While this outline may at first seem overwhelming, remember you really should tackle only one part of the business plan at a time. You don’t have to write it all—it is far better to create just a few key parts of the business plan (especially if you’re not raising lots of money) that are very well thought out than to have a poorly thought out but complete plan. Furthermore, this is an outline for a fairly comprehensive business plan, more than you typical want to create or more than potential investors may expect for a very small business.

Summary

Business concept
Current situation
Key success factors
Financial situation/needs

Vision

Vision statement
Milestones

Market Analysis

The overall market
Changes in the market
Market segments
Target market and customers
Customer characteristics
Customer needs
Customer buying decisions

Competitive Analysis

Industry overview
Nature of competition
Changes in the industry
Primary competitors
Competitive products/services
Opportunities
Threats and risks

Strategy

Key competitive capabilities
Key competitive weaknesses
Strategy
Implementing strategy

Products/Services

Product/service description
Positioning of products/services
Competitive evaluation of products/services
Future products/services

Marketing and Sales

Marketing strategy
Sales tactics
Advertising
Promotions/incentives
Publicity
Trade shows

Operations

Key personnel
Organizational structure
Human resources plan
Product/service delivery
Customer service/support
Facilities

Financials

Assumptions and comments
Starting balance sheet
Profit and loss projection
Cash flow projection
Balance sheet projection
Ratios and analysis