A: A Business Plan is a formal document that outlines a business/product concept, a set of goals, an argument for why/how they are attainable, a rundown on who the people involved are, and a clear approach for reaching the goals. If you are trying to get others to participate, especially as investors, you need a professional presentation like a business plan. You could almost think of it as a brief.
Traditionally, here are the key sections of a business plan:
- Cover Page: has contact info and a statement that the plan is confidential
- Table of Contents: allows readers to quickly find information
- Executive Summary: briefly explains your business prospects and needs
- Company Description: history of the company and it's future prospects
- The Product or Service: explains what is unique about what you make/do
- Market Analysis: creates a picture of the marketplace the business competes in
- Marketing Plan: shows how you plan to capture your potential market (e.g. promotion, advertising, web strategy, etc.) and includes budgets
- Management/Ownership: introduces you and tells what's unique and special
- Financial Statements & Projections: includes your Balance Sheet, Income Statements, Cash Flow Statement, and Financial Forecasts
- Appendices: Additional Information. For example: resumes of key people, organizational chart, more market info, and other data that backs your claims
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Disclaimer: The general information in this column is not a substitute for personalized advice from an attorney, an insurance agent or an accountant. If you have questions regarding legal, financial or risk management issues, you should seek the services of an appropriate professional.