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Business Plan Guidelines

The outline is offered as a starting point and provides you with the key components that will be considered during the judging process.  For the purposes of this competition, you will not be required to submit a typically detailed business plan. 

The following points, in no particular order, will amount to a good share of a business plan's ranking: uniqueness, financial viability, potential for wealth creation and overall quality (of the business plan).

APPLICATION INCLUSIONS: Your application should be in the form of a business plan outline.  The following are suggested inclusions:

A.) Executive Summary of Business

The Executive Summary is the most important section in the plan and should be written first.

In one to two pages, your summary should provide a compelling story about the large opportunity in the marketplace, why it is not presently being served adequately, your company's unique capabilities and product, and its competitive advantage that will enable it to generate superior growth and margins.  Provide an explanation of how you will efficiently reach the customer through your marketing and sales program.  Define the required number of employees and management skills.  State your capital needs, potential sources and your plan to pay back the investor(s) and bank. 

  • Brief description of company
  • Key management and expertise/experience needed for this market
  • Financial requirements (uses of financing, sources of funds)
Note: After you have worked on the most relevant parts of the outline you will probably find that the executive summary should be revised. 

B.) Description of Company and Industry

  • Description of the business and management
  • Basic business strategy
  • Description of industry

C.) Products/Services and Markets

Provide a detailed description of product (or service) and an overview of the market sector or niche being targeted.

  • Description of product or service
  • Novelty of the business:  State your advantage
  • Size of the opportunity (market size)
  • Size of the impact to South Dakota
  • Competitor profiles:  Identify your competitors - Have you created barriers to entry?
  • Sales and Marketing Plan:  Explain your plan to take the product to market

D.) Management

  • Organization chart
  • Management and Employees:  Identify the number of employees, your management team and the skills they possess
  • Identify the source(s) for the balance of skills needed to fill in the gaps

E.) Financing and Accounting

Provide projected financial information explaining the use of capital, assess the potential value and evaluate the trade off between risk and return for the investment.

  • Identify your financial needs, including the amount needed, sources, and start up versus ongoing needs
  • Partners:  Do you envision partnering with a larger company?  Does one exist in South Dakota?
  • Identify your plan to pay back investor(s) and bank

F.) Miscellaneous

  • Critical risks and assumptions in projections
  • Sources of information
  • Consider any possible legal or regulatory risks or opportunities
  • Conclusion:  Why should anyone believe this?

G.) Additional Resource

  • Examples of complete business plans can be viewed at the following website can be found here.