start a business in 2024, Forbes Advisor analyzed 18 key metrics across five categories to determine which states are the best and worst to start a business in. Our ranking takes into consideration factors that impact businesses and their ability to succeed, such as business costs, business climate, economy, workforce and financial accessibility in each state. Check out the full report .

Starting a small business takes time, effort and perseverance. But if you’re willing to put in the work, it can be a great way to achieve your dreams and goals. Be sure to do your research, create a solid business plan and pivot along the way. Once you’re operational, don’t forget to stay focused and organized so you can continue to grow your business.

How do I start a small business with no money?

There are several funding sources for brand-new businesses and most require a business plan to secure it. These include the SBA , private grants, angel investors, crowdfunding and venture capital.

What is the best business structure?

The best business structure for your business will depend entirely on what kind of company you form, your industry and what you want to accomplish. But any successful business structure will be one that will help your company set realistic goals and follow through on set tasks.

Do I need a business credit card?

You don’t need one, but a business credit card can be helpful for new small businesses. It allows you to start building business credit, which can help you down the road when you need to take out a loan or line of credit. Additionally, business credit cards often come with rewards and perks that can save you money on business expenses.

Do I need a special license or permit to start a small business?

The answer to this question will depend on the type of business you want to start and where you’re located. Some businesses, such as restaurants, will require a special permit or license to operate. Others, such as home daycare providers, may need to register with the state.

How much does it cost to create a business?

The cost of starting a business will vary depending on the size and type of company you want to create. For example, a home-based business will be less expensive to start than a brick-and-mortar store. Additionally, the cost of starting a business will increase if you need to rent or buy commercial space, hire employees or purchase inventory. You could potentially get started for free by dropshipping or selling digital goods.

How do I get a loan for a new business?

The best way to get a loan for a new business is to approach banks or other financial institutions and provide them with a business plan and your financial history. You can also look into government-backed loans, such as those offered by the SBA. Startups may also be able to get loans from alternative lenders, including online platforms such as Kiva.

Do I need a business degree to start a business?

No, you don’t need a business degree to start a business. However, acquiring a degree in business or a related field can provide you with the understanding and ability to run an effective company. Additionally, you may want to consider taking some business courses if you don’t have a degree to learn more about starting and running a business. You can find these online and at your local Small Business Administration office.

What are some easy businesses to start?

One of the easiest businesses to start also has the lowest overhead: selling digital goods. This can include items such as e-books, online courses, audio files or software. If you have expertise in a particular area or niche, this is a great option for you. Dropshipping is also a great option because you don’t have to keep inventory. You could also buy wholesale products or create your own. Once you create your product, you can sell it through your own website or third-party platforms such as Amazon or Etsy.

What is the most profitable type of business?

There is no one answer to this question because the most profitable type of business will vary depending on a number of factors, such as your industry, location, target market and business model. However, some businesses tend to be more profitable than others, such as luxury goods, high-end services, business-to-business companies and subscription-based businesses. If you’re not sure what type of business to start, consider your strengths and interests, as well as the needs of your target market, to help you choose a profitable business idea.

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Watch CBS News

Some companies plan to increase return-to-office requirements, despite risk of losing talent

By Khristopher J. Brooks

Edited By Anne Marie Lee

Updated on: May 29, 2024 / 6:38 PM EDT / CBS News

A quarter of U.S. companies will require its workers to show up at the office more often next year, even though doing so may cause some productive staff members to leave.

That's according to new  findings  from which surveyed 756 employers at companies with return-to-office policies in place since 2021. RTO mandates have been one of the most divisive issues in corporate America since the nation emerged from the pandemic, with companies and employees often  clashing over policies.

Among companies planning to require an increased number of days in office, 86% cited productivity as the top reason for doing so. That was followed by a desire to improve company culture (71%), employee well-being (57%) and retention (55%). 

However, the findings of at least one study on RTO mandates seems to contradict those motives. Research from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh, found that RTO mandates have no impact on companies' financial performance. It also found that RTO policies can cause a "significant decline"  in employee satisfaction . That may explain why 80% of companies in Resume Builder's survey said they have lost talent as a result of their RTO policy. 

"Unfortunately, I think many business leaders make assumptions about things like productivity, culture, and employee well-being,"  Julia Toothacre, resume and career strategist at Resume Builder, said the report. "Productivity is a result of clear expectations and good management. Culture is driven by people, not physical spaces, and employee well-being is more about how people are managed, their stress levels, and the amount of flexibility they have."

The survey also found that 45% of companies will not push employees to come into the office more often next year, choosing to leave their current RTO policy as is. Another 21% said employees will be allowed to come in less frequently in 2025.

Still, an overwhelming 93% of business leaders believe employees should be physically present in the office and therefore support RTO mandates. Most employers currently require that employees work in office a certain number of days, with 38% enforcing a minimum of three days per week. Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks are among the companies now requiring workers to come in three days a week.

As work-life balance becomes a higher priority for employees, however, Toothacre says companies can expect more walkouts as a result of RTO mandates.

"People may have moved and aren't willing to move again to keep their position," she said. "It's also possible that there are familial responsibilities that require a flexible schedule or the need to be at home. Some people also like working from home or remotely and don't want to return to an office environment." drew its results from a May survey of business owners, human resource managers, supervisors, CEOs, senior managers and other top decision-makers at companies. The respondents were all over age 25, made over $75,000 a year and had an education higher than a high school diploma. 

Khristopher J. Brooks is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch. He previously worked as a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald, Newsday and the Florida Times-Union. His reporting primarily focuses on the U.S. housing market, the business of sports and bankruptcy.

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IRS makes Direct File a permanent option to file federal tax returns; expanded access for more taxpayers planned for the 2025 filing season

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IR-2024-151, May 30, 2024

WASHINGTON — Following a successful filing season pilot and feedback from a variety of partners, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that it will make Direct File a permanent option for filing federal tax returns starting in the 2025 tax season.

The agency is exploring ways to expand Direct File to make more taxpayers eligible in the 2025 filing season and beyond by examining options to broaden Direct File’s availability across the nation, including covering more tax situations and inviting all states to partner with Direct File next year.

The IRS plans to announce additional details on the 2025 expansion in the coming months.

The decision follows a highly successful, limited pilot during the 2024 filing season, where 140,803 taxpayers in 12 states filed their taxes using Direct File. The IRS closely analyzed data collected during the pilot, held numerous meetings with diverse groups of stakeholders and gathered feedback from individual Direct File users, state officials and representatives across the tax landscape. The IRS heard directly from hundreds of organizations across the country, more than a hundred members of Congress and from those interested in using Direct File in the future. The IRS has also heard from a limited number of stakeholders who believe the current free electronic filing options provided by third party vendors are adequate.

The IRS will continue data analysis and stakeholder engagement to identify improvements to Direct File; however, initial post-pilot analysis yielded enough information for the decision to make Direct File a permanent filing option. The IRS noted that an early decision on 2025 was critical for planning and programming both for the IRS and for additional states to join the program. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel recommended to Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen to make Direct File permanent. He cited overwhelming satisfaction from users and improved ease of tax filing among the reasons for his recommendation, which Secretary Yellen has accepted.

“The clear message is that many taxpayers across the nation want the IRS to provide more than one no-cost option for filing electronically,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “So, starting with the 2025 filing season, the IRS will make Direct File a permanent option for filing federal tax returns. Giving taxpayers additional options strengthens the tax filing system. And adding Direct File to the menu of filing options fits squarely into our effort to make taxes as easy as possible for Americans, including saving time and money.”

State and eligibility expansion

Building on the success of the limited pilot – where taxpayers with relatively simple tax situations in 12 states were eligible to use Direct File – the IRS is examining ways to expand eligibility to more taxpayers across the country. For the 2025 filing season, the IRS will work with all states that want to partner with Direct File, and there will be no limit to the number of states that can participate in the coming year. The agency expects several new states will choose to participate.

The IRS is also exploring ways to gradually expand the scope of tax situations supported by Direct File. Over the coming years, the agency’s goal is to expand Direct File to support most common tax situations, with a particular focus on those situations that impact working families. Announcements about new state partners and expanded eligibility are expected in the coming months.

“User experience – both within the product and integration with state tax systems – will continue to be the foundation for Direct File moving forward,” Werfel said. “We will focus, first and foremost, on continuing to get it right. Accuracy and comprehensive tax credit uptake will be paramount concerns to ensure taxpayers file a correct return and get the refund they’re entitled to. And our North Star will be improving the experience of tax filing itself and helping taxpayers meet their obligations as easily and quickly as possible.”

Direct File’s role in the tax system

During the agency’s review, many taxpayers told the IRS they want no-cost filing options. Millions of taxpayers who did not live in one of the 12 pilot states visited the Direct File website to learn more about this option or asked live chat assistors to make Direct File available in their state.

As a permanent filing option, Direct File will continue to be one option among many from which taxpayers can choose. It is not meant to replace other important options by tax professionals or commercial software providers, who are critical partners with the IRS in delivering a successful tax system for the nation. The IRS also remains committed to the ongoing relationship with Free File Inc., which has served taxpayers for two decades in the joint effort to provide free commercial software. Earlier this month, the IRS signed a five-year extension with industry to continue Free File.

As the IRS works to expand Direct File, it will also work to strengthen all free filing options for taxpayers, including Free File, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program (TCE).

Pilot analysis and feedback

In the six weeks following the close of the Direct File pilot, the IRS closely analyzed pilot data and gathered feedback from diverse groups of stakeholders, including Direct File users, state officials and representatives across the country’s tax community.

While data analysis and partner engagement are ongoing, the IRS’ post-pilot analysis has yielded three conclusions that support making Direct File a permanent tax filing solution:

1. Taxpayers overwhelmingly liked using Direct File

As detailed in the IRS Direct File Pilot: Filing Season 2024 After Action Report PDF , more than 15,000 Direct File users participated in the General Services Administration’s Touchpoints survey, which collects comprehensive user feedback about government systems:

  • 90% of respondents ranked their experience as Excellent or Above Average.
  • When asked what they particularly liked, respondents most commonly cited Direct File’s ease of use, trustworthiness and that it was free.
  • Additionally, 86% of respondents said that their experience with Direct File increased their trust in the IRS.
  • 90% of survey respondents who used customer support rated that experience as Excellent or Above Average.

For the primary quantitative measure of taxpayer opinions of Direct File, the IRS selected the Net Promoter Score (NPS) customer sentiment metric, which asks users, “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend Direct File to a friend or family member?” NPS scores range from -100-+100. Direct File has a NPS of +74. If compared to benchmark scores from financial services companies, Direct File would lead in eight of nine categories.

2. Direct File made the tax filing experience easier

Direct File’s users reported saving time: Filing taxes with Direct File generally took less than an hour, and many reported filing in as little as 30 minutes. Nearly half of Direct File users reported paying for tax preparation the previous year, and the Treasury Department estimates that Direct File users saved $5.6 million in tax preparation fees this filing season.

3. Direct File helps catalyze the IRS’s digital transformation

To build Direct File, the IRS assembled a team of experienced tax experts, digital product specialists, engineers and data scientists from across the federal government. The agency partnered with the U.S. Digital Service and GSA’s 18F, as well as private sector partners, who all brought critical agile technology expertise. Working side by side at IRS headquarters and collaborating with remote team members across the country, the Direct File team developed and delivered a strong technology product.

The Direct File pilot also gave the IRS the chance to test customer service innovations on a large scale.

Live Chat served as Direct File’s primary customer support channel because it could be integrated directly into the product. This allowed customer support to gradually expand in concert with the overall number of users in each phase of the pilot. The IRS is exploring how this approach could impact taxpayer service overall as the agency works to provide taxpayers with more choices in how they can interact with the IRS.

“We’re mindful that the most important decision we made during the pilot was to focus on executional certainty,” Werfel said. “We took the time to get it right. We found the right first step to test the demand and the user experience and build a strong product. We will apply that same critical lesson for next year as we take a strategic approach to expanding Direct File’s availability and capabilities.”

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eSecurity Planet

How to Create an Incident Response Plan (+ Free Template)

Jenna Phipps

eSecurity Planet content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More .

While all businesses have to decide what cybersecurity measures they’re going to prioritize, incident response is one that isn’t optional. Incidents are going to happen, and the right (or wrong) one could put your company out of business. No one wants to go out of business because of sloppy preparation.

Preparing for incident response can help you minimize damage from cyber incidents — and prevent the next one from occurring. This guide to incident response plans will help your organization better prepare for incidents and develop a plan that fits your business needs.

Jump ahead to:

What is an Incident Response Plan?

Tips for effective incident response preparation, components of an incident response plan, how to create an incident response plan, free incident response templates, bottom line: developing a strong incident response plan.

An incident is an event that affects your scope of responsibility, and a response is how you deal with the incident. The scope of responsibility for cybersecurity personnel may be limited to cyberattacks on IT systems, such as ransomware attacks, phishing attacks, or DDoS attacks . For IT managers, the scope might expand to encompass physical IT systems and events such as a flooded data center, a lost executive laptop, or squirrels chewing on network cables.

In small companies where managers cover many roles, an incident might broaden to include personnel and business processes with events such as insider data theft , sexual harassment, embezzlement, or the failure of a machine on an assembly line. However, this piece will specifically focus on cybersecurity incidents like attacks and breaches .

Regardless of the incident scope, your goal is to be able to perform the necessary steps and take into account any unexpected contingencies. For that, you need an incident response plan, because responses need to be as quick and thorough as if you’d practiced them (spoiler alert: you should). The foundational principles of incident response preparation and execution outlined below will help you develop your plan.

Read more about incident response .

When your business is preparing for incident response procedures, you should analyze all the cybersecurity risks to your business, educate teams on incidents, and practice incident response scenarios. Ensuring that teams know as much as possible about incidents and your organization’s security systems will lead to better long-term preparation and reduced employee apprehension.

Run a risk assessment

While your security team may already know the majority of risks that the business faces, risk assessments often bring up ones that nobody thought of. Maybe a high-ranking IT employee just left last month, and their admin credentials to the company IAM account never got deactivated. Or maybe there’s a new vulnerability in a very old program, one that nobody worried about because it’s ancient. Maybe the doors to the main office don’t always lock properly, and anyone could just walk in. Risk assessments reveal details that your teams might not otherwise see.

Give team members necessary access

During an incident response scenario, your security and IT teams will need access to any computer systems or security solution necessary to perform their job. This might include an endpoint detection and response platform , a cloud backup solution, or a UEBA tool , depending on the employee’s role and experience. Equally as important, they should already know how to use it. Make sure you train your team on the security solutions in their arsenal before they are forced to use them to mitigate a threat.

Create a logical method for identifying incidents

Security software throws all kinds of false positives, and when a barrage of alerts hits, security teams can quickly be overwhelmed while trying to sort through potential incidents. They need to know how to identify a real incident and triage them by importance.

Your business should develop a logical system to help team members identify legitimate incidents. This could look like a list of characteristics that they check off to determine severity or an alert system that’s tiered based on potential danger.

Run simulations and tests

Once teams know more about potential risks, have access to the right programs, and know how to identify an incident, they need practice. Your security team, as well as potentially any involved IT personnel, should run simulations of an incident so they have hands-on experience mitigating threats. Teams shouldn’t be frozen in fear when the first incident occurs, and hosting plenty of test scenarios will help with that.

Because incident response plans are complex and detailed, they can have plenty of components. We recommend four overall strategies that your plan should include rather than create a laundry list.

Set up an incident response team

Your business won’t have an appropriate response to a security issue if no one knows what they’re supposed to be doing. When developing a response team, make sure that your IT and security teams:

  • Know which team members are responsible for sending all alert messages.
  • Know which team member is responsible for reporting to any relevant managers.
  • Have clear step-by-step instructions so they know which actions to take in order.
  • Know which team member they should ask for help if their part of the response plan gets out of hand.

The sooner each team member knows their roles and expectations, the sooner they’ll be able to confidently carry out an incident response scenario.

Additionally, your organization’s executive team may want to be apprised of incident management processes. Whether this looks like quarterly updates or weekly reports, ensure that your incident response team has an agreed-upon method of consistently updating relevant executives. They may want to know:

  • How many incidents occurred in a given period of time (whether days, weeks, or months)
  • The time frame in which the incident was successfully mitigated
  • Any particular challenges that have arisen during a given period of time

Customize for multiple scenarios and systems

Here’s the tricky part of incident response: Not all incidents are equal, and not all computer systems are prioritized equally.

While one basic incident response plan might be the template for all security operations in your business, chances are that the actual response process will look different depending on the network or system affected. It’ll also vary depending on the severity of the incident. For example:

  • In a ransomware-related incident, where malicious software has infiltrated a system, a security team might have more steps to follow than a credential stuffing and breach incident on, say, a company’s content planning board.
  • Similarly, remediation steps will look different for an attack on a large database of customer information and a breach of an employee’s individual computer.

Incident response plans should be easily customizable for multiple systems and multiple types of attacks. This will take more initial work, but it’ll lead to better security procedures in the future.

Make it flexible

At first glance, this strategy looks like the complete opposite of the one before. How do you customize your incident response plan while also keeping it flexible and generic?

This will depend on your business, your security team, and the variety of systems you need to protect. Generally speaking, technology and personnel changes happen too quickly to be easily captured in a static document. A server web shell attack incident response plan designed last year when your organization had its on-site data center quickly became obsolete once you transitioned some of the servers to the cloud and transitioned others onto virtual machines.

You can still have multiple incident response plans, customized based on the incident or system. But make sure they’re easy to edit. They could be brief, taking a checklist form that can easily be edited. Or maybe they’re hosted in documentation software that automates edits when a policy is changed.

The goal of an incident response document is to be useful, not to consume hours of time to keep them current or to misdirect your team. However, checklists and decision trees can be helpful in keeping the team focused and reducing errors. The trick will be to strike a balance between details and generalizations to maximize utility and minimize obsolescence.

Develop a practical alert methodology

There’s such a thing as too many alerts, and important alerts can also be missed. To ensure neither of these things happen, consider what channel is most appropriate for an alert and vice versa . For example:

  • For an urgent alert about a newly developing attack on a critical cloud application, you’ll want to tag all relevant team members in the alert and use the channel that your team will check most frequently. This might be Slack, Teams, or a security-specific application.
  • For an alert that comes at the end of an incident response process, sending a mass email is often appropriate, since it isn’t as urgent and has a lot of follow-up information that will clog an app like Slack.

Also, keep in mind that many alerts aren’t sent directly from team members but come automatically from security software. Your IT and security admins will have to configure all solutions so they send alerts at the correct time and in the correct channel. Often, communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams integrate with popular security solutions so the alerts can populate in designated channels.

Developing a strong incident response plan can take months of meetings, strategizing, and keeping team members apprised of progress. The following steps will help your team create a strong overall incident response strategy.

Create an overview

Many incident response plan templates have an overview section that clearly states the purpose of the plan. Your teams should know exactly why the plan is important and what details it covers.

Assign tasks logically

Assign tasks to the team members that make sense. Security admins or IT managers should have greater responsibility in a response scenario than your team’s junior engineer or newest intern. That doesn’t mean they don’t have roles, though — they just need to make sense for their position and experience. A junior analyst might be responsible for sending logs of threat scans to their team leader to further study, for example.

Eliminate gray zones

When assigning responsibility, any gray zone or gap in responsibility can lead to confusion or even cause an incident to be overlooked. To prevent any vagueness, assign secondary responsibilities with overlap for every incident, asset, or threat.

In large organizations, some potential incidents, such as a misconfigured cloud data bucket exposed to the internet, may fall between departments. Ultimately, someone will need to step up and take responsibility for those items—and therefore, those incidents as well. For example, assign the cloud team to initially respond to incidents involving cloud assets with the cybersecurity team providing backup resources.

The assignment of backup resources will also be useful as a contingency plan. If your cloud team is based in an office currently disabled by a widespread blackout, a cybersecurity team member in another office assigned as a backup already knows to step up and address cloud issues without delay.

Choose the right documentation software

Your business may only need Google Docs or Microsoft Word for documenting an incident response plan. But you may want software with additional capabilities for creating and updating documents. Look for documentation software that has either security-specific templates or plenty of options that your teams can customize. You’ll want something with flexible templates that you can update easily, since incident response plans may need to change on a regular basis, and you want to eliminate as much manual work as possible.

Create a logical flow of alerts

Which alerts need to go to which team members and at what time? Make sure your automatic alerts are configured in appropriate order. Initial alerts must be examined for validity: is the incident causing a false positive, or should it be mitigated further? Security automation software allows teams to configure alerts to their specifications, setting logical requirements for an alert to be triggered. Personnel should know exactly when to send a manual alert, like an email or Slack message, too.

Be in line with insurance policies

Insurance policies can also heavily influence how businesses respond to an incident—particularly cybersecurity. Some policies require initial contact to be made with an insurer who will deploy their own incident response team. Others might require specific documentation and forensic evidence to pay out on expenses related to an incident. Work with legal counsel and insurance representatives to make sure the requirements are well understood and incorporated into your incident response plans.

Incorporate stakeholder feedback

Plans developed only by those assigned direct responsibility will suit their needs and expectations, but they might overlook the needs and issues of others. Once you’ve drafted an IR plan, send it to any relevant business executives, legal counsel, key vendors, and possibly even affected key customers for feedback. These stakeholders may point out additional considerations to protect the organization against lawsuits, violating regulations, or unnecessary business disruptions.

Once you’ve incorporated appropriate feedback, you’ll be ready with the final draft of the plan.

Keep the incident response plan current

Your business should regularly update incident documentation on a quarterly, annual, or event-driven schedule. Documentation software will help with this. Then you should effectively circulate the incident response documents. The circulation can be through a shared file server, but we recommend using email and printed versions, so key information will remain available for a wide variety of emergencies.

Two leading bodies in the cybersecurity industry provide detailed incident response templates:

  • National Institute of Standards of Technology template
  • SANS templates (categorized by specific areas of incident response)

While your business may want to copy such a template, they’re also good resources to inform your team’s individual plan, too. These are tools you can use to develop your own template, especially if your team hasn’t done this before and wants to pull from industry leading expertise.

Learn more about the incident response process and different frameworks .

There is no single correct approach or template for an incident response strategy. It will vary depending on your business’s priorities, your IT and security teams’ experience, and the threats you most commonly face. But practicing incident response, giving team members detailed instructions, and carefully documenting processes are just a few ways to strengthen your business’s overall approach to breaches and cyberattacks.

Article written by Chad Kime on Dec. 9, 2021 and updated by Jenna Phipps on Aug. 23, 2023.

Does your business need some additional help developing an incident response strategy? Read about the best incident response software next.

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