Writing a formal business plan is a useful endeavor for 3 reasons. First, it will force you to thoroughly think through the financial details of your proposed project so that nothing is missed. Second, it can be used as an operational guide when making decisions. Third, it is essential to obtaining financing from banks, other lenders, or potential investors. A good plan should be thorough, enthusiastic and honest.
Your business plan reflects how well you can plan, organize, and market. It can make or break your ability to obtain funding. Although business plans vary, they must be up to financial community standards; consider getting professional assistance if you have difficulty crafting a high-quality plan. A basic outline of a five-part business plan is as follows.
1) Cover Sheet: name, address and phone of the business and the principal(s)
2) Statement of Purpose that captures the essence of proposed business
3) Table of Contents
II. The Business
1) Description of business: legal identity (sole proprietorship, partnership,
corporation, etc.), products and services, markets, customers
2) Location: where is it, why there, important attributes (acreage,
soil and water resources, rent or buy and why, terms of lease, parking,
3) Management: who does what, your management training and experience
4) Personnel: current and future number of employees, their qualifications,
rates of pay, training and benefits, supervision
5) Assets Needed: facilities, equipment, or improvements to property
6) Insurance: how much you have, future needs
1) Marketing method: wholesale or retail, roadside stand, farmers market,
value added, etc.
2) Who will be your primary customers
3) Customer demographics: age, sex, income, education, lifestyle, where
they live, etc.
4) Major competitors, their location, their strengths and weaknesses
as well as your comparative strengths and weaknesses
5) Trends in the market based on data available about your product(s)
6) Expected sales of your product(s) in quantity and dollars over next
7) Services needed for marketing: storage, packing, value added, advertising,
1) Source(s) of funds, how and when they will be used
2) Profit and loss statements: for last 3 years, or projected for next
2 years if start-up
3) Balance sheet: show assets and liabilities (for past 3 years if
business existed) and projected (sometimes called "proforma") for next
4) Cash flow statement: income and expenses on a monthly or quarterly
basis for past 3 years
5) List of collateral, debts, and financial agreements made with others
6) Capital equipment on hand and improvements: date purchased or performed,
7) Capital equipment needed: estimated cost and time line
8) Historical data: last 3 years of business tax returns
V. Supporting Documentation
1) Personal resume(s) of principals
2) Personal financial statements
3) Letters of reference
4) Credit reports
5) Product or service literature
6) Leases, contracts, letters of intent, etc.
7) Photographs of real estate, equipment, products
8) Anything else that will strengthen your plan.