Business plans don’t have to be long, formidable, detailed documents. Often 2-3 pages will suffice. The main goal is to get your ideas, strategies, and resource requirements out of your head and put them on paper. This documentation is important for several reasons. First, plans tend to become more “real” once they are written. Second, for planning purposes, it is important to be organized and objective. It is easier to accomplish this in writing. Third, it is important to share a written plan with others and get their feedback. Fourth, investors and financiers will want to see the numbers.
An abbreviated business plan forces the writer to be concise and include only essential information. The Plan will be more focused and understandable. In addition, the plan should receive more favorable attention and a thorough reading.
COMPONENT PLAN Although there are different opinions, some variations of essential elements for your business plan may include:
Introduction / Executive Summary (or Background)
Key Products / Services
Management / operation plan
Finance and financing
BASIC INFORMATION. FOR EACH SECTION
The introduction and background may not seem too important, but how did you come up with the idea? Is it the original concept? The Introduction / Executive Summary / Background Statement is to attract the attention of readers and prepare them for what follows.
In the Mission / Vision Statement area, try to describe exactly what your organization’s purpose is and where you see it going in the future. Key products or services is where you describe what you will produce and sell.
Management is the section where the directors (founders) are identified along with an indication of the personnel requirements.
The SWOT analysis identifies your proposed company’s strengths, and perhaps most importantly, its weaknesses, as well as available market opportunities and threats (primarily from competitors).
Finance and Financing specifies the money needed to start and maintain its operations, and the source of the “start-up” funds.
Marketing identifies your customer (target segment) and how you propose to create / satisfy their need / desire for your products / services. Prices, packaging, sales, and distribution can also be included.
HOW MUCH DETAIL?
In preliminary business plans, often “less is more.” Its purpose is to convey essential information, not to answer all questions or provide all details. At some point in the future, you will need to develop the details, although there is plenty of time to do so. I’m not suggesting that you be superficial, just concise and “strict.” Aim for two or three substantive paragraphs in each section. Remember: get that plan out of your head and put it on paper.
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