Business management courses include an extensive range of topics for students to cover. You learn about the basic tenants of establishing and sustaining your brand from scratch. A business plan is the first step in the process, wherein you pitch your brand to potential investors.
Now, every business plan follows a certain structure and has specific elements. A quick Google search will give you readymade business plan layouts and examples to pick from. Read on to know more about formatting business plans for your next assignment.
Types of business plans
The structure of the business plan varies as per the sector and scalability of your brand. Students must learn how to tweak and pitch their ideas in an exciting way. And for that, you must analyze the market and customer base.
Here is a list of some common business plan layouts that you’ll get for university projects. These layouts are generic and easy to adapt.
Traditional business plans
The traditional business plan was relevant for business holdings that used hand-written reports, research studies and more. These reports are made on paper and follow a conventional structure.
It starts with an overview, list of opportunities, risks, and budget. I recommend students to begin this plan with a short summary of your target market. Talk about the brand, the products/services offered and your core advertising strategies.
The standard business plan is quite similar to the traditional plan. The only point of difference between the two is the medium used to project the plan. While the conventional scheme is paper-bound, the standard plans can be digitally developed.
There are several business plans templates, suitable for Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe reader available on the internet. Students can download any such layout they deem fit, add their content, and create a detailed business plan.
Lean business plans are a compact, watered-down version of a standard business plan. Here some sections of the plan are deliberately omitted out. This is done to keep the plan secretive and secure from theft.
Lean plans are also great for summarizing the key points of your business in a nutshell. You can send it to multiple clients who can then approach the company for more details. Begin the plan with a short introduction followed by an outline of your brand, its present status and potential growth rate.
One-page business plans
One-page business plans are short, compact and to the point. Here the students have to fit in all the elements of an average plan in a single sheet. This means that you cannot afford to ramble about the brand or the market space for long.
Identify the core areas that need work, list down your resources, capital investment, risks, growth potential in bullet points. You can also divide the page into separate sections and sub-sections. Representing this information in a tabular format is also a good idea.
Annual business plans
The annual business plan, as the name suggests, is for a year. In this plan, the students have to outline the brand marketing strategy for a particular financial year. Ensure that you list the period and annual goals of the company clearly on the cover page.
The entire plan must limit to the specific year only. You can devote a section to set the market background and another to talk about future prospects. But the advertising campaigns and promotional solutions must be relevant for the year.
Business plans for start-ups
Start-ups require a completely different approach as opposed to an established enterprise. Students must understand the subtle differences between the two and customize the business plans. Keep the plan small-scale, feasible and easy to implement
Also, with start-ups, you have the flexibility to introduce new technologies and resources with greater ease. Students can include surveys, customer studies, graphs and charts to enforce these changes.
Operations plans are more action-oriented, unlike the others on the list. The students will have to stress on the execution more than the technical aspects of the enterprise. Discuss the fundamental goals of your brand and how you plan on accomplishing them.
The operational plan also contains a lot of statistics and figures. You will need charts, graphs, and research studies to solidify your argument. Also, explain the details of your advertising campaigns, funding sources, risks, and profits as well.
Strategic plans are those that focus solely on marketing the brand. This business plan is usually picked by enterprises that want to revamp or tweak their brand image. It might involve intensive market research, surveys, and studies to understand customer trends of your sector
Strategic plans dive straightway into the advertising campaigns and branding solutions for the company. Students can pick any established brand and develop a strategic business plan to customize it to modern audiences.
Internal business plans are not meant for investors or any external parties. These plans include an in-house report, accessible only to the partners. The business plan is viewed by everyone on the team.
The structure and format of this business plan are, therefore, more detailed and comprehensive. You can include confidential secrets and stats of your brand. Also, ensure that these sections are safe from online threats.
Elements of a business plan
Every business plan has a few common elements. You can, of course, have new features and sections in your plan provided you follow the basic format. Consult your peers and professors about the structuring of the plan.
The business plan begins with a cover page and ends with a proper conclusion. The introduction and main body expand on the business strategies, stats, and future prospects of the industry.
The cover page is the first thing the reader sees when they come across your business plan. This section is both informative and interesting enough to intrigue the reader. Anyone who glances at the cover should understand the essential purpose of the plan.
Mention the brand name, the title of the plan and your business tagline. You can then add the contact details, a short overview and statement of purpose. I also suggest my students add a confidentiality statement towards the end of the cover page.
This protects your plan from any intellectual theft and plagiarism. The cover page should be attractive, clutter-free, and eye-catching.
The executive summary is the first page of the business plan wherein you outline the key points of the plan. It is here that you inform the reader about your brand, the target market, and your unique strategies. A few basic questions addressed in this section can be about
- What is your brand all about?
- Where is your band located?
- What are your core strengths?
- What are your targets?
- How do you plan to achieve them?
Here you can discuss a brief overview of the business plan to convince the reader about the credibility of your business.
After explaining the preliminary details of your business, you can move on to explain the points in great detail. Talk about your marketing strategy and how you plan to advertise your product/service.
Most business plans deal with establishing the brand from scratch. This means you need a sound strategy to launch your product in the market. Here you can also mention your competitors and their advertising campaigns.
Operations and management plan
This is the part where you elaborate on the marketing strategy and operations of your business. Discuss the significant partners, sales locations, advertising collaborators and more. The management plan also gives out details about your core team members.
Move on to provide a rough monetary estimate needed to execute your business plan into action. Give an accurate account of your expenses, risks, and assets. Also, state the capital investment and share value you can offer the investors in return.
Citations and annotations
End your plan with a proper conclusion and bibliography section. This is where you list all your sources, studies and journals referred to in the plan. You can also discuss the future prospects and potential of your business plan in the ending paragraphs.
You can add extra annotation as well if you have exciting tidbits for the reader. I suggest my students follow either APA or Harvard style referencing as they’re most suitable for business assignments.
Quick links and references
Here are some quick links, external references and other reading material for students who want additional information on business plans. you can cite these sources towards the end of your plan, or simply use it
Citation generator: Citethisforme
Citations guidelines: Harvard Referencing Style by Sheffield University
Business plan examples: App Success Business Plan
Business plan cover page templates: Business plan cover page
Business plan samples: Sample business plan for small-scale food business by Oklahoma University
Business plan guidelines: Business plan guidelines
The Bottom line
Business plans are an essential part of your curriculum. It gives your ideas proper structure and order. Also, these plans cater to all sectors and industries. Formatting a business plan gives you a deeper understanding of the practical aspects of entrepreneurship.
I hope that business plan examples and layouts were of any help to my readers. Good luck!