Cover Sheet and Table of Contents
The cover sheet should contain the name of your business, CEO, and contact information (including the address, phone, fax, and email for both). If you have a spiffy logo, the cover page is a good place to introduce it. The next item should be a table of contents of the major topics contained in the business plan.
Tab It: Some reviewers like to have the various sections of your business plan tabbed for easy reference.
The executive summary is the most important part of the business plan because it is the part read first and determines whether the reader goes any further. The executive summary gives a brief synopsis of:
• the company's strategy for success;
• the company's unique business proposition;
• how your business proposition offers a competitive advantage;
• the market you are addressing;
• a description of the product and services offered;
• the management team's qualifications;
• key financial data and a statement of funds required; and,
• a statement of how you will either pay the funds back or how the investors will receive a return on their investment.
All of these brief topic descriptions will be expanded in the business plan. The executive summary should be brief—usually no more than two pages. Typically, the executive summary is the section written last, after the whole business plan is completed.
This is where you articulate the vision of the company and its management. Some writers have called this the distinctive value proposition of the com- pany—the formula you have devised that delivers goods and services to your customers better than the competition does.
In this section, you give the history of the business entity. For start-ups, the following information is recommended:
• name of the business;
• legal form of the business (corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.);
• state of organization;
• when it was organized;
• location of the business;
• brief description of the owners/founders; and,
• stage of development of the business—conceptual, start-up, emerging, or mature.