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Executive Summary:

A brief (typically 1-2 page) overview of your plan. If your executive summary doesn’t captivate your audience, you won’t get very far.


What need do you plan to address? It had better be a large opportunity that many customers will be willing to give you their money in exchange for your offering.


A description of how your product or service will fulfill the need.

Business Model:

What is your customer value proposition? How do you intend to make money? How will you create customer value and how will you deliver it your customers?


Who is the customer, what are their characteristics, how many of them are there, and how many can you reach before your competitors do? What is your total available market?


How will you get your product in front of your customer, and how do you persuade them to buy it?


Who else is working to fulfill the need, either directly or indirectly?

Competitive Advantages:

What competitive advantages do you have that will allow you to get – and stay – ahead of them? Do you have some unique, protectable intellectual property?


What qualifies you and your team to pull this off?


What milestones have you already achieved?

Operating Plan:

What are the nuts-and-bolts of your business?


What can go wrong with your plan, and how can you mitigate these risks?

Financial Plan:

What financial resources do you require, and how do you intend to use the money? What are the key assumptions underlying your financial forecast? Is there a viable exit plan?

In practice, some of these sections may be omitted or combined for brevity – for example, Market and Marketing are often combined, as are Competition and Competitive Advantages.

Business plans for unique industries may require additional sections. For example, biotech and medical plans require sections describing the regulatory pathway (clinical trials and FDA clearance), reimbursement issues, and other issues.

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