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What Goes Into a Business Plan?

An effective business plan includes these elements

By Small Business Administration | June 14, 2012

There is no single formula for developing an effective business plan, but some elements are common across many types of businesses.

As a starting point, your plan should include an executive summary, a description of the business, a plan for how you will market and manage your business, financial projections and the appropriate supporting documents.

Here's an outline of the essential material you may wish to include and supporting documents. 

4 parts of a business plan

  1.     Cover sheet
  2.     Executive summary (statement of the business purpose)
  3.     Table of contents
  4.     Body of the document
Within the body of the document, you'll want to cover these areas: 

Business description
  1.     Description of business
  2.     Marketing
  3.     Competition
  4.     Operating procedures
  5.     Personnel
  6.     Business insurance
Financial data
  1.     Loan applications
  2.     Capital equipment and supply list
  3.     Balance sheet
  4.     Breakeven analysis
  5.     Profit and loss statements
  6.     Three-year summary
  7.     Detail by month, first year
  8.     Detail by quarters, second and third year
  9.     Assumptions upon which projections were based
  10.     Pro-forma cash flow
Supporting documents
  1.     Tax returns of principals (partners in the business) for the last three years
  2.     Personal financial statements of princiapls (banks can provide these forms)
  3.     Copy of franchise contract and all supporting documents provided by the franchisor (for franchise businesses)
  4.     Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space
  5.     Copy of licenses and other legal documents
  6.     Copy of resumes of all principals
  7.     Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc.
Based on "Templates for Writing a Business Plan" from the Small Business Administration.