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Business Plan Guide:
Table of Contents

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The contents list of your plan performs three critical functions:

  1. Explains the scope and structure of the finished plan to readers.
  2. Provides an index to facilitate access to specific sections of the plan.
  3. 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 another.
  • 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 page.

 
 
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Cover Page

Table of Contents

Basic Information

1. Introduction to Plan

2. Summary of Plan

3. Strategic Overview
    3.1 Vision
    3.2 Mission
    3.3 Values
    3.4 Objectives
    3.5 SWOTs
    3.6 Strategies
    3.7 Goals

4. Present Status
    4.1 Background
    4.2 Recent Progress

5. Product/Service Descriptions
    5.1 General Descriptions
    5.2 Key Features
    5.3 Main Benefits
    5.4 Pricing Plans
    5.5 Competitors' Offerings
    5.6 Competitive Assessment

6. Profiles of Target Markets
    6.1 General Background
    6.2 Size, Segments & Trends
    6.3 Review of Competition
    6.4 Customers/Users
    6.5 Medium-Term Projections
    6.6 Review of Market Potential

7. Marketing Strategies, Sales Plans & Projections
    7.1 Key Marketing Strategies
    7.2 Marketing/Sales Plans & Resources
    7.3 Marketing/Sales Expense Projections
    7.4 Sales Forecasts
    7.5 Market Share Projections
    7.6 Worst Case Scenario

8. Technology and R&D
     8.1 Overview of Technology
     8.2 R&D Plans
     8.3 R&D Resources
     8.4 R&D Expense Projections

9. Operational/Manufacturing Plans
     9.1 Locations & Facilities
     9.2 Operating Methods/Procedures
     9.3 Capital Expenditure Projections
     9.4 Operating Cost Projections

10. Management & Administration
    10.1 Management Structure
    10.2 Key Management Profiles
    10.3 Administration & Systems
    10.4 Head Count Projections
    10.5 Overhead Expense Projections

11. Financial Projections
    11.1 Key Assumptions
    11.2 Income (P&L) Projections
    11.3 Cash Flow Projections
    11.4 Balance Sheet Projections
    11.5 Ratio Analyses
    11.6 Sensitivity Analyses
    11.7 Overall Assessment

12. Funding
    12.1 Funding Requirements
    12.2 Funding Proposals

13. Implementation
    13.1 First Year
    13.2 Subsequent Years
    13.3 Contingency Plans

14. Conclusion

Appendices
    1. Introductory
    2. Marketing
    3. Operational
    4. Finance


Additional Help

The Plan Write Business Planner and Plan Write Expert Business Planner software packages contain comprehensive listings of all the topics that might appear in a business plan plus an outliner to help you structure and tailor the contents of a plan. These can be used as the jumping off point for systematically entering text and compiling detailed schedules and projections.

If you intend to use Word to help produce your business plan, have a look at Free-Plan, a comprehensive 150-page Business Plan Guide and Template based on this business plan guide. It can be used in conjunction with Exl-Plan, an Excel-based financial planner, to compile and present your financial projections.

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 Projection 
  Software  
 Cashflow 
  Forecasting  
  Software  
  Business  
      Plan      
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     Guide     
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