A business plan that you prepare for investors or to guide your development of a business must includes all the major elements of what will make the business operate.
It should include complete financial data, including operating expenses, income, reserves, payables, receivables, and taxes.
Next it should detail the products and services on offer, and the physical plant, supplies, staffing, and other elements necessary to provide these.
It should also include a market analysis. What is the competition in your geographical area? How do you expect to attract business? What is your potential customer base? How do you plan to reach it? Finally you should describe key personel and their qualifications.
To put more specifically and simply, according to Purdue University, a business plan must include these sections but not necessarily in this order:
Business description—What do you plan to do; why are you starting the venture?
Market analysis—Who will be your customers; what do they want from you?
Competitor assessment—Who will you compete against; what do these competitors offer?
Marketing plan—How will you reach your customers?
Operating plan—How do you plan to implement your idea?
Financial plan—How much money will it cost, and where will you get the necessary funds?
Executive summary—What are the fundamentals of the venture? (Cole Ehmke and Jay Akridge. "The Elements of a Business Plan". Purdue University.)
Gale Cengage's "Business Plans Handbook," Ed. Kristin Kahrs, offers this slightly different model for organizing the same information:
- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- COMPANY DESCRIPTION
- PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
- MARKET ANALYSIS
- MARKETING AND SALES ACTIVITIES
- MANAGEMENT AND OWNERSHIP
- FUNDS USED AND THEIR USES
- FINANCIAL DATA: HISTORICAL (Gale Cengage, eNotes)