Understanding the Key Sections of a Business Plan
Business Plan Research

Every business plan should follow a standard structure. When an investor evaluates a business plan, they prefer to focus on the quality of the plan and not the structure. Here are the key sections of a business plan and what to include.

Executive Summary: This is the summary of your entire plan. Your key points should be addressed within 2 pages.

Company Description: This includes the company's background, its current status, and the products or services that will be offered.

Industry Analysis: This includes market statistics and trends that will impact your success. Also include an overview of the industry or industries you will compete within.

Customer Analysis: This should be a clear description of who your business will serve, breaking customers into as many groups as necessary. Separate groups are only necessary if they either have different needs from each other or will be marketed to using different methods.

Competitive Analysis: This is a comprehensive listing of the top competitors along with a description of each. Include an explanation of how your business will create competitive advantage above these competitors.

Marketing Plan: This describes the brand of your business as you see it, and the promotions and pricing strategies. The marketing strategies will relate directly to the preceding customer and competitive analyses.

Operations Plan: This section details the internal activities of the company, including what functional roles you will have to fill, such as financial management, operations management, legal and insurance oversight, sales and marketing management, etc.

Management Team: Include short bios for the management team members you have recruited so far (including yourself if you will be a manager), as well as a hiring plan for additional managers you'll need to bring on.

Financial Plan: Include narratives describing the highlights of your pro forma financial statements, with special focus on areas of interest to lenders and investors, such as the start-up costs, time to break-even, key assumptions behind revenue projections, and the growth in sales and net profit.

Appendices: Include detailed financial statements, as well as any other documents referred to earlier in the plan or supporting the case you've made for your success, such as management resumes, evidence of a patent or trademark, or deals with customers or suppliers.

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