Outline for a Business Plan

Note: Not all plans require all topics.

  1. The Opportunity
    1. The Business — an overview with details on the business model and sources of profitability (such as margins, scalability, cash flow)
    2. Customers and Their Needs
    3. Market Size and Growth — identify segments
    4. Products and Services
    5. Competitors and Positioning — establish categories and how the company is positioned against them, then how it is positioned against individual companies in a category into which it fits; bases include:
      1. markets and segments
      2. product/service line and/or features
      3. pricing
      4. distribution
    6. Sustainable Competitive Advantages
    7. Opportunities for Expansion and Diversification

  2. The Organization
    1. Management
      1. responsibilities, compensation, incentives
      2. experience, knowledge of the market, industry contacts, experience together
      3. future needs and plans
      4. directors and advisors
    2. Development - technology and product or service: launch requirements, costs, partners, timetable
    3. Operations — facilities, processes, and personnel, including costs (compensation, recruitment, and training; key materials, suppliers, and equipment; inventory needs, quality control, capacity; future needs and plans)
    4. Marketing and Sales — how the company reaches the right decision makers (promotion, lead generation, in-house sales vs. representatives, incentives, future expansion)

  3. Financial Projections (three to five years pro forma)
    1. Income Statements
    2. Balance Sheets
    3. Cash Flow Statements — highlight breakeven, cumulative negative and positive cash flow
    4. Assumptions — by product or service, possibly including market share and where it comes from as well as growth, repeat sales, cyclicality, seasonality, concessions, sales capacity and costs

  4. The Investment
    1. Financing sought and uses — previous financing; ownership and rights; future needs
    2. Exit options

December 14, 2000