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    1 Reply Latest reply on Sep 15, 2009 3:35 PM by TheSoloGuide

    Sample Table of Contents and Notes for Business Plans

    CleanGreenGuy Wayfarer
      This is one question we get a lot from entrepreneurs. Before we answer it, lets examine the Business Plan itself. What is the need for it? When should it be written? Who is the audience? What should be the contents of it? How many pages?

      A good business plan tells the reader the story of the company in as few words as possible and should convey some of the following things:

       

       

      What does your company do? and how is it better or a game changer?
      What is the need in the market for your product or service
      What is the problem that you will be solving?
      Who is the target market?
      Why would the market use your solution and pay for it?
      How do you do business?
      How do you make money?
      Who is your competition?
      How much money is it going to take to have you develop and launch your product or service and get a good grip on the market?
      What are the risks involved?
      When can the lines cross?
      Who is the team behind it? What are their qualifications? Have they worked together in the past?

       


      Business plans can have multiple audiences. Most investors would want to see a business plan as part of their screening process. It is also highly recommended to have a business plan for internal use and to show the team the structure that the entrepreneur has created along with the vision, values and mission statement of the company. It is always good to refer to your business plan from time to time as your company grows and check on the fundamentals of your business and what made you start the company in the first place.

      Writing a business plan requires significant amounts of time and effort. It also requires you to think through your entire business and can be thought of as a good exercise. Even though you can have an outside consultant write the business plan for you, it is always recommended that the entrepreneur and founders write it themselves. This will allow for various discussions as you go about doing the market research on your initial idea, refining your idea more and applying it to the financial forecasting. Use pictures and diagrams as they convey your concept quicker. Remember - you can convey a thousand words with one picture.

      The business plan also consists of a thorough executive summary at the beginning of the business plan. Conventional wisdom suggests that the executive summary be completed once the business plan but I usually like to write them before I start writing the business plan. Lots of times, some folks want just the executive summary before they want to spend the time to read the business plan and use it as an initial screening mechanism. So the executive summary has to be short, sweet, to the point and get your entire business plan conveyed to the user in 2-3 pages at the most.

      There is no set template for a good business plan. Here is a Sample Table of Contents for a Business Plan that we use internally for our companies and have developed over a number of years. You should not use it as is but should customize it for your company's needs and audience. Lots of times, a good business plan can be conveyed in the form of a good powerpoint presentation: http://www.cleangreenguy.com/thought-leadership/logs/nikhil/how-long-should-be-my-business-plan

      Remember that its not about the number of pages you write or the trees that are cut down every time someone prints a copy of your business plan. Its about getting your message across in the most succinct manner and getting their immediate attention in this age of Twitter.
        • Re: Sample Table of Contents and Notes for Business Plans
          Tracker

          CleanGreenGuy:

          I agree with many of your points here. I have seen various "standardized" formats for business plans. Although there is not one format, if a business is seeking funds from investors, they will need to keep their plan as close to an "industry standard" format as possible (which I believe you will agree with). Additionally, they will need to make sure that they speak in plain enough English so that an investor that may not be familiar with their market can clearly understand what they are strategizing to accomplish.

           


          I have a free page on my site that provides a common format with insight as to what a business should consider when creating each section. Here is the link:

           


          http://thesologuide.com/planning/

           


          I would welcome your feedback on what I have on this page.

           


          All the Best,

           


          Doug Dolan

           

          The Solopreneur's Guide

           

          http://thesologuide.com/