Sunday, March 28, 2010

What Should Go in My Business Plan?

A good business plan is more than merely a document. It is a carefully designed outline of your business, a veritable blueprint that accurately describes your business and all its components. Business plans differ in length and detail, depending on the nature of the business. However, there are certain basic elements that a good business plan should contain.

Begin with the Executive Summary. Many consider this to be the most important section of the plan. It provides an overview of the key points of the business. It should contain highlights from all sections of the plan and should be written in an interesting, concise manner, not to exceed two pages. Often, the reader will only read this section. If it doesn't grab the reader's attention, they may not go further.

Follow this with a detailed description of the business opportunity. In simple language, describe what this business will do and why it should succeed. Why are you the right person for this business? What is your vision?

You have done your market research. Put the results into a detailed marketing plan. This section of the plan should demonstrate how you plan to enter the market. How do you plan to promote your business? What are your pricing and sales strategies? How large is your potential customer base and how do you identify them?

Build an organizational chart. Describe the key members of your team and what will be their roles. Include the qualifications of the leading managers, including you. This section should clearly convince the reader that this business will have the team to make it happen.

Follow the organizational chart with a description of the operational requirements. How will the business operate? What are the physical requirements? What types of technology will be employed in the daily operations?

Now comes the number crunching. The financial section should contain a detailed outline of your financial forecast for the first three to five years. The first year should be far more detailed. An investor should see that you truly understand the business. This section should contain cash flow statements, profit and loss forecasts, and sales projections.

Remember that the language of a business plan should be directed to an outsider. Make the plan realistic and believable. Invest your time in preparation as this document may be the key to launching your business.

More help on setting up a business plan

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