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.
Find an Outline, Sample, or simple business plan templates
Start by getting your hands on a business plan outline, sample, or template, especially if it is associated with the business sector which your business is within. This could be found online, within business plan books, or from a small business development center or similar resource center. 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 the management team, and conclude with the financial plan and appendices featuring full financial statements.
Use the sample or outline 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.
Section headings, page headers and footers, the cover sheet and other layout decisions offer some room for you to make aesthetic decisions. The most important directive to remember is to keep the look of the plan formal and professional. This means to have consistent layout and fonts throughout the document and to use no distracting headings, graphics, or typefaces. In terms of formality, the business plan should be considered on the level of a PhD dissertation, rather than a middle school paper or essay where teachers will let you get away with (or encourage) decorative and creative elements which show your personality.
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