"Good sales people aren't motivated by money......they are driven by it. Create a sales compensation plan that will drive your sales force to high levels of performance."

"A failure to plan is ultimately a plan to fail......some form of strategic planning is evident in virtually all successful businesses."

A Business Plan Outline

Many business plans are written without taking into account all of the necessary elements that should be included. Following a thorough business plan outline is helpful in ensuring that all of the elements are included and that the plan covers all of the important variables associated with your business. While a business plan outline is helpful, it is equally important to understand what each element of the plan entails and covers. Using a planning guide or business plan workbook is often useful in helping in the completion of a sound business plan.

The following business plan outline provides each of the critical elements that should be addressed in a good business plan:

Cover Page

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
  • Discussion of products/services
  • Overview of the business concept
  • Brief discussion of the market
  • Overview of the industry and competition
  • Marketing approach and strategy
  • Management structure and top personnel
  • Risk overview
  • Financial projections
  • Financing required
Goals and Strategies
  • General discussion of primary goals
  • List goals
  • General discussion of primary strategies
  • List strategies
The Company and its History
  • Description of the company
  • Brief discussion of its history
The Industry and Competition
  • Detailed description of the industry
  • General discussion of competition
  • Detailed discussion about competition
Products (or Services)
  • Overview of product(s)/service(s)
  • Patents, trademarks, copyrights
  • Detailed description of product(s)/service(s)
  • Discuss competitive advantage/differentiation
The Market
  • Description of the market
  • Size of the market
  • Market location(s)
  • Current and projected market trends
Marketing
  • Review of market/marketing strategies
  • Discussion of branding/image development
  • Discussion of forecasted market share
  • Pricing strategies and price schedules
  • Selling approach
  • Distribution strategies and approach
  • Service and warranty plans
  • Promotional Plan Summary
Operations
  • Manufacturing/service delivery method
  • Labor requirement breakdown
  • Discussion of product/service cost(s)
  • Administrative/Technology Overview
Management and Organization Structure
  • Overview of management structure
  • Organization chart
  • Summary of individual backgrounds
  • Resumes of key management personnel
Critical Risks
  • Presentation of potential risks to the business
  • Discussion of risk mitigation strategies
Financial Information
  • Funding required
  • Current capitalization
  • How funds will be used
  • Income statements – three years
  • Balance sheets – three years
  • Cash flow statements – three years
  • List of assumptions used in projections

As mentioned, while following a business plan outline as you develop your plan is useful, having a more complete resource as a guide may make some sense. The Business Plan Workbook is a complete guide for developing a business plan that addresses the necessary information important to any reader of the plan. Click here to learn more about this widely used resource.