Writing a Simple Business Plan Outline (with Sample) Use this sample business plan outline as a template for your formal business plan outline.
A good business plan is essential for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is for funding. Almost any lender or venture capitalist will want to see a business plan before considering lending or investing money.
A business plan is a map that shows how the owner or management of the business plans to make a profit. It is a description of the business’s future and usually projects about three to five years ahead. It states what the owner plans to do and how they plan to do it.
There are many types of businesses including food service, ecommerce, retail and health care, and each type will require different details, but the fundamental categories of information is fairly standard and can be applied to almost any type of business.
The aim of a business plan is to project a strategy about how to use the available resources and talent to reach another level in the foreseeable future where the goal is to have a different set of resources, talent as well as more assets. Business plans can be from five to 65 pages long. A good business plan outline will cover all the steps.
Before writing a business plan, the entrepreneur should gather all the information needed. The information can be organized in business plan outline form. The final plan should be less than 50 pages. Research will be required to find the appropriate information. Any sources for statistics should be sited. This gives credibility to the findings. Information includes:
• An analysis of the potential market • The size of the potential market • The initial resources to start the company • Product samples • Possible locations for the business • Start-up cost
The plan will need a clear structure for the business. This means a clear definition of the company which includes:
• The competitive advantage – What will the product or service provide the consumer that is better, cheaper, safer or more efficient than what is already on the market?
• Strategy to reach the goal – Superior service, lower price and faster delivery are examples that will attract customers.
• Organizational chart – An organizational chart is required that shows management and departments and how they work together. This should include the number of employees and their skills.
• Be practical – The entrepreneur will need to prove to investors that they have leadership qualities and can make this business a success. They should specify key management jobs and roles as well as the various positions from president, vice president, chief financial officer and department heads.
• Marketing plan – How to reach the customer and present the product or service. This includes advertising and promotional plans.
• Sales philosophy – How to attract clients and customers? There may be a long-term plan and a short-term plan.
The entrepreneur must sell him or herself, and the business plan should present them in the best light. It is an opportunity to show enthusiasm and talent for creating a successful business. It is not a place to put unrealistic schemes. It should be well researched and honest.
The plan should have a title page and a table of contents. It should have an executive summary that summarizes the vision for the company. This should be placed after the table of contents but actually be written when the whole plan is completed. The name of the owner, name of the business, address and logo as well as the name and address of the person receiving the plan should be in the title page. Here is a sample business plan outline:
Sample Business Plan Outline Executive Summary
This should be less than two pages and list highlights from the details that are given in the full plan. Some investors and lenders will decide whether or not to read the rest of the plan based on the summary. For example: a plan for a vegetarian restaurant may say:
Our aim is to provide healthy and tasty food to the residents of NAME OF CITY. We are licensed to run a restaurant and have a location on ADDRESS.
Our food will be simple vegetarian fare including sandwiches and vegan recipes that will cater to the local university crowd.
There is no vegetarian restaurant within a five mile radius of the university and a survey of the students concludes that it would be a welcome addition to the locality. We aim to charge an affordable amount suitable for students.
The owner has employed a head chef who has studied vegetarian cooking and worked in a vegetarian restaurant for the past five years. There are two other people who will wait tables and take orders to-go.
Please see the projected profit for five years that is included with the plan.
This gives an overall idea of the company and the entrepreneurs. It should contain the vision of the company, what it will bring to its market, when the company was founded, if it is registered, who is the owner, where it does business, if it is incorporated and a chart that shows recent sales and growth trajectory.
Products and Services
Each product or service should be listed and described. It is considered better to explain how the consumer will benefit from the product or service rather than how much it costs and how it is delivered.
Market Analysis Summary
This part takes research. The owner needs to know their market, how it is changing, their customer’s needs, the general location of customers and how to reach them and deliver the product to them. This is the place where the competition is presented and why the company stands a good chance among the competition.
Strategy and Implementation Summary
Why is the company the best for their target market and how will it maintain a loyal customer base? This area needs to be specific with budgets, management responsibilities and target dates. The results of strategy need to be tracked.
This is a list of the key members of the management team including their backgrounds and experience as in a brief resume. It also explains their function in the company. Full resumes could be included in the plan.
This contains the projected profit and loss and has cash flow tables as well as a description of the reasons for the projections. It can also contain balance sheets, sales forecast, business ratios and break-even analysis. By Andre Bradley