Sample outline for research papers



Title Page Name of company, date, contact information, etc. Table of Contents Executive Summary

  1. Business Concept
  2. Company
  3. Market Potential
  4. Management Team
  5. Distinct Competencies
  6. Required Funding and its Use
  7. Exit Strategy

Main Sections I.  Company Description
  • Mission Statement
  • Summary of Activity to Date
  • Current Stage of Development
  • Competencies
  • Product or Service
    • Description
    • Benefits to customer
    • Differences from current offerings
  • Objectives
  • Keys to Success
  • Location and Facilities

II.  Industry Analysis
  • Entry Barriers
  • Supply and Distribution
  • Technological Factors
  • Seasonality
  • Economic Influences
  • Regulatory Issues

III.  Market Analysis
  • Definition of Overall Market
  • Market Size and Growth
  • Market Trends
  • Market Segments
  • Targeted Segments
  • Customer Characteristics
  • Customer Needs
  • Purchasing Decision Process
  • Product Positioning

IV.  Competition
  • Profiles of Primary Competitors
  • Competitors' Products/Services & Market Share
  • Competitive Evaluation of Product
    • Distinct Competitive Advantage
    • Competitive Weaknesses
  • Future Competitors

V.  Marketing and Sales
  • Products Offered
  • Pricing
  • Distribution
  • Promotion
    • Advertising and Publicity
    • Trade Shows
    • Partnerships
    • Discounts and Incentives
  • Sales Force
  • Sales Forecasts

VI.  Operations
  • Product Development
    • Development Team
    • Development Costs
    • Development Risks
  • Manufacturing (if applicable)
    • Production Processes
    • Production Equipment
    • Quality Assurance
    • Administration
  • Key Suppliers
  • Product / Service Delivery
  • Customer Service and Support
  • Human Resource Plan
  • Facilities

VII.  Management and Organization
  • Management Team
  • Open Positions
  • Board of Directors
  • Key Personnel
  • Organizational Chart

VIII.  Capitalization and Structure
  • Legal Structure of Company
  • Present Equity Positions
  • Deal Structure
  • Exit Strategy

IX.  Development and Milestones Time may be specified on a relative scale rather than specific calendar dates. Milestones may include some or all of the following:
  • Financing Commitments
  • Product Development Milestones
    • Prototype
    • Testing
    • Launch
  • Signing of Significant Contracts
  • Achievment of Break-even Performance
  • Expansion
  • Additional Funding
  • Any other significant milestones

X.  Risks and Contingencies Some common risks include:
  • Increased competition
  • Loss of a key employee
  • Suppliers' failure to meet deadlines
  • Regulatory changes
  • Change in business conditions

XI.  Financial Projections
  • Assumptions (Start date, commissions, tax rates, average inventory, sales forecasts, etc.)
  • Financial Statements (Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement)
  • Break Even Analysis
  • Key Ratio Projections (quick ratio, current ratio, D/E, D/A, ROE, ROA, working capital)
  • Financial Resources
  • Financial Strategy

XII.  Summary and Conclusions
Appendices May include:
  • Management Resumes
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Sales Projections
  • Any other supporting documents

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