Business Plan Outline

The business plan is perhaps the most important written document you can ever create. It describes all critical internal and external elements and strategies for guiding the direction of your venture’s first several years as well as giving potential investors an idea of the venture’s structure, objectives, and future plans. It communicates important entrepreneurial management practices, such as how your venture will mitigate risk, and how your venture will manage uncertainty.

Our business plan outline simply follows the content and approach of our educational program.

We recommend that the total length of your business plan be no more than 15 to 20 pages. Each Value Driver should be one page (for a total of 10 pages) with 3 to 5 paragraphs for each page. Your financial section should be limited to 3 to 5 pages (the notes and assumptions can be embedded on the spreadsheets) and your Executive Summary should also be 3 to 5 pages.


Executive Summary
– Be sure to have all your key contact information listed here
– Keep it brief (3–5 pages)
– Highlight only the most important discussions of your business plan


I. New Business Venture Opportunity and Analysis
A. Opportunity Analysis and Opportunity Formation
1. Discuss your Eureka moment
2. Discuss the key strategic inflection point in your industry
3. What is the source of pain? Who says so?
4. What is your problem statement?
B. Industry Dynamics and Risk Analysis
1. Define your space
2. Describe competitor risk
3. Describe technology transition risk
4. Describe substitute risk
5. Describe customer risk
6. Describe resource risk
C. Discuss Your Work with Lead Users
1. Who has been integrated and why?
2. Discuss how you used lead user insights
3. Who can you sell to now?
D. Discuss Your Unique Solution
1. SWOT analysis
2. Competitor analysis
3. What is your solution statement?

II. Business Strategy and Competitive Advantage
A. Your Business Strategy
1. Discuss your approach to crafting one
2. Discuss your performance metrics
3. Define your core competencies
4. Describe your strategic vision
B. Your Competitive Advantage
1. Discuss how it was selected
2. Discuss how it is sustainable
C. Your Business Model
1. What company do you model and why?
D. Your Intellectual Property
1. What is your Intellectual Property?
2. How you intend to manage IP?
3. How you intend to profit from IP?

III. Venture Team Development and Management
A. Discuss the Lead Entrepreneur and Founders
B. Discuss the Venture Team
1. How did it come together?
2. How is it structured?
3. How are the members compensated?
4. What are the gaps in the team?
5. How/when will the gaps be filled?
C. Venture Team Management Issues
1. Who makes the decisions?
2. How are they made?
3. How are conflicts handled?
D. Legal Issues
1. Describe the corporate structure
2. Describe the capital structure
E. Your External Team
1. Discuss your professional service providers
2. Discuss your board of advisors
3. Discuss your board of directors

IV. Controlling and Allocating Critical Capital Resources
A. Product Development Issues
1. Technology strategy
2. Product specifications
3. Discuss your short-term objectives
B. Resources Required to Launch
1. Describe the exact resources required
2. Define clear milestones
3. Who is responsible for milestones and resources?
C. Describe Financing Strategy to Date
1. Bootstrapping and self-financing
2. Early sales
3. Strategic partnerships and alliances

V. Market Entry Strategy
A. Discuss the Value Web in Your Industry
1. Discuss your value chain link by link
B. Your Market Entry Strategy
1. How was it selected?
2. What are others doing?
C. Discuss Your Value Map
1. Describe your traction
2. Describe your barriers to entry

VI. Marketing and Sales Strategies
A. Discuss Your Objectives
1. Technical objectives
2. Strategic objectives
3. Financial objectives
B. Discuss Your Sales Crusader
1. If not the CEO, say why
2. Why selected?
3. How compensated?
C. Discuss Your Sales Tactics
1. Catalysis sales approach
2. Circling back to lead users
D. Your Revenue Model
1. Define and map out exactly when “the check clears”
2. Describe your sales titration process
3. Discuss your marketing and sales controls

VII. Managing Rapid Growth
A. Discuss Your Growth Strategy
1. Why and how selected?
2. Discuss examples, models of similar success stories
B. Discuss Your Transition to Professional Management Structure
1. What are the changes on the horizon and why?
2. When are the changes on the horizon?
3. What are the expected results?
C. Discuss Growth Wall
1. What is the typical growth wall in your industry?
2. How do companies overcome the growth wall?
3. What are you doing today to prevent this stall?
D. Managing in High-Growth Environment
1. Discuss how you will become a recruiting machine
2. Discuss your compensation and stock packages for recruits
3. Discuss ideas on how to manage in difficult times

VIII. Managing the Networked Enterprise
A. Discuss Your “Womb-to-Tomb” strategy of support
1. Enterprise specific
2. Customer specific
3. Strategic partner specific
B. Customer Collaboration
1. Discuss how you will collaborate via the Internet
C. Discuss Economics of Networking
1. Recurring revenues
2. Customer support
3. Time-to-market issues, new product development
4. Getting customer “lock-on”
D. Network Management
1. Discuss how it will be developed and maintained
2. Discuss objectives and milestones
3. Discuss costs and fees

IX. Financing Strategy
A. Describe Your Path
1. How much is needed?
2. When is it needed?
3. How will it be used?
4. Who is being targeted?
5. What do they get?
B. Pro Forma Income Statement
C. Pro Forma Balance Sheet
D. Statement of Stockholders’ Equity
E. Capital Requirements
F. Assumptions and Notes to Financials
G. Discuss Your Valuation
1. Methodology used
2. Discuss comparables

X. Exit Strategy and Exit Goals
A. Describe Your Options
B. Discuss Initial Public Offering
1. Activity and comparables in your space
C. Discuss Merger & Acquisition
1. Activity and comparables in your space
D. Discuss Triggering Events for Exiting
1. What are the goals and expectations for the venture team?


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SOURCE: Roadmap To Entrepreneurial Success