Create a Business Plan Finance Your Business Find a Location Register Your Business Choose a Name Building and Inspection Permits and Licenses Hire Employees Create a Business Plan Your business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable, and plans for reaching them. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals. A well-written business plan will help to make a business credible, understandable, and attractive to someone unfamiliar with the business. This doesn't guarantee success, but will can go a long way towards reducing the chance of failure. Business plans are useful both as a tool to help you thoroughly think through your businesses and as a means of attracting investors, collaborators, and employees. A sample format for a general business plan is detailed below. Depending on your specific business you may wish to omit sections that do not pertain. Business Plan Resources Housed at Rutland Economic Develpment Center (REDC), the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) provides free technical assistance to starting and growing small businesses. Contact VtSBDC Specialist Brian DeClue for assistance. Sample Business Plan Format Cover Page & Table of Contents Use a professional cover page to create a good first impression and provide a well-organized table of contents to help readers navigate the document. Executive Summary Summarize your business and plans for the future in such a way that readers can rapidly become familiar with it without having to read the whole plan. Include background information, concise analysis, and main conclusions. The executive summary has been described as the most important part of a business plan. Mission Statement Communicate the purpose of the business. Although the mission of your business usually remains the same for a long period of time, it is not uncommon for businesses to update their mission statement as the business evolves. Mission statements are normally short and simple. They outline what the purpose of the business is and are related to the specific sector that the businesses operates in. Business Description Describe your business and the product or service that it will provide. Explain how the product or service is different from what other businesses currently offer. What are the features and benefits of your product or service? Competitor Analysis Systematically assess the strengths and weaknesses of your current and potential competitors. Avoid reliance on informal impressions and conjectures based on complete information. Competitor analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context for identifying opportunities and threats. Market Analysis Discuss the dynamics of your target market within the context of your business's industry. Who are your potential customers? Identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business and detail how they will inform your planning, including decisions of inventory, purchase, work force expansion or contraction, facility expansion, purchases of capital equipment, and promotional activities. Marketing Plan Explain how you plan to market your business to potential customers. Describe the business activities involved in accomplishing these specific marketing objectives within a set time frame and the current marketing position of your business. Consider your marketing plan as a technique to help your business decide on the best use of its marketing resources to achieve its desired objectives. Show the steps or actions that will be utilized in order to achieve the plan goals. Operational Plan Describe the goals and objectives of your business. Assess where your business is now, where you want it to be, how you'll get it there, and how progress will be measured. In addition to clearly stating objectives, include details regarding quality standard, desired outcomes, staffing and resource requirements, and implementation timetables. Operational plans should establish the activities and budgets for each aspect of the business for the next one to three years. Organizational & Management Summary Detail relevant information about personnel, anticipated growth, and business organization. State whether your business structure will be a sole proprietorship, an LLC, a partnership or a corporation. Provide information about the management team that will oversee the company and identify any gaps in the team that will need to be filled with new personnel. Include salaries of each person to be involve in the business to provide a bottom line cost for personnel expenditures. Aside from your employees, consider what external support -- attorneys, accountants, public relations professionals, administrative support, etc. -- the business will need. An organizational chart can be a helpful visual for this section. Finances Show your current and projected financial status, including balance sheets, a cash flow statement, and revenue projections. If you're planning to take advantage of any grants, incentives, or loan programs, include details about them. Supporting Documents Include additional documents that support your business plan. These documents should be clearly referenced in the appropriate sections of the plan so that readers can easily understand their significance.