There is no standard layout that should be used for all business plans simply because all plans vary among industries. The objective of the business plan (whether using it for planning or to get funding) will also change the layout and style of the business plan elements.
In general the below categories of items should be included in any business plan. Depending on your industry and whether you are trying to get financing you may need to incorporate additional sections.
This generally outlines the basic premise of the business plan and usually includes sub-topics of the objective, the mission statement, and the keys to success.
The company summary provides information on your company position in the market (if an existing company) or where your startup business would fit in the landscape of your industry.
The product summary describes how your product is positioned in the market and how this supports the company position for short and long term future growth.
The market summary is the description of the competitive landscape in your given market and how the industry as a whole remains a viable option for current and future customers. Is it a growing market or is it shrinking?
is incorporated in the Market Summary section to communicate unique advantages the company has in relation to direct competitors.
How you will position your product to differentiate yourself or compete with other similar products and companies. What is your focus…price, quality, efficiency?
This is a realistic look at all the costs involved in starting up your proposed business. This list should include merchandise and signage (if applicable) as well as labor costs associated with setup and opening.
Financial projections are the key to any good business plan with a one year strategy being a minimum forecast for upcoming business profit / loss. Commonly known as a Pro-Forma – this will show you based upon projected expenses and forecasted sales what to expect over the course of a given timeframe.
Often next steps are included in a business plan for an implementation timeline or other upcoming events.
References (Works Cited)
Works Cited is where you will “cite” your information you used to build a case for your business in the business plan. Quotes or ideas taken from other resources should always be cited to give credit to the original source and build credibility for the accuracy of your information.
The above business plan elements should be used as a starting point for laying out your business plan, and adding additional sections and industry specific data in where appropriate.
FREE Business Plan Template
to see how each of these sections fit together and use it as an example for creating your own business plan.
About the Author
Craig is a small business marketer, author and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in business management. Follow him on