All business plans tend to follow a standard structure. This makes evaluating a business plan by a funder a function of the quality and logic of the entire document and not a question of structure. The following key sections should be addressed in every business plan:
Executive Summary: Summarizes the entire plan, hitting all of the key points, within 2 pages.
Company Description: Includes background on the beginning of the company, its current status, and the products or services which will be offered.
Industry Analysis: Includes market statistics and trends that will impact your success, including an overview of the industry or industries you will compete within.
Customer Analysis: A clear description of who your business will serve, breaking customers into as many groups as necessary. (A rule of thumb, is that separate groups are only necessary if they either have different needs from each each other or will be marketed to using different methods. )
Competitive Analysis: A listing of the top competitors along with a description of each, as well as an explanation of how your business will create competitive advantage above these adversaries.
Marketing Plan: Describes the brand of your business, as you see it, and the promotions and pricing strategies. The marketing strategies will relate directly to the preceding customer and competitive analyses.
Operations Plan: Details the internal activities of the company, including what functional roles you will have to fill, such as financial management, operations management, legal and insurance oversight, sales and marketing management, etc.
Management Team: Includes short bios for the management team members you have recruited so far, including yourself if you will be a manager, as well as a hiring plan for additional managers you’ll need to bring on.
Financial Plan: Includes narrative describing the highlights of your pro forma financial statements, with special focus on areas of interest to funders, such as the startup costs, time to break-even, key assumptions behind revenue projections, and the growth in sales and net profit.
Appendices: Include the detailed pro forma financial statements, as well as other documents referred to earlier in the plan or supporting the case you’ve made for your success, such as management resumes, evidence of a patent or trademark, or deals with customers or suppliers.
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