BUSINESS PLAN FORMAT
BUSINESS PLAN FORMAT
Whether you plan to apply for a business loan or not, you need to have a roadmap or plan to get you from where you are to the successful operation of your business. The pages that follow demonstrate the content of a simple business plan which has been found to be successful in obtaining startup funds from banks. You are encouraged to use all or whatever portions of this fit your business.
Please DO NOT write page after page of drivel or copy from someone else’s plan or one of those templates you can find on the Internet. In most cases this will not “sound” like you, nor will it be short and to the point. Those who read these things are busy people and will not be inclined to spend time reading irrelevant paperwork.
Throughout this sample, there are italicized comments which are meant to guide you in preparation. If you follow this format it is reasonable to expect a finished document with 15-20 pages plus the supporting documents in the last section.
If you have good quality pictures of your space, products or other items, you might include them as another way to convey just what you plan to do. A map of your location, diagram of floor space, or other illustration is also sometimes helpful. On the other hand, do not add materials simply to “bulk-up” the report.
While content is critical, it is also important to make this presentation look as good as possible. For this course, you will create the business plan in Word and submit the plan and all attachments through the Assignment drop box. That means all attachments have to be in digital form. For a bank loan or an investor, you would normally provide them with a print version. Print the pages in black ink on a high quality tinted letterhead paper. Color is not necessary but would add some interest in headlines, etc. Bind the document in a presentation folder or with a spiral binding. Don’t simply punch a staple in the upper left corner.
If your were going to pursue a bank loan or an investor, it would be normal to take this business plan to your SCORE counselor for a review and critique.
NOTE: Before you begin your inspection of the simple plan outline which follows, take a moment to review the Business Plan Checklist on the next page.
BUSINESS PLAN CHECKLIST
By way of review, here is a concise list of the basic requirements for a Business Plan, as recommended by the MIT Enterprise Forum:
- Appropriate Arrangement– prepare an executive summary, a table of contents and chapters in the right order.
- Right Length– make it not too long and not too short, not too fancy and not too plain.
- Expectations– give a sense of what founder(s) and the company expect to accomplish three to seven years in the future.
- Benefits– explain in quantitative and qualitative terms the benefit to the consumer of the products and services.
- Marketability– present hard evidence of the marketability of products and services.
- Revenue Basis– justify the means chosen to sell the products and services.
- Development Status– provide level of product development that has been achieved and describe process and associated costs.
- Management Team– Portray founder/partners as a team of experienced managers with complementary skills.
- Rating– suggest an overall rating of product development and team sophistication.
- Financial Projections– provide believable financial projections with key data explained and documented.
- Investment Return– show how investors can cash out in three to seven years with appropriate capital appreciation.
- Financier Interviews– present to the most potentially receptive financiers to avoid wasting time as resources dwindle.
- Oral Presentation– create an easy and concisely explainable well orchestrated oral presentation