Business Plan Outline

Once again, proper planning is the number one difference between businesses that fail and businesses that succeed. On the following pages you will find a simple step-by-step guide to writing a business plan, followed by a sample business plan. Notice that it is not very long and that each section may only consist of one or two pages. It is far more important that your business plan be clear and concise than it be lengthy. Roughly fifty percent of all new businesses fail within the first two years. For new businesses that create a credible business  plan, the failure rate goes down to about ten percent. I would say that makes business plan preparation about the best investment an inventor could possibly make.

COVER PAGE: Include your company name, business address, phone number, email address, and the date.

1) SUMMARY: The summary is a brief review of the entire business plan. It may consist of a mission statement as well as one or two sentences from each of the sections that follow. It may be easiest to write this section last.

2) DESCRIPTION OF BUSINESS: Describe the operation of the proposed business in greater depth. This is where you answer the who, what, where, when, why, and how much questions. This section is usually a page or two long and covers the following topics:

• Products and/or services you will sell

• Industry information

• Trade area analysis

• Location analysis

• Store layout & design

• Inventory control

• Business structure chosen and why

3) MANAGEMENT: This section will include information about management education or training expertise, business experience, and other relevant information that will be helpful in business. If you are the owner of a small business, this may consist of your resume. For a larger business, it might be appropriate to include:

• Personnel analysis

• Job descriptions

• Management philosophy

• Interview calender

• Policy and procedures

4) MARKET: This will probably be the longest section of your business plan.  It will include the results of your market research as well as your:

• Customer analysis: Profile your customer by providing a detailed description of exactly who they are.  Show the reader who will buy your product and why these are the specific people who you will target in your advertising.

• Competitive analysis: A detailed description of the strengths and weaknesses of your company, and all your primary competitors.

• Marketing strategy: An explanation of how you are going to let your proposed customers know about your business.

5) USE OF FUNDS: This section will show the amount of funding needed, the proposed funding structure, how funds will be allocated, what will be provided as collateral, the owner’s contribution, and how the money will be repayed.

6) FINANCIAL INFORMATION: Your financial plan will include a Cash Flow Projection, Income Statement Projection, Balance Sheet, Assumptions, and a Break-even Analysis.

7)  SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION: No business will need all of the supporting documentation listed below, but it will be helpful to attach any documents that substantiate your assumptions to the back of your business plan:

• Affiliations

• Agreements

• Aerial photographs

• Associations

• Blueprints

• Bonding information

• Building permits

• Business license information

• Business tax returns

• City zoning approval

• Construction bids

• Contracts

• County population growth

• Demographic information

• Designs

• Distribution agreements

• Financial information

• Gantt charts

• Insurance binder

• Intellectual property

• ISO 9000 documentation

• Lease agreements

• Legal documents

• Letters of reference

• Letters of support

• Licenses

• Licensing agreements

• Management information

• Market research information

• Membership organizations

• Newspaper articles

• Patents

• Permits

• Permit applications

• Personal financial statement

• Personal tax returns

• Pert charts

• Photographs

• Plans

• Real estate appraisals

• Substantiating letters

• Tax records

• Technical drawings

• Vendor agreements