Business Plan Project

Guidelines For Developing a Business Plan

General Guidelines

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Business plans are business communications rather than an academic paper. The purpose of such communications is to provide the basis for business decisions. The reward here is for being concise and precise. This is not the place to show all that you have learned in your MBA program. Use what you have learned to choose the most critical information to include. The more clearly the business plan can be written, the more effective they will be.

Business plans are used to acquire capital and to guide the operation. For these reasons, keys to a successful plan are in substantiating the viability of the venture. A business plan includes a clear statement of the nature of a business venture, the business opportunity, the steps to be taken to capitalize on the opportunity, and the financial requirements. Research in this option is primarily in quantifying the opportunity and the competitive situation. When used to acquire capital, the business plan must create a clear, coherent, persuasive argument on behalf of the business. When used to guide the operation, the plan must also be clear and coherent as it provides specific guidance for the business.

The Business Plan format provides an opportunity for students to develop an actual, workable business plan for a new business or existing company.

 

Guidelines for the Project

A business plan is not a thesis and therefore does not involve a thesis-type literature review. However, a business plan does require research. At a minimum, marketing research is needed in order to quantify the opportunity which will include determining the total demand, the unmet demand, how competitors are or could satisfy this demand, how your offering is to be distinctive in this market, and your reasonable sales projections at your proposed selling prices.

Marketing research for an existing product in a new market involves an analysis of demographics and customer profiles in markets where the product is currently being sold successfully, and the comparison of such demographics and customer profiles to those of the proposed new market. The proposal should cite the specific sources from which such data are obtainable.

One of the most common problems with students’ business plans is the lack of connection between the market demand and the financial statements. There often is little or no foundation for the projected revenue figures cited, including initial sales and sales growth. Make sure this connection is crystal clear since failure to accomplish this task will result in a project that is unsatisfactory.

Content and Organization of the Business Plan Project

Title Page
The title page is not numbered.

Table of Contents
This table is also numbered with lower case Roman numerals.

Executive Summary
The purpose of an Executive Summary is to write a brief description of your plan that allows the reader to gain the essence of the entire plan in less than two pages. It is intended to give a busy executive the key information and lead the reader to the sections that will answer the executive’s primary questions. It is not an introduction to the plan, as you may have written in typical papers. This Executive Summary, although positioned first in the project, should actually be written last. In this way you know what you are summarizing. Writing it earlier will cause it to tend towards a traditional introduction.

This section begins the Arabic numbering of pages, beginning with “1.”

 

The Business Plan Project
The Business Plan must include the following topics. Various Business Plans organize this information in different orders but this content must be included. Chose an outline that most effectively builds the argument that this project is viable and has an acceptable risk.

 Introduction
 Purpose of the plan (attract investors, diversification, etc.)
 Introduction to market opportunity
 The Company

 Market
 Industry Overview
 The history of the industry
 Size of the Industry
 Industry Evolution
 The trend-Where the industry is expected to be in 5 or 10 years
 The key players in the industry
 Barriers to entering the market
 Competition strengths and weaknesses
 Product and Industry Life Cycles
 How does the position in the Product Life Cycle affect this business plan?
 How does the position in the Industry Life Cycle affect this business plan?
 Target market
 What is the unsatisfied need that creates the business opportunity?
 Major characteristics of the target market (what does the customer look like?)
 What is the demand of this target market?
 What are total sales to this market in geographic area?
 What are total sales expected in 5 years? In 10 years?
 What percentage of this demand does this business expect to capture?
 Product or Service Research and Development

 Environmental scan
 Significant factors in the macro environment
 Nature of the competition
 Clear statement of the opportunities and threats

 Company Description (proposed new organization)
 Type of Business and Legal Structure, e.g., LLC, sole proprietorship
 Mission and Objectives
 Distinctive Core Competencies

 Management and Ownership
 Board of directors and Rationale for Members
 Management staff structure
 Key managers
 Future Additions to the Current Management Team

 Marketing Activities
 Overall Marketing Strategy
 Specific marketing mix
 Strengths and weaknesses in ability to satisfy target market needs

 Products and Services
 Detailed Product/Service Description
 Product Life Cycle
 Copyrights, Patents, and Intellectual Property Rights
 Research and Development Activities

 Risk Management
 Loss Control
 Retention of Personnel
 Insurance

 Operations
 Production and Service Delivery Procedures
 Supply Chain

 Financial Analysis
 Funds required and their uses
 Current funding requirements
 Funding requirements over the next three years
 Use of funds

Conclusions and Recommendations
 Conclude whether or not it is a viable business venture ( or a viable business/strategic path for the client company
 Explain why the student should or should not pursue the business venture at this time (or why or why not the client business should pursue the path under investigation)

References
This section continues with the Arabic numbering of pages. Only sources of information that have actually been cited in the project are included here.

Appendices
The appendices continued with the Arabic numbering of pages from the previous section. The actual titling of the appendices receives letter designations, rather than numbers. Therefore, you would have Appendix A, Appendix B, not Appendix 1, or Appendix 2.

This section includes information that is too detailed to be included in its entirety in the body of the project. This would include raw data, sample questionnaires, and detailed computations. This section would also include information that is referred to but is not essential to the project, such as relevant policies, laws, forms, pamphlets, sample letters sent to organizations and subjects, or subject consent forms.

 

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