How to Write a Business Plan Outline


A business plan outline should consist of seven major parts: a cover sheet, an executive summary, a table of contents, an organizational plan, marketing plan, financial documents and plan, and other supporting documents. Each of these parts must contain detailed information to complete the full business plan. A full business plan is necessary to receive funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and from many banks and private investors. Use this guide as a business plan template.

Cover Sheet

The cover sheet should include the following.

  • The name, address, and phone number for the company.

  • The name, address and phone number for the owner(s).

  • A month and date for when the plan was written.

  • The name of the person who prepared the business plan.

  • The number of the business plan copy. For instance, if there have been three previous copies given out, the cover sheet would read: "Copy 4."

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is also known as the Statement of Purpose. It is used to summarize information about the business: who you are, what you do, when you started, how you do it, why you will be or why you are successful. If the goal of the business plan outline is to get funds, be sure to include how much is needed, what it will fund, and how it will be repaid.

Table of Contents

This offers a reference point for those who read the business plan to know where they can find all the appropriate information they are looking for.

Organizational Plan

This should include:

  • A summary of the business. This includes:

    • the business mission

    • goals and objectives

    • strategy

    • any business relationships that play a key role in the business.

    • An analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) the company faces--both inside the company and outside of it.

  • Information on the product or service your business offers

  • Information regarding all intellectual property, with supporting documentation

  • Business location describing:

    • current or projected location

    • costs of location

    • legal issues surrounding location

  • Business Structure: Describe the legal structure in the business and why this structure is in place, with benefits.

  • Discuss the business management employees and provide their resumes

  • Discuss: the number of employees you'll have, what qualifies them for the position, how much you will pay and the hours they work, and any projected employee needs.

  • Discuss the accounting and legal aspects of the business

  • Discuss insurance needs and costs

  • Discuss security needs, online and offline, and costs

Marketing Plan

This should provide an overview of the company's marketing strategy, along with the goals of the marketing.

  • Market Analysis: This should include information on the target market, including demographics. It should also include information on competition, market trends and market research.

  • Strategy Details: Provide more information on how your marketing strategy will work and bring more business.

  • Customer Service: Provide details on how you will handle customers.

  • Details on the Implementation of Marketing Strategy: How is the marketing strategy being implemented?

If your company has been running for a period of time, there should also be an assessment of how well the market strategy is working.

Financial Documents and Plan

This is important to show how much money the business needs, how much money the business is making, and where the money is going.

  • Summary of Financial Needs: If the company is seeking financing for any reason.

  • Fund Dispersal Statement: If the company is seeking financing, state where the money will go. Get specific and provide supporting documents.

  • Budget

  • Income Projection for 3 years

  • Projected Balance Sheet

  • Break Even Analysis: Show when (how long it will take) for the company to break even, meaning the expense will match the income.

Supporting Documents

Provide resumes, proof of intellectual property, and anything to support or prove the information you've provided throughout the plan.

A thorough business plan takes time to develop. Each portion of the outline should be completely researched and well written to present a high quality business plan to lenders and investors. Focus on each element to ensure it is complete. When it is finished, present it to the appropriate professionals and get ready to start your business.

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