Sample Business Plan

Executive Summary

This section summarizes the entire business plan, emphasizing its high

  • What is the purpose of your plan?
  • How much money are you requesting, in what form (equity or debt), and for what purpose?
  • What is the market potential of your product/service?
  • What are its significant features?
  • What are your product development milestones?
  • What financial results do you anticipate?

I. Business Elements

  • What is your business?
  • What are your principal products/services?
  • What are your principal markets?
  • What are the applications and needs for your product/service?
  • What is your distinctive competence (i.e., what are the chief factors that will account for your success?)?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

II. Market Analysis

  1. Industry
    • What industry are you in?
    • How big is it now? How big will it be in five years? Ten years?
    • What are its chief characteristics?
    • Who are or will be the major customers?
    • What are or will be the major applications?
    • What are the major trends in the industry?
  2. Target Markets
    • What are the major segments you will penetrate?
    • For each major application, what are the following:
      • Requirements by the customer or regulatory agency?
      • Current ways of filling these requirements?
      • Buying habits of the customer?
      • Impact on the customer of using your product/service (e.g., how much will it save him per year; what return on investment will he get, will he have to change his way of doing things, buy other equipment, change work habits, or modify organizational structure?)
  3. Competition
    • What companies will you compete with, including those like you who are not yet in the market?
    • How do you compare with other competitive companies?
    • What competition will you meet in each product/service line?
    • How does your product/service compare with others, especially through the eyes of the customer?
    • What is the market share of each existing competitor?
    • Do you threaten the strategic objects or self-image of competition or just financial results (e.g., will competition see to destroy you at any cost)?
    • Do you interface with important, noncompetitive equipment that manufacturers might still be reluctant to support your product due to warranty, liability, or image considerations?
  4. Reaction from specific prospective customers
    • What prospective customers have you talked to?
    • What was their reaction?
    • Have they seen or tested a realistic prototype of the product/service? If so, what was their reaction?
  5. Marketing activities
    • What is your marketing strategy?
    • What are your plans for
      • Distribution
      • Promotion
      • Pricing
      • Sales appeal
      • Geographical distribution
      • Field service or product support
      • Setting priorities among segments, applications, and marketing activities?
  6. Selling activities
    • Who will you identify prospective customers?
    • How will you decide whom to contact and in what order?
    • What level of selling effort will you have?
    • What efficiency will you have?
    • What conversion rates will you be able to obtain?
    • How long will each of the above activities take in person-days
    • What will your initial order size be? What is the likelihood and size of repeat orders?
    • Based on the above assumptions, what is the sales productivity of each salesperson?
    • What is the commission structure? Does it have increasing or decreasing rates for exceeding quote? What will the average salesperson earn per year and how long will s/he have to wait to receive commissions?
    • What evidence do you have to back up your answers to the estimates above?

III. Technology: Research and Development

  • What is the essence and status of your current technology (idea, prototype, small production run, etc.)?
  • What is your patent or copyright position?
  • How much is currently patented or copyrighted and how much can be patented or copyrighted?
  • How comprehensive and how effective will the patents or copyrights be?
  • What companies have technology that is superior or equal to yours?
  • Are there additional means or protecting your technology?
  • What new technologies or scientific approaches exist that may become practical in the next five years? What factors limit their development or acceptance?
  • What are the key research and development activities and related milestones and risks?
  • What new products, hopefully derived from first generation products, do you plan to develop to meet changing market needs?
  • Are there any regulatory or approval requirements?

IV. Manufacturing and Operations

  • How will you accomplish production or conduct service operations?
  • How much will you do internally and by what methods?
  • How much through subcontracts, both initially and after several years?
  • What production or operating advantages do you have?
  • What is your present capacity for level or production or operations? How can this be expanded?
  • What are critical parts? Are any of these parts “sole-sourced” or do you have backup vendors?
  • What re the lead times of these parts?
  • What are the standard costs for production at different volume levels?

V. Management and Ownership

  • Who are your key managers?
  • How do you intend to attract and compensate key people?
  • What are their skills and, particularly, their experience, and how does this relate to the success requirements of
    your venture?
  • What has their track record been, and how does this relate to your requirements?
  • What staff additions do you plan, when and with what required qualifications?
  • Do any managers have outstanding “noncompete” agreements with previous employers?
  • Who is on your board of directors?
  • Who are your current stockholders, and how many shares does each own?
  • What is the amount of stock currently authorized and issued?

VI. Organization and Personnel

  • How many people will you need by type?
  • What compensation method will be used by type?
  • Show sample organizational structure for formative years and thereafter.

VII. Funds Required and Their Uses

  • How much money do you require now?
  • How much will you require over the next five years, and when will it be required?
  • Who will these funds be used?
  • What portion of the funds will be raised from debt rather than equity?
  • What terms?
  • When do you plan to “go public”?

VIII. Financial Data

  • Present historical financial statements and projects for the next three to five years, including
    • Profit and loss or income statements by month or quarter, at least until break-even, and then annually to cover a five-year period
    • Balance sheets at the end of each year.
    • Cash budgets.
    • Capital budgets for equipment.
    • Manufacturing/shipping plan.
  • What key assumptions have been made in your pro forms and how good are these assumptions?

IX. Administrative Considerations

  • What is the name of your business?
  • Has the name or trademark been searched?

X. Appendices

  • Resumes of key managers
  • Pictures of product.
  • Professional references
  • Market studies, articles, etc.
  • Patents.