• Sources of Business Finance
  • Small Business Loans
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  • How to Get a Business Loan
  • Small Business Insurance Providers
  • Best Factoring Companies
  • Types of Bank Accounts
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  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Bank Accounts for Small Businesses
  • Free Business Checking Accounts
  • Best Business Credit Cards
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Business Credit Cards for Bad Credit
  • Build Business Credit Fast
  • Business Loan Eligibility Criteria
  • Small-Business Bookkeeping Basics
  • How to Set Financial Goals
  • Business Loan Calculators
  • How to Calculate ROI
  • Calculate Net Income
  • Calculate Working Capital
  • Calculate Operating Income
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12 Key Elements of a Business Plan (Top Components Explained)

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Starting and running a successful business requires proper planning and execution of effective business tactics and strategies .

You need to prepare many essential business documents when starting a business for maximum success; the business plan is one such document.

When creating a business, you want to achieve business objectives and financial goals like productivity, profitability, and business growth. You need an effective business plan to help you get to your desired business destination.

Even if you are already running a business, the proper understanding and review of the key elements of a business plan help you navigate potential crises and obstacles.

This article will teach you why the business document is at the core of any successful business and its key elements you can not avoid.

Let’s get started.

Why Are Business Plans Important?

Business plans are practical steps or guidelines that usually outline what companies need to do to reach their goals. They are essential documents for any business wanting to grow and thrive in a highly-competitive business environment .

1. Proves Your Business Viability

A business plan gives companies an idea of how viable they are and what actions they need to take to grow and reach their financial targets. With a well-written and clearly defined business plan, your business is better positioned to meet its goals.

2. Guides You Throughout the Business Cycle

A business plan is not just important at the start of a business. As a business owner, you must draw up a business plan to remain relevant throughout the business cycle .

During the starting phase of your business, a business plan helps bring your ideas into reality. A solid business plan can secure funding from lenders and investors.

After successfully setting up your business, the next phase is management. Your business plan still has a role to play in this phase, as it assists in communicating your business vision to employees and external partners.

Essentially, your business plan needs to be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the needs of your business.

3. Helps You Make Better Business Decisions

As a business owner, you are involved in an endless decision-making cycle. Your business plan helps you find answers to your most crucial business decisions.

A robust business plan helps you settle your major business components before you launch your product, such as your marketing and sales strategy and competitive advantage.

4. Eliminates Big Mistakes

Many small businesses fail within their first five years for several reasons: lack of financing, stiff competition, low market need, inadequate teams, and inefficient pricing strategy.

Creating an effective plan helps you eliminate these big mistakes that lead to businesses' decline. Every business plan element is crucial for helping you avoid potential mistakes before they happen.

5. Secures Financing and Attracts Top Talents

Having an effective plan increases your chances of securing business loans. One of the essential requirements many lenders ask for to grant your loan request is your business plan.

A business plan helps investors feel confident that your business can attract a significant return on investments ( ROI ).

You can attract and retain top-quality talents with a clear business plan. It inspires your employees and keeps them aligned to achieve your strategic business goals.

Key Elements of Business Plan

Starting and running a successful business requires well-laid actions and supporting documents that better position a company to achieve its business goals and maximize success.

A business plan is a written document with relevant information detailing business objectives and how it intends to achieve its goals.

With an effective business plan, investors, lenders, and potential partners understand your organizational structure and goals, usually around profitability, productivity, and growth.

Every successful business plan is made up of key components that help solidify the efficacy of the business plan in delivering on what it was created to do.

Here are some of the components of an effective business plan.

1. Executive Summary

One of the key elements of a business plan is the executive summary. Write the executive summary as part of the concluding topics in the business plan. Creating an executive summary with all the facts and information available is easier.

In the overall business plan document, the executive summary should be at the forefront of the business plan. It helps set the tone for readers on what to expect from the business plan.

A well-written executive summary includes all vital information about the organization's operations, making it easy for a reader to understand.

The key points that need to be acted upon are highlighted in the executive summary. They should be well spelled out to make decisions easy for the management team.

A good and compelling executive summary points out a company's mission statement and a brief description of its products and services.

Executive Summary of the Business Plan

An executive summary summarizes a business's expected value proposition to distinct customer segments. It highlights the other key elements to be discussed during the rest of the business plan.

Including your prior experiences as an entrepreneur is a good idea in drawing up an executive summary for your business. A brief but detailed explanation of why you decided to start the business in the first place is essential.

Adding your company's mission statement in your executive summary cannot be overemphasized. It creates a culture that defines how employees and all individuals associated with your company abide when carrying out its related processes and operations.

Your executive summary should be brief and detailed to catch readers' attention and encourage them to learn more about your company.

Components of an Executive Summary

Here are some of the information that makes up an executive summary:

  • The name and location of your company
  • Products and services offered by your company
  • Mission and vision statements
  • Success factors of your business plan

2. Business Description

Your business description needs to be exciting and captivating as it is the formal introduction a reader gets about your company.

What your company aims to provide, its products and services, goals and objectives, target audience , and potential customers it plans to serve need to be highlighted in your business description.

A company description helps point out notable qualities that make your company stand out from other businesses in the industry. It details its unique strengths and the competitive advantages that give it an edge to succeed over its direct and indirect competitors.

Spell out how your business aims to deliver on the particular needs and wants of identified customers in your company description, as well as the particular industry and target market of the particular focus of the company.

Include trends and significant competitors within your particular industry in your company description. Your business description should contain what sets your company apart from other businesses and provides it with the needed competitive advantage.

In essence, if there is any area in your business plan where you need to brag about your business, your company description provides that unique opportunity as readers look to get a high-level overview.

Components of a Business Description

Your business description needs to contain these categories of information.

  • Business location
  • The legal structure of your business
  • Summary of your business’s short and long-term goals

3. Market Analysis

The market analysis section should be solely based on analytical research as it details trends particular to the market you want to penetrate.

Graphs, spreadsheets, and histograms are handy data and statistical tools you need to utilize in your market analysis. They make it easy to understand the relationship between your current ideas and the future goals you have for the business.

All details about the target customers you plan to sell products or services should be in the market analysis section. It helps readers with a helpful overview of the market.

In your market analysis, you provide the needed data and statistics about industry and market share, the identified strengths in your company description, and compare them against other businesses in the same industry.

The market analysis section aims to define your target audience and estimate how your product or service would fare with these identified audiences.

Components of Market Analysis

Market analysis helps visualize a target market by researching and identifying the primary target audience of your company and detailing steps and plans based on your audience location.

Obtaining this information through market research is essential as it helps shape how your business achieves its short-term and long-term goals.

Market Analysis Factors

Here are some of the factors to be included in your market analysis.

  • The geographical location of your target market
  • Needs of your target market and how your products and services can meet those needs
  • Demographics of your target audience

Components of the Market Analysis Section

Here is some of the information to be included in your market analysis.

  • Industry description and statistics
  • Demographics and profile of target customers
  • Marketing data for your products and services
  • Detailed evaluation of your competitors

4. Marketing Plan

A marketing plan defines how your business aims to reach its target customers, generate sales leads, and, ultimately, make sales.

Promotion is at the center of any successful marketing plan. It is a series of steps to pitch a product or service to a larger audience to generate engagement. Note that the marketing strategy for a business should not be stagnant and must evolve depending on its outcome.

Include the budgetary requirement for successfully implementing your marketing plan in this section to make it easy for readers to measure your marketing plan's impact in terms of numbers.

The information to include in your marketing plan includes marketing and promotion strategies, pricing plans and strategies , and sales proposals. You need to include how you intend to get customers to return and make repeat purchases in your business plan.

Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan

5. Sales Strategy

Sales strategy defines how you intend to get your product or service to your target customers and works hand in hand with your business marketing strategy.

Your sales strategy approach should not be complex. Break it down into simple and understandable steps to promote your product or service to target customers.

Apart from the steps to promote your product or service, define the budget you need to implement your sales strategies and the number of sales reps needed to help the business assist in direct sales.

Your sales strategy should be specific on what you need and how you intend to deliver on your sales targets, where numbers are reflected to make it easier for readers to understand and relate better.

Sales Strategy

6. Competitive Analysis

Providing transparent and honest information, even with direct and indirect competitors, defines a good business plan. Provide the reader with a clear picture of your rank against major competitors.

Identifying your competitors' weaknesses and strengths is useful in drawing up a market analysis. It is one information investors look out for when assessing business plans.

Competitive Analysis Framework

The competitive analysis section clearly defines the notable differences between your company and your competitors as measured against their strengths and weaknesses.

This section should define the following:

  • Your competitors' identified advantages in the market
  • How do you plan to set up your company to challenge your competitors’ advantage and gain grounds from them?
  • The standout qualities that distinguish you from other companies
  • Potential bottlenecks you have identified that have plagued competitors in the same industry and how you intend to overcome these bottlenecks

In your business plan, you need to prove your industry knowledge to anyone who reads your business plan. The competitive analysis section is designed for that purpose.

7. Management and Organization

Management and organization are key components of a business plan. They define its structure and how it is positioned to run.

Whether you intend to run a sole proprietorship, general or limited partnership, or corporation, the legal structure of your business needs to be clearly defined in your business plan.

Use an organizational chart that illustrates the hierarchy of operations of your company and spells out separate departments and their roles and functions in this business plan section.

The management and organization section includes profiles of advisors, board of directors, and executive team members and their roles and responsibilities in guaranteeing the company's success.

Apparent factors that influence your company's corporate culture, such as human resources requirements and legal structure, should be well defined in the management and organization section.

Defining the business's chain of command if you are not a sole proprietor is necessary. It leaves room for little or no confusion about who is in charge or responsible during business operations.

This section provides relevant information on how the management team intends to help employees maximize their strengths and address their identified weaknesses to help all quarters improve for the business's success.

8. Products and Services

This business plan section describes what a company has to offer regarding products and services to the maximum benefit and satisfaction of its target market.

Boldly spell out pending patents or copyright products and intellectual property in this section alongside costs, expected sales revenue, research and development, and competitors' advantage as an overview.

At this stage of your business plan, the reader needs to know what your business plans to produce and sell and the benefits these products offer in meeting customers' needs.

The supply network of your business product, production costs, and how you intend to sell the products are crucial components of the products and services section.

Investors are always keen on this information to help them reach a balanced assessment of if investing in your business is risky or offer benefits to them.

You need to create a link in this section on how your products or services are designed to meet the market's needs and how you intend to keep those customers and carve out a market share for your company.

Repeat purchases are the backing that a successful business relies on and measure how much customers are into what your company is offering.

This section is more like an expansion of the executive summary section. You need to analyze each product or service under the business.

9. Operating Plan

An operations plan describes how you plan to carry out your business operations and processes.

The operating plan for your business should include:

  • Information about how your company plans to carry out its operations.
  • The base location from which your company intends to operate.
  • The number of employees to be utilized and other information about your company's operations.
  • Key business processes.

This section should highlight how your organization is set up to run. You can also introduce your company's management team in this section, alongside their skills, roles, and responsibilities in the company.

The best way to introduce the company team is by drawing up an organizational chart that effectively maps out an organization's rank and chain of command.

What should be spelled out to readers when they come across this business plan section is how the business plans to operate day-in and day-out successfully.

10. Financial Projections and Assumptions

Bringing your great business ideas into reality is why business plans are important. They help create a sustainable and viable business.

The financial section of your business plan offers significant value. A business uses a financial plan to solve all its financial concerns, which usually involves startup costs, labor expenses, financial projections, and funding and investor pitches.

All key assumptions about the business finances need to be listed alongside the business financial projection, and changes to be made on the assumptions side until it balances with the projection for the business.

The financial plan should also include how the business plans to generate income and the capital expenditure budgets that tend to eat into the budget to arrive at an accurate cash flow projection for the business.

Base your financial goals and expectations on extensive market research backed with relevant financial statements for the relevant period.

Examples of financial statements you can include in the financial projections and assumptions section of your business plan include:

  • Projected income statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Income statements

Revealing the financial goals and potentials of the business is what the financial projection and assumption section of your business plan is all about. It needs to be purely based on facts that can be measurable and attainable.

11. Request For Funding

The request for funding section focuses on the amount of money needed to set up your business and underlying plans for raising the money required. This section includes plans for utilizing the funds for your business's operational and manufacturing processes.

When seeking funding, a reasonable timeline is required alongside it. If the need arises for additional funding to complete other business-related projects, you are not left scampering and desperate for funds.

If you do not have the funds to start up your business, then you should devote a whole section of your business plan to explaining the amount of money you need and how you plan to utilize every penny of the funds. You need to explain it in detail for a future funding request.

When an investor picks up your business plan to analyze it, with all your plans for the funds well spelled out, they are motivated to invest as they have gotten a backing guarantee from your funding request section.

Include timelines and plans for how you intend to repay the loans received in your funding request section. This addition keeps investors assured that they could recoup their investment in the business.

12. Exhibits and Appendices

Exhibits and appendices comprise the final section of your business plan and contain all supporting documents for other sections of the business plan.

Some of the documents that comprise the exhibits and appendices section includes:

  • Legal documents
  • Licenses and permits
  • Credit histories
  • Customer lists

The choice of what additional document to include in your business plan to support your statements depends mainly on the intended audience of your business plan. Hence, it is better to play it safe and not leave anything out when drawing up the appendix and exhibit section.

Supporting documentation is particularly helpful when you need funding or support for your business. This section provides investors with a clearer understanding of the research that backs the claims made in your business plan.

There are key points to include in the appendix and exhibits section of your business plan.

  • The management team and other stakeholders resume
  • Marketing research
  • Permits and relevant legal documents
  • Financial documents

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Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.

Module: Entrepreneurship

Create your business plan.

A cartoon showing the business plan for creating "chicken milk": man buys chicken, chicken produces milk, man receives money.

The following written guide will help you create a business plan and map out how you will start and run your business successfully. The different parts are described in the order in which they appear in a business plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is often considered the most important section of a business plan. This section briefly tells your reader where your company is, where you want to take it, and why your business idea will be successful. If you are seeking financing, the executive summary is also your first opportunity to grab a potential investor’s interest.

The executive summary should highlight the strengths of your overall plan and therefore be the last section you write.

Below are several key points that your executive summary should include based on the stage of your business.

If You Are an Established Business

If you are an established business, be sure to include the following information:

  • The mission statement : This explains what your business is all about. It should be between several sentences and a paragraph.
  • Company information : Include a short statement that covers when your business was formed, the names of the founders and their roles, your number of employees, and your business location(s).
  • Growth highlights : Include examples of company growth, such as financial or market highlights (for example, “XYZ Firm increased profit margins and market share year-over-year since its foundation). Graphs and charts can be helpful in this section.
  • Your products/services : Briefly describe the products or services you provide.
  • Financial information : If you are seeking financing, include any information about your current bank and investors.
  • Summarize future plans : Explain where you would like to take your business.

With the exception of the mission statement, all of the information in the executive summary should be covered in a concise fashion and kept to one page. The executive summary is the first part of your business plan many people will see, so each word should count.

If You Are a Start-up or New Business

If you are just starting a business, you won’t have as much information as an established company. Instead, focus on your experience and background as well as the decisions that led you to start this particular enterprise.

Demonstrate that you have done thorough market analysis. Convince the reader that you can succeed in your target market; then address your future plans.

Company Description

This section of your business plan provides a high-level overview of the different elements of your business. The goal is to help readers and potential investors quickly understand the goal of your business and its unique proposition.

What to Include in Your Company Description

  • Describe the nature of your business and list the marketplace needs that you are trying to satisfy.
  • Explain how your products and services meet these needs.
  • List the specific consumers, organizations, or businesses that your company serves or will serve.
  • Explain the competitive advantages that you believe will make your business a success such as your location, expert personnel, efficient operations, or ability to bring value to your customers.

Market Analysis

The market analysis section of your business plan should illustrate your industry and market knowledge as well as any of your research findings and conclusions.

What to Include in Your Market Analysis

  • Industry description and outlook : Describe your industry, including its current size and historic growth rate as well as other trends and characteristics (e.g., life cycle stage, projected growth rate). Next, list the major customer groups within your industry.
  • Information about your target market : One of the first steps in the process is determining your target market and why they would want to buy from you. Narrow your target market to a manageable size. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to appeal to too many target markets. Research and include the following information about your market:
  • Distinguishing characteristics : What are the critical needs of your potential customers? Are those needs being met?  What are the demographics of the group and where are they located? Are there any seasonal or cyclical purchasing trends that may impact your business?
  • Size of the primary target market : In addition to the size of your market, what data can you include about the annual purchases your market makes in your industry? What is the forecasted market growth for this group?
  • How much market share can you gain? : What is the market share percentage and number of customers you expect to obtain in a defined geographic area? Explain the logic behind your calculation.
  • Pricing and gross margin targets : Define your pricing structure, gross margin levels, and any discount that you plan to use.
  • Competitive analysis : Ask which areas are being ignored by your competitors. Creating a niche for your business is essential. Your competitive analysis should identify your competition by product line or service and market segment. Assess the characteristics of the competitive landscape (e.g., market share, strengths and weaknesses, barriers to market entry, etc.). Don’t Become a jack-of-all-trades. Learn to strategize.
  • Regulatory restrictions : Include any customer or governmental regulatory requirements affecting your business, and how you’ll comply.

Once you’ve completed this section, you can move on to the Organization and Management section of your business plan.

Organization and Management

This section should include your company’s organizational structure, details about the ownership of your company, profiles of your management team, and the qualifications of your board of directors.

Who does what in your business? What is their background and why are you bringing them into the business as board members or employees? What are they responsible for? The people reading your business plan want to know who’s in charge, so tell them. Give a detailed description of each division or department and its function.

Service or Product Line

Once you’ve completed the Organizational and Management section of your plan, the next part of your business plan is where you describe your service or product, emphasizing the benefits to potential and current customers. Focus on why your particular product will fill a need for your target customers.

What to Include in Your Service or Product Line Section

  • A description of your product/service : Include information about the specific benefits of your product or service – from your customers’ perspective. You should also talk about your product or service’s ability to meet consumer needs, any advantages your product has over that of the competition, and the current development stage your product is in (e.g., idea, prototype).
  • Details about your product’s life cycle : Be sure to include information about where your product or service is in its life cycle, as well as any factors that may influence its cycle in the future.
  • Intellectual property : If you have any existing, pending, or any anticipated copyright or patent filings, list them here. Also disclose whether any key aspects of a product may be classified as trade secrets. Last, include any information pertaining to existing legal agreements, such as nondisclosure or non-compete agreements.
  • Research and development (R&D) activities : Outline any R&D activities that you are involved in or are planning. What results of future R&D activities do you expect? Be sure to analyze the R&D efforts of not only your own business, but also of others in your industry.

Marketing and Sales

Once you’ve completed the Service or Product Line section of your plan, the next part of your business plan should focus on your marketing and sales management strategy for your business.

Marketing is the process of creating customers, and customers are the lifeblood of your business. In this section, the first thing you want to do is define your marketing strategy. You’ll learn more about this in the Marketing module of this course.

After you have developed a comprehensive marketing strategy, you can then define your sales strategy. This covers how you plan to actually sell your product. Sales is also covered later in the course.

Next, if you are seeking financing for your business, you’ll need to complete the next part of your plan—Funding Request.

Funding Request

If you are seeking funding for your business venture, use this section to outline your requirements, including the following:

  • Your current funding requirement
  • Any future funding requirements during the next five years
  • How you intend to use the funds you receive: Is the funding request for capital expenditures? Working capital? Debt retirement? Acquisitions? Whatever it is, be sure to list it in this section.
  • Any strategic financial situational plans for the future, such as: a buyout, being acquired, debt repayment plan, or selling your business.

When you are outlining your funding requirements, include the amount you want now and the amount you want in the future. Also include the time period that each request will cover, the type of funding you would like to have (e.g., equity, debt), and the terms that you would like to have applied.

Once you have completed your funding request, move on to the next part of your plan—Financial Projections.

Financial Projections

You should develop the Financial Projections section after you’ve analyzed the market and set clear objectives. That’s when you can allocate resources efficiently. The following is a list of the critical financial statements to include in your business plan packet.

Historical Financial Data

If you own an established business, you will be requested to supply historical data related to your company’s performance. Most creditors request data for the last three to five years, depending on the length of time you have been in business. Typical financial data to include are your company’s income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for each year you have been in business. Often, creditors are also interested in any collateral that you may have that could be used to ensure your loan, regardless of the stage of your business.

Prospective Financial Data

All businesses, whether start-up or growing, will be required to supply prospective financial data. Most of the time, creditors will want to see what you expect your company to be able to do within the next five years. Each year’s documents should include forecasted income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets.

Make sure that your projections match your funding requests; creditors will be on the lookout for inconsistencies.

Lastly, you may want to include an Appendix to your plan.

The Appendix should be provided to readers on an as-needed basis and should not be included with the main body of your business plan. Specific individuals (such as creditors) may want access to this information to make lending decisions. The appendix can include items such as your credit history, résumés, letters of reference, and any additional information that a lender may request.Therefore, it is important to have the appendix within easy reach.

Any copies of your business plan should be controlled; keep a distribution record. This will allow you to update and maintain your business plan on an as-needed basis.

Check Your Understanding

Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered above. This short quiz does not count toward your grade in the class, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.

Use this quiz to check your understanding and decide whether to (1) study the previous section further or (2) move on to the next section.

  • Revision and adaptation. Authored by : Linda Williams and Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Check Your Understanding. Authored by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • What I Do at Work. Authored by : The Scott. Located at : https://www.flickr.com/photos/thescott365/3183484673/ . License : CC BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial
  • Create Your Business Plan. Provided by : U.S. Small Business Association. Located at : https://www.sba.gov/writing-business-plan . License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright

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1.1: Chapter 1 – Developing a Business Plan

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  • Page ID 21274

  • Lee A. Swanson
  • University of Saskatchewan

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Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • Describe the purposes for business planning
  • Describe common business planning principles
  • Explain common business plan development guidelines and tools
  • List and explain the elements of the business plan development process
  • Explain the purposes of each element of the business plan development process
  • Explain how applying the business plan development process can aid in developing a business plan that will meet entrepreneurs’ goals

This chapter describes the purposes, principles, and the general concepts and tools for business planning, and the process for developing a business plan.

Purposes for Developing Business Plans

Business plans are developed for both internal and external purposes. Internally, entrepreneurs develop business plans to help put the pieces of their business together. Externally, the most common purpose is to raise capital.

Internal Purposes

As the road map for a business’s development, the business plan

  • Defines the vision for the company
  • Establishes the company’s strategy
  • Describes how the strategy will be implemented
  • Provides a framework for analysis of key issues
  • Provides a plan for the development of the business
  • Helps the entrepreneur develop and measure critical success factors
  • Helps the entrepreneur to be realistic and test theories

External Purposes

The business plan provides the most complete source of information for valuation of the business. Thus, it is often the main method of describing a company to external audiences such as potential sources for financing and key personnel being recruited. It should assist outside parties to understand the current status of the company, its opportunities, and its needs for resources such as capital and personnel.

Business Plan Development Principles

Hindle and Mainprize (2006) suggested that business plan writers must strive to effectively communicate their expectations about the nature of an uncertain future and to project credibility. The liabilities of newness make communicating the expected future of new ventures much more difficult than for existing businesses. Consequently, business plan writers should adhere to five specific communication principles .

First, business plans must be written to meet the expectations of targeted readers in terms of what they need to know to support the proposed business. They should also lay out the milestones that investors or other targeted readers need to know. Finally, writers must clearly outline the opportunity , the context within the proposed venture will operate (internal and external environment), and the business model (Hindle & Mainprize, 2006).

There are also five business plan credibility principles that writers should consider. Business plan writers should build and establish their credibility by highlighting important and relevant information about the venture team . Writers need to elaborate on the plans they outline in their document so that targeted readers have the information they need to assess the plan’s credibility. To build and establish credibility, they must integrate scenarios to show that the entrepreneur has made realistic assumptions and has effectively anticipated what the future holds for their proposed venture. Writers need to provide comprehensive and realistic financial links between all relevant components of the plan. Finally, they must outline the deal , or the value that targeted readers should expect to derive from their involvement with the venture (Hindle & Mainprize, 2006).

General Guidelines for Developing Business Plans

Many businesses must have a business plan to achieve their goals. Using a standard format helps the reader understand that the you have thought everything through, and that the returns justify the risk. The following are some basic guidelines for business plan development.

As You Write Your Business Plan

1. If appropriate, include nice, catchy, professional graphics on your title page to make it appealing to targeted readers, but don’t go overboard.

2. Bind your document so readers can go through it easily without it falling apart. You might use a three-ring binder, coil binding, or a similar method. Make sure the binding method you use does not obscure the information next to where it is bound.

3. Make certain all of your pages are ordered and numbered correctly.

4. The usual business plan convention is to number all major sections and subsections within your plan using the format as follows:

1. First main heading

1.1 First subheading under the first main heading

1.1.1. First sub-subheading under the first subheading

2. Second main heading

2.1 First subheading under the second main heading

Use the styles and references features in Word to automatically number and format your section titles and to generate your table of contents. Be sure that the last thing you do before printing your document is update your automatic numbering and automatically generated tables. If you fail to do this, your numbering may be incorrect.

5. Prior to submitting your plan, be 100% certain each of the following requirements are met:

  • Everything must be completely integrated. The written part must say exactly the same thing as the financial part.
  • All financial statements must be completely linked and valid. Make sure all of your balance sheets balance.
  • Everything must be correct. There should be NO spelling, grammar, sentence structure, referencing, or calculation errors.
  • Your document must be well organized and formatted. The layout you choose should make the document easy to read and comprehend. All of your diagrams, charts, statements, and other additions should be easy to find and be located in the parts of the plan best suited to them.
  • In some cases it can strengthen your business plan to show some information in both text and table or figure formats. You should avoid unnecessary repetition , however, as it is usually unnecessary—and even damaging—to state the same thing more than once.
  • You should include all the information necessary for readers to understand everything in your document.
  • The terms you use in your plan should be clear and consistent. For example, the following statement in a business plan would leave a reader completely confused: “There is a shortage of 100,000 units with competitors currently producing 25,000. We can help fill this huge gap in demand with our capacity to produce 5,000 units.”

What is A Business Plan

Learn about what goes into a well‑thought‑out business plan and how writing one can help your business prosper.

What Is a Business Plan Hero Illustration

A business plan is a document, usually a road map, that acts as an executive summary of your business. It outlines the key elements crucial to the success of your business, including its business concept, products and services, financial plan, marketing strategy, company structure, and more.

By laying out these elements in a written document, you gain a comprehensive understanding of your vision. A detailed business plan also gives potential investors clear insight into why they should support your business.

Overall, while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to writing the best business plan, there are a few proven tips and tricks. Continue reading to learn more about how to write a business plan for your company.

Why have a business plan?

Writing a business plan forces you to think about how your business will operate and succeed. It also allows you to present that information to potential investors. You'll see each aspect of the business more clearly and you'll show investors the value of funding your company.

How your business plan helps you

Creating a business plan is useful for new companies or existing businesses.

  • Clarify : A detailed business helps you clarify what you expect from the business. You’ll see what you need in money and resources, and you can establish a timeline for each of your goals. It’s not day-to-day planning; it’s your long-term strategy.
  • Adjust : Writing out your business plan makes finer details become clear. This helps you anticipate needed changes or adjustments for your business to succeed. In that way, writing your plan focuses your attention to make strategic decisions for your business.
  • Strategize : A business plan guides the progress toward your company’s long-term goals. This helps you make informed day-to-day decisions based on the big picture you’ve outlined.

How your business plan helps others

A business plan describes your business in enough detail to give any potential hire, investor, or partner a clear picture of your company.

  • New hires : You’ll want your employees to understand and believe in your company. A business plan outlines your vision so that potential hires can have the same confidence in your business as you do.
  • Investors : Someone looking to invest in a business wants to see evidence their money is being used wisely. A business plan gives investors an in-depth look into exactly how you’ll spend their money.
  • Partners : Collaborating with other companies can benefit everyone. Potential partners will want to see your strategies, ideas, and big-picture plan before agreeing to tie their fortunes to yours. A carefully crafted business plan can give them the information they need in one document.

What should you include in your business plan?

Two types of business plans are most common today: traditional and lean startups. A lean startup business plan is a shorter business summary—perhaps only one page. It describes the key points of your plans. It presents a quick snapshot of your business without giving the full details. If you choose to use a lean startup business plan, prepare further information and details for lenders or investors.

Most businesses choose to use a traditional business plan. These plans are longer and go into detail about different aspects of your business. This format gives a comprehensive picture of your business. They outline your vision for the future of your company and the strategies you'll use to execute it.

What to include in your business plan will vary depending on what type of company you own and your goals.

the section of a business plan provides an overview of complementary

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of your business plan—just the key points. The goal of this section is to entice potential investors to continue reading for the details that come later. This summary statement should address several essential questions.

the section of a business plan provides an overview of complementary

If you're sharing your business plan with potential investors or lenders, the last 3 questions are key. Give specific amounts and explain how you'll use that money. Briefly describe the benefits investors will reap by supporting your company. You'll provide further details in the financials section.

If you keep your executive summary to the recommended one or 2 pages, you'll have to distill your business plan down to the most relevant points. This can be a great exercise in restraint that results in a focused synopsis.You'll answer these questions in depth in the sections that follow.

Business description

The description of your business explains exactly what your business is and how it's different from other companies within its industry. First, offer an overview of the industry you're part of. Then describe how your company will succeed within that industry. This will guide your decisions and show potential investors or partners that your company is worth their time and money.

the section of a business plan provides an overview of complementary

This detailed description will show why your business should be the source for whatever product or service you are selling. Why should customers buy your sneakers, purchase your homemade picture frames, or use your delivery service? Show why your vision will succeed and why customers will choose you over your competitors.

Product or service

Describe in detail what your product does or what your service provides. Explain its benefits and value to customers. Compare your offering with your competition. Emphasize the uniqueness of your product and how it will give you an advantage over other similar products.

If your company doesn't manufacture the product, describe who makes it, how it's made, and how you get it. Is it made in a factory, homemade, or are you dropshipping?

If you have any patents or intellectual property claims for your product or service, be sure to list them. Also provide any additional information to show your ownership of the product.

If you plan to expand your offerings in the future, explain how. Will you offer a greater variety of products or services? Will you continue to improve upon your current offerings?

Marketing strategy

How will your business fit into an existing market? How is your business different and better than the competition? You, your potential partners, investors, and employees need to know. A big part of getting a lay of the land is having a plan to get the word out about your product or service. To do so, conduct market research and plan a marketing strategy .

First, describe the market you're entering—its current size, trends, and demographics. Then explain how your business fits in. Next, look at the competition. Analyze businesses that offer the same or similar products or services. Note their strengths and weaknesses. Then show how your company measures up. Your unique selling proposition differentiates your company from your competitors'. That is the starting point for your marketing strategy. Some of the questions to address here include:

  • How will you reach your prospects?
  • How will you convert them to paying customers, and how will you retain their business?
  • What channels will you use for your marketing campaigns? Think about email , social media , digital ads , and postcards , among others.

Researching your industry as you create your business plan can help you understand your customer profile. It also helps you learn about projected changes within the industry. Analyzing your market will give you a good basis for estimates regarding your company's future.

Operations and management

You will have mentioned the legal structure of your business in the executive summary section, but it belongs here too. Will you operate as a sole proprietor, a general or limited partnership, or a corporation? If the necessary paperwork isn't complete yet, explain where in the process you are and when you expect it to be done.

This section will also introduce your company's management team and explain who has what specific responsibilities. You can include an organizational chart that clearly shows each person's job title and their role in the overall operations of the business.

An org chart like this is particularly useful if you haven't hired all the key positions yet—you'll still be able to show the roles you've outlined and how they relate to each other. If you have hired your team, you might consider including their resumes or short bios in this section.

Financial plan

If you're looking for investors or partners, this section is essential. Investors want to know where their money is going and that you'll be able to recoup it.

Your approach to your business plan's financial section depends on whether you've been in business for some time or are starting out.

If you're launching your company, you'll need to research and make projections and estimates regarding the financial future of your business. An existing business will need to provide past statements showing proof of previous and current revenue and make projections based on those figures.

If you're presenting financial statements, graphs, or charts, include a summary of the information to explain key points at a glance. In addition to a narrative description, there are 3 statements you should include.

Income statement

This statement shows your expenses and revenues over time. It's also called a profit and loss statement. If your business is new, you'll estimate these amounts.

Take stock of your expected expenses, from rent or mortgage payments on a property (if you'll have a brick-and-mortar presence) to salaries. Be sure to consider the cost of your product itself.

Subtract these expenses from your projected sales or other revenue to show your total expected income by month, quarter, or year. An established business will use past performance to estimate future income.

Cash flow statement

Your cash flow differs from your income in that it shows how much cash you actually have on hand.

The cash flow statement shows whether the cash coming in is more or less than the amount going out at a given time. These figures help you see if you may need another source of funding or if you have a surplus of funds to invest or use to expand your business. If your business is new, you'll estimate your cash flow using your forecasted figures for revenue.

Balance sheet

This shows the amount of equity you have in your business at a given time. Equity is the amount you own (assets) minus the amount you owe (liabilities). The balance sheet differs from the income statement in that it includes more than just expenses and revenues. It differs from the cash flow statement by representing the bigger picture.

These 3 statements, taken together, provide a snapshot of the financial health of a business. Existing businesses should include these statements for the past 5 years in their business plan. Both new and existing companies should provide projected statements for the next 5 years. Doing so will show the potential success of their business and the profit it will bring in.

How to create a business plan

Understanding the basic components of a business plan is just the first step. Actually starting to write a business plan can still be a daunting task. Writing a truly stand-out, successful business plan, in particular, can take months of research and revision.

However, there’s no need to worry. Even if you have no prior experience, our detailed process on how to create a business plan documented below will make sure you get off to a good start.

Conduct an industry and a competitor analysis

No matter what you’re doing, you always want to be prepared. Why take a shot in the dark when you can be armed with all the knowledge you need? To avoid potential missteps and see how you stack up against the competition, conduct an in-depth analysis of the industry you’re in.

Where is your industry headed? Is it projected to grow in the next 5 to 10 years? How can you be a first mover? Research the trends and statistics in your industry to identify future threats and opportunities. Use data to predict your performance.

In addition, conduct a competitor analysis . Identify your direct and indirect competitors and figure out their strengths and weaknesses. How does your business compare? Apply what you learn to upgrade your business strategy and remember to include your competitive advantages in your own business plan.

Identify your target market

Do not skip market research when writing a business plan. Secure funding by showing your future investors that you have a precise understanding of who your customers are and what they want. Identifying your target market will help you refine your product and service offerings as well. This way, you can increase your profits and steer clear of losses.

Learn more about your target audience through surveys, personal interviews, focus groups, observation, and data you’ve already collected. How big is your target market? How old is your typical customer? How much disposable income do they have? Is there a lot of demand for what you are selling? How does your audience interact with your brand? Can you use behavioral targeting for more personalized marketing?

Develop a marketing strategy

If you want a business loan, be sure to showcase your unique selling proposition and a detailed advertising and sales strategy in your business plan.

What does your business do best? Why should investors help you instead of someone else? Do you offer irresistible low prices, high-quality materials, innovative products, or a sustainable vision? Highlight your strengths and tell a concise but touching story with your business plan.

Detail how you are going to market your offerings in your business plan as well. From your goals and budget to the metrics and KPIs you are going to measure, write everything down. What types of marketing do you plan to utilize? While content marketing may make you an authority in your industry, social media marketing may be better for audience engagement.

Outline your operations and management

Describe your business structure or business model in your business plan. Not only does your business structure communicate how your business is legally recognized, but it also influences your day-to-day operations. Do you own an unincorporated business by yourself and have a sole proprietorship? Or do you run a limited liability company?

Additionally, outline the different positions within your business. Who is on your management team? How many departments do you have? Who are the key personnel? What are the responsibilities of each employee?

Create a financial plan

A financial plan holds you accountable and keeps you focused on your goals. Investors also want to see that your business' finances are something you have put a lot of thought into before giving you a loan.

In general, you’ll want to develop a budget and project your sales and revenue. Include numbers on the sales operation , profit margins, cash flow, customer acquisition cost, and debt ratio of your business.

Write an executive summary

Having an executive summary for your business plan is more important than you think. Many investors don’t have the time to go through every business plan that lands on their desk. For the most part, it’s common practice to look at the executive summary of a business plan before deciding whether to continue reading.

This means your executive summary has to be immediately interesting and straight to the point. Make it as concise as possible, summarizing the key points of your business plan. Typically, it’s best to include a short company description, your purpose and goals, your target market, and your financial projections. Remember to include stats to back up your claims.

Review and revise your business plan

Don’t be hasty and submit the first draft of your business plan as soon as you finish writing it. A solid business plan takes time to perfect. Seek feedback from your advisors and mentors. Then, implement their recommendations in your business plan. Always remember to edit and revise.

Continuously update and improve your business plan

Creating a business plan is a great way to take stock of the big picture of your business. Thinking through your legal and operational structure , your financials, your marketing strategies, and more will help guide you to success and profit. It's also a concise way to pique the interest of and inspire confidence in outsiders you want to impress, like potential hires or investors.

If you're starting a new business, a well-thought-out business plan can help you see which areas need more attention so you can iron out any potential problems before diving in. For an existing business, creating an updated business plan can help you analyze your success, set new goals, and stay on track.

Need more help writing a business plan? Check out Mailchimp's Marketing Library for inspiration and examples . If you're looking to level up your marketing strategy as a part of your business planning, try Mailchimp's email marketing software .

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The 10 Key Components of a Business Plan

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Growthink.com Components of a Business Plan Step By Step Advice

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 1 million entrepreneurs and business owners write business plans. These plans have been used to raise funding and grow countless businesses.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

From working with all these businesses, we know what the 10 elements in any great business plan. Providing a comprehensive assessment of each of these components is critical in attracting lenders, angel investors, venture capitalists or other equity investors.

Get started with a title page that includes your company name, logo and contact information, since interested readers must have a simple way to find and reach out to you. After that be sure to include the 10 parts of a business plan documented below.

What are the 10 Key Components of a Business Plan?

The 10 sections or elements of a business plan that you must include are as follows:

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary provides a succinct synopsis of the business plan, and highlights the key points raised within. It often includes the company’s mission statement and description of the products and services. It’s recommended by me and many experts including the Small Business Administration to write the executive summary last.

The executive summary must communicate to the prospective investor the size and scope of the market opportunity, the venture’s business and profitability model, and how the resources/skills/strategic positioning of the company’s management team make it uniquely qualified to execute the business plan. The executive summary must be compelling, easy-to-read, and no longer than 2-4 pages.  

2. Company Analysis

This business plan section provides a strategic overview of the business and describes how the company is organized, what products and services it offers/will offer, and goes into further detail on the business’ unique qualifications in serving its target markets. As any good business plan template will point out, your company analysis should also give a snapshot of the company’s achievements to date, since the best indicator of future success are past accomplishments.

3. Industry or Market Analysis

This section evaluates the playing field in which the company will be competing, and includes well-structured answers to key market research questions such as the following:

  • What are the sizes of the target market segments?
  • What are the trends for the industry as a whole?
  • With what other industries do your services compete?

To conduct this market research, do research online and leverage trade associations that often have the information you need.  

4. Analysis of Customers

The customer analysis business plan section assesses the customer segment(s) that the company serves. In this section, the company must convey the needs of its target customers. It must then show how its products and services satisfy these needs to an extent that the customer will pay for them.

The following are examples of customer segments: moms, engaged couples, schools, online retailers, teens, baby boomers, business owners, etc.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of business you operate as different segments often have different needs. Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, including a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. With regards to psychographic variables, discuss whether your customers have any unique lifestyles, interests, opinions, attitudes and/or values that will help you market to them more effectively.

5. Analysis of Competition

All capable business plan writers discuss the competitive landscape of your business. This element of your plan must identify your direct and indirect competitors, assesses their strengths and weaknesses and delineate your company’s competitive advantages. It’s a crucial business plan section.

Direct competitors are those that provide the same product or service to the same customer. Indirect competitors are those who provide similar products or services. For example, the direct competitors to a pizza shop are other local pizza shops. Indirect competitors are other food options like supermarkets, delis, other restaurants, etc.

The first five components of your business plan provide an overview of the business opportunity and market research to support it. The remaining five business plan sections focus mainly on strategy, primarily the marketing, operational, financial and management strategies that your firm will employ.

6. Marketing, Sales & Product Plan

The marketing and sales plan component of your business plan details your strategy for penetrating the target markets. Key elements include the following:

  • A description of the company’s desired strategic positioning
  • Detailed descriptions of the company’s product and service offerings and potential product extensions
  • Descriptions of the company’s desired image and branding strategy
  • Descriptions of the company’s promotional strategies
  • An overview of the company’s pricing strategies
  • A description of current and potential strategic marketing partnerships/ alliances

7. Operations Strategy, Design and Development Plans

These sections detail the internal strategies for building the venture from concept to reality, and include answers to the following questions:

  • What functions will be required to run the business?
  • What milestones must be reached before the venture can be launched?
  • How will quality be controlled?

8. Management Team

The management team section demonstrates that the company has the required human resources to be successful. The business plan must answer questions including:

  • Who are the key management personnel and what are their backgrounds?
  • What management additions will be required to make the business a success?
  • Who are the other investors and/or shareholders, if any?
  • Who comprises the Board of Directors and/or Board of Advisors?
  • Who are the professional advisors (e.g., lawyer, accounting firm)?

9. Financial Plan

The financial plan involves the development of the company’s revenue and profitability model. These financial statements detail how you generate income and get paid from customers,. The financial plan includes detailed explanations of the key assumptions used in building the business plan model, sensitivity analysis on key revenue and cost variables, and description of comparable valuations for existing companies with similar business models.

One of the key purposes of your business plan is to determine the amount of capital the firm needs. The financial plan does this along with assessing the proposed use of these funds (e.g., equipment, working capital, labor expenses, insurance costs, etc.) and the expected future earnings. It includes Projected Income Statements, Balance Sheets (showing assets, liabilities and equity) and Cash Flow Statements, broken out quarterly for the first two years, and annually for years 1-5.

Importantly, all of the assumptions and projections in the financial plan must flow from and be supported by the descriptions and explanations offered in the other sections of the plan. The financial plan is where the entrepreneur communicates how he/she plans to “monetize” the overall vision for the new venture. Note that in addition to traditional debt and equity sources of startup and growth funding that require a business plan (bank loans, angel investors, venture capitalists, friends and family), you will probably also use other capital sources, such as credit cards and business credit, in growing your company.

10. Appendix

The appendix is used to support the rest of the business plan. Every business plan should have a full set of financial projections in the appendix, with the summary of these financials in the executive summary and the financial plan. Other documentation that could appear in the appendix includes technical drawings, partnership and/or customer letters, expanded competitor reviews and/or customer lists.

Find additional business plan help articles here.

Expertly and comprehensively discussing these components in their business plan helps entrepreneurs to better understand their business opportunity and assists them in convincing investors that the opportunity may be right for them too.

In addition to ensuring you included the proper elements of a business plan when developing your plan always think about why you are uniquely qualified to succeed in your business. For example, is your team’s expertise something that’s unique and can ensure your success? Or is it marketing partnerships you have executed? Importantly, if you don’t have any unique success factors, think about what you can add to make your company unique. Doing so can dramatically improve your success. Also, whether you write it on a word processor or use business plan software , remember to update your plan at least annually. After several years, you should have several business plans you can review to see what worked and what didn’t. This should prove helpful as you create future plans for your company’s growth.

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How to Write an Executive Summary (+ Examples)

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  • March 21, 2024
  • Business Plan , How to Write

executive summary example

The executive summary is the cornerstone of any business plan, serving as a gateway for readers to understand the essence of your proposal.

It summarizes the plan’s key points into a digestible format, making it crucial for capturing the interest of investors, partners, and stakeholders.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what the executive summary is, why we use it, and also how you can create one for your business plan. Let’s dive in!

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a concise and compelling overview of a business plan (or simply a report), designed to provide readers, such as investors, partners, or upper management, with a quick and clear understanding of the document’s most critical aspects.

For a business plan, it summarizes the key points including the business overview , market analysis , strategy plan timeline and financial projections.

Typically, the executive summary is the first section of a business plan, but it should be written last to ensure it accurately reflects the content of the entire document.

The primary goal of an executive summary is to engage the reader’s interest and encourage them to read the full document.

It should be succinct, typically no more than one to two pages, and articulate enough to stand on its own, presenting the essence of the business proposal or report without requiring the reader to go through the entire document for basic understanding.

Why Do We Use It?

The executive summary plays a crucial role in whether a business plan opens doors to funding, partnerships, or other opportunities . It’s often the first (and sometimes the only) part of the plan that stakeholders read, making it essential for making a strong, positive first impression. As such, we use it in order to:

  • Capture Attention: Given the volume of business plans investors, partners, and lenders might receive, an executive summary’s primary function is to grab the reader’s attention quickly. It highlights the most compelling aspects of the business to encourage further reading.
  • Save Time: It provides a succinct overview of the business plan, allowing readers to understand the key points without going through the entire document. This is particularly beneficial for busy stakeholders who need to make informed decisions efficiently.
  • Facilitate Understanding: An executive summary distills complex business concepts and strategies into a concise format. Therefore, it makes it easier for readers to grasp the business’s core mission, strategic direction, and potential for success.
  • Driving Action: By summarizing the financial projections and funding requirements, an executive summary can effectively communicate the investment opportunity. Indeed the investment opportunity, whether to raise money from investors or a loan from a bank, is the most common reason why we prepare business plans.
  • Setting the Tone: The executive summary sets the tone for the entire business plan. A well-written summary indicates a well-thought-out business plan, reflecting the professionalism and competence of the management team.

How to Write an Executive Summary in 4 Simple Steps

Here’s a streamlined approach to crafting an impactful executive summary:

1. Start with Your Business Overview

  • Company Name: Begin with the name of your business.
  • Location: Provide the location of your business operations.
  • Business model: Briefly describe how you make money, the producfs and/or services your business offers.

2. Highlight the Market Opportunity

  • Target Market : Identify your target market and its size.
  • Market Trends : Highlight the key market trends that justify the need for your product or service.
  • Competitive Landscape : Describe how your business is positioned to meet this need effectively.

3. Present Your Management Team

  • Team Overview: Introduce the key members of your management team and their roles.
  • Experience: Highlight relevant experience and skills that contribute to the business’s success.

4. Include Financial Projections

  • Financial Summary: Provide a snapshot of key financial projections, including revenue, profits, and cash flow over the next three to five years.
  • Funding Requirements: If seeking investment, specify the amount needed and how it will be used.

2 Executive Summary Examples

Here are 2 examples you can use as an inspiration to create yours. These are taken from our coffee shop and hair salon business plan templates.

Coffee Shop Executive Summary

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Hair Salon Executive Summary

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Go Business Plan

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Understanding the Main Parts of a Business Plan

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Whether you’re planning to open a shop that makes the  best coffee or you want to sell eco-friendly office supplies, you’ll need to explain why your business is necessary and how it’ll differ from its competitors. That’s where your business plan comes in. It provides investors, lenders and potential partners with an understanding of your company’s structure and goals.

Let’s break down the 10 key components of a business plan.

1. Executive Summary

Your executive summary should appear first in your business plan. It should summarize what you expect your business to accomplish. Since it’s meant to highlight what you intend to discuss in the rest of the plan, the Small Business Administration suggests that you write this section last.

A good executive summary is compelling. It reveals the company’s mission statement, along with a short description of its products and services. It might also be a good idea to briefly explain why you’re starting your company and include details about your experience in the industry that you’re entering.

2. Company Description

A company description includes key information about your business, goals and the target customers that you want to serve. This is where you explain why your company stands out from other competitors in the industry and break down its strengths, including how it offers solutions for customers, and the competitive advantages that will give your business an edge to succeed.

3. Market Analysis

This is where you show that you have a key understanding of the ins and outs of the industry and the specific market you plan to enter. Here you will substantiate the strengths that you highlighted in your company description with data and statistics that break down industry trends and themes. Show what other businesses are doing and how they are succeeding or failing. Your market analysis should also help visualize your target customers — how much money they make, what their buying habits are, which services do they want and need, etc. Above all, the numbers should help answer why your business can do it better.

4. Competitive Analysis

Top 10 Components of a Good Business Plan

A good business plan will present a clear comparison of your business vs your direct and indirect competitors. This is where you prove your knowledge of the industry by breaking down their strengths and weaknesses. Your end goal is show how your business will stack up. And if there are any issues that could prevent you from jumping into the market, like high upfront costs, this is where you will need to be forthcoming. Your competitive analysis will go in your market analysis section.

5. Description of Management and Organization

Your business must also outline how your organization is set up. Introduce your company managers here and summarize their skills and primary job responsibilities. An effective way could be to create a diagram that maps out your chain of command.

Don’t forget to indicate whether your business will operate as a partnership, a sole proprietorship or a business with a different ownership structure. If you have a board of directors, you’ll need to identify the members.

6. Breakdown of Your Products and Services

While your company description is an overview, a detailed breakdown of your products and services is intended to give a complementary but fuller description about the products that you are creating and selling, how long they could last and how they will meet existing demand.

This is where you should mention your suppliers, as well as other key information about how much it will cost to make your products and how much money you are hoping to bring in. You should also list here all relevant information pertaining to patents and copyright concerns as well.

7. Marketing Plan

This is where you describe how you intend to get your products and services in front of your target customers. Break down here the steps that you will take to promote your products and the budget that you will need to implement your strategies.

8. Sales Strategy

This section should answer how you will sell the products that you are building or carry out the services that you intend to offer. Your sales strategy must be specific. Break down how many sales reps you will need to hire and how you will recruit them and bring them on board. Make sure to include your sales targets as well.

9. Request for Funding

If you need funding, this section focuses on the amount of money that you need to set up your business and how you plan to use  the capital that you are raising . You might want to include a timeline here for additional funding that you may require to complete other important projects.

10. Financial Projections

Top 10 Components of a Good Business Plan

This final section breaks down the financial goals and expectations that you’ve set based on market research. You’ll report your anticipated revenue for the first 12 months and your annual projected earnings for the second, third, fourth and fifth years of business.

If you’re trying to apply for a  personal loan  or a small business loan, you can always add an appendix or another section that provides additional financial or background information.

Bottom Line

Every company is different so your business plan might look nothing like another entrepreneur’s. But there are key components that every good plan needs to have, and it’s always a good idea to provide a clear and accurate summary of your business goals in your business plan.

SOURCE: SmartAsset

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    A business plan helps manage a company and raise capital. The _____ section of a business plan provides an overview of complementary products and services and a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of your direct and indirect competitors . ... The section of a formal report that discusses, analyzes, interprets, and evaluates the research ...

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  4. The 10 Components of a Business Plan

    Above all, the numbers should help answer why your business can do it better. 4. Competitive Analysis. A good business plan will present a clear comparison of your business vs your direct and indirect competitors. This is where you prove your knowledge of the industry by breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.

  5. How to Write a Business Overview (+ Examples)

    1. Start with an Introduction. Begin your business overview section by introducing the name of your business, its location, and the type of business structure (e.g., LLC, corporation, partnership). Provide a brief history that includes the founding story, milestones achieved so far, and the current stage of the business.

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    In contrast, business plans submitted for that competition can usually be up to twenty-five pages. These are just two examples. Some components may differ slightly; common elements are typically found in a formal business plan outline. The next section will provide sample components of a full business plan for a fictional business.

  8. Executive Summary

    An executive summary is the first section of a business plan or proposal that provides a brief overview of the document and contains its main points. In other words, it is a condensed version of a complete business plan or proposal. It is primarily used in the business world, but its application in academia is also possible.

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    Here is a basic template that any business can use when developing its business plan: Section 1: Executive Summary. Present the company's mission. Describe the company's product and/or service offerings. Give a summary of the target market and its demographics.

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    The 10 sections or elements of a business plan that you must include are as follows: 1. Executive Summary. The executive summary provides a succinct synopsis of the business plan, and highlights the key points raised within. It often includes the company's mission statement and description of the products and services.

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    And How to Create One. 1. Executive summary. This is a short section that introduces the business plan as a whole to the people who will be reading it, including investors, lenders, or other members of your team. Start with a sentence or two about your business, your goals for developing it, and why it will be successful.

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