Trying to Write a Business Plan Outline? Here are Some Useful Tips

Have you hit on an excellent idea for a business? 

Writing up a business plan will help you determine if your idea is a viable one that could make substantial profits down the line.

A solid business plan outline can go a long way to help you organize your ideas and thoughts. It can supply a guideline to help speed up the process without you losing your train of thought, or getting stuck on what to include. 

It also offers you a general roadmap with instructions to follow to keep your work looking as professional as possible, whether you are working from Office 365 or G Suite.

Our Ultimate Business Plan Outline

Title Page

Add your business’s information here, including legal names, addresses, and owners. If you have a logo, you can add it to the top (or the bottom) of your title page. 

Include:

  • Business Plan for [Your Business’s Name]
  • The current date
  • The business’s physical address
  • Telephone and cell contact numbers
  • Email address
  • Website domain

If you’re addressing your plan to an individual or another company, you should add:

  • Plan presented to (add the name of the business or individual receiving the plan)
  • The business or organization’s name.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary……………………………………….Page _

Business/Industry Overview…………………………….Page _

Market and Competition Analysis……………………..Page _

Sales and Marketing Plans……………………………….Page _

Ownership and Management Plan…………………….Page _

Operational Plan…………………………………………….Page _

Financial Plan………………………………………………..Page _

Exhibits and Appendices…………………………………Page _ 

Section 1: Your Executive Summary

Your executive summary should always appear at the beginning of your plan, but you’ll need to write it out last. It should offer a short and positive overview of your planned business (around 2 pages) that will grab a reader’s attention and compel them to learn more. 

In this section, you should detail your mission and the need for your proposed business. You can introduce your company, its ownership, and its management team, and discuss your primary products and services

Describe the customer base you aim to target, and how your company will serve their needs. Briefly summarize your competition and how you plan to claim your share of the market, as well as your financial projections for your first couple of years of operations. If applicable, you can speak about your start-up financing needs and the funding you’ll require.

Section 2: Industry and Business Overview

In this section, you should detail the nature of your industry, including relevant statistics. You can include demographics, sales trends, government influences, and even socioeconomic factors as you see fit.

Describe your proposed business and how it will fit into the industry. Speak about existing competition and how you plan to address it. You should mention the areas of the market you aim to target, and why your services would appeal to customers over those of another business.

Section 3: Market and Competition Analyses

This section should show investors, banks, and readers that you’ve carefully analyzed your target market. Your analysis should outline why you’ve concluded there’s sufficient demand for your products and services to keep your business in the clear. 

analyzing your target market

Your competitive analysis can feature a close assessment of your competition and how you plan to compete in your sector. You should define your target markets within your geographical region, describe the need for your services and products, and offer an estimation of the size of the market and the number of units that your target market may purchase. 

You may want to estimate the value and volume of your predicted sales compared to any of your existing rivals here.

Section 4: Marketing and Sales Plans

Dedicate this section to describing how you plan to attract customers to your services or products. Will you use social media, email marketing, free samples, or traditional media to get your brand noticed? Include brainstorms of possible promotion and advertising avenues, pricing strategies, distribution and sales tactics, and post-sales support methods. 

Speak about your products and services, how they will benefit your customers, and what sets them apart. Add information about how you intend to price your offerings. Your pricing should be competitive enough to attract customers, but high enough to cover your expenses and bring in a profit. Include a break-even analysis to determine the correct pricing for business profitability.

Section 5: Management and Ownership Plan

In this part of your plan, you’ll detail the legal structure, ownership, management, and employee requirements of your company. 

If your business is larger than a sole proprietorship, you can include information on managers and their roles, key staff positions, and planned compensation. Now is a good time to list external professional resources that could be needed, including lawyers, accountants, human resources professionals, or an advisory board. 

Section 6: Operational Plan

Your operating plan should outline your business’s physical space requirements for offices, retail space, warehouses, labor, and other facets key to operations. Be sure to include any research you have done about expected costs. If you will need custom facilities, special equipment, and many employees, your operational plan needs to be concise and very carefully penned!

If applicable, go into detail about possible locations, equipment sources, and supply chains you have identified. Discuss your production workflow. Detail the physical location of your business, including its address, land, and building requirements. Add square footage estimates, leasing and mortgage charges, and estimates for maintenance, utilities, and other overhead costs.

This section can include a paragraph on staffing needs and staff members’ primary duties. How will you source your staff, and on what contractual terms? Detail any necessary staff training and how you will supply it.

Include lists of any specialized equipment and supplies your business will need to operate, as well as a plan for inventory management too. Show relevant costs and sources, and whether your equipment and supplies will be leased or purchased outright.

Section 7: Financial Plan

Your financial plan will be the most important part of your business plan, especially if you aim to attract investors or require debt financing. This section has to show that your business will become profitable, which you can demonstrate with cash flow statements, balance sheets, and income statements. 

It’s recommended that you underestimate your income and overestimate your expenses, just in case.

Essential data to add to this section includes:

  • At least a year’s income statements showing projected revenues, expenses, and profits
  • Cash flow projections
  • Balance sheets detailing your liabilities, assets, and equity
  • Break-even analyses to demonstrate the level of sales you will need to earn a profit.

Section 8: Exhibits and Appendices

As an add-on, appendices can contain any detailed information required to support other parts of your plan. 

If you have:

  • Business credit histories
  • Detailed market research and competitor analysis sheets
  • Owner and employee resumes
  • Industry information
  • Product and service information
  • Building plans, lease documents
  • Marketing materials or business references

…you can add them here.

Final Thoughts

With a well-compiled, carefully drawn-up business plan, you can map out your endeavor clearly. If you’re not sure where to start, use a template and go from there. You can fill in the relevant fields and work with the above outline in mind.

Your company could go from idea to inception far faster than you imagined!

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