VIEWS: 16,946 PAGES: 18 CATEGORY: Writing a Business Plan POSTED ON: 9/13/2008
This document is a template for a generic business plan. It can be used for all types of business entities (partnerships, LLCs, corporations, sole proprietorships), in any industry, for both informative and investment purposes. This form is intended to allow a company to convey the nature of its business, its present status, its status within its respective market, and its future prospects in both a written and financial format. This document can be customized to fit the needs of any company when describing its business.
Generic Business Plan Template This is a template for creating a company’s business plan. It can be used for any type of business entity, for both informative and investment purposes. This template includes the necessary sections for a business plan, including an executive summary, company overview, marketing plan, organizational structure and financial projections. By following the written instructions, you will be able to create an effective business plan customized to your company. This is a template for a generic business plan. It can be used for all types of companies (partnership, LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship) in any industry and for both informative and investment purposes. It is an easy to follow guide allowing you to present to the reader in a clear and concise fashion the nature of your business, its present status and future prospects, in both a text and financial format. The business plan format has evolved over time, requiring you to present your company’s “story” in a manner fitting the times – more like an extended “pitch” meeting than a detailed study. That is not to say that the business plan format here is not all encompassing. It just allows you the ability to present your company’s history, nature, future prospects, etc. in a manner suitable to today’s overburdened, information saturated readership. Take the time to carefully put together the various components needed to prepare a well crafted business plan. Read through the various chapters of this template several times before commencing your writing. Discuss your plan of action with fellow management, key employees, mentors, an accountant and attorney if you have access to them, and other individuals you trust for guidance. Then carefully write each chapter as set out here, except leaving for last, as stated, the Executive Summary. Send the first draft of the plan to at least 3-4 individuals that you feel can best give you input into the process. Be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time thinking about, preparing, discussing and rewriting the plan, especially if you have not prepared a plan before. The real value in preparing a business plan is to allow you the time and effort to really dig into the overall (both macro and micro) workings of your company. Things/matters that you never (or hardly ever) thought about in the past will be revealed to you, whether they are insignificant or crucial to your understanding of your company. You’ll find the process of preparing the plan grueling and tedious at times, but in the end, well worth the time and effort expended. Good luck! 0 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered YOUR COMPANY LOGO HERE COMPANY NAME BUSINESS PLAN Property of: Company Name: Address: Telephone: Fax: Email: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS NOT AN OFFER TO SELL OR A SOLICITATION OF AN OFFER TO PURCHASE THIS INVESTMENT. OFFERS AND SALES WILL BE MADE ONLY PURSUANT TO THE (COMPANY NAME) (COMPANY OFFERING) 1 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary Page 3 Industry Background Page 4 Company Overview Page 5 Services/Products Page 6 Marketing Plan Page 7 Operations Page 8 Intellectual Property Page 9 Strategic Alliances Page 10 Business Structure & Organization Page 11 Risk Factors and Regulatory Compliance Page 12 The Investment Page 13 Financial Projections Page 14 Appendices Page 15 2 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This is the most important section in your business plan. Often the reader will not bother reading the remainder of the plan if he/she is not enthused, from reading this section, about your company and its prospects. In fact, the reader may not get past the first paragraph if you don’t “grab” him/her almost immediately! This section should be a maximum of two pages. You must be specific, clear and concise, yet encompass all of the major topics you’ll deal with in the remainder of the plan. Think of this as a five minute “pitch” session. Don’t attempt to include everything here, just the main points that you feel will “tell your story” in an abbreviated, yet convincing manner. In particular, if this plan is used as an investment proposal, be sure to state clearly the nature of the investment and how the investor will be repaid. Write this section last, and spend an inordinate amount of time and effort on it, for it will pay off handsomely in the end. 3 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered INDUSTRY BACKGROUND The industry your company is situated in, its history and present position in the marketplace, and your company’s position within this industry is discussed in this section. The use of statistics (and /or charts, graphs, etc) to present as positive a picture as possible is helpful. You want to stress the importance of this industry in connection to the marketplace you’re involved in (or better yet worldwide marketplace), and its exceptional prospects for growth in the near future (again statistics are helpful in “painting” a clearer picture). Also, how does your company fit into the overall prospects for growth in this industry? Be concise, specific and convincing-generalities tend to limit the effectiveness of your presentation. 4 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered COMPANY OVERVIEW After the Executive Summary, this section is second in importance in enlightening the reader on your company and its prospects. In three to four paragraphs, you need to inform the reader of the nature of your business, your marketing and sales plan, basic business structure and organization, how your make (or plan on making ) your money (revenue model), and how you plan on expanding/growing in the future. Everything you state in the succeeding chapters, from your services/products to the inherent risks and regulations affecting your business, must be encapsulated in a few short paragraphs to give the reader a sound underpinning of the fundamentals of your company’s operations. 5 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered SERVICE/PRODUCT You want to describe in detail the nature of your product(s) or service(s), its salient features, benefits and attributes, its value to your customers, in terms understandable to an individual/group with little or no knowledge of your industry. Avoid being overly technical, as you can provide specific items (drawings, photos reports, etc.) either in the Appendices section or on request. Discuss the advantage(s) you have over your competition, stressing the “barriers to entry” (unique technologies, cost of production, etc.) your company enjoys and how you’re going to protect this position. Be very specific as to the nature of, say…the uniqueness, proprietary nature, cost to compete, etc. of your product/service. How would certain factors (i.e. technological considerations, government regulations) affect your company and its position in the industry? 6 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered MARKETING PLAN First identify your customer base, the age group, gender, income level, and other specific characteristics that make up your key demographic. Depending on whether you sell directly to the ultimate consumer (b2c), or to another business (b2b), describe your method(s) of distribution to your customer base. If more than one customer group, identify and describe as above each of them. Now identify the competition, both as to services/products and companies. Identify by name your major competitors. Do not minimize their strengths. Instead, mention their weaknesses, and why (and list the reasons) you have a major advantage over them despite their position in your industry. Competition is always part of the marketplace- acknowledge it, but let the reader know why you have the product/service to succeed over the rest (and best). Be specific to assure your reader that your company possesses a certain niche in the marketplace that gives you a clear advantage over the competition. Now outline a marketing strategy that will (or does) allow you to exploit the niche you have in the marketplace. Discuss your pricing policy, how you determined it, any recent change in policy, its overall effectiveness to date and chances for success going forward. Be sure to discuss your policy vis-à-vis your competition, and what role that placed in determining an effective strategy. What methods do you utilize to attract and keep your customer base? What size budget have you allocated to promotional purposes (other than advertising) and how effective has it been to date? How do you measure the effectiveness of your promotional activities? Do you utilize an outside public relations firm to handle these activities? How do you advertise your products/services? What methods have you found to most effective? What various media (television, radio, internet, mobile, etc.) do you utilize and how effective has each one been? How do you measure their effectiveness? What other methods (trade shows, dealer incentives, etc.) do you utilize to promote your products/services? What methods of distribution do you utilize to sell your products or services? Are you a retail or wholesale company? Do you handle all sales “in house” via your own sales personnel, or do you utilize outside representatives/agents? Or, do you go direct to the consumer via digital methods, such as internet or mobile. In all cases, how do you (and how often) do you “test” the quality and effectiveness of your advertising methods/campaigns? 7 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered OPERATIONS This section entails guidelines for primarily companies that either manufacture or wholesale a product(s), though service providers will identify those items that have relevancy to their mode of operations. For those involved in managing manufacturing companies, discuss your entire “production chain,” including production methods, inventory, legal and environmental considerations, personnel and suppliers. Discuss what countries you utilize to manufacture your products. List the reasons for utilization, such as price, tax incentives, quality control, customer service, etc. Will certain legal, environmental, political or economic considerations affect your production choice(s) in the future? Do you source out possible new production outlets on a continual basis? Discuss your overall personnel policies, including number and type of employees, methods for seeking out and securing outstanding employees, the competition to secure and keep key employees, and plans for expanding the personnel role if any and why. List the names of your key suppliers of inventory, your history with them, type of inventory, reliability of suppliers, need for accessing new sources of inventory, and any possible political or economic considerations that could affect your present inventory sources in the future. 8 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY List all of the various assets that your company owns that are included in the intellectual property category. These include patents, trademarks, copyrights, photos, domain names, proprietary information, etc. Be sure to include the names of appropriate regulatory agencies and dates of registration for your copyrights, trademarks, etc. Discuss how the copyrights, etc. provide your company with certain advantages over your competition, particularly if it or they provide “barriers to entry” so vital for securing and maintaining market position. 9 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered STRATEGIC ALLIANCES . List and discuss your key relationships with other individuals/companies that you enjoy in a joint venture, co-marketing, reseller, etc. arrangement. Be sure to stress how these alliances provide advantages to your company that your competition does not have. Demonstrate how these relationships will accelerate your growth, and enhance your products/ services while leveraging your financial, sales and marketing resources. 10 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered BUSINESS STRUCTURE & ORGANIZATION List and discuss your company’s legal status (sole proprietorship, corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.), its executive team, Board of Directors, key employees, advisors and consultants. Include bios on top executives (CEO, COO, CFO, CTO), the Chairman of the Board, and other key employees and advisors. Include all professional affiliations, including your attorney(s), accountant(s) and banking arrangements. Mention any business loans and/or lines of credit established with a financial institution. 11 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered RISK FACTORS AND REGULATORY COMPLIANCE Discuss all the significant risk factors the company faces in fulfilling the goals stated in the business plan. These factors, which might be numerous depending on your company’s status, include a start up or development stage company, intense competition, lack of working capital, regulated industry with strict compliances, high risk industry, loss of investment (see next chapter), etc. It would wise for you to seek the advice of an attorney in connection with preparing this chapter. 12 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered THE INVESTMENT Discuss the nature of the investment, including its legal structure, amount of funds sought, use of funds and your exit strategy. Often a company will set up a specific legal entity in order to solicit funds from investors. This can be, among others, a Private Placement Memorandum, which involves certain state and federal regulations, or a Direct Public Offering, soliciting funds directly from investors, involving simpler procedures and less cost than a full blown registered offering (NOTE: PLEASE SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL IN DETERMINING A PROPER INVESTMENT VEHICLE TO UTILIZE). Explain the details of the particular offering being used. Describe in detail the specific categories that will benefit from your use of funds. First break down by category the use of funds. Then detail/category how and why the funds be will utilized, why it will accelerate your growth, and enhance your products/ services while leveraging your financial, sales and marketing resources. Your use of funds analysis will allow the investor to The “exit strategy” demonstrates to the investor a specific plan of action to return his/her invested capital, and hopefully, provides a satisfactory return on their investment. The various exit strategies include a second (or subsequent) round of financing, a public offering (an “IPO”), or a sale, merger or acquisition that will enable the Company’s investors to achieve a substantial return on their investment. 13 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS The financial projections consist of a three year profit and loss projection, a three year cash-flow projection and a list of assumptions. Taken together, these statements comprise a reasonable estimate of your company's financial future. More important, the process of “crunching the numbers” will improve your insight into the inner financial workings of your company. First prepare the three year cash flow projection on an Excel spreadsheet. The cash flow projection will show whether your working capital is adequate and if you’ll need additional capital infusion during this period of time. Begin with cash in bank that assumes your receipt of the investment funds solicited in your offering. Consider carefully all the income and expense items under the various categories (i.e. sales revenues, interest income, general & administrative expenses, marketing/sales expenses) before tackling this project. (NOTE: CONFERRING WITH A CPA/ACCOUNTANT IS ADVISABLE IN PREPARING THESE STATEMENTS). Then, prepare a separate SUMMARY OF FORECAST ASSUMPTIONS to accompany and explain the previously completed cash flow projections. Categories to use here include capital investment(s), sales forecast, cost of sales, marketing expenses and general and administrative expenses. Next prepare a three year profit and loss projection. This differs in several respects to the cash flow projections. Cash flow projections show the company’s use of cash over the period in question. The company’s income/loss projections show the company’s ability to earn a profit (or loss) over the period in question. The income statement involves most of the same categories as the cash flow projection except for noncash items such as amortization and depreciation, as well as differs in the timing of cash receipts and payments that affect the two projections differently. 14 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered APPENDICES It is advisable to include certain documents and other materials needed to support the statements in the business plan such as company press releases and articles, industry press releases and studies, emails and/or letters of praise from customers, market research studies. Avoid including anything of a proprietary nature such as blueprints, leases, contracts or unpublished material. These items can be provided to interested parties upon request and the signing of an NDA (Nondisclosure Agreement). 15 © Copyright 2013 Docstoc Inc. registered
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