Use this step-by-step business plan outline to achieve success.
This business plan outline will give small business owners an easier way to develop their own individual business plans. Because having a business plan is critical to the success of a small business. In fact, it will dramatically affect whether you thrive...or just survive.
Use this business plan outline to form a good, solid plan that creates a game plan for your business to follow. The act of developing a business plan supplies the opportunity for you and your key players to put quality "think time" into the vision of your company.
In other words, sitting down with this business plan outline to create your plan means you actually have to think about the future of your business...where you are, where you're going, etc.
Another important reason for doing a business plan is that in order to solicit funding and/or investment, you will need a business plan. Financial investors and potential investors want to know you're serious about your business, and that you have put quality thought into how to build it.
Business Plan Outline.
The following business plan outline provides a simple guide. Ask yourself the questions and do the research...don't be tempted to skip anything. The purpose of this business plan outline is to help facilitate your thought process and provide you a thorough and detailed end product. I suggest you read through the business plan outline at least once to get the feel of it. Read through it a second time and make notes. Then use the business plan outline to facilitate the creation of your own plan.
I. Cover Page - This is where you put your company name, address, and contact information.
II. Table of Contents - List your business plan topics alongside corresponding page numbers.
III. Executive Summary - Even though you put this section up front, you will write this last because it should concisely (two pages or less) summarize the rest of the business plan. Include the following information:
- What's your product / service?
- Who are your customers?
- Who are the owners?
- What's in the future for your business and your industry?
If you're applying for a business loan, you'll need to describe how you plan to use the money to make your business more profitable.
IV. Company Description
- Include your mission statement, if you have one.
- Brief company history.
- Briefly describe your company product / services.
- Provide a description of your facilities.
- List your owners and your legal structure (Corporation, Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, LLC, etc.), and why you chose that type of structure.
- Goals and Objectives - This is a description of where you want your company to be. Goals are more of the "big-picture" statements of what you want to achieve, while objectives are how you are going to measure whether or not you are achieving your goals.
- Describe your strengths and what you do best.
- Describe your industry and what changes you foresee in the industry. Also, how you will position your company to take advantages of these changes.
- Who buys your products / services?
- What is your business philosophy? What values are important to you in your business?
V. Products and Services
- Detail your products / services, and provide any photos, technical specs, brochures, etc. in the Appendices at the end of the plan.
- What is your pricing structure?
- What gives you the competitive advantage or disadvantage?
- What are your distribution channels?
VI. Industry Analysis
- Describe the climate of your industry.
- What is the size of your market, and is it growing?
- What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)?
VII. Market Analysis (If you have a marketing plan, you can substitute it for this section. If you don't have a marketing plan,
you can go to the "Small Business Marketing" section
of this site to learn more, or follow the suggestions below.)
- Describe your product / service and state what customers like or dislike about it. What are its major features and benefits? Features describe what is special about your product/service, while benefits describe what your product/service will do for your customer on an emotional level.- Who is your targeted customer and what is their demographic profile (i.e. geographic location, age, gender, income level, characteristics, social class, occupation, education, etc.)? What do they like/dislike about your company? For instance, they may like your product, but not your company. Be honest in your analysis.
- List your major competitors, and compare your company and product/service with theirs. What advantages (if any) do you have over your competition?
- What is your niche? Where does your product/service uniquely fit into your market?
- What is your marketing strategy? How will you advertise and promote your product/service to your target customers? What image do you want customers to see? How much do you estimate you will spend on advertising and promotion for the first 12 months, and then ongoing (you can use a percentage point of your profits for ongoing).
- What is your sales forecast? Use a spreadsheet to prepare a month-by-month forecast based on historical sales aligned with the marketing strategies and industry data. Some people will include both a "best case" and "worst case" scenario.
VIII. Management and Organization
- Include each management and key position and the responsibilities that go along with it. Include the names and resumes (or summarized qualifications) for the person filling each role. Include the names and addresses of key outside advisors, such as attorneys, bankers, insurance agents.
- List the names of your board of directors and advisory board if you have them.
IX. Operational Plan
- What are your methods of production or service delivery and the associated costs?
- What is your method of product / service development?
- How do you control the quality and inventory?
- How many employees do you have and what are their roles? (Include an organizational chart and job descriptions if you have them.) Do you have a training program? How do you find your employees? What is their pay structure? Do you use contract laborers?
- What kind and how much inventory do you keep and what is its value? What is your rate of inventory turnover? What is the lead-time for ordering?
- List your major suppliers. State what type and the amount of inventory they deliver, and what their credit and delivery policies are.
- What are your credit policies?
- What are your legal issues (i.e. licensing and bonding requirements; permits; insurance coverage; health, workplace or environmental regulations; patents, trademarks or copyrights; special government regulations regarding your industry; zoning or building requirements).
- What is your exit strategy should the business not meet your expectations in what time frame?
X. Financial Plan and Projections
- If you have historical numbers, include these. Also include projected figures and use narrative to explain how you arrived at the dollar figures for sales, expenses, etc. You will need to show that your projections are doable.
- If you are a start-up business, you will need to figure out all start-up expenses, along with what your budgeted monthly expenses will be. Provide a detailed equipment and furnishings/fixtures list of items you will need to purchase.
- Existing firms will need to provide income statements, balance sheets and tax returns from the past three years.
- Each owner and major stockholder will need to provide a personal financial statement demonstrating their personal net worth.
- Provide a 12-month profit and loss projection which includes a sales forecast, cost of goods sold, expenses, and profits on a month-by-month basis. If you'd like, you can also include a Four-Year P&L Projection, but this is optional.
- Include a projected cash flow statement for 12 months. This needs to show how you expect cash to flow in and out of the business. You will also need to include a narrative that describes how you developed your projections.
- Include a projected balance sheet that lists your assets, liabilities, and owner equity.
- Personal financial statements for all principals
- Personal resumes for owners, managers, and key personnel
- Letters of reference
- Letters of intent from suppliers
- Contracts or letters of intent from clients
- Industry studies
- Detailed lists of equipment or assets to be purchased
- Detailed list of assets available for collateral (if applying for a loan)
- Copies of leases, contracts and other legal documents
- Any blueprints or plans
- Industry studies
- Market research studies
- Any other materials used to support the plan, but not included in the body
Moving forward from the business plan outline...
I hope this business plan outline proves a help to you in the creation of your own plan, and that you found the material interesting, valuable, and insightful. Use the business plan outline to guide your steps, but realize that it is only a guide. There will be things you will want to modify, or change altogether. Most things in the business plan outline will apply to you and your business, but some won't.
Now, get to work!
Like to receive my BurritoBlast e-zine?
To subscribe to my free e-zine full of up-to-the-minute information, news, advice, ideas, and resources, just fill out the two boxes below and then hit "Subscribe."
Exit Business Plan Outline and return to BusinessBurrito.com home page
Search This Site.
Home / My Success Story / Free Ezine / Advertising / Advice / Business Building Ideas / Brand Strategy / Brainstorming / Burrito Blog / Business Ethics / Business Plan / Business Taxes / Business Travel / Creative Thinking / Customer Service / Financing / Guerrilla Advertising / Hiring/Firing / Insurance / Marketing / Partner Links / Productivity / Public Relations / Business Trends / Contact Us / Disclaimer