Business Plan Content and Formatting Requirements

Business plans are due in Startup Compete (formerly iStart) by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, February 24.

Each business plan must be uploaded in Word format or as a PDF file that cannot exceed 10MB in size.

Please ensure the file name is the same as the business name before uploading.

If plans include graphs, charts, and other elements, please ensure they fit properly into the plan document. Once uploaded, a team member or the advisor should download the file to ensure all contents download properly and no pages are missing.

Plans are limited to a maximum of 30 pages, including the Executive Summary. The Cover Page and Table of Contents are not counted in this 30-page limit.

Appendices are not counted as part of the 30-page limit and should be included only when they support the findings, statements, and observations in the plan.

Plans must be typed in Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman with a 10- or 12-point font size. Page margins must be 1 inch. Paragraphs must be double-spaced. Please ensure pages are numbered.

Plans should be proofread carefully for spelling and grammar before they are uploaded.


  1. Cover Page
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Executive Summary (10 Points): Clear, exciting, and effective as a stand-alone overview of the plan; includes brief description of each succeeding section of the plan; can be read in less than five minutes.
  4. Company Overview (5 Points): Presents a vision, history, current status, strategy, goals, mission, and objectives for the business.
  5. Products or Services (10 Points): Describes the key features and benefits, current stage of development, proprietary position, and competitive advantages of the product or service.
  6. Market and Competitive Analysis (10 Points): Presents the growth trends and key driving forces of the industry; identifies the key characteristics and needs of the target market(s); assesses the competitive environment; demonstrates market acceptance for the product or service.
  7. Management Team (5 Points): Backgrounds and roles of key individuals; history and ability to work as an effective team; personnel needs; organizational structure.
  8. Operating Strategies (10 Points): Addresses the marketing, production, research and development, personnel, administrative, and financial strategies for the proposed firm.
  9. Critical Risks (10 Points): Realistically identifies the major internal and external critical risks that could threaten the business and presents viable contingency plans to address these issues.
  10. Cash Flow Statement (10 Points): Presents a realistic assessment of cash requirements – inflows and outflows; cash flow statement is consistent with operating and marketing strategies outlined in the body of the plan; cash flow statement information is projected annually for years 1-5.
  11. Income Statement (10 Points): Demonstrates realistic and attractive income potential of the business; the income statement is consistent with the operating and marketing strategies outlined in the body of the plan; income statement information is projected annually for years 1-5.
  12. Balance Sheet (10 Points): Presents a realistic assessment of the working capital and fixed asset requirements of the business; appropriately reflects the projected capital structure of the business (long-term debt and equity positions); balance sheet information is projected annually for years 1-5.
  13. Funds Required/Used (5 Points): Clear and concise presentation of amount, timing, type, and use of funds required for venture.
  14. Offering (5 Points): Clearly articulates the proposal/terms to investors; identifies what is being sought from investors; states how much equity will be given up in return for investment capital; presents a realistic assessment of ROI potential; presents an appropriate deal structure and possible exit scenarios.

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