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The 15 Best Video Editing Apps for 2018

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you already know you should incorporate more video content into your marketing.

But like most new strategies, you might need to prove its ROI before you get budget. And that can be tricky, because to make a great video, you need a few things — like a camera and editing software.

You might already have a high-quality camera built into your smartphone, but editing your raw footage and preparing it for publication requires a third-party mobile app. You might even need to hop on the computer for the more extensive post-production projects.Discover videos, templates, tips, and other resources dedicated to helping you  launch an effective video marketing strategy. 

There’s a good chance you already have video editing software installed on your computer. For Windows, that’s Windows Movie Maker, and for Macs, it’s iMovie. But depending on the purpose your video is serving — and the content channel to which you’re distributing it — you may find that these options aren’t packed with enough features.

The good news: There are several free and inexpensive video editing apps and tools you can download that run the gamut from super simple to Hollywood-level powerful.

The following 15 solutions can help you make video magic — whether your video is meant for Instagram, YouTube, or a similar channel where you audience is hungry for content.

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Instagram Video Editing Apps

The following apps allow you to edit and quickly upload beautiful videos to Instagram. None of these apps are limited to Instagram, but are known for their support of this social network.

1. Magisto

Free | iOS, Android

Editing Style screen on Magisto video editor mobile appSource: Google Play

Video automation is here — in the form of the Magisto video editor.

Magisto allows you to make incredible videos without ever leaving your smartphone in three easy steps: First you’ll choose your video editing style (the type of story you’re telling), then you’ll choose the photos and video clips you’d like included, and lastly you’ll pick your music from Magisto’s built-in music library.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), this intuitive app helps organize your footage in a video that best delivers the message you have in mind. Why not stop at the free version? Upgrade to Premium or Professional for a small monthly fee and make longer movies with more of your own content.

2. Hyperlapse

Free | iOS only

Hyperlapse is an app created by Instagram itself that condenses videos into brief, hyper-speed videos that you can upload to Instagram or Facebook.

You can choose among a few different speeds, and the app will show you how long the hyperlapsed video will be for every speed in comparison to the length of the video in real time. (So a 40-second video in real time will become roughly a seven-second video in Hyperlapse at 6X speed.) It’s a really cool way to capture something that usually lasts a while — like a sunset or an event setup.

See what happened when I used Hyperlapse to film daybreak at 12X in the video above.

3. Wondershare FilmoraGo

Free | iOS, Android

Effect Store on Wondershare's FilmoraGo mobile appSource: Google Play

Wondershare Filmora (formerly Wondershare Video Editor) is the perfect option if you want to start out with basic video editing functionality with the opportunity to get more advanced as you go. The app is perfect for Instagram, but can create audience-ready videos for numerous platforms.

Filmora is available for Windows and Mac computers, whereas the company’s FilmoraGo mobile app is free to download for both iOS and Android devices.

Filmora’s “Easy Mode” strips away the complexity so you can drag and drop video clips, add some music, and produce a finished video in a matter of minutes. The FilmoraGo app has many of these features, plus an Effect Store where you can incorporate preset intros, themes, and transitions into your video creation.

Sound too good to be true? Well, you’re right: The free version of Wondershare Filmora adds a watermark to your videos that you can only remove through upgrading to their paid service.

4. InShot

Free | iOS | Android

There are the times when you just want to edit a video — no fancy collages and no splicing. For that, there’s InShot, a handy app that lets you trim, speed up, or add music and filters to video. It’s pretty fundamental, but with that comes a high ease of use. You can also add a background, if you like, though we think it’s pretty cool to have an overlap of images, like we did with the video below.

In the video above, I took a simple video of a tranquil beach scene, but enhanced it with InShot’s “warm filter” and added a fitting musical track to it — a song called “Pikake Stream,” by Kalani. (I recommend viewing the video in its entirety with headphones, especially if you’re having a stressful day.)

Free Video Editing Apps

The following tools are most versatile mobile apps of all the free software listed in this article.

5. WeVideo

Free | iOS, Android

Selecting video clips on WeVideo video editor mobile appSource: Google Play

Cloud-based video editing software (i.e., software that you access via a browser instead of downloading directly to your hard drive) is growing more and more popular. One of the programs leading the charge is WeVideo.

WeVideo definitely offers some advanced features and functionality, including audio editing capabilities, a library of commercially licensed music, and the ability to share videos in 4K resolution. However, the free version of WeVideo isn’t without its limitations.

One major downside is that you’re only given 10GB of cloud storage. If you’re making a one-off video, this is fine. But if you’re planning to edit multiple videos, you’ll definitely need more space. The free version also puts a WeVideo watermark on your videos, which isn’t ideal.

WeVideo is also available as a desktop computer product, and comes with free and paid plans. For complete breakdown of the differences between these plans, check out WeVideo’s pricing page.

6. Splice

Free | iOS only

It only seems fitting that the makers of GoPro would also release an app that allows you — as the name suggests — to splice together different video clips on your phone to create a moving collage.

We had a lot of fun playing with this one, especially since Splice even contains a library of musical tracks that can be used as a background for your finished product. You can also use the app to trim and edit the different pieces of video, and customize transition lengths from one scene to the next.

My colleague, Amanda Zantal-Wiener, experimented with Splice by compiling the above 15-second video of her dog — using only an iPhone 6.

7. Adobe Premiere Clip

Free | iOS, Android

Dragging and dropping photos and videos on Adobe Premiere Clip video editing appSource: Google Play

Adobe’s popular video editor, Premiere, isn’t just available on your mobile device — it’s free.

Melissa Stoneburner of Examiner.com calls this app a “gateway” into the full Adobe Premiere Pro video editor for desktop, and we can see this for ourselves. Similar to Magisto (the first video editor on our list), Adobe Clip automatically sets your video to the music of your choice (using Premiere Clip’s library or your own), and offers a Freeform editor that allows you to customize your edits further after this initial audio sync.

Premiere’s equally robust video editing features help you trim, drag, and drop multiple video and image clips — right from your mobile device’s photo and video album — in the order you’d like.

Then, just add proper lighting, manipulate the speed of the video, and share your final product directly on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

8. PicPlayPost

Free | iOS, Android

We’ve already covered the coolness of photo collages. But what if you could make a video collage? PicPlayPost is a simple app that lets you do exactly that. Just remember that the sound from both videos will play at the same time, so be sure they won’t clash with one another.

There are many uses for a video collage app, but my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, particularly likes the way fitness professional Melissa Made uses it on her Instagram account. She posts video collages with her performing a workout on one side, while she explains the workout out loud on the other.

Best Video Editing Software for YouTube

Although the video editing services below do not offer mobile versions, they do offer easy-to-learn functionality at minimal cost. These apps are the best for sitting down at your computer and editing amazing video content for your YouTube channel.

9. Blender

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

blender-video-editing.jpgSource: Blender

The open source program Blender is more than just a video editor: It’s a full-blown 3D animation suite, which allows for modeling, rendering, motion tracking, and more.

On the video editing side, there are a ton of features, including transitions, speed control, filters, adjustment layers, and more. There are also 32 slots available for adding video clips, audio clips, images, and effects, which means you can produce some incredibly complex video.

For the amateur video editor, all the functionality that’s available can be a bit overwhelming. But if you’re looking to produce truly professional-quality video — without having to deal with watermarks — Blender is a solid option. The best part: “You are free to use Blender for any purpose, including commercially or for education,” according to its website. For the fine print, check out its licensing info.

10. Lightworks

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

lightworks.jpgSource: ZDNet

Like Blender, Lightworks is definitely on the more advanced (and powerful) end of the video editing software spectrum. In fact, it’s a program that’s been used to edit some well-known and award-winning films, including Pulp Fiction, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The King’s Speech.

There are two different licenses you can choose from with Lightworks: “Free” and “Pro.” (The latter of which, as you might have guessed, requires that you cough up some cash.) The main difference between the two licenses is that the Pro version offers more features, including stereoscopic output and advanced project sharing. But the free version is still quite powerful, providing 100+ effects and supporting multicam editing.

11. Shotcut

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

shotcut-screenshot.pngSource: Shotcut

Shotcut is another open source video software — and it’s completely free. It’s possible to use Shotcut to create professional-looking videos, but the interface is tricky to use. Perhaps that’s because it was originally developed for the Linux platform, which looks and feels a lot different from the typical Windows or Mac UX.

With dedication — and time spent in the Shotcut frequently asked questions and how-to guide sections — it’s possible to use this software to create and export high-quality videos, completely for free.

12. VSDC Free Video Editor

Free | Windows Only

vsdc-free-video-editor-screenshot.jpgSource: Softonic

In experienced hands, the VSDC Free Video Editor can produce some seriously professional-looking video. In addition to supporting nearly every major video format, the program offers advanced video effects, including object transformation and color correction, as well as advanced audio effects like volume correction and sound normalization. And unlike WeVideo, the VSDC Free Video Editor is truly free. You can use the program’s full feature set without having to deal with pesky watermarks.

Unfortunately, there is one catch. If you want technical support, you need to pay. (And because there is a bit of a learning curve, there’s a good chance you’ll need to.) Support for the VSDC Free Video Editor costs $9.99 for one month and $14.99 for one year.

13. Machete Video Editor Lite

Free | Windows Only

machete-lite-04-620x449.pngSource: Softonic

At the simple end of the spectrum is Machete Video Editor Lite, a free program allowing you to cut, copy, and paste different sections of video. As the Machete website puts it, Video Editor Lite was “designed for quick and simple ‘slicing’ of your video files.”

The program’s intuitive interface means you won’t have to waste time shuffling through technical support documents. And because Video Editor Lite doesn’t re-encode your video files when you slice them, you don’t have to worry about losing video quality.

The main downsides to the program? It only supports the AVI and WMV video formats, and it doesn’t allow for audio editing. Still, if you have zero video editing experience and only need to make simple edits, it’s a great option.

14. Avidemux

Free | Windows, Mac, Linux

avidemux-screenshot-update.pngSource: Softonic

Like Machete Video Editor Lite, Avidemux allows you to do basic video editing (no audio editing) without having to worry about loss of video quality. But Avidemux also has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

For starters, the program supports multiple video formats, including AVI, DVD, MPEG, QuickTime, and MP4. What’s more, Avidemux comes with several filters that allow you to perform a host of different functions, from flipping and rotating clips, to adding subtitles, to adjusting colors and brightness levels.

And while the learning curve for Avidemux is slightly steeper compared to Machete Video Editor Lite, the upside is that there’s an extensive Avidemux wiki that covers everything you need to know.

15. HitFilm

$99 | Windows, Mac

hitfilm screenshot.jpgSource: HitFilm

HitFilm Express is a free video editing and visual effects software — which means you can use it to add more than 180 special effects to your videos, including 3D editing.

Possibly the coolest HitFilm feature is its wealth of tutorial videos — users can practice applying special visual effects in movie tutorials based on Star Wars, Westworld, and more.

Of course, upgrading to HitFilm Pro grants access to more visual effects, better high resolution and 3D rendering, and better audio syncing between audio and video files. It costs $300, but if you’re not ready to fully invest, HitFilm Express users can purchase lower-cost expansions to use more tools in their software.

To see the complete list of differences between HitFilm Free and Pro, check out their “Compare Versions” page.

Want to learn more about video editing? Check out the best editing apps for photos.

Online video content isn’t just watched more — it’s expected more. Luckily, you have the 15 video editing tools above to help you. And the sooner you download one, the sooner you can sharpen your audio/video skills.

Grab the guide below to make the video learning curve easier.

video marketing starter pack

 
video marketing starter pack

How to Write a Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide [Examples + Template]

Not all business ideas are good ones. Take my friend Eric, for example, who had the idea of a cell phone that doubles as a taser. Probably not the best product to have on the market.

A lot of people have business ideas — it’s whether these ideas are any good that really matters. That’s precisely why, if you intend to actually build a business from your idea, it’s helpful to create a business plan so you can build out your concept in detail and prove that it can really work, both logistically and financially.

Learn the fundamentals of inbound marketing in a short online lesson from  HubSpot Academy. 

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a living document that maps out the details of your business. It covers what your business will sell, how it will be structured, what the market looks like, how you plan to sell your product or service, what funding you’ll need, what your financial projections are, and which permits, leases, and other documentation will be required.

At its core, a business plan helps you prove to yourself and others whether or not your business idea is worth pursuing. It’s the best way to take a step back, look at your idea holistically, and solve for issues years down the road before you start getting into the weeds.

This post covers tips for writing a business plan, followed by an outline of what to include and business plan examples. Let’s start with some basic, overarching tips before we dive in to the details. 

Grab your free business plan template here and apply the practices below.

Tips for Creating a Business Plan

Narrow down what makes you different.

Before you start whipping up a business plan, think carefully about what makes your business unique first. If you’re planning to start a new athletic clothing business, for example, then you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the numerous other athletic clothing brands out there.

What makes yours stand out from the others? Are you planning to make clothing for specific sports or athletic activities, like yoga or hiking or tennis? Do you use environmentally friendly material? Does a certain percentage of your proceeds go to charity? Does your brand promote positive body image?

Remember: You’re not just selling your product or service — you’re selling a combination of product, value, and brand experience. Think through these big questions and outline them before you dive in to the nitty-gritty of your business plan research.

Keep it short.

Business plans are more short and concise nowadays than they used to be. While it might be tempting to include all the results of your market research, flesh out every single product you plan to sell, and outline exactly what your website will look like, that’s actually not helpful in the format of a business plan.

Know these details and keep them elsewhere, but exclude everything but the meat and potatoes from the business plan itself. Otherwise, you might risk losing your readers’ attention.

Format for easy skimming.

Your business plan shouldn’t just be a quick(ish) read — it should be easy to skim, too. That’s where formatting becomes particularly important. Use headers and bullet points, bold or highlight the key lines or metrics you want the reader to take away, and even attach labeled tabs to your copies (paper and digital) for easy reference.

You can (and should) change it as you go.

Keep in mind that your business plan is a living, breathing document. That means you can update your business plan as things change. For example, you might want to update it a year or two down the road if you’re about to apply for a new round of funding.

How to Write a Business Plan

Here are the key elements in a business plan template, what goes into each of them, and a sample business plan section at each step in the process.

Step 1. Executive Summary

The purpose of the executive summary is to give readers a high-level view of the company and the market before delving in to the details. (Pro Tip: Sometimes it’s helpful to write the executive summary after you’ve put together the rest of the plan so you can draw out the key takeaways more easily.)

The executive summary should be about a page long, and should cover (in 1–2 paragraphs each):

  • Overview: Briefly explain what the company is, where you’ll be located, what you’ll sell, and who you’ll sell to.
  • Company Profile: Briefly explain the business structure, who owns it and whatprior experience/skills they’ll bring to the table, and who the first hires might be.
  • Products or Services: Briefly explain what you’ll sell.
  • The Market: Briefly explain your main findings from your market analysis.
  • Financial Considerations: Briefly explain how you plan to fund the business and what your financial projections are.

Example of an “Overview” section of the Executive Summary (from Bplans):

Jolly’s Java and Bakery (JJB) is a start-up coffee and bakery retail establishment located in southwest Washington. JJB expects to catch the interest of a regular loyal customer base with its broad variety of coffee and pastry products. The company plans to build a strong market position in the town, due to the partners’ industry experience and mild competitive climate in the area.

JJB aims to offer its products at a competitive price to meet the demand of the middle-to higher-income local market area residents and tourists.

Step 2. Company Description

Next, you’ll have your company description. Here’s where you have the chance to give a summary of what your company does, your mission statement, business structure and business owner details, location details, the marketplace needs that your business is trying to meet, and how your products or services actually meet those needs.

Example of a “Company Summary” section (from Bplans):

NALB Creative Center is a start up, to go into business in the summer of this year. We will offer a large variety of art and craft supplies, focusing on those items that are currently unavailable on this island. The Internet will continue to be a competitor, as artists use websites to buy familiar products. We will stock products that artists don’t necessarily have experience with. We will maintain our price comparisons to include those available on line.

We will offer classes in the use of new materials and techniques.

We will build an Artist’s Oasis tour program. We will book local Bed and Breakfasts; provide maps and guides for appropriate plein-air sites; rent easels and materials; sell paint and other supplies and ship completed work to the clients when dry.

We will expand the store into an art center including: A fine art gallery, offering original art at, or near, wholesale prices; Musical instruments/studio space; Classrooms for art/music lessons; Art/Music books; Live music/coffee bar; Do-it-Yourself crafts such as specialty T-Shirts, signs, cards, ceramics for the tourist trade.

Step 3. Market Analysis

One of the first questions to ask yourself when you’re testing your business idea is whether it has a place in the market. The market will ultimately dictate how successful your business will be. What’s your target market, and why would they be interested in buying from you?

Get specific here. For example, if you’re selling bedding, you can’t just include everyone who sleeps in a bed in your target market. You need to target a smaller group of customers first, like teenagers from middle-income families. From there, you might answer questions like: How many teenagers from middle-income families are currently in your country? What bedding do they typically need? Is the market growing or stagnant?

Include both an analysis of research that others have done, as well as primary research that you’ve collected yourself — whether by customer surveys, interviews, or other methods.

This is also where you’ll include a competitive analysis. In our example, we’d be answering the question: how many other bedding companies already have a share of the market, and who are they? Outline the strengths and weaknesses of your potential competitors, as well as strategies that will give you a competitive advantage.

Example of a “Market Analysis” summary section (from Bplans):

Green Investments has identified two distinct groups of target customers. These two groups of customers are distinguished by their household wealth. They have been grouped as customers with <$1 million and >$1 million in household wealth. The main characteristic that makes both of these groups so attractive is their desire to make a difference in the world by making investment decisions that take into account environmental factors.

The financial services industry has many different niches. Some advisors provide general investment services. Others will only offer one type of investments, maybe just mutual funds or might concentrate on bonds. Other service providers will concentrate on a specific niche like technology or socially responsible companies.

Market Segmentation

Green Investments has segmented the target market into two distinct groups. The groups can be differentiated by their difference in household wealth, households of <$1 million and >$1 million.

  • <$1 million (household worth): These customers are middle class people who have a concern for the environment and are taking personal action through their choosing of stock investments based on companies with both strong economic and environmental performance records. Because these people do not have an over abundance of money they choose stocks that are of moderate risk. Generally, this group has 35%-45% of their portfolio in stocks, the remaining percentages in other types of investments.
  • >$1 million (household worth): These customers are upper middle class to upper class. They have amassed over $1 million in savings and are fairly savvy investors (themselves or the people they hire). These people are generally concerned about the rate of return of their investments but also have environmental concerns.

Step 4. Products and/or Services

Here’s where you can go into detail about what you’re selling and how it benefits your customers. If you aren’t able to articulate how you’ll help your customers, then your business idea may not be a good one.

Start by describing the problem you’re solving. Then, go into how you plan to solve it and where your product or service fits into the mix. Finally, talk about the competitive landscape: What other companies are providing solutions to this particular problem, and what sets your solution apart from theirs?

Example of a “Products and Services” section (from Bplans):

AMT provides both computer products and services to make them useful to small business. We are especially focused on providing network systems and services to small and medium business. The systems include both PC-based LAN systems and minicomputer server-based systems. Our services include design and installation of network systems, training, and support.

Product and Service Description

In personal computers, we support three main lines:

1. The Super Home is our smallest and least expensive line, initially positioned by its manufacturer as a home computer. We use it mainly as a cheap workstation for small business installations. Its specifications include …[additional specifics omitted]

2. The Power User is our main up-scale line. It is our most important system for high-end home and small business main workstations, because of …. Its key strengths are …. Its specifications include ….[additional specifics omitted]

3. The Business Special is an intermediate system, used to fill the gap in the positioning. Its specifications include … [additional specifics omitted]

In peripherals, accessories and other hardware, we carry a complete line of necessary items from cables to forms to mousepads … [additional specifics omitted]

In service and support, we offer a range of walk-in or depot service, maintenance contracts and on-site guarantees. We have not had much success selling service contracts. Our networking capabilities …[additional specifics omitted]

Competitive Comparison

The only way we can hope to differentiate well is to define the vision of the company to be an information technology ally to our clients. We will not be able to compete in any effective way with the chains using boxes or products as appliances. We need to offer a real alliance.

The benefits we sell include many intangibles: confidence, reliability, knowing that somebody will be there to answer questions and help at the important times.

These are complex products, products that require serious knowledge and experience to use, and our competitors sell only the products themselves.

Unfortunately, we cannot sell the products at a higher price just because we offer services; the market has shown that it will not support that concept. We have to also sell the service and charge for it separately.

Step 5. Operations & Management

Use this section to outline your business’ unique organization and management structure (keeping in mind that you may change it later). Who will be responsible for what? How will tasks and responsibilities be assigned to each person or each team?

Includes brief bios of each team member and highlight any relevant experience and education to help make the case for why they’re the right person for the job. If you haven’t hired people for the planned roles yet, that’s OK — just make sure you identify those gaps and explain what the people in those roles will be responsible for.

Example of an “Personnel Plan” section of the Operations & Management section (from Bplans):

The labor force for DIY Wash N’ Fix will be small. It will consist of a part-time general manager to handle inter-business relationships and corporate responsibilities. In addition, DIY Wash N’ Fix will employ three certified mechanics/managers; their duties will consist of the day-to-day operation of the firm. These duties fall into two categories: managerial and operational. Managerial tasks include: scheduling, inventory control and basic bookkeeping. Safety, regulatory issues, customer service and repair advice are the operational tasks they will be responsible for.

Additionally, customer service clerks will be hired to perform the most basic tasks: customer service and custodial. DIY Wash N’ Fix will have a single general manager to coordinate all outside business activities and partnerships. The business relationships would include accounting services, legal counsel, vendors and suppliers, maintenance providers, banking services, advertising and marketing services, and investment services. Laurie Snyder will fill this general management position. She will be receiving an MBA from the University of Notre Dame in May 2001.

The daily management of the business will be left to the lead mechanic. Even though DIY Wash N’ Fix is not a full service repair shop it can be expected that some customers will attempt repairs they are not familiar with and need advice. Therefore, we intend to hire three fully certified mechanics. The mechanics will not be authorized to perform any work on a customer’s car, but they will be able to take a look at the car to evaluate the problem. To reduce our liability for repairs done incorrectly we feel only professional mechanics should give advice to customers. The primary function of the mechanics will be customer service and managerial responsibilities.

Step 6. Marketing & Sales Plan

This is where you can plan out your comprehensive marketing and sales strategies that’ll cover how you actually plan to sell your product. Before you work on your marketing and sales plan, you’ll need to have your market analysis completely fleshed out, and choose your target buyer personas, i.e., your ideal customers. (Learn how to create buyer personas here.)

On the marketing side, you’ll want to cover answers to questions like: How do you plan to penetrate the market? How will you grow your business? Which channels will you focus on for distribution? How will you communicate with your customers?

On the sales side, you’ll need to cover answers to questions like: what’s your sales strategy? What will your sales team look like, and how do you plan to grow it over time? How many sales calls will you need to make to make a sale? What’s the average price per sale? Speaking of average price per sale, here’s where you can go into your pricing strategy.

For more help with your marketing and sales strategies, go to our online guide for how to start a business and scroll to the “Marketing, Sales & Services Tips for Startups” section.

Example of a “Marketing Plan” section (from Bplans):

The Skate Zone plans to be the first amateur inline hockey facility in Miami, Florida. Due to the overwhelming growth of inline hockey throughout the United States, the company’s promotional plans are open to various media and a range of marketing communications. The following is a list of those available presently.

Public relations. Press releases are issued to both technical trade journals and major business publications such as USAHockey Inline, INLINE the skate magazine, PowerPlay, and others.

Tournaments. The Skate Zone will represent its services at championship tournaments that are held annually across the United States.

Print advertising and article publishing. The company’s print advertising program includes advertisements in The Yellow Pages, Miami Express News, The Skate Zone Mailing, school flyers, and inline hockey trade magazines.

Internet. The Skate Zone currently has a website and has received several inquiries from it. Plans are underway to upgrade it to a more professional and effective site. In the future, this is expected to be one of the company’s primary marketing channels.

Step 7. Financial Plan

Finally, outline your financial model in detail, including your start-up cost, financial projections, and a funding request if you’re pitching to investors.

Your start-up cost refers to the resources you’ll need to get your business started — and an estimate of how much each of those resources will cost. Are you leasing an office space? Do you need a computer? A phone? List out these needs and how much they’ll cost, and be honest and conservative in your estimates. The last thing you want to do is run out of money.

Once you’ve outlined your costs, you’ll need to justify them by detailing your financial projections. This is especially important if you’re looking for funding for your business. Make sure your financial model is 100% accurate for the best chance of convincing investors and loan sources to support your business.

Example of a “Financial Projections” section (from Bplans):

The following table is the projected Profit and Loss statement for Markam.

Financial projections in a business plan example

Image via Bplans

Step 8. Appendix

Finally, consider closing out your business plan with an appendix. The appendix is optional, but it’s a helpful place to include your resume and the resume(s) of your co-founder(s), as well as any permits, leases, and other legal information you want to include.

There you have it. We hope this has helped you get a better idea of what a business plan should look like. Now it’s time to turn that business idea into a reality. Good luck!

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20 Questions to Ask When Creating Buyer Personas [Free Template]

Buyer personas are a crucial component of successful inbound marketing, particularly for the sales and marketing departments. After all, the marketing team needs to know to whom they are marketing, and the sales team needs to know to whom they are selling.

But once you sit down to craft your buyer personas, you may find yourself staring blankly at a white screen for some time, wondering where on earth you’re supposed to begin.

Download our free buyer persona template here to learn how to create buyer personas for your business.

Before you spend time and money on research, ask yourself the questions below to help you develop your personas, then use our free buyer persona template above to share your personas with the rest of your company. 

Keep in mind you’ll need a content marketing strategy to reach your buyer persona. Want to learn the process? Check out HubSpot Academy’s free content marketing training resource page.

20 Buyer Persona Questions to Ask When Identifying Your Audience

Questions About Their Personal Background

1. Describe your personal demographics.

Collecting demographic information is a great place to begin drafting your personas because it’s easy to obtain and starts to paint a clearer, more personal picture of your customer. Are they married? What’s their annual household income? Where do they live? Are they male or female? How old are they? Do they have children?

2. Describe your educational background.

What level of education did they complete? Which schools did they attend, and what did they study? Get specific here. “Boston University” is better than “liberal arts college.”

3. Describe your career path.

How did they end up where they are today? Did they major in a subject that’s very similar to or very different from their current role? Has their career track been pretty traditional, or did they switch from another industry?

Questions About Their Company

4. In which industry or industries does your company work?

The answer to this question isn’t the department in which your buyer persona works, or the service he or she personally provides to his/her company. Your buyer persona’s industry is the type of service they deliver to their clients, and knowing this can help you measure your business’s impact in the markets you’re targeting.

Depending on the challenges your buyer persona faces, it might also be worth getting information on the industries your client’s business serves, not just the actual service they provide.

For example, if your client provides environmental services, their industry is just that — environmental services. But if their primary clients are schools and hospitals, a good answer to this question might ultimately be:

They are in the environmental services industry for education and medical customers.

5. What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?

Knowing details about your persona’s company like industry, size, number of employees, and other details will especially help you when you’re building the fields for your landing page forms.

Questions About Their Role

6. What is your job role? Your title?

How long have they had this role and title? Are they an individual contributor, or do they manage other people?

7. Whom do you report to? Who reports to you?

The importance with which you should regard your buyer persona’s job and seniority level certainly depends on the product or service you’re selling.

If you’re a B2C company, you may simply consider this information as another way to better understand nuances of your persona’s life.

If you’re a B2B company, this piece of information becomes more crucial. Is your persona at a managerial or director level, and well versed in the intricacies of your industry? They’ll need less education than someone at an introductory level, who may need to loop in other decision makers before making purchasing decisions.

8. How is your job measured?

Which metric(s) is your persona responsible for? Which numbers or charts or waterfall graphs do they look at every day? This will help you determine what makes them successful, and what they might be worried about when it comes to “hitting their numbers.”

9. What does a typical day look like?

What time do they get to work and what time do they leave? What do they do when they’re most productive? What’s their “busy work” look like?

This should include both the tasks they do for their job, as well as what happens during the day outside their job. Are they spending more time at work or at home? Where would they rather be? What do they like to do for fun? Who are the people in their life that matter most? What kind of car do they drive? Which TV shows do they watch? Heck, what outfit are they wearing? Get personal here.

10. Which skills are required to do your job?

If they were hiring someone to replace them and had to write a job description of what’s actually required, what would it say? What are the ideal skills for this job, and how good is your persona at each of them? Where did they learn these skills? Did they learn them on the job, at a previous job, or by taking a course?

11. What knowledge and which tools do you use in your job?

Which applications and tools do they use every single day? Every week? Understanding what products they love (and hate) to use can help you identify commonalities in your own product (and adjust your positioning accordingly). 

Questions About Their Challenges

12. What are your biggest challenges?

You’re in business because you’re solving a problem for your target audience. How does that problem affect their day-to-day life? Go into detail, and focus on the nuances that illustrate how that problem makes them feel.

For example, let’s say your company sells personal tax software directly to consumers. One of your personas may be a first-time tax preparer. What are the pain points of first-time tax preparers? They’re probably intimidated by the prospect of doing their taxes by themselves for the first time, overwhelmed by a tax code they don’t understand, and confused about where to start. These pain points differ from those of a seasoned tax preparer, whose pain points may be not knowing how to maximize the amount of their return and find creative loopholes for deductions.

Try coming up with real quotes to refer to these challenges. For example, “It’s been difficult getting company-wide adoption of new technologies in the past;” or “I don’t have time to train new employees on a million different databases and platforms.”

Questions About Their Goals

13. What are you responsible for?

This goes beyond the metric(s) they’re measured on. What’s their primary goal at work? What about their secondary goal? Knowing these will help you learn what you can do to help your persona achieve their goals and overcome their challenges.

14. What does it mean to be successful in your role?

What can you do to make your personas look good? Companies that take the time to understand what makes their personas successful will likely enjoy more effective communications from both the sales and marketing teams.

Questions About How They Learn

15. How do you learn about new information for your job?

If you’re going to market and sell to these personas, you need to understand how they consume information. Do they go online, prefer to learn in-person, or pick up newspapers and magazines? If they’re online learners, do they visit social networks? To Google? Which sources do they trust the most — friends, family, coworkers, or industry experts?

16. Which publications or blogs do you read?

In an effort to piece together how a typical day in their life runs, figure out where they regularly go to stay informed. If you know how they prefer to gather information, you can make yourself present in those spots and work on establishing credibility in those communities.

17. Which associations and social networks do you participate in?

You should be investing time and resources on social media marketing, but the question is: Which social networks should you be investing more time and resources than others? Identify the associations and social networks your buyers spend their time. Then, you can prioritize which accounts to create and which conversations to participate in.

Questions About Their Shopping Preferences

18. How do you prefer to interact with vendors?

The experience of purchasing your product should align with your persona’s expectations. What should their sales experience feel like? Is it consultative? How much time do they expect to spend with a sales person? Do they anticipate an in-person meeting, or would they rather conduct the sales process online or over the phone?

19. Do you use the internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do you search for information?

Again, which avenues are they using to find new information? Do they search online, look at review websites, ask their friends and family, or something else?

20. Describe a recent purchase.

Why did you consider a purchase, what was the evaluation process, and how did you decide to purchase that product or service?

If you can anticipate the objections your persona will have, you can be prepared for them in the sales process and perhaps even educate them in your marketing collateral to help allay fears right away. What might make them reticent to buy from you or any other provider in your industry? Is this their first time purchasing a product or service of your kind? If not, what caused them to switch products or services?

Now What?

Once you’ve gone through this exercise and worked out any lingering questions about what makes your persona tick, browse through some stock imagery and find an actual picture to associate with your persona. Going through this exercise forces you to clarify an image of your target audience in your entire organization’s mind that will help keep your messaging consistent.

Another useful exercise is to practice being able to identify your buyer persona so you can tailor your communications. How will you know when you’re talking to this persona? Is it their job title? Something about the way they talk or carry a conversation? Their pain points? How they found your company? Once you’ve established not only who your persona is, but also how you can identify them when you encounter one or another, your employees will be able to maintain a consistent voice that is still customized to each person they talk to.

Then, use our free, downloadable persona template to organize the information you’ve gathered about your persona. Share these slides with the rest of your company so everyone can benefit from the research you’ve done and develop an in-depth understanding of the person (or people) they’re targeting every day at work.

Want to learn about some the best real buyer personas? Check out seven companies with awesome buyer personas.

free buyer persona creation template

 
free buyer persona creation template