What you need to know, and most importantly, what you need to be able to articulate both in person and in a written business plan.

Executive Summary

  1. Why will the business succeed?

  2. What do you want to start (or change)?

  3. How much money is required?

  4. What is the projected return on the investment?

  5. Why is the venture a good risk?

Business Description

  1. What type of business is this?

  2. What products or services will you sell?

  3. What type of opportunity is it(new, part-time, expansion, seasonal, year-round)?

  4. Why does it promise to be successful?

  5. What is the growth potential?

  6. How is it unique?

Marketing

  1. Who are your potential customers?

  2. How large is the market?

  3. Who are your competitors? How are their businesses positioned?

  4. What market share do you anticipate?

  5. How will you price your product or service?

  6. What advertising and promotional strategies will you use?

Research, Design, and Development

  1. Have you carefully described your design or development?

  2. What technical assistance have you received?

  3. What research needs do you anticipate?

  4. Are the costs involved in research and design reasonable?

Manufacturing

  1. Where will the business be located? Why?

  2. What steps are required to produce your product or service?

  3. What are your needs for production (e.g., facilities and equipment)?

  4. Who will your suppliers be?

  5. What transportation is available?

  6. What is the supply of available labor?

  7. What will it cost to produce your product or service?

Organization

  1. Who will manage the business?

  2. What qualifications do you and your staff have?

  3. How many employees will you need? What will they do?

  4. How will you structure your organization?

  5. What are your plans for employee salaries, wages and benefits?

  6. What consultants or specialists will you need? How will you use them?

  7. What legal form of ownership will you choose? Why?

  8. What licenses and permits will you need?

Financial

  1. What is your total estimated business income for the first year? Monthly for the first year? Quarterly for the second and third years?

  2. What will it cost you to open the business?

  3. What will your personal monthly financial needs be?

  4. What sales volume will you need in order to make a profit during the first three years?

  5. What will be the breakeven point?

  6. What will be your projected assets, liabilities and net worth on the day before you expect to open?

  7. What are your total financial needs?

  8. What are your potential funding sources? How will you spend funds?

  9. How will the loans be secured?

Milestone Schedule

  1. What timing have you projected for this project?

  2. How have you set your objectives?

  3. Have you set up your deadlines for each stage of your venture?

  4. Is there a relationship between events in this venture?

Appendix

Have you included all important documents, drawings, agreements and references?

Source: As seen in Executive Female, July/August 1993

Does Your Business Plan Answer These Key Questions?