A business plan can help you attract investors, obtain a loan and operate proactively, rather than reactively. When structuring a business plan, include information that examines your product, marketplace, operating procedures and projections. Whether you need start-up money or just want to increase your chances of success, a business plan should be a comprehensive document that answers the basic questions about how you will operate.

Product or Service Overview

Although it might seem obvious that you or your investors know what you sell, include a thorough discussion of your product or service when writing a business plan. Many of your other plan components will be based on and refer to what you sell. Include information about your product’s unique selling point and position in the marketplace along with any customer surveys or feedback. Include changes you made to the product in recent years, information on how the product is made or service is created and any plans you have to change or improve what you sell.

Marketplace Conditions

Discuss what is happening in your field, profession or industry that might affect your business. Include an overview of your competition, their prices and selling and distribution strategies and a demographic profile of your customers or clients. Mention if your customer base is changing, if materials or services needed to produce your product or service might change and if pending legislation might affect your marketplace.

Operating Procedures

Include information on your production methods, cost of production, marketing strategies, hiring policies, pricing procedures and distribution strategies. Include a marketing plan that addresses brand strategy, advertising, promotions, public relations and sales strategies.

Financial Information

Depending on how old your company is, include the following: start-up funding needs, operating costs, master budget, historic income and expense figures and financial projections. Include expenses by department, such as production, marketing, administration, human resources and IT. Provide conservative and best-case scenarios. Separate your expenses into manufacturing and overhead expenses. Manufacturing costs might include materials and labor to make products, or freelance editorial and graphic design, printing and postage to publish a magazine. Overhead costs include rent or mortgage, taxes, insurance, legal fees and utilities.

Support Documents

To strengthen your projections, assumptions and arguments, include support documents such as budgets from previous years, your company policy guide, biographies of key personnel, industry reports and statistics, an organization chart, sales figures and bank statements.