A Business Plan Outline - to people who want to write a business plan but can't get started

Below is a business plan outline. A business plan is a document stating actions to achieve a set of business goals and the reason why they are attainable.

Simply, the business plan answers the following: Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, How much, why unique, and benefit. In addition, it also tells an investor or banker if you are a good credit risk.

This business plan outline is a guide or checklist to all the information you will need to create your business plan. Recommend starting with the Marketing Plan. You will and should move around section to section before totally completing one. This is ok. Do not feel as if you have to complete the business plan in order.

  1. Cover Sheet
  2. The cover sheet should include the following information.
    • Company Name
    • Company Address
    • Company phone number
    • Website address (url)
    • Company Logo
    • Name and contact information of the owner and or officers
    • Issue Date of Business plan (Month and Year)
    • Preparer Name
    • Copy Number

  3. Table of Contents
  4. List the pages of each major section of this business plan outline. Word-processing software, such as Microsoft Word, make this easy when using headlines and subheadings.

  5. Executive Summary
  6. The executive summary summarizes the Who, What, Where, Why, When and How. It is one to three pages in length, depending on if the plan is seeking funds from an investor. This section is typically completed last.
    • Who are the officer and managers of the company?
    • What is the business name, legal structure, assets for collateral, product or service, benefit of the loan for the company?
    • Where is the business located?
    • Why is a loan needed?
    • When was the business established? When is the loan required? When will repayment begin?
    • How much funding is needed? How will it be used and repaid?

  7. Organizational Plan
  8. This section describes the products, services and how the business is setup to manage the daily operations and business goals.
    1. Business Description Summary
    2. General overview of the business. Talk about why the company was formed and when. Talk about the unique position of the product or service. Broadly discuss the past and future goals of the company.
      • Include the Mission & Vision Statement
      • Business Model
      • Strategy Overview – short-term and long-term objectives and plan to achieve them
      • Strategic Relationships
      • Internal and External Risks

    3. Products or Services
    4. Give details of your product. Describe the manufacturing process, assembly, storage, logistics, inventory, cost of raw materials and finished goods. How will the work get done, by whom, and at what cost. Projections of peak production times. Discuss quality control activities and after sale service. Describe production equipment and other product assets. Who are the suppliers, why did you choose them, where are they located? Shipping and receiving abroad, explain how going to deal with customs.

    5. Intellectual Property
      • Patents
      • Trademarks
      • Copyright

    6. Location
    7. If a marketing decision, then include description and details in the marketing section.
      • Physical description
      • Copy of the lease agreement
      • List other possible locations
      • Explain why you chose the final location
      • Include pictures layouts, drawings, etc in the supporting document section.

    8. Legal Structure
    9. Describe the legal structure selected and why.
      1. Sole Proprietor
      2. Partnership
      3. Corporation
        • C- corp
        • S- corp
        • LLC

    10. Management and Personnel
      1. Management
      2. Answer the questions:
        • Why should your management team be entrusted with our money?
        • Who is in charge of Product, Marketing, Administration & Finance?
      3. Personnel
        • How many employees are required to operate the company efficiently?
        • When will you hire employees?
        • How will you hire employees?
        • What are their salaries and benefits?

    11. Accounting and Legal
      1. Accounting
        • What accounting system will be used?
        • Why was it chosen?
        • What portion of accounting/recordkeeping will be done internally?
        • Who is responsible for those records?

      2. Legal
      3. Who will you contract to represent you for any legal issues (contracts, proprietary issues, and disputes)?

    12. Insurance
    13. Answer is your business insured? This is required to protect your business against common claims. Speak with a few business insurance agencies to understand what is required for your industry.

    14. Security
    15. Answer, “How will you protect you information, inventory and products from being stolen?”

  9. Marketing Plan
  10. This section of the business plan is essential. If defines your marketing strategy, The Why, Who, How, When, Benefit, Uniqueness of your product or service.

  11. Financial Documents
  12. This section of the business plan outline reports past, current and projected future finances. This section should be completed in order for best results and to minimize time.
    1. Statements of Financial Needs
    2. Skip this portion of the business plan outline if you do not need to seek funding from a lender or investor.
      • Why you are applying for the loan?
      • How much you need to accomplish the business goal?
      • How will you use the loan funds? Provide details of what the funds will be used for.

    3. Pro Forma Statements
    4. The following show estimated future profits for your business.
      • Cash Flow Statement (Budget)
      • Three-year Income Projection
      • Break-Even Analysis

    5. Actual Financial Statements
      • Balance Sheet
      • Profit & Loss Income Statement
      • Loan Application / Business or Personal Financial History
      • Skip this portion if you do not need to seek funding from a lender or investor.

  13. Financial Statement Anlysis
  14. Supporting Documents
  15. The following documents support your decision and prove your ability to successfully obtain your business goals.
    • Personal Resume
    • Personal Financial Statement
    • Credit Reports
    • Copies of Leases
    • Letters of References (Personal & Business)
    • Business Contracts
    • Business Legal Documents
      • Articles of Incorporation
      • Limited Partnership Agreements
      • Doing Business As (DBA's)
      • Business Licenses
      • Copyrights, trademarks, and patents
      • Trade and Licensing agreements
      • Insurance Policies
      • Property and vehicle titles
    • Location and Demographics Studies

What Next?

Complete each section of the business plan outline. Recommend you start with the marketing plan and end with the executive summary.

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