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BUSINESS PLAN FORMAT

By Carlos Long,2014-07-09 09:17
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BUSINESS PLAN FORMAT ...

    BUSINESS PLAN FORMAT

     Whether you plan to apply for a business loan or not, you need to have a roadmap or plan to get you from where you are to the successful operation of your business. The pages that follow demonstrate the content of a simple business plan which has been found to be successful in obtaining startup funds from banks. You are encouraged to use all or whatever portions of this fit your business.

     Please DO NOT write page after page of drivel or copy from someone else’s plan or one of those templates you can find on the

    Internet. In most cases this will not “sound’ like you, nor will it be short and to the point. Those who read these things are busy people and will not be inclined to spend time reading non-relevant paperwork.

     Throughout this sample, there are italicized comments which are

    meant to guide you in preparation. If you follow this format it is reasonable to expect a finished document with 15-20 pages plus the supporting documents in the last section.

     If you have good quality pictures of your space, products or other items, you might include them as another way to convey just what you plan to do. A map of your location, diagram of floor space, or other illustration is also sometimes helpful. On the other hand, do not add materials simply to “bulk-up” the report.

     While content is critical, it is also important to make this presentation look as good as possible. Print the pages in black ink on a high quality tinted letterhead paper. Color is not necessary but would add some interest in headlines, etc. Bind the document in a presentation folder or with a spiral binding. Don’t simply punch a staple in the upper left corner.

     Once you have a draft of the document it will be helpful to meet with your SCORE counselor for a review and critique.

    NOTE: Before you begin your inspection of the simple plan outline which follows, take a moment to review the Business Plan Checklist on the next page.

    BUSINESS PLAN CHECKLIST

     By way of review, here is a concise list of the basic requirements

    for a Business Plan, as recommended by the MIT Enterprise Forum:

? Appropriate Arrangement- prepare an executive summary, a table of

    contents and chapters in the right order.

    ? Right Length- make it not too long and not too short, not too fancy

    and not too plain.

    ? Expectations- give a sense of what founder(s) and the company expect

    to accomplish three to seven years in the future.

    ? Benefits- explain in quantitative and qualitative terms the benefit to

    the consumer of the products and services.

    ? Marketability- present hard evidence of the marketability of products

    and services.

    ? Revenue Basis- justify the means chosen to sell the products and

    services.

    ? Development Status- provide level of product development that has

    been achieved and describe process and associated costs.

    ? Management Team- Portray founder/partners as a team of

    experienced managers with complementary skills.

    ? Rating- suggest an overall rating of product development and team

    sophistication.

    ? Financial Projections- provide believable financial projections with key

    data explained and documented.

    ? Investment Return- show how investors can cash out in three to seven

    years with appropriate capital appreciation.

    ? Financier Interviews- present to the most potentially receptive

    financiers to avoid wasting time as resources dwindle.

    ? Oral Presentation- create an easy and concisely explainable well

    orchestrated oral presentation

(This is the Cover Page)

BUSINESS PLAN

    ABC COMPANY

    Street City, State, ZIP

    Telephone

    Website email Address

    Date

    ABC COMPANY

    Street

    City, State, ZIP

    Telephone

    This is the first page if you are asking for funding.

     This can be in the form of a letter, dated and addressed to the

    individual from whom you are requesting the funds. It can also be just a

    simple statement in paragraph form (no more than half a page).

     In this letter or statement, include this information:

     ? This is a request for funds in order to do what?

     ? Name the business and whether it’s a proprietorship,

    partnership or corporation.

     ? Who are the principles?

     ? How much are you requesting, on what terms, and when do

    you need it?

     ? How much are you putting into the project?

     ? What will the money be used for?

     ? How do you expect to pay it back?

     While not absolutely necessary, you can refer to different portions of

    the Plan when answering the questions above.

     Sign this sheet.

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Number all the pages in the Plan and key them on this page.

     Loan Request

     Section 1 - Description of the Business

     General

     Owners and Credentials

     Purpose/Mission

     Location

     Products and Services

     Business Advisors

     Map

     Section 2 - Business Operations

     Business Hours

     Equipment and Processes

     Suppliers

     Section 3 - Marketing

     General

     Competitors

     Pricing Policies

     Advertising Strategy

     Section 4 - Financial Data

     Basic Assumptions

     Start Up Expense

     Profit and Loss (3 years)

     Section 5 - Supporting Documents

     Personal Resumes

     Personal Financial Statement

     Federal Tax Returns (3 yrs)

     Credit Report and Score

    While not absolutely necessary, tabs or divider pages would be a nice

    touch.

    Section 1

    DESCRIPTION OF THE BUSINESS

    This entire section can be accomplished in not more than 3 pages. Keep your paragraphs short and use the sub-heads as shown to make the material easier to read.

GENERAL

    This is the general introduction to all that will follow. Name the owners and the type and name of the business. Where is it located? What products or services will be offered? You need not go into detail; this is just a general statement of what is to come.

OWNERS AND CREDENTIALS

    What form of organization is used? Who are the principles? Give a detailed description of each owner, complete as to marital status, education and business experience. Remember that your lender will be impressed by your credentials so don’t skimp on this description. Modesty

    here will win no points.

PURPOSE OR MISSION

    Describe why you are doing this. Who will it benefit and what are your overall aims or objectives?

LOCATION

    Give your specific location if you have one. If not, describe the ideal location or what you are looking for and how you are going about it. Describe your lease in respect to cost, terms, etc. Describe the area, traffic count and other favorable factors. What about parking, visibility, lighting, etc? Refer the reader to an accompanying map. If layout is important, add a drawing of the floor plan, including dimensions, fixtures, equipment, etc.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

    It will be very important for the lender to understand what you intend to sell. Describe the products or services in some detail, but avoid very technical talk, buzzwords and other “speak” that can confuse the reader. You may find it helpful to group products or services into categories

BUSINESS ADVISORS AND SUPPORT NETWORK

    A lender will be encouraged by knowing that you are not attempting to do this without assistance from other “experts”. List here (names, companies and addresses and telephone numbers) those whom you are using as advisors, including your Accountant, Attorney, Insurance Broker, Banker, SCORE Advisor, etc. If you have joined the Chamber of Commerce, a Trade Association, or another business group, list them also.

    Section 2

    BUSINESS OPERATIONS

Here you are going to describe how the business operates, perhaps in no

    more than two pages. This will be particularly important if you will be

    manufacturing something. If you are in the selling game, describe your

    basic sales technique (not to be confused with advertising which comes

    along later).

BUSINESS HOURS

Be specific in order to show that you have already planned even the

    smallest of details. Do you operate by appointment or by walk-ins. If you

    are working out of your home, can people visit you there? How will you

    monitor customer traffic?

EQUIPMENT AND PROCESSES

You probably will need certain fixtures and equipment. Do you already

    have this or must it be purchased? Will it be new or used? Is it state-of-

    the-art? If you are manufacturing something, provide a brief, non-technical

    summation of the process.

SUPPLIERS AND SUB-CONTRACTORS

Provide a listing (names and addresses) of your principal suppliers. This

    shows that you have planned ahead and already know how you will

    obtain those supplies you need to run the business.

    Section 3

    MARKETING

In 2-3 pages, you can describe what might be the most critical section of

    your Plan because it will indicate how you intend to go about getting

    customers. The lender will be very interested in how specific you are, and

    how well you have thought this through.

GENERAL

This is the introductory part of this Section and can be somewhat general.

    Describe your principal and secondary markets in terms of where they are,

    who they are and how you will reach them. This might be an excellent

    place to list the specific reasons why you will have a market advantage

    (don’t overestimate the value of “customer service”).

COMPETITORS

Name your competitors and show their location on a map if this is useful.

    How have you researched them? What advantages might you have over

    them? Indicate your plan to deal with this competition.

    PRICING STRATEGIES

What will be your overall pricing strategy low ball, average, high? How

    will you decide on the prices for your products or services? Are the prices

    competitive? If you can name a few key items (each should account for at

    least 10% of Sales) list them and show the prices you plan to offer.

    ADVERTISING STRATEGY

You should be able to describe, in great detail, the first 3 months of

    advertising you will do, including an estimate of the costs involved, and

    the media used:

     Mailings Website Tradeshows

     Yellow Pages Events Newspaper

     Personal Calls Magazines etc.

    How will you know which media is most effective for you? If you can

    include sample advertisements, do so.

    Section 4

    FINANCIAL DATA

A lender will be VERY interested in how you portray your income and

    expense, how long it will take to break even, and how you expect to be

    able to pay back the loan. This Section will be heavy on the numbers, but

    if they are not QUICKLY understood by a reader, you will lose him or

    her … and probably not get a loan. Remember: the lender wants a

    reasonable amount of assurance that he/she will get back the loan

    amount with interest, and if there is a lack of understanding of your Plan,

    or an obvious flaw in it, you will be DOA!

    BASIC ASSUMPTIONS

    Every financial plan is based on certain assumptions and it will be helpful if you list some of the obvious ones. This also shows the lender that you

    are a knowledgeable player and one who has thought through all the

    important elements of your project. The following items are usually the

    basic assumptions for a new business and the funding necessary to start

    up:

     ? The start date.

     ? The date funds will be available, the amount, debt service and payback commencement date.

     ? The equipment and supplies needed will be in place on

    opening day.

     ? The percentage increases in Sales, Cost of Sales and

    Expenses from year to year.

     ? Add other important assumptions you have made, or will

    make.

    START UP EXPENSE

Here you will be listing just about everything you will need in order to start

    the business. In each category, list the item and how much you expect to

    spend on it. Again, doing this shows the lender that you are VERY

    organized and know exactly what you need in order to be successful.

     INVENTORY AND SUPPLIES:

These are the items you will stock for resale. Unless you are making them

    yourself, you will purchase them from a supplier. If not it might be well to

    describe how you will be able to respond to a customer on the very first

    day.

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