Your business plan outline is the first step in organizing your thoughts. And, when you follow the outline below, you ensure your business plan is in the format that prompts investors and lenders to take action.
In the business plan outline below, you will see the ten (13) sections common to business plans:
1 - Executive Summary
The Executive Summary is the most important part of your business plan. Because if it doesn’t interest readers, they’ll never even get to the rest of your plan.
2 - Company Overview
The Company Overview section provides a brief history of your company.
Here you will answer questions such as when and how your organization was formed, what type of legal entity you are, and accomplishments to date.
3 - Market Overview
The Market Overview section discusses the size and characteristics of your market. For example, if you are a restaurant, you would include the size of the restaurant market, a brief discussion of sectors (e.g., fast food versus fine dining) and market trends.
4 - Relevant Market Size
The relevant market size is a much more specific calculation of your market size. It is the annual revenue your company could attain if it attained 100% market share. Your relevant market size is calculated by multiplying 1 (the number of customers who might be interested in purchasing your products and/or services each year and 2) the amount these customers might be willing to spend, on an annual basis, on your products and/or services.
5 - Target Customers
Your Target Customers section precisely identifies your current and/or intended customers. Include as much demographic data on your target customers as possible, such as their gender, age, salary, geography, marital status and education.
6 - Customer Needs
In this section of your business plan, specify why customers want or need your products and/or services. For example, do customers care most about speed, quality, location, reliability, comfort, price, value, etc.?
7 - Direct Competitors
Direct competitors are companies that fill the same customer need you fill with the same solution. For example, if you operate an Italian restaurant, other Italian restaurants would be direct competitors.
8 - Indirect Competitors
Indirect competitors are companies that fill the same customer need you fill with a different solution. For example, if you operate an Italian restaurant, a French restaurant would be an indirect competitor.
9 - Competitive Advantages
Importantly, identify your Competitive Advantages in this section. Specifically, state what is it about your company that will allow you to effectively compete (and win) against both direct and indirect competitors.
10 - Products & Services
Detail your pricing here. In particular, discuss how your pricing relates to competition. For example, are you the premium brand? The low cost brand?
Discuss your expected branding based on your chosen pricing model.
11 - Pricing
Here is where you give the details of the products and/or services your company offers.
12 - Promotions Plan
Your promotions plan details the tactics you will use to attract new customers. For example, you might choose radio advertising, or online pay-per-click ads, or press releases, and so on. In this section, detail each form of promotions you will use.
13 - Distribution Plan
Your Distribution Plan outlines the ways in which customers can buy from you. In many cases, they can only buy directly from you, perhaps at your physical location or web address. In other cases, you might have distributors or partners who sell your products or services. In such a case.