Comprehensive Business Plan Outline for Small Business

Young male erasing business plans on blackboard
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Business plans are an important business start-up step for many small business owners, especially those who are pitching their business ideas to investors or credit institutions for funding. Because of the vastness of information to be included, business plans can also be one of the most overwhelming parts of starting a business.

Here is a business plan outline that walks you through each section of a basic business plan in the order they typically appear.

Each of the links below provides an overview of what should be included, provides an example of the section and shares a few tips for writing each section of your business plan effectively.

I. Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section of your small business plan that is typically written last. This section highlights at least one important statement from each of the other sections in your business plan, while also including basic information about your business such as your business name and location, description of your business and its products and/or services, your management team and mission statement.

II. Company Description

The company description section of your business plan is typically the second section, coming after the executive summary. The company description outlines vital details about your company, such as where you are located, how large the company is, what you do and what you hope to accomplish.

 This section also describes the vision and direction of the company so potential lenders and partners can develop an accurate impression about who you are.

III. Products or Services

The products or services section of your business plan should clearly describe what products and/or services you're selling with emphasis on the value you're providing to your customers or clients.

 This section will also include pricing information, a comparison to similar products or services in the market and an outline of future offerings.

IV. Market Analysis

The market analysis section of your business plan comes after the products and services section and should provide a detailed overview of the industry you intend to sell your product or service in, including statistics to support your claims. This section also includes information about the industry, target market, and competition.

V. Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy section of your business plan builds upon the market analysis section. This section outlines where your business fits into the market and how you will price, promote and sell your product or service.

VI. Management Summary

The management summary section of your business plan describes how your business is structured, introduces who is involved, outlines external resources and explains how the business is managed.

VII. Financial Analysis

The financial analysis section of your business plan should contain the details for financing your business now, what will be needed for future growth as well as estimating your operating expenses.

VIII. Appendices and Supporting Information

The appendix of your business plan includes information that supports your statements, assumptions and reasoning used in the other sections of your business plan. This may include graphs, charts, statistics, photos, marketing materials, research and other relevant data.

To jumpstart the business planning process, try this simple business plan tutorial. Then, browse this list of 14 online business planning tools to get help pulling your plan together.

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