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The Table of Contents in the Template is based on the headings used for main, subsection and sub-subsection headings in the body of the Template.

When making changes to these headings, apply them to the headings within the body of the Template rather than to the Table of Contents as, once your changes have been made, the Template's Table of Contents can be updated automatically. See Using the Free-Plan Template for more information on this.

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 - see Planning to Plan, Using the Free-Plan Template and Length of the Plan for further help.

 



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