Use these tips to structure and format your business plan professionally, ensuring that readers look beyond distracting style to the real meat of your idea.
Every business plan should begin with a simple cover sheet including the business name, your name and contact information. An easy to read table of contents should follow. The cover sheet should leave no question for readers to be able to identify the plan when it is in a stack with dozens of others on their desk. The table of contents allows them to easily refer to sections within the plan. For example, after reading the executive summary, some investors with an eye for numbers may turn directly to the financial plan and statements.
Follow Standard Outline
About ten sections are common to almost all business plans. These are the executive summary, company overview, industry analysis, customer analysis, competitive analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team, financial plan and appendices.
Within these sections, charts and graphs displaying information in a graphical format are welcomed and help to break up long blocks of text. However, charts and graphs shouldn’t be used for their own sake. They must make the information easier to pass on than text would.
Consistent and simple headings should be used for each section. Subsections should also assist in breaking up the ten main sections into smaller topics. Also, the business plan should be designed to read from start to finish, although this may not be how all readers use it. Information in a section can rely on previous information brought up, but should not require knowledge of future sections for understanding.
Overall, business plans should use simple and standard formatting. Twelve point font size in a standard font like Arial or Times New Roman is recommended, as well as the standard margin size of one inch on each side. Pages should be numbered, and the name of the company should appear on each page in the header or footer.
You can keep reading our help articles to learn even more about how to format a business plan.
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