Program for Entrepreneurs

NV3: Operating Plan

Strategy 851 & 852 / IE 752

Fall 2019, Monday 3:00pm – 5:30pm

Instructor: Jon Fjeld


Office: A105, Fuqua

Office Hours: by appt.


  1. “Fuqua Program for Entrepreneurs.”
  2. Guidelines for Creating and Growing Ventures: Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Wiki
  3. “Operating Plan Overview”: Word document implementation of the process steps of the operating plan stage of the Program for Entrepreneurs.
  4. New Ventures Creation: Overview
  5. New Ventures Creation: Operating Plan is the third of a sequence of four courses:
    •    NV 1: Opportunity Evaluation
    •    NV 2: Strategy Development
    •    NV 3: Operating Plan

The student team will develop a full operating plan for a new venture. This work assumes that the students have already developed a strategy in NV 2. The level of detail will be suitable for a business plan document for a company seeking initial investment. The business plan should be fundable at the completion of the project.
This course is a 2-term, 6-credit course.


The NV: Operating Plan course requires that the student team is working on a project that has successfully completed the Strategy Development step or has been granted an exception to this step by the Program for Entrepreneurs Advisory Committee. In addition, the instructor must have approved the project.

Course content

The course is organized to allow teams to follow a structured process in doing their analysis and developing an operating plan. Four major areas form the basis of the operating plan developed for the proposed venture.


I. We begin the process by revisiting and gaining clarity on why the venture exists. What is the basic goal the venture is trying to achieve? What values guide decision-making, planning, and execution?

II. The Operating Plan stage consists of four sections.

  1. Core competencies: Based on the proposed foundation for sustainable competitive advantage for the venture, this will be an analysis of the core competencies (functions and capabilities) that must be internal to the firm. This analysis will guide which functions can be outsourced or achieved through partnerships.
  2. Elements of the operating plan: This section is the heart of the analysis. It will be a plan of the activities and investments envisioned and what they will yield in terms of revenue and profit. The main elements of the plan will correspond to the main components of the income statement:
    • Sales forecast: including addressable market, customer segmentation, revenue model.
    • Gross margin: analysis of the costs to produce the product or service and the underlying assumptions.
    • Sales and marketing plan: including product definition, pricing, distribution plan, supporting marketing programs.
    • Research and development: (if needed) including product release schedule, assumptions and required resources.
    • Operations and manufacturing: where and how will the product be built, including assumptions about customer support and warranty?
    • General and administrative: what is required to run the company: people, systems, etc.
  3. Budget: The plan developed will be translated into pro forma financial statements (income statements, cash flow statements and balance sheets) for a timeframe appropriate for the nature of the venture (probably somewhere between three and seven years).
  4. Financing plan: How will this venture be financed? This will include an analysis of funding needs (including staging) and appropriate sources of funding.

A more detailed description of the process can be found at: Operating Plan Process.

Basic Questions

As you develop the operating plan for your business, the following questions should form the core of your thinking.

  1. What will you deliver to your customers and how will you produce it?
  2. Why will your customers want your product and how will they come to want it?
  3. How will they buy it and how will the receive it?
  4. How many customers will you have and how much revenue will they generate?
  5. What can go wrong with your customer’s experience and how will you handle problems?
  6. How will you run your company?
  7. What are the major risks?
  8. How will you finance your plan?


The team will create the following deliverables:

  • A complete submission of the appropriate information using the Operating Plan Process template.
  • A Business Plan document which integrates the operating plan with the strategy sections developed during NV 2: Strategy Development.
  • An oral presentation of the overall plan to a panel consisting of the Program for Entrepreneurs Advisory Committee and other investors.


The instructor will grade the team based on the set of deliverables. 50% of the grade will be based on the content of the Operating Plan Document, 25% on the business plan document and 25% on the final presentation.


Students require permission of the instructor to enroll in this course.

Documents: businessplanoutlinebahram-business-plan-outline