The layout of a business plan is not an area where great imagination and creativity is needed or recommended. It should be a more or less straightforward task to design your plan, using industry standard practices which funders have become familiar with through thousands of plans. Use the following steps to implement this standard layout and save creativity for your business ideas within the plan.
Start by getting your hands on a business plan template. This will speed your time to completing your plan. Business plans generally start with an executive summary and company overview, move through background research and analysis on the industry, customers, and competition, describe the company’s intended methods in the marketing plan and operation plan, show who’s on the management team, and conclude with the financial plan and appendices featuring full financial statements.
Use the business plan template to guide your understanding of each section and to see how they relate to each other. Don’t assume that any one example should dominate your understanding unless it comes from an extremely trusted source with a reputation for business plan expertise and success.
Business Page Layout Tips
Key Business Plan Sections
1. Executive Summary
Your executive summary is the most important part of your plan. It comes at the beginning and is the first thing investors or lenders will read. If they aren’t excited by what they see, they’ll unfortunately stop reading. So make sure your executive summary gives a quick overview of what your company does and explains, in an exciting tone, why your company will be successful.
In your Company Analysis provide background on your company. When did you incorporate? What have you accomplished to date? Here you will let readers know the history of your business.
In the Industry Analysis section of your business plan provide background on the industry in which you operate. Conduct market research to make this section concrete and compelling. Answer questions such as: how big is your industry? what trends are effecting it?
Here you will document your target customers. How are they? How many are there? What are their likes and dislikes? Ideally you can provide comprehensive demographic and psychographic profiles of your target customers and show how your company’s products and services are ideally suited to their needs.
In this section of your business plan, document your key competitors. Explain their strengths and their weaknesses. Remember that investors and lenders expect you to have direct competitors. They just want to feel confident that despite them, you can still achieve lasting success.
Your marketing plan should primarily focus on the promotional methods you will use to attract new customers. Will you use search engine marketing? Will you employ radio ads? Document each of the promotional methods you will use.
This section of your plan should discuss the key roles that your company must expertly perform and your strategies for operational excellence. You must also layout the long-term milestones your company plans to accomplish and the key dates for each.
In your Management Team section, detail the key members of your team. Document their backgrounds and how their past experiences make them well suited to succeed in your organization.
Here you will layout the key assumptions used in creating your financial model and then provide topline results from your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow projections. If you are seeking funding, document the amount of funding you seek and the key uses for it.
In your Appendix, you will provide supporting information such as employee or customer agreements, store layouts, etc. You must also include your full, five-year income statement, balance sheet and cash flow projections.
By following the above business plan layout, you will ensure your plan is in the format investors and lenders expect. If you would like to quickly and easily finish your business plan, read and click on our suggested resource below.
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