• United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Israel
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • South Korean
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Iran
  • Azerbaijan
  • Georgia
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary
  • Slovenia
  • Croatia
  • Serbia
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Greece
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Mexico
  • Portugal
  • Brazil


Business Plan Outline

Below is an example of a business plan outline. Even if you do not need to secure financing from banks or investors, a business plan is an integral part of starting and growing a business. Business plans provide an invaluable roadmap that help you spot potential weaknesses and opportunities, and can help you make informed decisions before you commit your precious time and resources.

Business Plan Outline

  1. Executive Summary
    • No more than two pages, the executive summary highlights key information and insights from your entire business plan. It is the last section you will write, and the first one people will read.
  2. Business Description
    • This section introduces your product/service, gives details about your business's history, and presents your vision, mission, objectives, and specific milestones for measuring future success.
  3. Product or Service
    • In this section you expand on your product/service. Discuss its features and benefits, competitive advantages, and how and where your product will be produced.
  4. Market Analysis
    • This section positions your business in a larger context. It demonstrates the viability of your business by discussing: the size and growth of your industry, key markets within your industry, your competition, and how customers will buy your product or service.
  5. Sales and Marketing
    • This section focuses on your business's strategy for attracting and keeping customers. Explain how you will differentiate your product/service, and describe your product's or service's unique selling proposition (USP).
      • Discuss product/service pricing and promotion, including how your promotional programs will appeal to each of your target market segments.
      • Provide your plan for traditional and nontraditional marketing tactics: tradeshows, social media marketing, networking, print media, online advertising, etc. (include the cost associated with each tactic).
      • Describe how your product/service will be sold (storefront, online, wholesalers) and your target market's buying cycle.
  6. Business Operations
    • Provide details of your operating plan. Include an overview of your management team, staffing requirements, suppliers, business location and facilities, production plan (if selling a product), and general day-to-day operations.
  7. Financial Plan
    • The financial plan is a short, one page cover that projects how and when you are going to be profitable. You should use three years worth of projected financial statements (P&L, cash flow, balance sheets), summarizing each statement into a few easy to understand sentences. Make sure to document all of your projections with respective financial statements (which are placed in the Appendix for reference).
  8. Appendix
    • The appendix includes all the numbers for the Financial Plan: profit and loss statements (P&L or income statement), monthly and annual cash flow statements, and pro forma balance sheets.

For many small businesses, a simple business plan will suffice for developing a reasonable roadmap. For those who need a more comprehensive business plan, one suitable for submitting to potential investors, a bank or venture contest, we have provided a list of business plan resources below.

Free Sample Business Plans and Templates

  • CarnegieLibrary.org - an excellent collection of business plan samples and templates, provided by private sector companies.
  • Banks have a vested interest in ensuring that your business plan includes all the pertinent information. As such banks like Bank of Montreal, RBC Royal Bank, Scotia Bank, Lloyds TSB, HSBC, and others provide excellent online resources to assist you in business planning.
  • Business Development Organizations often provide tools to help their clients prepare professional business plans through their regional offices or via the Web. Examples include CBDC, BDC, CYBF, and many others around the world.

Business Plan Software

  • SamplePlan.com - Write a business plan the easy way, by starting with a downloaded template developed for your industry.
  • Palo Alto Software - Highly acclaimed business planning software that lets small businesses create professionally formatted, investor ready business plans quickly and affordably.
  • Business Power Tools - Walks you through the process of writing a professional business plan with ease. Software includes professionally written samples, easy to use financial models and expert guidance to ensure your success.