BUSINESS PLANNING OUTLINE
Prepare Your Own Business Plan by Typing the Answers to
These Questions and Editing the Spreadsheets that are Linked
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SECTION I: STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
A brief (one paragraph) statement of the business plan objectives.
What is the purpose of this plan? Will it be used as an: operating guide? financing proposal?
What is the business structure (i.e., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, Subchapter S corporation)?
Who are the principals?
What is to be done?
Why will it be successful?
For A Financing Proposal
Who is asking for money?
How much money is being requested?
What is the money needed for?
How will the funds benefit the business?
How will the funds be paid?
Why does the loan or investment make sense?
SECTION II: DESCRIPTION OF THE BUSINESS
What the business is (or will be); primarily merchandising, manufacturing, or
What is the nature of the product(s) or service(s)?
What market you intend to service, the size of the market, and your expected share;
Why you can service that market better than your competition;
Why you have chosen your particular location;
What management and other personnel are required and available for the operation;
Why your investment or someone elses money (debt/equity) will make your business profitable.
Status of business: start-up, expansion of a going concern, or a take-over of an existing business?
What is the business form: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation?
Who are the customers?
Why is your business going to be profitable?
When will (did) your business open?
What hours of the day and days of the week will you be in operation?
For a New Business
Why will you be successful in this business?
What is your experience in this business?
Have you spoken with other people in this kind of business? What was their response?
What will be special about your business?
Have you spoken with prospective trade suppliers to find out what managerial and/or technical help they will provide?
Have you asked about trade credit?
If you will be doing any contract work, what are the terms? Reference any firm contract and include it as a supporting document.
Do you have letters of intent for prospective suppliers of purchases?
For a Take-Over
When and by whom was the business founded?
Why is the owner selling it?
How did you arrive at a purchase price for the business?
What is the trend of sales?
If the business is going downhill, why? How can you turn it around?
How will your management make the business more profitable?
SECTION III: THE MARKET
Generally explain who needs your product or service, and why.
Who exactly is your market? Describe characteristics: age, sex profession, income, etc., of your various market segments.
What is the present size of the market?
What percent of the market will you have?
What is the market's growth potential?
As the market grows, does your share increase or decrease?
How are you going to satisfy your market?
How will you attract and keep this market?
How can you expand your market?
How are you going to price your service, product, or merchandise to make a fair profit and, at the same time, be competitive?
What price do you anticipate getting for your product?
Is the price competitive?
Why will someone pay your price?
How did you arrive at the price? Is it profitable?
What special advantages do you offer that may justify higher price (you don't necessarily have to engage in direct price competition)?
Will you offer credit to your customers (accounts receivable)? If so, is this really necessary? Can you afford to extend credit? Can you afford bad debts?
SECTION IV: COMPETITION
Who are your five nearest competitors? List them by name.
How will your operation be better than theirs?
How is their business: steady? increasing? decreasing? Why?
How are their operations similar and dissimilar to yours?
What are their strengths and/or weaknesses?
What have you learned from watching their operations?
SECTION V: LOCATION OF THE BUSINESS
What is your business address?
What are the physical features of your building?
Is your building leased or owned? State the terms.
If renovations are needed, what are they? What is the expected cost? Get quotes in WRITING from more than one contractor. Include quotes as supporting documents.
What is the neighborhood like (stable, changing, improving, deteriorating)? Are there other special permits or licenses you may need?
Does the zoning permit your kind of business?
What kind of businesses are in the area?
Have you considered other areas? Why is this one the desirable site for your business?
Why is this the right building and location for your business?
How does this location affect your operating costs?
SECTION VI: MANAGEMENT
What is your business background?
What management experience have you had?
What education have you had (including both formal and informal learning experiences) which have bearing on your managerial abilities?
Personal data: age, where you live and have lived, special abilities and interests, reasons for going into business?
Are you physically suited to the job? Stamina counts.
Why are you going to be successful at this venture?
Do you have direct operational experience in this type of business?
Do you have managerial experience in this type of business?
Do you have managerial experience acquired elsewhere - whether in totally different kinds of businesses, or as an offshoot of club or team membership, civic or church work, etc.?
Who does what? Who reports to whom? Where do final decisions get made?
What will management be paid?
What other re-sources will be available (accountant, lawyer)?
Note: A personal financial statement must be included as a supporting document in your plan if it is a proposal for financing. Include your resume as a supporting document.
SECTION VII: PERSONNEL
What are your personnel needs now? In the near future? In five years?
What skills must they have?
Are the people you need available?
Will your employees be full or part-time?
Will you pay salaries or hourly wages?
Will you provide fringe benefits? If so, what? Have you calculated the cost of these fringe benefits?
Will you utilize overtime?
Will you have to train people? If so, at what cost to the business (both time of more experienced workers and money)?
SECTION VIII: APPLICATION AND EFFECT OF LOAN OR INVESTMENT
How is the loan or investment to be spent? This can be fairly general (working capital, new equipment, inventory, supplies).
What item or items will be purchased?
What is the specific model name and/or number of your purchase(s)?
Who is the supplier?
What is the price?
How much did you (will you) pay in sales tax, installation charges and/or freight fees?
How will the loan or investment (your own or others) make your business more profitable?
SECTION IX: SPREADSHEET ATTACHMENT
Sources and Applications of funding
Capital Equipment List
Pro Forma Income Statements
Pro Forma Cash Flow Statements