What Should a Business Plan Cover?


When starting a new business, it's important to start with a business plan. Having a well-formed business strategy and marketing plan can help maximize profits and make it easier to stay on top of paperwork. It will also keep things consistent and help with overall organization. If you're starting a new work at home business, or any other sort of business, listed here are the components you'll need to create a solid business plan.

Basic Organization

Business plans should contain a cover sheet, statement of purpose and table of contents. The cover sheet and statement of purpose are visually appealing introductions to a plan, while the table of contents is functional and helps with organization.

Business Description

The main body of the business plan begins with the description of the business. This section should be divided into 6 sections, as outlined below:

  1. Business Overview: What the business does and how it does it. The overview is similar to the statement of purpose, but more factual than ideal.
  2. Marketing Plan: This should be a description of how the business intends to market its services or products. It should not contain financial data associated with marketing, however, as finances are in a later section.
  3. Competitors: This section is a list of applicable competitors along with any relevant information. For example, the business plan for a car dealership would list other local car dealerships and their website URLs.
  4. Procedures: Any important procedures that the business or employees of the business must follow should be listed here.
  5. Personnel: This section should have the number of employees which the business keeps, along with their job titles and descriptions.
  6. Insurance: Information about all the insurance coverage which the business has should be recorded in this section.

Financial Data

If you are starting a new business, you won't have the 3-year summary documents, which are normally filed under this section. Be prepared to modify your table of contents and add to this section at a later date.

  1. Applications for Loans: If you took out a loan or loans to start your business, the applications should be on record here.
  2. Equipment and Supplies: Expensive equipment and various supplies which are owned by the business should be recorded in this section.
  3. Balance Sheet: This is a summary of the assets and funds available to the business as of a certain date.
  4. Break Even Analysis: This is an estimate of the number of products or services you'll need to sell to break even by the end of the year.
  5. Projected Income and Assumptions: This should contain profit and loss statements, along with an estimate of the profit made by years' end (as well as the assumptions made when estimating profit).

Supporting Documents

This section of the business plan should contain copies of the following documents:

  • tax returns
  • franchise contract (if applicable)
  • lease or purchase agreement (if you are renting or purchasing a building)
  • any necessary licenses
  • employee and principal resumes
  • letters of intent.

Having an updated and well organized business plan, as outlined above, is beneficial to any business.

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