Startup Business Plan Template
No matter the business you are running, the Executive Summary portion of your plan is the single most important part of the document. It is how you introduce your business to your potential investors (or other person you are trying to sell the idea of your business to) and the most important part of the Executive Summary is the opening paragraph. Think of it as the introduction to the introduction. Explain exactly how you conceived your business, introduce yourself, and give a basic description of the what and where.
Next, you should describe your mission in running your business. Are you striving to provide the most cost-effective option in your industry? Perhaps you are offering high-end customizable services in an industry that is largely populated with cookie cutter businesses. Either way, state your mission and the kinds of competitive advantages that will help you accomplish that mission.
There are lots of other bits of information you will fill out your Executive Summary including (but not limited to) the following:
Location – Talk about what your location means to your business. This is obviously more important for some businesses than others.
People – If your business is being run with the help of a niche expert famous within your industry, include them in your executive summary. Nothing helps differentiate one startup from another than a wealth of expertise.
Facilities – In some industries, the facilities in which you operate, whether it is about creating a special atmosphere or housing special equipment, may offer a competitive advantage above others in your industry.
Paint your reader a concise picture with which they can develop a backdrop against which they review the details of the rest of your plan. There are going to be all sorts of assumptions that you need to make when selling your vision to someone else. Make it easy for the other person to make those assumptions.
Additionally, if you are looking for funding, you may want to place something similar to the following at the bottom:
In order to fulfill our vision we will require [AMOUNT] in capital, which will be allocated roughly according to the following table:
Use of Capital
If we are fully capitalized, we hope to be profitable by [TIME].
It is incredibly important to think this through and come up with a logical, but more-than-sufficient amount for you to get your business of the ground. Keep in mind that the biggest reason new businesses fail is undercapitalization. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you believe you will need (and maybe a little more to be safe). Just keep it realistic.
No matter what kind of business you run, keeping your clientele happy is what is going to keep you profitable. Your first step in developing your marketing plan is to envision your clientele. Who they are will depend on a wide variety of factors including – your industry, your location, the nature of your business, whether you sell services or products, and the list goes on… Get to know the people you will be trying to reach by knowing your business inside and out before earning your first dollar. This is something you want, above all else, to get right the first time.
Getting to know your competition is another important step in this process. You need to understand their businesses, how they succeed, and where they lack and describe that in this document. By giving a comprehensive profile of your competition, you will paint the picture to your reader as to why your marketing plan will work, as your marketing plan must be tailored to highlight strengths of your business in areas where your competitors are weaker.
Our Specific Marketing Plan
You need to reach your potential clientele and you need to reach them in a way that your competitors are not reaching them already otherwise it is going to be more difficult to pull them away. So, with that in mind, you have set this section up with your previous two. Develop the plan, and get detailed as to how you will attract people into your business. Just make sure you do it within the framework you have already created so that it makes sense to your reader.
This section is obviously more dependent upon the nature of your business than any other. Describe your products or services that you will offer in detail and focus on the main attraction. For example:
If you are running a restaurant, then feature some of your main dishes, complete with pictures.
If you are running a real estate development company (this section would probably be entitled “Our Properties” describe the types of houses you will look to acquire and what the finished product will entail.
If you are running a health club, describe the types of membership plans and classes you will offer.
Your operations plan is detail-oriented and describes what is going on behind the scenes – your suppliers, your personnel, and every other detail that keeps you running. Not only is it important to convey to a potential investor but writing it out helps you understand what it will take to keep your business running.
You may or may not need suppliers depending on your line of business but if you do, you should describe:
Any current or agreed-to-in-principle agreements with any suppliers that you have, including pertinent terms;
Any supplier agreements that you will have to seek out to get your business going and the terms you will seek; and
Advantages or difficulties you may face in seeking out such suppliers.
Beyond the executive board and the board of directors – the people that oversee the big picture stuff – who is going to be running your business on a day-to-day basis? Will you need managers? Clerks? People answering phones? Give your reader a good idea of how many people you need to be paying on a daily basis to get up and running and what those people will be doing.
Certain businesses – like construction and food service, for instance – may require certain licenses in order to operate. List those and any ongoing costs to maintain those licenses.
Lay out your expenses in an easy to read table that clearly illustrates what you expect to spend on a regular basis:
We expect our monthly outlay of expenses to approximate to the following:
Type of Expense
If you are looking for investors, this is a particularly important section as investors like to invest in ideas and the people behind those ideas. Nothing differentiates a business more than a great mind behind it, or one with unique experience in a pertinent industry. Beyond your industry experience and your education, get into some personal details that allow your reader and potential investor to feel a personal connection with you and supplement it with a headshot.