Beacom School of Business Small Business Development Center

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About Business Plans

Business Planning
What is a business plan?
  • The result of thoroughly investigating your industry, your market, your product, your financial situation, and your proposed organization. A business plan outline provides an organized system for researching the feasibility of your business. In addition to providing a game plan for directing and guiding your business, a completed business plan can provide a great tool for communicating your business to potential investors and banking institutions.
  • A business plan should be done by anyone starting a business or making major changes within their existing business. This could include adding product lines, increasing sales, purchasing another business, or a multitude of other changes within the existing business. Planning for a new business or changes within a current business is paramount for success. Statistics have shown conclusively that those who develop and implement a business plan tend to survive and those who do not fail.
  • Business planning is a process that leads to a product. Your internal business plan should be in a format that is easy for you to understand, access, store and retrieve, edit and update.
Business Plan Outline
  • The following is a suggested outline of the material that should be included in your business plan. Every business plan is unique, as is every business. This outline was designed with a general purpose in mind; therefore, some things may not apply to your business. Further details can be found in the Small Business Development Center's Business Planning Guide (hot link to BPG on website) and SBDC consultants are available to review your plan and provide you feedback on what to include.
  • Cover Page:
    The cover page is the first impression of your business plan. It should include the name of the company, company address, company phone number, owners and their addresses/phone numbers, and the date of the plan. Incorporate the company logo, if there is one.
  • Table of Contents: (Optional)
  • Executive Summary:
    This portion should be brief; usually one or two paragraphs, and should state your present situation and the goals for your business. For example, describe your idea, how much money you need, what you need it for, how much money you will bring (or have put) into the business, and a brief schedule of your goals. Since you won't know some of these facts until you complete your business plan, write this section last.
  • Business:
    The business portion of the business plan provides an overview of your planned business operation. You should briefly describe your product/service and how you will maintain a sustainable competitive advantage. Suggested subheadings are:
    • Describe Your Business
    • Describe your Product(s)
    • Proprietary Information
    • Regulations
    • Facility and Equipment
    • Operational Needs
    • Barriers
  • Management:
    The management plan of your business outlines the organizational structure that defines the lines of authority and the responsibilities of the key players.
    • Ownership Composition
    • Management
    • Personnel
    • Security
    • Consultants
    • Personnel Resumes
    • Legal Documents
    • Schedule
  • Market:
    The marketing plan includes information on the total market with an emphasis on your target market and how you plan to make your product and/or service available.
    • Product/Service
    • Target Market
    • Competition
    • Market Entry
    • Location
    • Industry Trends
    • Methods of Distribution
    • Promotion
    • Pricing
  • Money:
    The money section of your business plan will show past, current and projected financial activity. Information and documents that should be included are:
    • Summary of Financial Need
    • 3-Year Income Projection*
    • Statement of Cash Flow*
    • Balance Sheet*
    • Break-even Analysis*
    • Personal Financial Statement
    • Tax Returns
    • Credit Reports
    • Copies of Leases, Contracts
  • Exhibits:
    Include documents needed to substantiate what has been presented in the body of the plan. Examples would include resumes, purchase agreements, bids, contracts, etc.