Business Plan Table of Contents
Your Business Plan Table of Contents will Outline Your Plan
A business plan is expected to be compelling, well organized and presented in a logical sequence. Following this business plan table of contents will ensure that your document hits the mark! Remember that your business plan does not have to be a formal document, but it should speak to all the objectives critical to your success.
A business plan table of contents like the one below will put you on a straight course to starting and finishing your business plan quickly and with confidence that you’re doing it right. In fact, you should consider this business plan table of contents to be your business plan outline for your entire plan, even if you are starting with just an executive summary.
The information and structure found on this page will help you think about and convey your business idea in a format that investors understand. It’s not just for investors!
Following all the major sections of this page will help you crystallize your thinking about your business in a holistic way that will serve you well, even if you’re not seeking funding. From your market analysis, marketing plan to your financial plan and cash flow statement, you’ll learn to think about your business in depth, on terms important to your success!
Your business plan, while confidential, will serve you as an asset for many circumstances. Whether you are approaching investors, applying for a loan from your bank or the SBA, or applying for credit from a vendor or landlord–a business plan will be your ally! Writing your business plan in a common, proven manner, will ensure that your information is complete, comprehensive and presented in a logical order.
Does your business plan really need a table of contents? In short, yes! That’s why we have included this section as a guideline or template. You should always include a table of contents with your business plan unless you are presenting only Executive Summary that is 2 – 5 pages in length.
Makes Your Plan Easy to Read and Understand
Keep in mind that a business plan is often not read from front to back, in order. Different people will have different specific interests. A table of contents lets readers quickly find the information that is most important to them.
Including a table of contents is both a courtesy and a way to help bankers and potential investors make efficient use of your business plan. If it’s well organized and includes a table of contents, you’ll be getting started on the right foot.
It’s common for a business plan to be updated on a regular basis, long after the first draft is complete. A small change on page two might suddenly mean the page numbers listed in the table of contents need to be corrected. Be sure to update your table of contents to reflect these changes. To make this task a breeze, use the Table of Contents feature built into Microsoft Word.
Why do we include such an obvious suggestion? The fact is, many people overlook this step. Don’t give some junior analyst at a venture capital firm with 100 business plans to review an early opportunity to say, “This person is sloppy and doesn’t pay enough attention to details. Next plan.”
Follow the Format for Proven Success
If you use The Outline provided with this document as the starting point for your table of contents, you can include the subtopics while you’re creating the plan. Then, in your final Table of Contents, you’ll include only the major section titles.
Introduction and Overview
This section in a small business plan table of contents provides an introduction to the plan and gives a brief overview of the business, including its purpose, products or services, business’s unique selling proposition, and target market. It sets the stage for the rest of the plan and provides context for the reader.
Sales & Market Potential
Products and Services
Describes the products or services offered by the business and how they meet the needs of the target market. It is important because it helps the reader understand the business’s offerings and how they are positioned in the market.
Provides an industry overview and in-depth market analysis of the target market, including demographics, size, and trends. It is important because it demonstrates the business’s understanding of its target audience and the potential for growth in the market.
Direct and Indirect Competitors
Every business plan needs to identify who they will complete with, both directly and indirectly. Be direct! Glossing over this makes investors nervous.
Sales and Marketing Plan
Outlines the marketing objectives -the strategies and tactics- the business will use to reach and engage its target market and drive sales. It is important because it illustrates how the business will generate revenue and achieve its financial goals.
Team and Operating Plan
Typically includes information about the key individuals involved in the company, including their backgrounds, experience, and roles within the organization.
Details the strategies and tactics the company will use to reach and acquire customers, including market segmentation, target customers, distribution channels and pricing. This section should take into account the competitive analysis.
Outlines the day-to-day operations of the company, including details on the production or development process, logistics, and supply chain management. Be sure that the operating plan you present is matched by the people you’ll have on your management team.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. A way to document and evaluate a company’s internal and external environment. It identifies the company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats in the marketplace. It’s a summary of the internal and external factors that can help or hinder the company’s success.
Your financial plan should include an income statement (profit and loss statement), which shows the company’s projected revenue and expenses for at least three years. The income statement provides a detailed breakdown of the company’s projected income and expenses, including revenue streams, cost of goods sold, operating expenses, and net income.
Capitalization or “Cap Table”
Provides information on the sources of funding for the company and the ownership structure. This can include information on equity funding, debt financing, and other funding sources.
Use of Funds
Details how the company plans to use the funds raised, including information on specific investments, expansion plans, and other expenditures. It should also include information on how the funds will be allocated to different areas of the business, such as research and development, marketing, and operations.
This section of a business plan outlines the company’s plans for exiting the business, such as through a sale of the company or an initial public offering (IPO). It should include information on the timing of the exit, the expected return on investment, and the potential buyers or investors.
Provides information on the projected return on investment and the time frame in which the company expects to recoup its initial investments. This section should include information on the company’s projected cash flow, as well as any return-on-investment calculations.
Notices and Disclaimers
Used to provide legal and regulatory information about the company, its products, and its services. This can include information on patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other legal matters. It also may include a disclaimer statement that the plan is for informational purposes only and that the company cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.
Summary of Business Plan Table of Contents
The business plan table of contents above serves as both a table of contents and an outline for your business plan. This business plan outline can even be used to help you draft your executive summary following the same format in less detail. You will find that this business plan format is used throughout this site. Every section is explained in detail and includes examples or templates you can use. Follow this format you’ll end up with a well-organized business plan.
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