The Business 5000 course will culminate with the preparation of a business plan for a new or existing business. It is not my intention that you prepare a full-blown business plan that will enable you to seek and obtain funding for your business. Such a plan requires six to nine months of full-time effort to complete. It also requires extensive research from a person who is well-versed in business operations.
Since most Business 5000 students enter this course with limited prior business course work, I expect to use the preparation of the business plan to introduce you to many areas of business operations and to equip you with a better overall understanding of what it takes to start a new business or expand an existing business.
There are several good web sites that you may want to visit to learn how to prepare a good business plan. Several of these sites are noted in our Class Resources area. Just click on the Class Resources link to visit some of these sites. However, please remember to follow the format and instructions provided in our BUSN 5000 online course.
You must first decide the type of business that you intend to explore. Often, many students will prepare a plan for a small business in which they have had an active interest for some time. Accordingly, the student has a genuine interest in the business plan.
The list of Top 20 Questions appearing in the Class Resources area came from BizPlanBuilder. It lists the “Top 20 Questions” which will help you develop and enhance your initial thoughts for your proposed business. BizPlanBuilder is one of a number of business planning software programs available for sale.
However, you should not use a commercial software business plan template to prepare your business plan for this course. You will waste money and learn very little if you do. I will also deduct 30 percent from your business plan grade if you use a canned business plan software/template or any format significantly different from the sample business plan format you have been provided. All the format and content information you need is provided in this class.
You can also print a Word format copy of the one of two sample business plans available from this course in the Class Resources area. We have prepared a service plan business plan (Sample Business Plan A) and a retail product business plan (Sample Business Plan B) for student use. We have also attached a copy of each of these example business plans to this assignment below. I will provide additional information on your business plan project during Week 3 of the course when I respond to your proposed business plan paragraph that is due at the end of Week 2.
Our course discussions will highlight most of the areas that should appear in your business plan. There is also a business plan outline provided in the Class Resources area that allocates points to sections of the plan. Your written plan must be turned in by Sunday night of the eighth week of class (see Weekly Readings link in the Course Menu navigation column or on the Home Page for the exact due date for the business plan).
The written business plan should include the following major topical areas:
- Executive Summary
- Company Direction
- Company Overview
- Product or Service Strategy
- Market Analysis
- Marketing Plan
- Financial Plan (You will need only two years of financial data for this business plan.)
- Supporting Documents
Note: Although the sample business plans include three years of financial statements, you will have to include only two years of data for the income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets.
The business plan should consist of approximately 8- to 12-typewritten, single-spaced pages (written narrative) and six financial statement pages. The project will account for 300 points (30 percent) of your grade. It will require about 20 hours of work (more time if you really want to do great job).
Top 20 Questions
- What type of business do you have?
- What is the purpose of this business?
- What is the key message or phrase to describe your business in one sentence?
- What is your reason for starting your own business?
- What is your product or service?
- Can you list three unique benefits of your product/service?
- Do you have data sheets, brochures, diagrams, sketches, photographs, related press releases or other documentation about your product/service? (Although you may have these items, please just mention them in your business plan under the appropriate section. Since they won’t earn points on the assignment, there’s no need to submit them.)
- What is the product application?
- What led you to develop your product/service?
- Is this product or service used in connection with other products?
- What are the top three objections to buying your product/service immediately?
- When will your product be available?
- Who is your target audience?
- Who is your competition?
- How is your product differentiated from that of your competition?
- What is the pricing of your product versus your competition?
- Are you making any special offers?
- What plans do you have for advertising and promotions?
- How will you finance company growth?
- Do you have the management team needed to achieve your goals?