Writing Your Business Plan

The business plan is a living document that you will update as your business, industry and market change. The typical business plan includes the following sections:

Executive Summary – Write this section last keeping it to no more than two pages.  Explain the fundamentals of the proposed business which include a discussion of what industry you are in, who your competitors will be, the product and/or services that you will provide and who your targeted customers will be.

General Company Description – This section should consist of your mission statement, a listing of your company goals and objectives and your business philosophy.  Describe the company’s most important strengths and core competencies, as well as your legal form of ownership.

Products and Services – Describe in depth your products and services while addressing in detail your unique or proprietary features.  This is also the time to address pricing, fees, or leasing costs of your products and services.

Marketing Plan – This begins with careful systematic research, looking at both primary and secondary information.  In this section it is very important to include specific statistics, numbers and sources. This will include the total size of your market and what percentage you expect to have of the total and the various barriers you will have to overcome and how that will be achieved.  In this section you will also clearly identify your intended customers and their demographics. You will do the same for your competition in a competitive analysis.  You will then develop a strategy and a budget to support that strategy.  This information will all culminate in a sales forecast.

Operational Plan – This section explains the daily operation of the business, its location, equipment, people, processes and surrounding environment.

Management and Organization – This is an important section in that it addresses who will manage the business day to day and their qualifications, as well as what to do when these key personnel need to be replaced. You will also discuss the professional and advisory support that the business will have available.

Startup Expenses and Capitalization – This is the section where you estimate as accurately as possible the expenses the business will incur and how much capital you will need to get the business up and running and to keep it operating.

Financial Plan – This very important section is comprised of monthly reports including profit and loss projections, cash flow predictions, a balance sheet and a carefully calculated break-even analysis.  A final detailed budget is also necessary.