Intro to Business Plans

"A good business plan follows generally accepted guidelines for both form and content. There are three primary parts to a business plan:

The first is the business concept, where you discuss the industry, your business structure, your particular product or service, and how you plan to make your business a success.

The second is the marketplace section, in which you describe and analyze potential customers: who and where they are, what makes them buy and so on. Here, you also describe the competition and how you'll position yourself to beat it.

Finally, the financial section contains your income and cash flow statement, balance sheet and other financial ratios, such as break-even analyses. This part may require help from your accountant and a good spreadsheet software program.

Breaking these three major sections down even further, a business plan consists of seven key components:

1. Executive summary
2. Business description
3. Market strategies
4. Competitive analysis
5. Design and development plan
6. Operations and management plan
7. Financial factors

In addition to these sections, a business plan should also have a cover, title page and table of contents."

Read more in An Introduction to Business Plans from Entrepreneur.com.