Business Plan Outline

Posted on by Prapti

Cover Page – Should be simple and contain the company name along with the words “Business Plan”

and may include the owner(s) name.

Table of Contents –a table of contents will allow the reader to turn to other areas of the business plan

with ease.

Executive Summary – Although this will be the first page of your plan, it should be the last page that you

actually write. The executive summary will include a history of your company or in the case of a brand

new business, your qualifications as they relate to the business you plan to start. For a new business,

you should also show how you came up with the idea along with problems you foresee in regard to your

target market and the solutions you have come up with to overcome these challenges. In either scenario

this summary will also show the direction you have for the company and a realistic vision of where you

see your company heading. The executive summary will be the most important section of your business

plan as it must get the reader’s attention and convince him/her that this is a viable business idea with

potential for growth in a reasonable amount of time. It is a summary of your vision and the reasons why  14

you feel this particular business will be successful. This section should contain such specific information


• Expected start date or in the case of an existing business, the date it began.

• Mission Statement of your company, which is a brief explanation of the focus or point of the

business. This can be as short as a few words but should generally not be more than a simple paragraph.

A logo or image that conveys your message can also be used.

• Owner names and their function within the company.

• Number of employees (if any).

• Business location and brief description.

• Product or service being sold, manufactured, or researched offered.

• Banking information and any investors (if any).

• Expected company growth or growth history for an existing company. If this is an existing

company, you are wise to include any specific information such as an innovative idea that doubled your

sales in the first year, etc.

• A brief summary of the owner’s/management’s plans for the future. Since a detailed

explanation will be contained in the remainder of the business plan, bullets showing highlights is all that

may be necessary.

Market Analysis ‐ This is the section where much of the initial research you did will be fundamental.

Although the precise details of your market research will be contained within the appendix section of

your business plan, here you will need to show your expertise as it directly relates to the business you

will be starting. You can include some general highlights and conclusions your market research may have

led you to.

The market analysis section of your business plan should include:

• You will want to describe your company, the size of the particular industry, including growth

patterns and specific qualities and developments of the said industry.

• Next you will want to show your target market, which is simply who your product or service will

be sold to. If your business is in the area of research, explain the theory you want to prove, the benefits

it will have and who the beneficiaries will be. Try to keep your client base to a reasonable target where

you can demonstrate a need for the product or service offered. You will also want to show the number

of clients you can reasonably expect to secure and any pricing and discounts you will receive through

volume purchasing. Also include the resources you used to obtain your data, any form of advertising you

plan to use in order to reach potential clients, how often clients can be expected to purchase your

product/service and who in your target market will actually be making the final purchasing decision.

• Explain how your product/service meets your target market and to what extent they are or are

not currently being met in the industry – what is the “demand”. You will want to outline how you intend

to capture your company’s share in this market and show how you came to your conclusion.  15

• Finally you will want to state any changes you might foresee in the industry and solutions that

you can implement to retain your client base or secure new ones.

Test results and surveys should be essential to your Market Analysis. Any further details that were used

or information gathered will be included in the appendix section of your business plan. Depending on

the product or service being provided there may be a waiting period from when a customer places an

order and when they actually receive it. This is called the lead time and should be included in this

section as well.

Management and Organization ‐ this section of your plan will show the organizational structure of your

business and details of all the people that will be involved and their specific roles within it, which could


• The business structure you have chosen and all relevant information to ownership such as

names of owners, involvement in the company, percentage of their individual ownership and theirs

details (i.e. general or limited partner, common stock, etc.). You will also include any authorized or

issued common stock or outstanding warrants, options, convertible debt, etc.

• If your company has a board of directors you will need to list their names along with their

qualifications. It shows the reader that you have come up with a definite plan to ensure your company

has the expert advice.

• If your business will be made up of separate departments you will want to describe each in

detail and the people who will be in charge along with their qualifications.

• In the case of a business that has elected to work with an advisory board you will need to list

who is on the board and incentive plans you will provide such as salaries, benefits, etc.

A common factor in all successful businesses is the experience and past record of their owners and

managers. This is where you can showcase the people that will be involved with the business and

demonstrate that you have highly competent experts to help you sustain and grow your company.

Provide resumes and any special skills along with specific achievements and involvement they may have

had within the community.

Sales and Marketing – In simple terms, acquiring customers is marketing.

A sales and marketing approach differs from business to business; nonetheless, there are key elements

that will aid you in finding your particular strategy. In this section you will want to include:

• Specific strategies you will use to break into your target market.

• Plans for how you can increase business and grow your company. For example, you may be

looking at buying another business that would compliment what you are currently doing or you may

have plans to increase your staff. You may have plans to offer the product or service at different price

points, thus enhancing your target market.

• Describe all current and potential methods your company has for getting your product/service

to your customers. Distribution channels could include direct sales, sales through the internet, outside

distributors or perhaps your product/service can also be sold through other retailers.

• This section should also include exactly how you intend to get the information to your

customers about your product/service. Most businesses will have a number of ways to communicate  16

with potential customers and will generally use a combination of a direct sales force, brochures or other

printed material, special promotions, media advertising, etc.

• Explain how you intend to hire and train the sales team, if applicable, and the financial

compensation you will be offering.

• Since you have already defined your target market in your Market Analysis you will now need to

explain who will be targeted first. Show realistic figures in relation to how many calls/flyers, etc. will be

needed to generate each sale and exactly how much money each sale will bring in.

Product or Service – In this section the reader will want to know exactly what product or service your

business will be selling. You have touched base on this information earlier in your business plan, but in

this section you will want to go into much more detail and elaborate as much as possible. It is important

to define what sets you apart from similar businesses; products or services that place you at a distinct

advantage over others in your industry.

You will also want to show results of your research that clearly demonstrate that customers are in need

of what you offer and are willing to pay for your particular product/service.

If you have plans to include other specialty products/services in the future which will broaden your

market, explain how you plan to implement these changes and how it will affect your growth.

Grant/Financial Funding Request – Now is the time to request the amount of funding that you are

seeking. Whether you are looking for financial investors, low interest loans or grants from the

government or a private corporation, the information you include here is essential if you want to be

given fair consideration.

The primary points that you will need to expand on are:

• Funding you are requesting now

• Funding that you will need over the next four or five years (if any)

• Exactly how you to intend to use the funds received

• Any financial plans beyond the four or five year initial period that may have a bearing on your

current request

In the case of loans or other funding that are to be repaid be sure to include your expected repayment

terms. Any person or institution that is considering your request will want

to know in detail how these funds will be used: new acquisitions, debt repayment, working capital,

capital expenditures, etc.

The reader will be looking for any information that may affect your future financial situation and may

have an impact on your ability to repay a loan if that is what your requested. For example, if you have

been approached by someone to buy out your company, are planning to franchise or your company  17

plans to go public, all these possible scenarios must be clearly spelled out to reassure the lender of your

ability to repay a debt.

In a later chapter we will go into detail about the process and information you will need when

requesting grant funding from the government or a corporation and how to include this with your

completed business plan.

Financial Information –In the case of an existing business you will need to include three to five years of

financial information. If your business has been in operation for less than three years you will need to

supply all financial data that you have available. Both creditors and grant funding institutions will want

to see income and cash flow statements, balance sheets and in the case of loans, any collateral that

exists within the company. In addition to the company’s past financial data, you must outline the

company’s future financial planning; at least five years is recommended. This should include forecasts

for income and cash flow statements, balance sheets and a budget for capital expenditures. Monthly or

quarterly forecasts are advised for the first year of your financials and then can be extended to yearly

forecasts for the remaining years. If possible, it is suggested that you include graphs that show the ratios

and trend analysis of all past and projected financials that you have provided.

Take the time to examine all your projected figures in order to ensure they precisely match your grant or

loan request. Errors in this section can be very detrimental to your request being considered.

Appendix –Since your business plan has many purposes, the appendix is the section of your business

plan that you will only provide to people on a need‐to‐know basis. Having your appendix readily

available is a priority as individuals offering grants and loans will want to have access to this information.

Keep a record of anyone who has been given a copy so that as you update the document it will be easy

to provide them with these changes.

Items that will be included in appendix are:

• Specifics of any market studies

• Names and contact information of business consultants, accountants or attorneys

• Personal and business credit history

• Resumes of anyone involved in the business

• Descriptions and/or pictures of products/services

• Any references used in the business plan such as articles, books, etc.

• Letters of reference

• All relevant legal documents

• Patents, permits, licenses that may be required to run your business

• Building permits, leases, etc.

Placement Disclaimer – This section will only be used if your business is seeking to raise capital. In this

event, it must be placed as the first page of your business plan and it is highly recommended that you  18

get legal advice before including such a disclaimer. There are several sites that provide samples of

placement disclaimers such as:

• http://stonehenge‐



Although there are specific elements that must go into every business plan and must be professionally

put together, it is also a very personal endeavor and will differ from writer to writer. It is a good idea to

review several business plans to give you a better idea of different writing styles and choose the one

that best suits you and your business. The following sites will provide you with samples and templates

for accepted forms and styles along with valuable advice on how to write your own professional

business plan.

• www.leadership‐





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