Tag Archives: small business planning

A Quick Business Plan Outline for Your Small Business Startup

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.

Executive Summary

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.

Company Description

Just write the basics about your company, including the location, what you do, your industry and what makes you better than the rest.

Market Analysis

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.

Management Profile

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?

Marketing Plan

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.

Online Business Tips: Choosing a Product to Sell

Selling products online successfully depends largely on how aggressively you promote your website, but even more important is the product that you choose to sell. In the early stages of planning your new website, take plenty of time to brainstorm a list of products that you might want to sell in your online store, then ask yourself a few questions that will help you make a final decision in the matter.

How Many Competitors?

You do not want to set up the millionth website selling bedazzled cellphone cases. Yes, phone cases may sell, but you will be getting a very thin slice of the pie—if anyone happens to find your website. So before you decide to select a product, find out more about the competing online sellers, if any exist. If you do find a number of competing sites selling the same items, explore whether the site is doing a good job of presenting their products. Do they have high ranking on search engines? Would you have some sort of strong competitive advantage compared to these other sites such as a much better price or better quality?

Where Will You Source It?

You have two main options for supplying an online store: you can either manufacture the product yourself or order from a distributor. So before you choose a product to sell online, figure out how you will source it and how quickly you will be able to either manufacture or receive it from your distributor.

Do You Have Knowledge of the Product?

Another question to ask yourself: do you have any expert knowledge of the product that you plan to sell? While it isn’t necessary, it is a competitive advantage. For example, if you have intimate knowledge of automotive parts, knowing the ins and outs of each type of part is very important to potential buyers. They may ask you questions via email or phone and if you can answer as an authority the chances of a sale increase. Also, when you know plenty about the product that you’re selling online, it is easier to write informative product descriptions that entice sales.

Does It Ship Easily?

The next question to ask yourself is how easily you’ll be able to ship the product to buyers. The shipping process should be as simple, straightforward and affordable as possible if you want to maintain a profitable online business. If you plan to sell large, fragile, perishable or odd-shaped objects just keep in mind the complications that may arise, as well as the additional costs.

When you’re done answering these questions for all of the products on your list, evaluate them all side by side. Make your final decision based on how well you believe you can profitably market, ship, source and sell the products in your online store.