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Discoveries That Matter - Sarnia LambtonSmart 21 Community 2016
Business Programs for Youth

Are you interested in starting your own business? There are business programs to help young people up to 34 years of age. Find out more! >>

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Business Plan Outline for an Existing Business

Executive Summary 

  • this is a summary keep it very short - 1 or 2 pages
  • this section should only talk about what is most important to the reader
  • different readers mean different content in the summary
  • do this section last 

Business Description 

  • type of business (proprietorship/partnership/corporation)
  • what the business does
  • why the business is unique or different
  • a brief history of how you got to where you are today
  • this should usually be no more than one page
Goals and Objectives
  • exactly where do you want to be in the long term (3-5 years or more)
  • define the yardsticks you will use to measure success going forward - be precise here: for example do you want to measure sales or profits; repeat customers or customer satisfaction; sales dollars or sales volume?
  • state the important milestones that you will use to measure progress (short term goals)
  • each goal should be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, Time Limited
Product/Service Description
  • more detail on what the company does and why
  • focus on why this is important to customers rather than technical details 

Industry Description 

  • an overview of how the world that the company operates in works; who is big and who is small, how big is big and how small is small, how many are there of each size or type and (if possible) why the industry is like it is

This part is important because it gives perspective to everything that follows, but it should be as concise as possible. 


  • examine the operations of those companies that do the same or very close to what you do and who operate in your market area
  • look at strengths and weaknesses, not just what they do or how they do it, but why; explain who they are trying to attract or why their customers choose them
  • if there are companies that sell something your customers can buy instead of what you have to sell (to fill the same need), explain why they would do this and how it affects your business 

Market Description 

  • what group is the most likely to buy what you sell (or buy the most of what you sell)
  • what need(s) are they trying to fill by buying your product/service
  • how do they make a purchase decision - what is most important to them and what is less important
  • what other groups can you identify that buy frequently or in quantity
  • show how their needs and priorities are different than the primary group and tell how you will meet the needs of each group without losing the other(s)
If there are significant groups that you are not trying to attract it may be good to explore their needs/priorities and explain why they are not a target group for you. 

Promotion and Sales Strategy 

  • Market Description explained which people you are trying to attract and what message they need to hear to be attracted, now describe in detail how you are going to deliver the proper message to the correct people in the most cost-effective ways possible
  • include both timing and cost of any promotional efforts 


Equipment and Buildings
  • what equipment and/or space do you have today
  • what additions or changes do you need to make to meet your short term goals
  • give the triggers that will tell you when you need more equipment or space to meet longer term goals
  • what operations staff do you have today and what are their roles or skills
  • give the triggers that will tell you when you need more or different people
  • explain how you utilize your staff for maximum efficiency 

Management Team 

  • describe the role played by each person involved in managing the company today and explain why they are qualified to play that role (education, experience etc.)
  • give the triggers that will tell you when you need more or different people
  • list the outside advisors to the company and explain the roles they all play 


  • list the capital equipment currently owned by the company and detail how they are being paid for (historical balance sheets if available)
  • give a performance history for the company (historical income statements), if available
  • list the capital equipment needed to carry out the plan and give cost of acquisition, a timeline for when it will be acquired, and explain how it will be financed
  • show how the needed investment in capital and people will pay off (projected statements)
  • to do projected statements start by building a cashflow statement, then use those numbers to build the projected balance sheet and projected income statements (every dollar on the cashflow should go into one of the other two statements as well)