A business plan format is a structured description of what goes into the business plan.
The business plan should present what the business will focus on, who will be on the business team, business goals, financials, reasons why the business should exist, some analysis why the business will be successful and also plans as to how to avoid risks and manage challenges that the business will face.
There are a multitude of variations on how to format a business plan; the challenge is making it easy to read and find information. Especially for banks and potential investors.
If a bank analyst can’t find specific financial information, then the business plan will likely end up the bottom of the work stack.
Following is a structure that has the most critical parts of a business plan format:
- Executive Summary
The executive summary provides a one-page overview of the business plan
- What the business is – The Business Model
- Who is the business team – What background and capabilities do they bring
- What is the ownership and the legal formation of the business
- Why will the business succeed – Additional analysis for proof of concept:
- SWOT – Strength-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats
- Contingency plans for identified challenges
- Additional Opportunities
- Sources of Revenue and the operational costs of providing the products/services
- Marketing Plan Overview
- Operational Plan Overview
- Capital investments needed and plan for achieving it
- Personnel Resources
- Future plans for the business
- Preliminary Profit & Loss Pro Forma
- Preliminary Budget
- Funding sources:
- Regular Bank loans
- Regulatory by state agencies
- Owner investment
This list is fairly comprehensive, so the first drafts may not require all of the above to be considered complete. What is most important is to make the exercise of formatting a business plan fun and productive and not another chore for the management team or the owner.
When creating your business plan, you do not need to follow this format sequentially. Business planning is not a linear process. Meaning many thought processes need to be initiated in parallel. Putting together a business plan format may seem daunting, but the benefits are worth the effort.
Cogent Analytics has experience in creating business plan formats for a multitude of various types of SMB/SME’s.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: