Strategic Business Plan Outline for Small Business
Do you know how to start a business plan outline? Here is a small business plan outline sample you can use.
The significance of a business plan to a business is similar to that of a driver to a vehicle. Without a driver, the car would not move. This article therefore focuses on a standard business plan outline with the aim of guiding business owners and investors on what a good business plan should contain.
Although all the important steps and guidelines to writing a business plan are provided, proper implementation rests solely with the business owner/investor.
How to Format a Business Plan Sample
When you plan on travelling to a new city you are unfamiliar with, the most sensible thing to do is to make sure to go with a map to act as a guide in your journey. In the same respect, a business plan acts as a ready guide which keeps you on track in your journey towards success in your business.
Below are some key things you must consider when in doubt as to how to write a business plan outline.
Show That You Know Your Market and Customer
In writing your business plan outline, you must be able to show or demonstrate that you truly know and understand who your target market and customers are. You must be able to let investors know in your business plan that you actually have a ready market that really need your products and services.
Also, you must be able to show that you know your market; how it operates, and how you intend to set your business apart in the industry.
Why is this important? For one thing, understanding your market, and knowing how to set your business apart in the industry will show that you have a plan on how you will be able to attract sales and generate profits. You can do this by ensuring you carry out online surveys, as well as engaging in interviews with prospective customers.
Carrying out a thorough research will not only help you know your market and target customers, but it will also enable you to be able to know the financial requirements for your business. This will also enable you to be able to make good and accurate forecasts and analysis.
Link Every Strategy to Your Core Objectives
One of the major reasons for writing a business plan outline is to explain what your plan and goals are, and how you have planned to achieve them. Your goals are the central theme of your business plan, which is why you must make sure to identify your goals, and make sure to make them the nucleus of your entire business plan.
Everything in your business plan outline should revolve around your goals and how you can achieve them.
Put Into Consideration All Risks and How to Tackle Them
Another thing you should pay attention to when writing your business plan outline is to make sure you pay attention to all risks and how you intend to tackle them.
Yes, there is no business that has no risk, so, it is very important you document all the risks in your business plan. When you show that you are very much aware of your business risks, and you have carefully outlined ways to tackle them, this will boost your confidence in handling challenges in your business, and also help investors have clear view on your approach.
Be Concise and Clear
Most entrepreneurs find it difficult to start writing a business plan for their businesses. Others who eventually begin writing the business plan do not recognise when they are giving too much detailed information. Sure, it is not out of place to put down as much detail as possible in your business outline, but, you must be wary of the temptation of going overboard and becoming too superfluous in your words.
You want to make sure to keep things clear, simple and concise as best as possible. This is especially important if you would intend for your business plan to be read. You do not want to bore your reader with too much detail. You could make use of graphs, charts, tables, anything, just to drive home your point clearly.
Pay Special Attention to Presentation
It is not enough to write a very good business plan outline, you want to make sure you pay keen attention to the presentation. This will be very important if you are planning to have your business plan read by potential readers.
Start with the basic formatting such as making sure to use clear headings, making sure of good structure in your document, making sure of consistency in the entire document, checking for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, etc.
After you are done, make sure to have the entire document proofread by someone else just to tie up loose ends where you might have missed.
Below is a detailed business plan outline:
BUSINESS PLAN LAYOUT
- Financial highlight
Our Products and Services
- Business goal/objectives
- Organization Structure
- Management Team
- Market Trend
- Target Market
Sales and Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Plan
- Sales Plan
- Source of Startup fund
- Sales Forecast
For most entrepreneurs, writing a business plan all by themselves does not seem to be fun in any way.
But with good preparation, while paying attention to the steps necessary for writing a good outline for your business plan, you should not find the task of writing your own business plan difficult.
SIMPLE OUTLINE OF A BUSINESS PLAN
A well prepared business plan in most cases wins the much desired funding from investors and financial institutions. But before this, a thorough study of the business plan is carried out to see if the contents are valid and if there is a future for the business.
Yes! The future of a business can be seen from the business plan.
Therefore, a shabbily written business plan will most certainly result in a haphazard business. This is why it becomes necessary to commit every resource to ensuring that the business plan is well written. This simple business plan outline gives the necessary guidance.
Writing a standard business plan requires planning. By planning, we mean a painstaking process of brainstorming, organizing and implementation. During the brainstorming session, the type of business and how the business should be organized is carefully thought out.
The resulting ideas from the brainstorming session and then organized in an orderly manner to eliminate confusion. The implementation process has to do with the writing of these plans, using this standard business plan outline as a template.
Let’s jump to the details of this standard business plan outline;
The Executive Summary
Just as the name suggests, the executive summary is a summary of the entire business plan. It is usually advised that the executive summary should not be written first, but should instead come last so as to capture or summarize the entire business plan.
Caution should be exercised here, as a shabbily written executive summary may result in the entire business plan being rejected. Whenever a business plan is being reviewed by lenders or investors, this section draws the most interest.
Because it is a summary of the business, anything short of the required content can immediately put off the investor or borrower, as the viability of the enterprise can be seen from here.
Here, the contents should include the target market, the needs being satisfied by the business, the financial projections, and the marketing strategies. This section should also contain the origin of such business. It should be compelling enough to hold your reader’s attention.
The Products and Services
A standard business plan should contain the products and services offered by the business. Because businesses are mostly structured to satisfied customer needs, the type of need should be stated alongside the products. The products should be elaborately described as to encourage an explicit imagination of the product.
Same should be extended to the product. The products and services speak volumes about the business; hence, special focus should be given to clearly defining them.
The Target Market
To effectively compete, a standard business plan should provide the most essential details of its target population/market. It may include such factors as the demographic spread of the target population, customer choices, the segment of the population (either households, the youth, the elderly, or corporate organizations) etc.
This is part of the requirements a standard business plan should contain.
Competition (Competitive Advantage)
Identifying competition is vital to the success of the business. Knowing your competition enables the business to identify the strengths as well as the weakness of its competitors, and take full advantage of this.
This brings us to the competitive advantage of the business. Competitive advantage comes only after the competition has been fully identified.
The Marketing Plan
The marketing plan exposes the marketing strategies to be adopted in attracting higher sales and increased patronage. It also includes the various marketing tools to be used.
Some of these may include the internet, social media, promotion, the publicity and advert strategies among several others. To write a small business plan, this is a necessary part.
This may consist of a team of professionals who are highly skilled as well as non professionals with low skills. The roles each of these plays in the success of the business should be clearly stated. The expertise or skill level of each of employee should be captured.
This includes the employees specific role/roles in the business.
The Financial Plan
The entire business rests or is supported by the availability of cash. The financial plan covers this aspect, as the cash flow of the business is adequately captured. From the cash flow, It can be immediately detected if a business will face funding challenges or not. It is also a way of gauging how well a business is doing financially.
Here, the sales projection, the balance sheet, and the break-even should all be captured. This is a strong requirement for any standard business plan.
This standard business plan outline provides the needed guidance on writing a good business plan with minimal difficulties. Following the format provided, this standard business plan outline can greatly contribute to producing a well-written business plan.
COMPONENT OF BUSINESS PLAN OUTLINE – DISCUSSED
A business plan is an important determinant of how successful your business is going to be. When you fail to plan for your business, then you are already setting up yourself for failure. This is why it is absolutely necessary to have a business plan on ground before you start a business.
The first step to take in creating a business plan is drafting a standard business plan outline. A business plan outline is a brief summary of the main ideas the business plan is going to talk about. It highlights the main points that the business plan is going to cover.
A standard business plan outline is like the plan of the business plan. It helps gives you an overview of how the business plan is going to look like when it is done and helps to plan ahead and get all the necessary information you’ll need for the business plan.
So, for your business not to fail, you need to write a business plan and for you to write a viable business plan, you will first have to draft a standard business plan outline. A lot of people don’t know how to draft a standard business plan outline that will highlight all the essential details that is required.
If you are one of them, then you need not to worry because I am here to help you out. In this article, I am going to write a standard business plan outline that you can use as a template in drafting yours.
It is essential for a standard business plan outline to have an executive summary. An executive summary is the general summary of the whole idea in the business plan. Some of the points that must be addressed in the executive summary include:
- The Vision and Mission of the Business.
This talks about why you want to start the business, the direction you want the business to go and how you plan to arrive at that direction.
- Your Offerings
This entails what you intend to offer your target market. It should be about the problem your business intends to solve for its potential customers, what makes your solution unique and how the problem will be solved in a way that your prospects will subscribe to.
- The Target Market
This is a brief explanation about your target market. Who they are, their demographic and behaviour, why they will buy from you etc.
- The Founder(s)
This should briefly explain who is/are the founder(s), their experience and qualifications and how these are going to help the business.
- Financial Projections
This is a brief summary of the business financial plans. It addresses the expenses needed to start the business, how it is going to be spend and how it is going to be raised. It also talks about the revenues that the business is expected to generate and how it will be dispensed.
A standard business outline must highlight the business overview which is the overview everything that the business is about. Some of what should be contained in this section of a business plan are:
- Brief history of your business.
This should explain how the business was started, what inspired you to start it, the date the business was established etc. Basically, it is about the what, why, who, when, where and how of the business
- Legal Structure
This should explain the legal structure of your business- is it Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation or Limited Liability Company? It should also explain why you choose the legal structure for your business and how it is beneficial to your business.
- Industry Overview
This should explain the industry your business is, why you choose that industry and how you plan to penetrate into that industry and establish a formidable business there.
- The Team
This should talk about both the internal and external of your business workforce and even your board of directors,
PRODUCT AND SERVICE DESCRIPTION
This is a section of a standard business plan that specifically highlight and clearly describe the features and the benefits of your products in such a simple and precise way that your prospect will not find difficult to grasp. Here are some of what should be in your business product and service description:
- The list of the varieties of products/services your business is offering
- A detailed but simple description of everything your product or service is about
- The highlights of the features of your product or service and how they will benefit the customers.
- The uniqueness of your product/service- what it has that your customers cannot from other similar products in the market.
- The solution your product/service is offering and how the customers will derive satisfaction from it.
A standard business plan outline ought to have a detail market analysis. A market analysis is the analysis of the market your business is operating in. This should include:
- The market size
This should talk about the size of the market and how it will facilitate the growth of your business. It should also pinpoint the opportunities offered by the market that your business can take advantage of.
- Market trends
This is about identifying the different changes that is happening in the market and the effects they are having on your business.
- PEST Analysis
The PEST Analysis is a simple but very effective way of analyzing the market trend. It is an acronym for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors that influences change in the market. In using PEST in analyzing the market trends, you will need to research on role of the roles they are playing and the effect they are having on the market.
- Competitive Analysis
This should explain who your competitors are, what they are doing, the effect both positive and negative effects they have on your business and the edge you have over them. A good way to your competitive analyzing is by using SWOT Analysis.
SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Strength. Find out and analyze your competitors’ areas of strength, weakness, opportunity and threat. This will help you to focus on the loopholes in the business of your competitors that you can leverage on instead of contending with them in their areas of opportunity and strength.
MARKETING AND SALES STRATEGY
An effective marketing and sales strategy is the backbone of every successful business. This explains why a standard business plan outline is not complete without it. The section shows how you going to market your products and services and generate recurrent sales.
Your marketing and sales strategy should outline the product or service you want to sell, who you want to sell it to, why you want to sell it to them, where and how you will sell it to them.
If you want business investors to take you serious, then you must include a financial plan in your business outline so that it can meet up to standard. This section should carefully detail the financial plans you have for every aspect of the business. It should contain the business budget and cash flow statements, assets and liabilities, expenditures and sales, revenue, profit made, and the sources of funding the business.