Here is an example of a traditional business plan outline. Remember, if you are creating a formal business plan in order to secure funding, you will want to adhere to this outline. If you are creating an informal internal business plan, it is okay to veer slightly from this outline as you deem necessary.
Each section is linked to further instructions for that area of the business plan outline.
Executive Summary: This is the “cliff-notes” version of your business plan. I suggest trying to keep it to one or two succinct pages. You will write this section very last.
Market Analysis Section: This section will illustrate your knowledge in three specific areas: your industry, target market and competitive environment. Remember all that market research you compiled? This is where it will pay off.
- Industry Overview: Trends, threats, major players, growth rates, sales data.
- Target Market Profile: Demographics, geographic location, profile, how needs are or are not being met.
- Competitive Analysis: Direct and indirect competitor profiles, including what they do well and poorly.
Company Description: This section is where you introduce your business and its primary product and goals. Basically, who you are, what you do and why you will do it well. Here you will also describe your basic operations, including physical location and product manufacturing process.
SWOT Analysis: A concise one to two page section outlining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing your business.
Marketing Plan: An outline on your sales plan, pricing model, advertising strategies and communication plan.
Financials: This section can be one of the most stressful to create. Be patient and seek out help if you need it. Items in this section will include a balance sheet, income statement, breakeven analysis and statement of cash flows. You will also include your request for funding if seeking loans or an investment.
Appendix: Here you will include relevant and supporting documentation for your business plan. This could include some of your market research findings, case studies, physical property agreements, resumes etc.
This article is part of a 10-Step Guide on How to Start a Home Business.