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Fill in the Blank
Business Plan
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How to use this document
A Business Plan helps you evaluate the feasibility of a new business idea in an objective, critical, and
unemotional way. The process of developing your business plan will help you outline your goals and
the methods by which you plan to reach them.
Use this document as a starting tool to begin determining these various aspects of your business.
1. Read through each section of this outline.
2. In the spaces provided, begin documenting information or answers to questions posed.
3. If you’re unsure of an answer or detail in a certain section, leave it blank for now.
4. Visit our website, select the most convenient location, and register for initial appointment.
Our certified business advisors will review what you’ve documented so far and work with you to
determine answers for any areas that you hadn’t yet completed. And, in addition to business plan
assistance, our network offers many more services to help you.
A reminder that as a U.S. Small Business Administration program, our SBDC services are provided
at no-cost and they are confidential, personalized and in-depth. Congrats on your plan to start or
grow your business. We look forward to helping you succeed!
Why Write a Business Plan?
A business plan is an important tool for any entrepreneur to judge the effectiveness of what you have been
doing. Your business plan can also be a useful tool to help you raise capital for your business venture.
Lenders like to lend money to businesses they think will be able to make it. Your job is to convince them that
your business is going to be successful.
It provides an operating plan to assist you in running the business and improves your probability of success.
It communicates your idea to others, serves as a “selling tool,” and provides the basis for your financing
proposal.
If you won't use the plan to raise money, your plan will be internal and may be less formal. If you are
presenting it to outsiders as a financing proposal, presentation quality and thorough financial analysis are very
important.
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Ten Ways to Ruin Your Business Plan
These errors in business plan preparation and presentation will undermine the credibility of the plan and hurt
your chances to receive funding:
1. Submitting a “rough copy,” (with coffee stains and typos) tells the reader that management doesn’t
take the planning process seriously.
2. Outdated historical financial information or unrealistic industry comparisons will leave doubts about
the entrepreneur’s planning abilities.
3. Unsubstantiated assumptions can hurt a business plan; the business owner must be prepared to
explain the “why” of every point in the plan.
4. Too much “blue sky” - a failure to consider prospective pitfalls - will lead the reader to conclude that
the idea is not realistic.
5. A lack of understanding of financial information. Even if someone else prepares the projections, the
owner must be able to explain them.
6. Lack of specific, detailed strategies. A plan that includes only general statements of strategy (“We will
provide world class service and the lowest possible price.”) without important details will be
dismissed as fluff.
Especially important if the business plan is prepared for a lender:
7. No indication that the owner has anything at stake. The lender expects the entrepreneur to have
some equity capital invested in the business.
8. Unwillingness to personally guarantee any loans. If the business owner isn’t willing to stand behind
his or her company, then why should the bank?
9. Starting the plan with unrealistic loan amounts or terms. Do your homework and propose a realistic
structure.
10. Too much focus on collateral. Even for a cash-secured loan, the banker is looking toward projected
profits for repayment of the loan. Cash flow should be emphasized as the source of repayment.
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Section One: The Business
Executive Summary
1. My company name will be:
2. My business purpose is:
3. I plan to organize my company as (Corporation, Partnership, LLC, Other)
4. I have been in business since or plan on starting on:
5. Manager(s) for the company will be
6. My experience as an owner is:
Notes:
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Products & Services
1. The products or services I sell are:
2. The features and benefits of what I’m selling are:
3. My products/services differ from my competition by:
4. What makes my product/services unique and desirable is:
5. Customers will buy from me because:
Notes:
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The Industry, Competition & Market
1. I consider my competition to be:
2. How I will measure against the competition:
3. My local competitors are:
4. My national competitors are:
5. Some of the trends I see in my industry are:
6. Some potential areas I see for growth are:
7. My typical customers have these characteristics in common:
8. These segments of customers are under-served by competition:
Notes:
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Marketing Plan
Marketing should address the four P’s Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion
1. My product or service is:
2. My pricing strategy is (For example: premium, every day, low price, frequent sales):
3. The places I will sell my product or service are:
4. I will promote my product or service by:
5. My competitive advantage is:
6. I can add value or compete on the following non-price issues:
7. I will distribute my product or service by:
8. My use of advertising will consist of:
9. I will get feedback from my customers by:
Notes:
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Operating Plan
1. The location of my business is:
2. My hours of operation will be:
3. This is a good location for my business because:
4. I will be involved with the business by completing the following duties:
5. The equipment/furniture/fixtures I need for my business would include:
6. If I need to hire new employees, I will need to hire for these new positions:
7. I will provide the following benefits to my employees:
8. I will recruit my employees by or from:
9. My suppliers and vendors are:
10. My cybersecurity and information management plans are:
11. Changes I’m considering for the business (if purchasing an existing business):
Notes:
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Management & Ownership
1. The owners of my company are:
2. I have included resumes for the following key management personnel:
3. My attorney is:
4. My accountant is:
5. Other professionals that I will use are (accountant, banker, insurance agent, engineer, consultant,
etc.):
SWOT Analysis
6. The strengths of my business are (internal characteristics):
7. The weaknesses of my business are (internal characteristics):
8. I see the following opportunities for my business (external characteristics):
9. I see the following threats/challenges for my business (external characteristics):
Notes:
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Financials
1. The total investment required is:
2. The collateral I can use for financing includes:
3. My credit history is:
4. My credit score is:
5. If I am short on money for my project, I can get more from:
6. My bank is, or the banks I would like to work with are:
Notes:
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Every company has different start-up costs depending on their business model. This section of the document
intends to guide you through the costs associated with your start-up. Not everything will apply to your
business model. Fill in what in what is relevant and all can be discussed at your appointment.
If you are building a new property, you will have:
Land:
Building:
Signage:
If you are purchasing existing property, you may have:
Building:
Renovations:
Signage:
If you are renting, you may have:
Renovations:
Signage:
In all cases, the following may be part of your start-up expenses:
Equipment (business):
Equipment (office):
Furniture:
Fixtures (storage shelves, displays, etc.):
Initial inventory:
Costs to organize:
Registration with the ND Secretary of State
Business formation (consultant and attorney if needed)
Marketing
o Logo Development
o Website
o Business cards and other print materials
o Initial marketing campaign
Training (do you need training for staff prior to opening? If so, lists costs associated with training:
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You will need ongoing operating expenses for your business. Think through the following and provide
information where you can. Bring your notes and calculations to your first meeting.
Revenues:
Products or services being sold:
How many are you selling per day/week/month?
What is the average cost of the product/service you are selling?
Cost of Goods Sold if you are reselling and have inventory, that is typically your cost of goods sold. Bring
to your appointment any information you have on what he product will cost you and what you will then sell it
or. COGS notes:
Expenses:
Employee wages (We recommend you determine a schedule and list positions with hours worked and rate of
pay for each as supporting documentation):
Supplies:
Maintenance (building, equipment, vehicles):
Advertising:
Car/Travel:
Accounting/Legal:
Rent or lease:
Real estate taxes:
Phone/internet:
UtilitiesGas:
Electricity:
Water:
Garbage:
Other:
Insurance Professional liability:
Automobile (if applicable):
Building contents:
Key Man (if applicable):
Disability or health (if applicable:
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