Business Plan Guidelines
Format: The submitted business plan must be in the following format:
- 30-page limit including appendices PLUS a cover sheet and a tear sheet (see template).
- One-inch margins.
- Minimum 10-point font.
1. Business Summary
Briefly describe the company that is planned to be formed or already formed, and give a general idea of what the business seeks to accomplish. Because the competition is an educational endeavor, prize money will be allocated to individuals as requested by the team. Please indicate how any award monies will then be used.
2. Product/Service summary
Describe briefly the specifics of the product or service.
- Features: Describe what the product/service is.
- Benefits: Why is the product/service valuable? Value proposition.
- Competitive comparison: General comparison of the features of the product/service with the existing providers of a similar offering in the market. (Not to be confused with the description of competition that follows, as this section just deals with very general competitive comparison. For example: a comparison of medical records online as compared to the providers of medical records through traditional channels in general.)
- Technology (if it is a technology related product/service): Do not be too technical, but mention the unique or core technological features of the product/service.
- Fulfillment: Describe how the service/product features are going to be fulfilled. For example: how the customer service is going to be fulfilled.
- Future products/enhancements/services: For example: medical records for wireless devices.
3. Market summary
Summarize segmentation, target market, size and growth of the market.
- Market segmentation: How is the market segmented, i.e., how are the future clients classified. Explain the entire market and not just the target market.
- Target market segment: Describe who comprises the target market. Mention the size and growth of the market.
- Market need: What is the pain that the future clients are suffering from? Is the pain legitimate and how will this product/service help in solving the problem.
- Market trends: Describe the trends followed by the clients and the business participants.
- Competition: Describe the main groups of competitors and then the individual business participants in each group. This is one of the most important parts of the business plan.
- Competitive advantage: What advantage does this product/service have compared to the competitors?
4. Strategies summary
- Entry strategy: Who will be the first customers?
- Marketing strategy: Describe the marketing techniques that will be used.
- Selling strategy: How will the product/service be sold? Direct sales, salesmen, Web, brick and mortar, or all of the above.
- Distribution strategy: What are the channels of distribution?
- Pricing strategy: How is the offering priced?
5. Management team summary
Describe in brief the summary organizational structure of the company.
- Management team: Describe briefly what each member brings to the table.
- Board of advisors: Describe briefly what each member brings to the table.
- Personnel plan: Show the number of people needed to be hired in the next five years and their cost.
6. Financial plan summary
Summarize the financial plan:
- Important assumptions
- Break-even analysis
- Profit and loss statement for five years
- Cash flow statement
- Projected balance sheet
- Exit strategy