Some people think that it’s pointless to create a business plan unless you’re asking someone for money, but I beg to differ. The main reason why the majority of small businesses fail within the first 5 years of operation is poor planning. At the very least, you should create a short-form document (a few pages long) containing this business plan outline to use for your own reference.
The executive summary is an introduction to what this business plan is all about. It offers an overview of your goals as a new business owner, what you’re selling and why you believe this is an awesome business idea. If you have an interesting (but brief) story to tell about how you got the idea or inspiration to start the business, here is where you put it.
Just write the basics about your company, including the location, what you do, your industry and what makes you better than the rest.
99 percent of businesses have some type of competition (or will at some point in the future). In this section of the business plan outline provide information about your industry, competitors and the market where you plan to sell your goods.
The people who are running a business are crucial to its success. In this section provide a list and details about each key player who is involved in launching and managing your business. If there are a lot of people, you may want to create an organizational chart using Microsoft Word.
Product or Service Description
Here is where you get down to the “nitty gritty” of what your business is all about. What do you plan to sell, how do you plan to make it and what makes it different and better than what’s already out there on the market?
As a marketing major, I may be a bit biased but I really think that this is the most important part of your business plan. After everything has been established, products designed, store in place (online or brick and mortar) and items purchased, all you’re going to be doing is marketing.
In this section of your business plan outline, discuss the 4 Ps of marketing (promotion, place, price, product) and give a detailed profile of your target audience. Use demographic data where possible and any marketing research you’ve done (focus groups, surveys, etc).
In my experience writing business plans, the financials are usually the most time consuming to complete. That’s because you have to create several different financial statements that can be a bit complicated to generate if you aren’t familiar with accounting. Statements you’ll need include an income statement (profit and loss), balance sheet and cash flow statement. You’ll need to create financial projections for years 1-5 (possibly longer if you’re applying for loans or an investment) and past statements if you’ve already been in business for a while.
If applying for financing, you also need to create a funding request outlining how much money you’re asking for, how you’ll use it and how you plan to repay it (if applicable). If you’re not familiar with how to do your financial section properly, hire an accountant to help.
Use this simple business plan outline to create a short plan for your own reference or to present to lenders or investors.
Starting up a small business, even if it's just on the side, is no longer an option -- it's a necessity. Why? Because everyone needs an additional source of income in our new economy. Click here to sign up for educational and motivational posts to keep you on track.