Business plan outline
What is a detailed business plan?
A business plan describes what you want to do with your business and how it will be done. By writing down the details of how to bring your idea into reality, you will have figure out answers to why, what, who, how, where, when, and how much for your startup. Writing a business plan will make you look closely at your idea and how you will turn it into a business.
Before you get started, copy the Detailed Business Plan template to your Google Drive and start writing your own!
Why should I write a long business plan?
The length depends on the audience for your plan. If you’re going to use the plan to search for potential bank loans or equity capital from a potential investor, then the Detailed Business is right for you!
Before you spend too much time on the details. Checkout our Mini Business Plan to quickly identify your potential customers and think through how to make your product or service unique.
How do I write a detailed business plan?
The person reading your business plan will need a full description of what your product or service will be to get a better understanding for how to support you or even to decide whether or not to provide you with funding. We developed a 9 section approach to give your audience all the details they need, but feel free to skip to sections where you might need the most guidance .
The Product or Service – what do you do that people need or want?
The Customer and the Market – who are they?
The Competition and the Industry – who are you up against?
Sales Channels and Marketing
Pricing Model – what do you charge and why?
Partnerships – who are your partners?
Risk Mitigation and Exit Strategy
1. The Product or Service
The person reading your business plan will need a description of what your product or service will be and how it will be used. You can also identify cool and unique features and benefits, and discuss what needs or problems they address in the market.In this section, you can include a general description, including the business idea (new or existing) and objective.
Example business idea: Sell T-Shirts online (only) with unique logo designs on the pocket, 20% of profits will go to a Chilean orphanage.
Example business objective: I want my clothing line to help people feel like they stand for something.
2. The Customer and the Market
In this section, you will discuss the market you want to enter. This foundation will help you prove that a market exists for your product or service and narrow the range of potential customers to the ones who are willing and able to buy your product. Here, you will define your target market, provide evidence of demand and research the potential for your target market to grow.
Here are some examples to help define your market
Target market: I want my products to be used by middle-class men and women around 20-35.
Demand: Reports from “All Knowing Research” have proven a 20% growth in the T-shirt market for the next 5 years. *ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE
Growth potential: I can grow my clothing item selection to tanks or even create a new logo ‘series’ to attract other customers.
3. The Competition and the Industry
In this section, you will discuss your approach to your market. This section is important because you have to keep in mind that your efforts to reach your potential customers and make money will be limited by similar businesses. Here, you will describe your competitive advantage, unique selling point, retail and online only competitors, trends. To find out more information on your competitors and trends, you can easily run an online search on your product or service type, just make sure to use reports and articles from reputable sources.
Here are some examples to describe your customer
Competitive advantage: I will provide high quality materials and shopping with a purpose.
Unique selling point: 20% of our profits will serve to clothe children in a Chilean Orphanage. The T-Shirts will be unisex and the cut style will be longer in the back than the front. The back part of the shirt will also have a center slit and the short sleeves will be folded.
Competitors: Charitable clothing brands in store and online only retailers
Trends: Findings from Accenture’s Global Consumer Pulse Survey revealed that at least 50% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that “support and act upon causes they have in common (e.g. social, charitable)”
4. Sales Channels and Marketing
In this section, you can include a general description for how you will reach your customers including sales channels and a marketing strategy. A good marketing plan should have a defines budget and focus on your target segment so ask yourself, what is the best way to get your message in front of this group? On the other hand, distribution decisions should concentrate on the methods and channels that will optimize your sales and profits. In the sales and distributions section, you will define your business reach, channels and strategic partnerships. In the marketing strategy section, will define how you will attract new customers, the steps you have already taken, and your future budget.
Here is an example to define distribution and sales channels
Reach, Local: I will sell T-shirts only in San Francisco
Sales channels: I will sell online only
Partnerships: Ideally, I would like to partner with a local San Francisco department store to carry my T-shirts
Here are some examples to help define your marketing strategy
Attract new customers: I will market my business on social media, specifically on Instagram and Twitter.
Steps already taken: I have created Instagram and Twitter business accounts.
Budget: A quick online search revealed that typically, business spend between $200 to $350 per day, so I will start with $200 per month.
5. Pricing Model
In this section, you will discuss what you will charge for your product and why. There are many pricing models available, from simple one-off (or per unit) to sophisticated subscription models. As you make your pricing decisions, make sure you’re thinking about your cost to produce your product or service and use that as a baseline ,or “floor”, on your price. You should also think about how much other products or services similar to yours sell for in the market. In this section, you will define your sales model, explain the why you chose your pricing model, and list estimate selling prices for your products.
Sales model: “One-off” sales (or price per unit)
Pricing model: I chose this pricing model because I am selling individual products. Other retail businesses, like Fabletics, offer a subscription based pricing model, but they offer a much larger product inventory. I did not think it would provide any additional benefit to use anything other than one-off sales.
$18.99, T-Shirt with our signature cut style, no pocket design
$20.00, T-Shirt with our signature cut style and pocket design 1
$25.00, T-Shirt with our signature cut style and pocket design 2
In this section, you will discuss who you want to bring on as potential partners. You will define who can help you sell your product or services, determine how to make your product, describe what was your logic to select your partner, create a communication plan, think through a backup plan and backup partners.
Partners: I will partner with High Quality Cuts to cut and print my T-shirts
Vendor/Manufacturer: High Quality Cuts will cut and print my t-shirts in the styles I design
Logic for partnership: They have a lot of experience with national t-shirt manufacturing processes, allow me to select a variety of different ‘pre-made’ cut styles OR custom styles. The have also had great success in the local San Francisco.
Partner communication: I have made the initial call to High Quality Cuts. They requested design samples for both the cut style and logos so they can give me a manufacturing quote.
Backup plan: If High Quality Cuts has a really high quote, I will have to find another manufacturer. I have already found a couple more companies I would be interested in partnering with.
Manufacturing: Alternative companies - Soft Cotton, San Fran Cuts
Distributors: Will hire employees to drive and/or bike to deliver my customer’s orders.
Marketing companies: Currently, not needed. I will create and run all social media marketing campaigns myself.
In this section, you will define the stuff that needs to happen for you to launch and run your business successfully. Some important aspects you should think about should include if you will need to hire employees and how to protect your protect your business from imitators especially if you have innovative products. In this section, you will define a realistic timeline, determine your biggest expenses, define your plan to hire employees, determine if you will need to rent a location to house your store or products and decide if you want to create a trademark or copyright (also known as intellectual property).
3 months before launch: Ensure inventory is on time for launch. Ensure website or selling platform is live and functional, continue testing with sample users to fix bugs and issues.
1 month before launch: Begin marketing my business to incentivize “pre-orders”
1 month after launch: Ensure all orders are delivered on time, continue marketing
6 months after launch: Evaluate demand forecast and modify business plan as needed
1 year after launch: Consider expanding and hiring 1 or 2 more people
2 years after launch: Re-evaluate business plan
Inventory, actual t-shirts
Delivery, hiring 1/2 additional employees to deliver t-shirts in the local San Francisco area
Marketing, monthly social media marketing budget
Hiring employees: I will find employees by asking friends and family first since I only need 1/2 more people to help me fulfill orders on an on-call basis.
Lease agreements: Currently not needed, but I might need to look into it if year 1 goes well, order volume increases and I can no longer store my inventory at home.
Intellectual property: I want to trademark my company logo and copyright all original t-shirt designs.
8. Risk Mitigation and Exit Strategy
This section will help you prepare for some of the typical obstacles new businesses have to overcome. You should outline your plan for complying with relevant regulations and keep in mind that every business is subject to local, state, and federal regulation. Typical examples include legal requirements, poorly estimated sales forecasts, customers refusing to pay or taking too long to pay, poor performance from key suppliers and lack of exit strategy.
Legal requirements: San Francisco requires a small business license
Sales: I expect to sell X t-shirts in the first 6 months to offset my costs. If I sell less than X, I will not make any profit. If that happens, I will
Non-payment from customers: Becasue my business is online, purchases will not be completed if credit/debit card information is not processed so this will not be a problem for me.
Failed key suppliers: If my suppliers deliver my orders late, I will
Exit strategy: I will consider selling my business 3 years after launch if the right offer is on the table.
9. The Team
In this section, you will define who, if anyone, is helping you launch your business.
After describing who the key people are, you will want to describe how you will organize each person’s responsibilities and authorities for the efficient operation of your business.
You will define who is currently involved, what their time commitments are and how much they have or are willing to invest financially.
Current team: My sister and I
My sister is not spending any time to develop the business, but has loaned me $5,000 to start. She expects to be paid back within the first year after opening or receive 10% ownership.
I am developing the business part time, after work and have invested all my savings.
Why is writing a business plan for my business important?
A business plan is important because it helps provide direction by making you discuss where you want to take your business and define what you want out of it. It also provides structure to your thinking and helps you make sure you’ve covered all of the important areas. And it forces you to start thinking about the future, like how you will deal with your competitors after your business launches.
We want you to be aware that the financial (sales and pricing) sections of your business plan will be examined closely by those interested in joining you, investing in the venture, or lending you money. They will want to know how you will use invested funds to create a successful business. So make sure it is thorough and as accurate as possible.