Updated December, 2021
File C5-69

Create Your Own Business Plan

This Information File is an outline and template for creating your own business plan. Writing a business plan is not the same as conducting a feasibility study. The business plan is developed after the existing or proposed venture is shown to be viable. The feasibility study is comprised of calculations, analysis, and projections, while the business plan addresses tactics and strategies.

There are eight broad business planning categories shown (A-H). Each broad category contains subcategories, which may be relevant to your situation. All of the subcategories contain comments and questions that will help you identify the type of information to include.

This outline is designed to cover many different types of business. Only a portion of them may be relevant to your specific situation. Complete only those subcategories that are relevant to your situation and skip those that are not relevant.

In addition to moving you through the business planning process, this outline helps raise issues and questions about your business venture that you may not have considered. Identifying and resolving these issues now will save time and money later and increase your chances of creating a successful business.

This information file focuses upon the first-stages to creating the business plan. Further details to writing a plan are shared in AgDM File C5-68, Writing a Business Plan. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to writing a business plan. See the business planning topic on the Ag Decision Maker website, for more details on feasibility studies and business plans. View the accompanying PDF for details on each of the categories outlined below.

A)  Executive Summary - Provide a snapshot description of the business opportunity, what the business is, and why it will be successful.

      A1.  Cover/Request Page
      A2.  Table of Contents
      A3.  Executive Summary  

B)  Company Description - Describe your business concept.

      B1.  Business or Project Description and Background
      B2.  Mission Statement, Goals, and Objectives
      B3.  Business Structure
      B4.  Products or Services
      B5.  Research and Development Plans

C)  External Environment - Describe the business segment economy, society, and industry that provide opportunities and threats for your business and its products or services.

      C1.  Economic or Social Environment
      C2.  Industry Analysis 

D)  Organization and Management - Show that your business leadership is capable of running and managing the business opportunity.

      D1.  Project Leadership
      D2.  Business Management

E)  Market and Sales Analysis - Demonstrate how the business will attract and retain customers for your products or services.

      E1.  Marketplace Analysis
      E2.  Target Market and Customer Analysis
      E3.  Competitive Assessment
      E4.  Market Plan
      E5.  Marketing Message and Promotion

F)  Operations - Show how the business will supply products or services to the marketplace.

      F1.  Facility Requirements and Site Selection
      F2.  Technical Analysis
      F3.  Operations Plan
      F4.  Production Plan
      F5.  Labor Plan
      F6.  Regulatory and Environmental Requirements

G)  Financial or Funding Projections - Demonstrate how the viable business will generate stable profits and cash flows.

      G1.  Budget Projections
      G2.  Capital and Contingency Plans
      G3.  Financial Data and Analysis
      G4.  Economic Variability and Risk Management
      G5.  Exit or Reorganization Plans

H)  Implementation - Show supporting documents and materials for business plan execution.

      H1.    Implementation Plan
      H2.    Supporting Documents

Don Hofstrand, retired extension value added agriculture specialist, agdm@iastate.edu


Don Hofstrand

retired extension value added agriculture specialist
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