business plan: what to include

step by step

In your business plan, include the following sections in this order:

  1. Cover Page and Table of Contents
    1. The cover page should contain the name of your business and contact information. If you have a logo, it should be included on the cover.
  2. Executive Summary
    1. Provide a brief summary of the entire business plan on a single page. Describe your company, its product, and the reasons for starting the company.
    2. Identify the problem your company is addressing and explain how your business provides a solution. Highlight your main competitors and why your product will succeed against them. Be sure to emphasize the value that your company brings to the market.
    3. If relevant, discuss the economic climate in relation to your customers and products.
  3. Company Description
    1. The company description should include a mission statement, information on the company principals, any strategic partners, and your corporate structure. For example:
    2. Mission Statement: To create and sell quality footwear that is both stylish and functional.

      Principal Members: Asia Volochuk - Owner, President; Ade Obu - Co-owner, Chief Product Officer; Joann Smith - Head of Product Innovation.

      Legal Structure: XYZ, Inc. is an S Corporation incorporated in Montreal, Canada.

  4. Market Plan and Analysis
    1. Provide an overview and outlook of the industry.
    2. Conduct a competitive analysis of your direct and indirect competitors.
    3. Include information on any sector differentiation and niche.
    4. Provide information on your target market, including geographic, psychographic, demographic, and behavioral factors.
    5. Describe the company's marketing strategy and how it will distinguish itself in the market.
  5. Organization and Management
    1. This segment should outline your company's organizational structure and provide insight into the individuals behind the business. You can include an organizational chart, a description of the structure, and projections regarding salaries.
    2. If the goal of your business plan is to get funding, it's wise to ensure that your management plan includes an advisory board as a management resource.
  6. Service or Product
    1. Business plans often itemize their entire product line with the planned or current pricing structure.
    2. Be sure to include an estimate of the lifecycle of your product/service and provide insights into the research and development activities that have been completed, are ongoing, or planned. Share all the necessary details in a professional manner.
    3. Additionally, mention any trademarks, patents, or other intellectual property rights if applicable.
  7. Marketing and Sales
    1. How will customers find out about your products?
    2. What will your sales channels and methods be?
    3. What is your pricing strategy?
    4. What is your growth strategy?
  8. Financial Analysis
    1. Income statements
    2. Cash flow statements
    3. Capital expenditure budgets
    4. Balance sheet
  9. Funding Request
    1. Describe your current funding needs.
    2. Outline any future funding requirements for the next five years.
    3. Explain how you intend to use the funds you receive and provide specific resource allocations.
    4. Discuss any strategic future financial plans.
  10. Appendix
    1. Resumes of principals
    2. Tax returns
    3. Relevant real estate documents
    4. Processing flowchart
    5. Letters of intent to purchase from buyers
    6. Advertisement and marketing materials
    7. Relevant training certificates
    8. Sales forecast and projections
    9. Personnel plan
    10. Profit and loss statement
    11. Balance sheet