Business Plan Outline
Each part of the business plan outline below offers a brief overview of what the section covers.
1. The Executive Summary
While appearing first in the business plan, the executive summary is a section that is usually written last as it is a summary of the entire business plan. It provides an overview of your business including your mission statement and details about what you offer. It’s critical that your executive summary is outstanding, especially if you’re seeking funding.
2. The Business Description
Provide information about the business you’re starting, including what sort of problem your product or services solve, and who the most likely buyer is. Provide an overview of the industry that your business will be a part of, including trends, major players in the industry, and estimated industry sales. This business overview section should also provide a summary of your business’s place within the industry, along with your or your team’s expertise as well as your competitive advantage.
3. Market Analysis
The market analysis is a crucial section of the business plan, as it helps you identify your best customers or clients. In the market analysis, research the primary target market for your product or service, including geographic location, demographics, your target market’s needs and how these needs are currently being met. Your purpose here is to have a thorough knowledge of the people you are planning to sell your goods and/or services to so that you can make informed predictions about how much they might buy.
4. Competitive Analysis
In the competitive analysis section, you’ll learn how successful your direct and indirect competitors are in the marketplace, with an assessment of their competitive advantage and how you’ll set yourself apart from them. It also includes an analysis of how you will overcome any entry barriers to your chosen market. You also need to distinguish your business from the competition, which is especially important in persuading potential funding sources that you’ll be able to compete in the marketplace.
5. Sales and Marketing Plan
The sales and marketing section offers a detailed explanation of your sales strategy, pricing plan, proposed advertising and promotion activities, and product or service’s benefits. This is where outline your business’s unique selling proposition, describe how you’re going to get your goods and/or services to market, and how you’re going to persuade people to buy them.
When developing your unique selling proposition, your goal is to answer the question: Why should people buy from me over my competition?
6. Ownership and Management Plan
This section gives an outline of your business’s legal structure and management resources, including your internal management team, external management resources, and human resources needs. Include experience or special skills each person in your management team brings to the business. If the goal of your business plan is to get funding, it’s wise to make sure that your management plan includes an advisory board as a management resource.
7. Operating Plan
The operating plan gives information on how your business will be run. It provides a description of your business’s physical location, facilities and equipment, kinds of employees needed, inventory requirements, suppliers, and any other applicable operating details, such as a description of the manufacturing process.
8. Financial Plan
Starting a business is generally about making a profit, and so having a solid sense of your current finances, funding needs, as well as projected income is important. In the financial section, provide a description of your funding requirements, your detailed financial statements, and a financial statement analysis. This part of the business plan is where you present the three main financial documents of any business; the balance sheet, the income statement, and the cash flow statement, or in the case of a new business, a cash flow projection.
9. Appendices and Exhibits
In addition to the sections outlined above, at the end of your business plan, include any additional information that will help establish the credibility of your business idea, such as marketing studies, photographs of your product, permits, intellectual property rights such as a patent, credit histories, resumes, marketing materials, and/or contracts or other legal agreements pertinent to your business.