Table of Contents in Business Plan : A well-prepared, appealing written business plan is an essential document in the quest for debt or equity financing, to provide a benchmark against which actual company performance can be compared, and to refine strategies and develop ideas on how the business should be run.
Although a start-up venture’s written business plan must be tailored to the specific business and industry, the essential items in a written business plan will be discussed in this article.
A business plan is a document that clearly communicates what your company does, identifies your goals, and demonstrates to potential investors how you intend to succeed.
It will serve as a road map, advising you on who to target and how to go about doing so.
Creating a business plan also gives your company focus, allowing you to put all of the puzzle pieces together and develop a strategy and plan for how the company will succeed.
Table of Contents in Business Plan
The Table of Contents is an essential component of all types of written material.
From books to essays to business plans, writers must include a table of contents in their work.
But why is this so?
The table of contents offers a few key benefits to both the writer and the written material.
A table of contents, in particular, is useful in a business plan:
Introduces the reader to your business plan.
A professional business plan’s table of contents introduces your new venture to investors, suppliers, and potential business partners.
It gives readers an idea of what they can expect to read in the business plan.
It assists readers in determining the scope of your company.
Financers can see and judge the true magnitude of your new venture because a business plan table of contents breaks down each and every aspect of your new venture.
This demonstrates your attention to detail.
A professional table of contents lists not only sections, but also specific subheadings within each section of the plan.
Every sub-point written will demonstrate to investors the level of detail you’ve worked on, which can persuade them of your serious intentions to start a company.
It facilitates navigation.
If an investor wants to read a specific section of the business plan first, the table of contents will be extremely helpful in locating the relevant sections within the plan.
Readers get a sense of the entrepreneur’s personality.
Finally, the table of contents is a great way to evaluate the entrepreneur.
A business plan table of contents with extremely creative headings and unique wordings demonstrates that the entrepreneur is creative and fun.
This can provide readers with insight into how the entrepreneur will treat his co-workers and the management style he will employ in the business.
Check out our business plan advisor for more information.
It is acceptable if entrepreneurs have little experience creating a quality business plan table of contents.
Our team at Businessplan.org is always available to assist you.
Our professional business plan company has a pool of super-talented business plan writers who can quickly grasp your company’s profile and write compelling professional business plans that will impress your readers.
Our business plan writers are highly skilled at writing in a variety of tones and styles.
When creating the table of contents, we can mimic your writing style to reflect your personality.
Your business plan’s Table of Contents will serve as an organized outline and navigation system.
It should be placed near the beginning of the business plan so that your readers can quickly identify and access the sections that are relevant to their specific interests.
The Table of Contents should clearly state all of the business plan’s major sections, as well as subcategories within each major section.
The Table of Contents usually precedes the Executive Summary.
Sample Table of Contents Outline
|Table of Contents|
|1. Executive Summary………………………….||Page #|
|2. Business Description……………………….||Page #|
|3. Market Analysis………………………………..||Page #|
|4. Competitive Analysis……………………….||Page #|
|5. Sales and Marketing Plan…………………….||Page #|
|6. Ownership and Management Plan…..||Page #|
|7. Operating Plan………………………………….||Page #|
|8. Financial Plan…………………………………..||Page #|
|9. Appendices and Exhibits………………….||Page #|
Showcase your unique selling points (USPs) at a glance with a professionally written business plan table of contents.
Typically, a business plan table of contents includes the following sections:
- Executive summary/abstract
- Mission & vision statements
- Company overview
- Industry/market analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Product & service portfolio description
- Marketing & sales strategies
- Operations strategies
- Financing strategies
- Technology/technical strategies
- Management/leadership overview
1 Planned Project and Preliminary Remarks page 1
2 Company Description page 2
2.1 General page 2
2.2 Service Offer page 3
2.2.1 Consulting and Implementation page 3
2.2.2 Reselling of Security Software page 4
2.2.3 Managed Services page 5
2.3 Pricing Strategy page 5
2.4 Target Clients page 5
2.5 Personnel and Executive Director page 5
2.5.1 Personnel page 5
2.5.2 Executive Director and Company Owner page 6
3 Marketing page 7
3.1.1 Marketing Agency page 8
3.1.2 Attractive Website page 8
3.1.3 SEO-and SEA-Management page 8
3.1.4 Social Media Presence page 8
3.1.5 Information Material page 9
3.1.6 Car Banner page 9
3.1.7 Company Cold Calls page 9
4 Location and Target Region page 10
4.1 Location page 10
4.2 Target Region page 11
5 Market page 12
5.1 Sector Factors page 12
5.2 General Economic Factors page 13
6 Competitive Environment page 14
7 Legal Form page 15
8 Future Planning page 16
9 SWOT Analysis page 17
9.1 Strengths page 17
9.2 Weaknesses page 17
9.3 Opportunities page 17
9.4 Threats page 17
10 Financial Planning and Financing page 18
10.1 Investments / Capital Needs page 18
10.2 Financing page 18
10.3 Sales Forecast page 19
10.4 Material Costs page 23
10.5 Operating Costs page 24
10.5.1 Lease Expenses page 24
10.5.2 Personnel Costs page 24
10.5.3 Marketing Costs page 25
10.5.4 Other Costs page 25
10.6 Depreciation page 25
10.7 Profits page 26
11 Private Expenses page 30
12 Liquidity page 31
What Should the Length of a Business Plan Be?
A good business plan does not have a minimum or maximum page count.
This is due to the fact that the appropriate length is determined by your business.
Your business plan should be brief enough to convey the essentials without redundancy or fluff content, but lengthy enough to demonstrate to your audience that your company has been thoroughly researched and considered.
A simple business plan for a small startup may be 40 pages long, whereas a more complex business plan may be 100 pages long in order to convey an ambitious financing strategy, product diagrams, industry data, or the full scope of the venture.
The goal is to provide a thorough explanation of your company’s pertinent information in a concise and well-organized manner.
Also Read :
SBA Recommendations for Business Plans and Length
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by new entrepreneurs.
“It depends,” is the answer.
Most business experts and counselors recommend 30 to 50 pages as a minimum, though others may recommend less or more depending on their own personal preferences.
Nothing could be further from the truth, as Business Plans are written for a specific audience and may include other factors that influence the length.
According to the SBA, a business plan should be as long as necessary to entice the financing source, demonstrate that management truly understands the market, and detail the execution strategy.
According to various surveys conducted by a variety of organizations, the minimum length to accomplish this is 25 to 100 pages of information, depending on a variety of factors.
Targeted markets (1 to 2 pages), difficult assumptions or non-industry data (1 to 3 pages), industry risk (1 page), poor credit factors requiring additional explanation or documentation (2 to 4 pages), and financing source (1/2 to 1 page) are examples.
A business plan can range in size from 38 to 50 pages for a basic plan to 80 to 100 pages for complex plans, according to the SBA model on page two.
Why is the SBA concerned?
We are concerned that anything less may lead the capital source to believe that the business model has not been thoroughly thought out, or that they simply did not have enough information to make a good credit decision.
A “start-up” business plan should provide a realistic view of the new venture’s expectations and long-term goals.
It should provide the framework within which it must operate and, ultimately, whether it will succeed or fail.
For entrepreneurs looking for outside help, such as financing, the plan is the most important sales document they will ever create, as it could be the key to raising funds.
The preparation of a business plan does not guarantee success in obtaining a loan or mobilizing support, but the absence of a solid plan that can tell the story will undoubtedly fail.
Please do not confuse a business plan with a “loan proposal” or a “Executive Summary.”
A loan proposal is typically a summary of a business plan (generally less than 10 pages) used by established businesses seeking financing for a specific need.
These are companies that have been in operation for at least five years.
The most important section of your business plan is the Executive Summary.
It gives a brief overview of the entire plan as well as a history of your company.
This section informs your reader about where your company is and where you want it to go.
It’s the first thing your readers see, so it’ll either pique their interest and make them want to keep reading, or it’ll make them want to put it down and forget about it.
This section is crucial above all because it explains to the reader why you believe your business idea will be successful.
The executive summary should be the final section that you write.
After you’ve worked out all of the details of your plan, you’ll be able to summarize it – and it should be a four-page summary.
We believe one to two pages should suffice.
The Executive Summary’s Contents
The Mission Statement – The mission statement summarizes your company’s main focus.
Two words, two sentences, a paragraph, or even a single image could suffice.
It should be as direct and focused as possible, leaving the reader with a clear picture of what your company is all about.
When did the company start?
The names of the founders and the roles they play
Employee count and business location, including branches or subsidiaries
Plant or facility description Products manufactured/services provided
Banking connections and information on current investors
Financial and market highlights are included in a summary of the company’s growth (e.g. your company doubled its worth in 12-month period; you became the first company in your industry to provide a certain service)
a synopsis of management’s future plans
Except for the mission statement, all information in the Executive Summary should be highlighted in a brief, even bulleted, manner.
Remember that these details are covered in greater detail later in the plan.
If you’re just starting out, you won’t have much information to plug into the above-mentioned areas.
Instead, concentrate on your background and experience, as well as the decisions that led you to start this particular business.
Include information about the problems your target market is experiencing and the solutions you offer.
Demonstrate how your expertise will enable you to make significant inroads into the market.
Persuade your reader that what you’re going to do differently or better is necessary, and that there is a genuine need for your service or product.
Include a table of contents directly following your executive summary to help the reader locate specific sections of your business plan.
Make sure the content titles are broad; in other words, avoid using detailed descriptions in your table of contents.
Some people believe that a multi-page plan is too complex to describe in 25 to 50 pages, particularly when the business model is simple, such as a one-person landscaping business.
While this is occasionally true, the business plan is intended to tell the entire story.
The entrepreneur, on the other hand, must “boil down” the plan into its essential components.
Keep in mind that business plans, like all correspondence, are written for a specific audience.
In many cases, the SBA lender WILL REQUIRE COMPLETE INFORMATION BEFORE DECIDING TO FUND THE NEW BUSINESS.
Many new entrepreneurs believe that the plan will be read by the bank president or BDO.
Most do not, and instead provide a cursory review or “pre-qualify assessment,” focusing on the plan’s Executive Summary while passing the entire business plan on to an Underwriter.
These are your “targeted audiences” as they analyze the plan’s details – and they DO require detail in order to make an informed recommendation.
While the body of the business plan may be 50 or more pages long (and even more for complex structures or needs), the use of an Appendix for supplemental information is invaluable.
The Appendix should include a complete set of financial projections, as well as, as needed, technical and/or operational drawings, partnership and/or customer agreements, expanded competitor reviews, and lists of key customers.
Do you require any additional information?
Visit http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/writeabusinessplan/index.html for more information.
SBA’s Elements of a Good Business Plan
Part 1: The Beginning (3 to 5 pages)
A high-quality binder is required to store the information.
Attractive Cover Page to Capture Readers’ Attention (1 page)
To pique your interest, here is an executive summary (1 to 2 pages)
To make it easier, there is a table of contents (1 page)
To make it easier to navigate the plan, use page numbers and dividers.
Part 2: Market Research (9 to 22 pages)
The market analysis section should demonstrate your understanding of your industry.
It should also present general highlights and conclusions from any marketing research data you have gathered; however, specific details of your marketing research studies should be moved to your business plan’s appendix section.
Description and Prospects for the Industry (1 to 2 pages)
Identifying Your Ideal Customer (2 to 8 pages)
Characteristics that set you apart.
The primary target market’s size.
Your target pricing and gross margins.
You will use media to reach your target audience.
Your potential customers’ purchasing cycle.
Trends and potential changes that could have an impact on your primary target market.
Risks in the industry (1 to 2 pages)
Analysis of Competitors (1 to 3)
Assessment of strengths includes:
1. The ability to meet the needs of customers while also benefiting from the current economic upturn
2. A sizable market share and the consumer awareness that comes with it
3. A proven track record and a positive reputation
4. Consistent financial resources and the resulting staying power
5. Important personnel
Assessment of flaws includes: 1. A high investment cost
2. The time it takes to establish your business and the current economic downturn
3. Technological advancements
4. a scarcity of qualified personnel
5. Customer aversion (i.e., long-standing relationships, brand loyalty)
6. Existing patents and trademarks that you are not permitted to infringe on
Key personnel should have résumés that detail their ability to manage a business and what specialized small business training they have recently completed (1 to 4 pages)
Restrictions, Licensing, or Special Permitting (1 page)
Revenue projections for the next five years based on market data and assumptions
(one to two pages)
Part 3: Business Description (1 to 2 pages)
Without going into specifics, this section should provide a high-level overview of how all of your company’s components fit together.
The company description section should include information about the nature of your business as well as a list of the primary factors that you believe will lead to the success of your business.
Section 4: Organization and Management (3 to 5 pages)
This section should include information about your company’s organizational structure, ownership details, management team profiles, and the qualifications of your board of directors.
Structure of the Organization (Organisational Chart) (1 page)
Information such as: (1 page)
The extent to which you are involved with the company
Ownership Structures (i.e., common stock, preferred stock, general partner, limited partner)
Equity equivalents that are outstanding (i.e., options, warrants, convertible debt)
The common stock (i.e., authorized or issued)
Resumes with compensation basis and levels (half to one page)
Qualifications for the Board of Directors
If necessary, provide a summary (1/2 to 1 page).
Part 5: Marketing and Sales Techniques (4 to 6 pages)
Marketing is the process of acquiring customers, and customers are your company’s lifeblood.
The first step in this section is to define your marketing strategy.
There is no one way to approach a marketing strategy; your strategy should be part of an ongoing self-evaluation process and tailored to your business.
However, there are steps you can take to help you think through the strategy you want to use.
Strategy for market penetration (1/2 to 1 page)
Distribution Channels Strategy (1/2 to 1 page)
Strategy for communication (1/2 to 1 page)
Sales Strategy in General (1 page)
(1/2 page) Sales force strategy
Activities relating to sales (1 to 2 pages)
Section 6: Product or Service (4–10 pages).
What do you have to offer?
What is the nature of your offering?
Describe your service or product in this section, emphasizing the benefits to potential and current customers.
Concentrate on areas where you have a distinct advantage.
Determine the problem in your target market that your service or product solves.
Provide hard evidence to the reader that people are or will be willing to pay for your solution.
Description of your product or service in detail (1 to 3 pages)
Benefits specific to a product or service (1/2 to 1 page)
Life cycle of a product or service (1/2 to 1 page)
(1/2 to 2 pages) Copyright, patent, and relevant trade secret information
Exiting legal agreements, nondisclosure or non-compete agreements, if any (half to one page)
Activities in research and development – yours and industry’s (1 to 2 pages)
Part 7: Request for Funding & Equity Investment (2 to 4 pages)
In this section, you will specify how much money you intend to invest or have already invested in the business.
Determine the exact (no estimates!) amount of funding you will require to begin, and ensure that it is specifically related to your Financial Plan.
If necessary, include different funding scenarios, such as best and worst case scenarios, but keep in mind that you must be able to back up these requests and scenarios with corresponding financial statements and projections later in the financial section.
Include any strategic information about your company that may have an impact on your financial situation in the future, such as going public, having a leveraged buyout, being acquired by another company, the method by which you will service your debt, or whether or not you plan to sell your business in the future.
Each of these factors is critical to an SBA lender because they will have a direct impact on your ability to repay your loan (s).
Part 8: Financial Details (12 to 25 pages)
THIS SECTION IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR BUSINESS PLAN AND REQUIRES A LOT OF WORK.
ENSURE THAT YOUR FINANCIAL DATA IS REVIEWED BY A PROFESSIONAL, SUCH AS YOUR ACCOUNTANT.
After you’ve researched the market and established clear goals, you should create financials.
That is when you can efficiently allocate resources.
The critical financial information listed below should be included in your business plan packet.
Owners’ Current Financial Information –
Personal financial statements in ink, signed and dated.
(one to five pages)
Historical financial data (existing businesses) prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles for three fiscal years (Balance Sheets, Profit and Loss Statements, Notes, Source/Use of Cash, and Net Worth Reconciliation).
A list of all debts owed to date, including the creditor’s name, amount owed, terms, collateral, and current status (1 page)
Forecasted 5-Year Financial Projection of Income and Expenses, beginning with monthly or quarterly and progressing to annual in the third through fifth years.
Using a beginning and ending cash balance, create a 24-month cash flow budget.
(one to two pages)
Financial Assumptions and Financial Information Footnotes ( 1 to 4 pages)
Short financial analysis that includes a ratio and trend analysis for all of your financial data (1/2 to 1 page)
Charts and graphs – Because pictures are more powerful than words, include graphs of your trend analysis (1 to 3 pages)
A letter of certification or review from a third-party financial advisor indicating that the information complies with GAAP (1 to 2 pages)
Make certain that your projections correspond to your funding requests, as all potential credit sources will be looking for inconsistencies and few, if any, will allow you to correct problems they have discovered.
It’s much better if you catch errors before they happen, as it can mean the difference between approval and decline.
Make sure your projection assumptions provide enough detail and source information to stand on their own.
This means that the lender can easily identify the source of the income or expense, why this amount was generated, and what the basis for the item is, rather than leaving the reader guessing what you mean.
Often, the bank’s guess differs significantly from yours, which may lead to the loan being denied.
- In our research, we found that a proposal with media like photos and videos included is 32% more likely to close.
- According to data, 92% of customers are more likely to trust earned media, like recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
- We also grew the Chicago Real Estate Solutions Facebook page from 0 to 5,000 in six months, secured 250 new leads in that time frame, with 25% converting to sales.
- and “We’ve helped more than 700 companies increase their sales by 35% to date!”
- Based on our information, about 65% of proposals containing a signature block close within 24 hours.
- Based on the proposals we looked at, you are 30% more likely to close a deal if you send a series of reminders to keep your proposal top of mind.