What Does a Business Plan Include?

By | Small Business

Business plans range from 20 to 50 pages in length, but, typically, they all contain the same sections. You'll find detailed overviews of what to include within each section by looking at sample business plans and going to online sources.

Your business plan should include:

  1. The Executive Summary. This is a concise one- to four-page summary illustrating the key points that are detailed in each section of the ensuing business plan. The Executive Summary should stand on its own as a separate document.
  2. Business Overview. Offer a description of the business, including:
    • The legal structure
    • Business formation history
    • The type of business
    • Location
    • Means of doing business (Internet, storefront operation, mail order)
  3. Operations Plan. Offer an explanation describing how the business will function, including the physical setup and responsibilities for specific tasks.
  4. Market Analysis. Include an overview of the market as a whole, with specific data and charts or graphs, if appropriate. Define your target market and your plans for catering to this specific audience.
  5. Products and Services. Describe the products manufactured or sold or the services offered. Classify the different types of products or services and provide a brief description of each.
  6. Sales and Marketing. Outline pricing and sales information. Include rationalizations for why your audience will buy your products or services and how you will reach them through marketing and advertising efforts.
  7. Competitive Analysis. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your direct and indirect competitors. Demonstrate how you will gain a competitive edge against your competition.
  8. Management Team. Provide pertinent, concise background information on all key players involved in the business.
  9. Financial Plan. Include all financial information, from startup costs to balance sheets. The financial section should outline:
    • The amount necessary to start or maintain the business
    • The amount needed over the next two, three, and even five years
    • Plans to use funds
    • Anticipated need for additional funding
    • Ongoing business expenses, including salaries, insurance costs, promotional expenses, etc.
  10. Projections. Provide projected income statements and balance sheets for at least two or three years.

At the end of your business plan, attach supporting documents, such as articles on the company, résumés of key personnel, etc.

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