# A Simpler Plan for Start-ups

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5 company. For an ongoing company, use the plan to calculate cash flow from normal operations, and turn to financing as needed to support working capital requirements. Don t be surprised by needing financing. Most businesses do. Some smaller, cash-only businesses get by without financing. They sell for cash, buy in cash, and don t spend what they don t have. It s easier to get by without financing as a service business than a product-based business, because you don t have to deal with inventory. A home office is less likely to need financing than a business location you rent. A one-employeebusiness is less likely to need financing than a business needing employees.

8 Break-even Analysis Next comes a simple Break-even Analysis table, as shown in the next illustration, where you estimate when your business will actually begin to make money. The Break-even Analysis table calculates a break-even point based on fixed costs, variable costs per unit of sales, and revenue per unit of sales. Make the following three simple assumptions: 1. Average per-unit sales price (per-unit revenue): The price that you charge per unit. Take into account sales discounts and special offers. For non-unit based businesses, make the per-unit revenue \$1 and enter your costs as a percent of a dollar. 2. Average per-unit cost: The incremental cost of each unit of sale. If you are using a Units-Based Sales Forecast table (for manufacturing and mixed business types), you can project unit costs from the Sales Forecast table. If you are using the basic Sales Forecast table for retail, service and distribution businesses, use a percentage estimate. For example, a retail store running a 50% margin would have a per-unit cost of.5, and a per-unit revenue of Monthly fixed costs: Technically, a break-even analysis defines fixed costs as costs that would continue even if you went broke. Instead, you may want to use your regular running fixed costs, including payroll and normal expenses. This will give you a better insight on financial realities. This next illustration shows a Break-even chart. As sales increase, the profit line passes through the zero or break-even line at the break-even point. In the illustration the Break-even chart shows that the company needs to sell almost 1,200 units per month to break even.

11 A Standard Business Plan Outline There are predictable contents of a standard business plan. For example, a business plan normally starts with an Executive Summary, which should be concise and interesting. People almost always expect to see sections covering the Company, the Market, the Product, the Management Team, Strategy, Implementation and Financial Analysis. If you have the main components, the order doesn t matter that much, but here s the order I suggest. 1. Executive Summary: Write this last. It s just a page or two of highlights. 2. Company Description: Legal establishment, history, start-up plans, etc. 3. Product or Service: Describe what you re selling. Focus on customer benefits. 4. Market Analysis: You need to know your market, customer needs, where they are, how to reach them, etc. 5. Strategy and Implementation: Be specific. Include management responsibilities with dates and budgets. Make sure you can track results. 6. Web Plan Summary: For e-commerce, include discussion of website, development costs, operations, sales and marketing strategies. 7. Management Team: Describe the organization and the key management team members. 8. Financial Analysis: Make sure to include at the very least your projected Profit and Loss and Cash Flow tables. I don t recommend developing the plan in the same order you present it as a finished document. For example, although the Executive Summary obviously comes as the first section of a business plan, I recommend writing it after everything else is done. It will appear first, but you write it last.

12 Standard Tables and Charts There are also some business tables and charts that are normally expected in a standard business plan. Cash flow is the single most important numerical analysis in a plan, and should never be missing. Most plans will also have Sales Forecast and Profit and Loss statements. I believe they should also have separate Personnel listings, projected Balance sheet, projected Business Ratios, and Market Analysis tables. I also believe that every plan should include bar charts and pie charts to illustrate the numbers. Expanded Plan Outline 1.0 Executive Summary 1.1 Objectives 1.2 Mission 1.3 Keys to Success 2.0 Company Summary 2.1 Company Ownership 2.2 Company History (for ongoing companies) or Start-up Plan (for new companies). 2.3 Company Locations and Facilities 3.0 Products and Services 3.1 Product and Service Description 3.2 Competitive Comparison 3.3 Sales Literature 3.4 Sourcing and Fulfillment 3.5 Technology 3.6 Future Products and Services 4.0 Market Analysis Summary 4.1 Market Segmentation 4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy Market Needs Market Trends Market Growth 4.3 Industry Analysis

13 4.3.1 Industry Participants Distribution Patterns Competition and Buying Patterns Main Competitors 5.0 Strategy and Implementation Summary 5.1 Strategy Pyramids 5.2 Value Proposition 5.3 Competitive Edge 5.4 Marketing Strategy Positioning Statements Pricing Strategy Promotion Strategy Distribution Patterns Marketing Programs 5.5 Sales Strategy Sales Forecast Sales Programs 5.6 Strategic Alliances 5.7 Milestones 6.0 Web Plan Summary 6.1 Website Marketing Strategy 6.2 Development Requirements 7.0 Management Summary 7.1 Organizational Structure 7.2 Management Team 7.3 Management Team Gaps 7.4 Personnel Plan 8.0 Financial Plan 8.1 Important Assumptions 8.2 Key Financial Indicators 8.3 Break-even Analysis 8.4 Projected Profit and Loss 8.5 Projected Cash Flow 8.6 Projected Balance Sheet

14 8.7 Business Ratios 8.8 Long-term Plan I. Critical Risks and Problems A. Critical Risks and Problems B. Planned Responses Appendices: Supporting Documentation A. Company and Product(s)/Services Support Materials 1. Photos of the product(s), equipment, facilities 2. Patents, trademarks, service marks, or copyright documents 3. Bibliography of research, testing, and studies B. Legal Support Materials 1. Ownership agreements and/or contracts 2. Marketing agreements and/or contracts 3. Employment agreements and/or contracts 4. Financial agreements and/or contracts C. Market Support Materials 1. Magazine, newspaper, trade journal articles 2. Brochures, drawings, mailings, and materials 3. Market share chart 4. Competitive comparison of strengths and weaknesses 5. Customer contacts and status 6. Letters of interest or intent D. Management/Ownership support Materials 1. Resumes of key people, references, recommendations 2. Significant milestones and time frames E. Administrative and Personnel Support 1. Organizational chart 2. Role descriptions for key personnel F. Financial/Investment Support 1. Break-even analysis 2. Principal's financial statements 3. Equipment and capital expenditure listing 4. Historical financial statements

20 Detailed Personnel Plan The more detailed personnel plan shown here divides personnel expenditures into classifications including production, sales and marketing, general and administrative, and other. As with the simple personnel table, you also want to calculate a payroll burden as a percentage of the total. Make sure to include the personnel burden assumption in your list of general assumptions. The payroll assumptions in this model will also be used for the other financial projections. The Profit and Loss (also called income statement) will use personnel plan numbers. Business Research Here is a list of resources for finding business information. 1. We recommend that you get in contact with your closest Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The SBDCs are funded by federal, state, and higher education funds, and they tend to offer valuable consulting and information at unusually low fee levels and often have several free resources. 2. In general, though, the problem of information is not where to find it but how to wade through all that's available and find the right stuff. You must, simply must, be able to search the Internet. If you are reading this, then presumably you can already do that, so you are ahead of the game. Be sure to investigate the following:

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