Business Plan Guidelines

Semi-finalists in each track will be invited to submit hard copies of their full plans to the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.

Writing a business plan is an involved process that requires a lot of time. We strongly suggest that applicants work on their full plan in advance of completing their application, and then use information from their plan to complete their application. This makes the application easier to complete.

Please adhere to the following guidelines. 

  • Plans should be printed in 12-point Times Roman font on standard 8.5" x 11" white paper, using 1-inch margins on all four margins. Any graphics, tables or charts should be electronically pasted in place.
  • Limit your plan to 30 pages, including cover page, appendices, and exhibits.
  • Plans should be bound by a staple in the top left corner. Do not enclose in 3-ring binders, plastic covers, wire-O binders, etc.
  • Mark your business plan “Confidential.” See the section on Protection of Intellectual Property.
  • The following sections are recommended: 

Cover Page

Title of business plan with contact information.

Table of Contents

Listing of all sections - one page long.

Executive Summary

An overview of the financial opportunity and the investment required, as well as the ability of the management team to make it happen. The judges rely heavily on the Executive Summary to determine their interest in the plan.

Company Introduction

What it is, what it aims to do.

Target Markets

Relevant trends, supply and demand factors, purchasing patterns, life cycle patterns, and factors that could change/upset the target market.

Sales & Marketing Plans

Sales assumptions and sales model. Include an explanation of your business model (how you will generate revenue) and how you will do it, e.g., direct sales force, distribution agreements, etc. Marketing plan includes positioning and promotion within the target market, success factors, barriers to entry, existing and emerging competitors.

Products & Roadmap

Overview of products and services you will offer. Includes development and support plans, short-, medium-, and long-term goals, and exit plans.

Operations

R&D, plant, equipment, and related facilities, production plans, inventory plans, supply and distribution methods, information systems, and customer service.

Management Team

Brief bios of your team. Do not put resumes here. See Appendices below.

Financials

Three to five years of annual pro forma statements (and historical data if they exist) of income and cash flow, balance sheets, and uses of funds, along with relevant assumptions. Carefully review your financial projections. It may be helpful to have someone who is more fully versed in finances to review your projections.

Risks

Analysis of risks to each of the major sections listed above.

Appendices

This is where resumes of all team members belong. May include names and phone numbers of personal and professional references, industry consultants, surveys, relevant journal and magazine articles, background on the competition, trade show dates, supplier information, and license agreements.