Business Plan Guide:
Table of Contents
The contents list of your plan performs three critical functions:
- Explains the scope and structure of the finished plan to readers.
- Provides an index to facilitate access to specific sections of
- Serves as a route map and guide during preparation of the plan.
The third function is often overlooked but it is critical to
the successful compilation of a business plan. Your time will be very well
spent drawing up a detailed table of contents for the plan prior to
any writing. Build up this table by progressively expanding main sections
into subsections and even sub-subsections to cover all the key issues.
This will allow you to:
- Envisage the scale and scope of the plan.
- Test the logic of the plan.
- Determine the flow of text and ideas from one section to
- Define the detailed contents of the plan.
- Identify shortcoming in research and preparation.
You should critically examine and fine-tune the contents list and allocate
page lengths to each section. This contents list can then be used as the
basis for identifying and assigning tasks to be researched, analyzed or
discussed prior to drafting. See Planning
to Plan for more guidance on this.
The importance of using the contents list as a guide when writing a business
plan cannot be overstated. It is your road map. Try going
on a long journey without a good map and see what happens - you take wrong
turns, you drive into blind alleys, you get lost, you waste time, you have
to double back, you miss short cuts and, in the end, you may never get
to your destination. A similar outcome could apply if you attempt to write
a plan without first compiling a detailed contents list.
The key to writing a good business plan is to compile
a sound table of contents before you start writing.
Note: Free-Plan, a comprehensive 150-page Business Plan Guide and Template based on this business plan guide, can
be downloaded for free here.
The following is a suggested table of contents based on this
Guide. Use appendices at the very back of the
plan to hold the more detailed information, analyses, schedules etc. When
compiling your plan, be sure to number all pages and index them on the contents