Business Plan Template
While there are many different ways to structure a business plan, the following outline covers the essential content and organization. Each numbered section includes a list of questions to consider. At a minimum your plan should include each numbered section and Appendix A. However, depending upon the situation, some questions may not be relevant at all, while others are absolutely critical. The art is being able to tell the difference. For that we suggest consulting with your mentor.
1. Executive Summary (one page; including a quick overview of vision and mission as suggested below)
- What is the big problem and why are customers willing to pay for solutions?
- How does this venture plan on solving the customer problem or need?
- Why this venture is uniquely positioned to do this?
- Why is this an exciting growth opportunity?
- Who is the team, and what key partnerships are in place?
2. Vision Statement
A vision statement is an informed and forward-looking statement of what the company hopes to become and defines the long-term destiny of the firm. It is a statement of insight, intention, ambition, and purpose. It reflects the novelty of the solution and the entrepreneur’s commitment.
3. Opportunity and Market Analysis
- What is the problem or need being solved by the venture?
- Who is the customer or customer segment(s)?
- How large is the potential market, and how much is it growing?
- What factors affect the buying behavior of the customers in this market?
- What products/services are in demand in the market?
4. Industry and Business Environment
- Who are your main/potential competitors? What does the competition do? What is the basis of competition (price, quality etc.)?
- How are you differentiated from them? What is unique about your product/service?
- How easy is it to enter the industry?
- What strategies can be used to mitigate competitive threats?
5. The Solution and Concept
- What is the product or service?
- Describe a “day-in-the life” of the customer before and after adoption of the solution.
- What is the value proposition to a customer, and why is it compelling for the customer?
- Which customers have validated the product and are willing to pay for it?
- What is unique and defendable about the business?
- What is the appropriate price point? How attractive are the financial margins?
6. Marketing, Promotion, and Sales
- What are the most appropriate marketing mediums to reach the customer segment(s) and promote the product/service ?
- Who is the customer decision maker with purchasing power, and who influences that person to buy?
- What is the most appropriate type of sales channel for the product (e.g. direct vs.indirect sales)?
- What are the sales targets (forecast three years).
7. Product Development and Operations
- What is the current state of the development of the product(s)?
- What resources will be required to finish and ship the product? Be specific about what types of resources will be required (e.g. engineering, tools, suppliers, materials, partners, and customer involvement).
- What are the planned development timelines and key milestones targeted?
- What are the key risks that will be mitigated at each milestone?
- Do any patents, trade secrets, or other defendable advantages exist?
- Are there any regulatory hurdles that must be cleared?
8. Team and Organization
- Describe the passions and skills of the team and why the team is committed to opportunity?
- What key hires must be made to fill out the team?
- How many employees will be required over the first three years?
- Does the company have advisors or board members that strengthen its story?
- What are the key product development risks?
- What is being done to mitigate product execution risks?
- Describe any personnel and financial risks. How will those be mitigated?
10. Financial Plan and Investment Offering
- What is the required funding to meet the market and product milestone goals? What amount is being asked for? What funds must be raised and how will you do it?
- When is the venture forecasted to be cash-flow positive?
- What is the growth opportunity of the business if successful?
- What are the forecasted profit margins?
- What are the key financial assumptions?
Appendix A: Pro Forma Financial Plan
- Three-year cash-flow statement and income statement (quarterly for first year and yearly thereafter).
- Financial assumptions made in the construction of financial estimates (e.g., customer penetration rates, pricing, and working capital assumptions).
- What are the largest costs of the business (e.g., engineering development, regulatory trials, manufacturing, and marketing)?
- How will product and sales costs change as volume grows?
- Has customer support and maintenance been factored in?
Appendix B: Other Supplemental Materials
- Provide any other materials you would like to include in your plan (resumes of people in your team, potential advertisements, charts, graphs, etc.)
- Product Sketch or Mock-Up