Business Plan Template
Why is a Business Plan needed?
A business plan is your roadmap to success. Without it, you run an extreme risk of not getting where you intend to. This is your guidebook. It is something that can easily be changed but more importantly will keep you on track. A business plan is essential to developing the business and the dream that you envision.
Outline of a Successful Plan
- Executive Summary
- Product or Service
- Operations and Management
Section I: Executive Summary
This section of your business plan will be written last since it is a summary, but will be included just after the table of contents in your plan. The main purpose of the executive summary is to let the reader know exactly what your business is and does. This area will include a brief description of every section of the plan – your product or service, your marketing plan, the operations and management plan, and a summary of the financials. If you are seeking a loan, this section can also include the requested amount and your loan proposal stating your investment and plans for repaying the loan. Here are some questions that you may want to make sure are answered in the executive summary:
ü Type of business? Is it a startup, ongoing, or a purchased business?
ü What are your personal goals for the business?
ü What type of support and resources do you have?
ü What is your company’s purpose?
ü Is your company in a growing, mature, or declining industry?
Section II: Product or Service
This section of the plan will completely describe the product or service that your company is offering. The reader should be able to visualize your product or service after reading this section. Some questions to consider:
ü What describes your product or service?
ü What need does it fill?
ü What makes your product/service difference from others?
ü What are its features and benefits?
ü How did you determine your price?
ü Who will use it?
ü Why will people buy your product or service over another?
ü Who will be your competition and why?
ü Who are your suppliers?
ü What costs are associated with your product or service?
ü What are future possibilities with your product or service line?
ü Can your business be expanded in the future?
Section III: Marketing
This section of your plan will describe how you plan to introduce your product or service to others. This can be a rather large part of your plan and an extremely important part as well. After reading your marketing section, the reader will know exactly who your product or service is targeted toward and why they should buy it. Some questions to consider:
ü Who is your target market?
- Potential customers / users
- How large is the target market?
- What segments will you concentrate on?
ü Where are your customers located? Local, regional, national?
ü How important is your product/service to them?
ü Are the current trends in your market encouraging?
ü How large is the total market you wish to cover?
ü What share of the market do you anticipate getting?
ü Have you developed a marketing budget?
ü Do you see any risks in the current market situation?
ü What characteristics do you look for in a prospective customer?
ü How will you distribute your product or service?
ü How will you primarily communicate with your customers?
ü How will you promote your business?
- Advertising – local, regional, national, etc
- Print and digital
- Word of mouth
ü What is your sales process?
ü Have you established sales goals? How will you establish these?
ü How will you train, compensate, and support your sales people?
ü Describe your pricing strategy.
ü What type of market research have you done?
- Talk with potential customers
- Talk with potential distributors
- Visit comparable businesses
- Conduct a market survey
ü Remember the five P’s of marketing:
Section IV: Operations and Management
This section of your plan will be very important in determining the general operating procedures for your business. This section will discuss your overall schedule, including “open” times as well as who will be running your business. You will list your management team and their responsibilities. This section will also detail any business property that you may use such as company location and facilities. Some questions to consider:
ü How are your products or services created and produced?
ü Do you have an advantage over other competitors?
ü What are your capabilities?
ü Do you have a building? Size? Location?
ü Do you lease or own property and equipment?
ü What type of equipment is needed? How will it be used?
ü Who are your principal suppliers? What do they supply?
ü Do you have controls in place for:
- Production / Work order
- Productivity / Utilization
- Customer Service
ü Do you have written policies and procedures regarding operation?
ü Describe these systems.
ü Are you using automated or manual systems in your business?
ü What is your legal structure?
ü Is there any special machinery or equipment you need?
ü Are there any environmental concerns with your business?
ü What types of licenses and permits are required for this business?
ü Do you currently have any contracts in place with customers?
ü Do you have an organizational chart for your business?
ü How are employees paid? Do you provide benefits, training, etc?
ü Who does your accounting and bookkeeping?
Section V: Financials
This section of the business plan is what many consider to be the most difficult part to complete. However, it appears to be the most important. Without good financials and without income, your business will dissolve. Good financial management is what will keep the business running when times are tough. In this section, you will describe all aspects of financials for your business. You will fill this section with charts, graphs, and other documents to demonstrate how your company with prosper. This section is often guesswork, but you must make sure the numbers you list are, to the best of your ability, as close to accurate as possible. You will do a lot of research in this area of the plan. Please remember that it is always better to measure twice and cut once, so don’t get in a hurry. Make sure this section details what will go out and what will come in to your business. This is really the make it or break it section and the final section of your plan. Some questions to consider:
ü How much capital is required to start or expand your business?
ü How much of this amount can you provide?
ü How do you plan to secure the remainder of needed funds?
ü How will you use all funds obtained for start-up?
ü Do you have formal financial
- Statements (business and personal)
- Projections (next five to ten years)
- Sales Forecast
- Operating Statements
- Balance Sheet
- Cash Flow Statement
ü How is your credit history? Will you use credit in the start-up?
ü Do you have collateral for any funding you might request?
ü Have you provided for growth in your request for funding?
ü What is your breakeven point?
ü What type of risk factors might be involved?
ü Have you analyzed all aspects of financials for your business?