Write this last so that you can summarize the most important points from your business plan.Provide a concise but positive description of your company, including objectives and accomplishments. For example, if your company is established, consider describing what it set out to do, how it has accomplished goals to date, and what lies ahead. If new, summarize what you intend to do, how and when you intend to do it, and how you think you can overcome major obstacles (such as competition).You can also choose to use the following four subheadings to organize and help present the information for your executive summary.Note: to delete any tip, such as this one, just click the tip text and then press the spacebar.
Summarize key business highlights. For example, you might include a chart showing sales, expenses and net profit for several years.Note: to replace the sample chart data with your own, right-click the chart and then click Edit Data.
For example, include a timeline of the goals you hope you to achieve.
If you have a mission statement, include it here. Also include any essential points about your business that are not covered elsewhere in the executive summary.
Keys to Success
Describe unique or distinguishing factors that will help your business plan succeed.
Description of Business
Give a positive, concise, and fact-based description of your business: what it does, and what is going to make it unique, competitive and successful. Describe special features that will make your business attractive to potential customers and identify your company’s primary goals and objectives.
Company Ownership/Legal Entity
Indicate whether your business is a sole proprietorship, corporation (type), or partnership. If appropriate, define the business type (such as manufacturing, merchandizing, or service).If licenses or permits are required, describe the requirements for acquiring them and where you are in the process.If you have not already stated whether this is a new independent business, a takeover, a franchise or an expansion of a former business, include that here.
Remember that location is of paramount importance to some types of businesses, less so for others.If your business doesn’t require specific location considerations, that could be an advantage and you should definitely note it here.If you have already chosen your location, describe the highlights—you can use some of the factors outlined in the next bullet as a guide or other factors that are essential considerations for your business.If you don’t yet have a location, describe the key criteria for determining a suitable location for your business.Consider the following examples (note that this is not an exhaustive list and you might have other considerations as well):What kind of space are you seeking and where? Is there a particular area that would be especially desirable from a marketing viewpoint? Must you have a ground-floor location? If so, must your location be easily accessible to public transportation?If you are considering a specific site or comparing sites, the following may be important: How is the access/traffic flow? Are the parking facilities adequate? Is the street lighting sufficient? Is it close to other businesses or venues that might aid in drawing the type of customers you seek? If it is a storefront, does it attract attention or what must be done to make it attract the type of attention you need?If signage is appropriate for your business: Are there local ordinances concerning signs that might adversely affect you? What type of signage would best serve your needs? Have you included the cost of signage in your start-up figures?
Products and Services
Describe your products or services and why there is a demand for them. What is the potential market? How do they benefit customers? What about your products or services gives you a competitive edge?If you are selling several lines of products or services, describe what’s included. Why did you choose this balance of offerings? How do you adjust this balance to respond to market demands?For product-based businesses, do you have or need inventory controls? Do you have to consider “lead time” when reordering any items? Do you need an audit or security system to protect inventory?Note:If your products and/or services are more important than your location, move this topic before location and hours of business.If you are providing only products or only services, delete the part of this heading that is inappropriate.
If information about your suppliers—including your financial arrangements with them—plays an important part of your business, include the relevant information in this section.
Whether your business products or services, use this section to address the level and means of service that you provide to customers, before, during, and after the sale.How do you make your service(s) stand out against the competition?
Does your business manufacture any products? If so, describe your facilities and any special machinery or equipment.Without revealing any proprietary information, describe the manufacturing procedure.If not already covered in the Products and Services section, describe how will you sell the products you manufacture—Directly to the public? Through a wholesaler or distributor? Other?How will you transport your products to market?
How will your background or experience help you to make this business a success? How active will you be and what areas of management will you delegate to others?Describe any other people who will be/are managing your business, including the following:What are their qualifications and background? (Resumes can be included in an Appendix.) What are their strengths or areas of expertise that support the success of your business? What are their responsibilities and are those clearly defined (particularly important in partnership agreements)? What skills does your management team lack that must be supplied by outside sources or by additional hiring?If your business has employees, describe the chain of command. What training and support (such as a handbook of company policies) will you provide to employees? Will you provide any incentives to employees that will enhance the growth of your company?If your business is a franchise, what type of assistance can you expect, and for how long? Include information about operating procedures and related guidance that has been provided to you by the franchiser.
As you write this section, consider that the way company finances are managed can be the difference between success and failure.Based on the particular products or services you intend to offer, explain how you expect to make your business profitable and within what period of time. Will your business provide you with a good cash flow or will you have to be concerned with sizeable Accounts Receivable and possible bad debts or collections?The full details of your start-up and operating costs should be included in the Appendix. However, you can reference appropriate tables, charts, or page numbers as you give a brief, summary accounting of your start-up needs and operating budget.Start-up needs should include any one-time only purchases, such as major equipment or supplies, down-payments, or deposits, as well as legal and professional fees, licenses/permits, insurance, renovation/design/decoration of your location, personnel costs prior to opening; advertising or promotionOnce you are ready to open your business, you will need an operating budget to help prioritize expenses. It should include the money you need to survive the first three to six months of operation and indicate how you intend to control the finances of your company. Include the following expenses: rent, utilities, insurance, payroll (including taxes), loan payments, office supplies, travel and entertainment, legal and accounting, advertising and promotion, repairs and maintenance, depreciation, and any other categories specific to your business.You can also include information (or cross-reference other sections of this business plan if covered elsewhere) about the type of accounting and inventory control system you are using, intend to use, or, where applicable, what the franchiser expects you to use.
Summarize key details concerning the starting or acquisition of your business. (If this is not applicable to your business, delete.As noted in the preceding section, include your table of start-up or acquisition costs in the Appendix.
How well you market your business can play an important role in its success or failure. It is vital to know as much about your potential customers as possible—who they are, what they want (and don’t want), and expectations they may have.
What is your target market? (Who is most likely to buy your products or use your services?) What are the demographics? What is the size of your potential customer base?Where are they? How are you going to let them know who and where you are and what you have to offer?If you believe that you have something new, innovative or that isn’t generally available: How do you know that there is a market for it—that people are willing to pay for what you have to offer?Consider the market you are trying to reach: Is it growing, shrinking or static?What percentage of the market do you think you will be able to reach? How will you be able to grow your market share?Note: You might include a chart, such as the one that follows, to demonstrate key points about your market potential at-a-glance.
Is your target market segmented? Are there different levels within the same type of business, each offering a difference in quality, price, or range of products?Is this market segmentation governed by geographic area, product lines, pricing, or other criteria?Into which market segment will your primary business fall? What percentage of the total market is this segment? What percentage of this segment will your business reach?Note: A pie chart is a good way to demonstrate part-to-whole relationships, such as the percentage of the target market that falls into each major segment. To change the shape of the data labels, right-click a label and then click Change Data Label Shapes.
Who else is doing what you are trying to do?Briefly describe several of your nearest and greatest competitors. What percentage of the market does each reach? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What can you learn from the way they do business, from their pricing, advertising, and general marketing approaches? How do you expect to compete? How do you hope to do better?What indirect competition will you face, such as from internet sales, department stores, or international imports?How will you keep abreast of technology and changing trends that may impact your business in the future?
How have you developed your pricing policy?Which of the following pricing strategies might best suit your business? Retail cost and pricing, competitive position, pricing below competition, pricing above competition, multiple pricing, price lining, pricing based on cost-plus-markup, or other?What are your competitors’ pricing policies and how does yours compare? Are your prices in line with industry averages?How will you monitor prices and overhead to ensure that your business will operate at a profit?How do you plan to stay abreast of changes in the marketplace, to ensure that your profit margins are not adversely affected by new innovations or competition?
Advertising and Promotion
How do you intend to advertise your business?Which of the following advertising and promotion options offer you the best chances of successfully growing your business? Directory services, social networking websites, media (newspaper, magazine, television, radio), direct mail, telephone solicitation, seminars and other events, joint advertising with other companies, sales representatives, word-of-mouth, other?How will you determine your advertising budget?How will you track the results of your advertising and promotion efforts?Will you advertise on a regular basis or will you be conducting seasonal campaigns?How will your products be packaged? Have you done research to see what type of packaging will best appeal to your customers? Have you done a cost analysis of different forms of packaging?
Strategy and Implementation
Now that you have described the important elements of your business, you may want to summarize your strategy for their implementation. If your business is new, prioritize the steps you must take to open your doors for business. Describe your objectives and how you intend to reach them and in what time parameters.Planning is one of the most overlooked but most vital parts of your business plan to ensure that you are in control (as much as possible) of events and the direction in which your business moves. What planning methods will you utilize?
Determining Start-Up Capital
Income Projection Statement
Profit and Loss Statement
Profit and Loss, Budget vs. Actual: ([Starting Month, Year]—[Ending Month, Year])