Business plans can be relatively simple
documents for a very small start-up or a long and complex presentation of ideas and finances for larger organisations. They
should also be ‘works in progress’ in the sense that they chart predicted advances in growth and are always subject
to modification. Even the most successful, evolving organisations usually maintain an annual business plan as a road map of
where they plan to go in the year ahead. And, in a sense, public company’s annual reports to stockholders are business
plans for stockholders that detail where organisations have succeeded or failed in the past twelve months and where they plan
to be during the coming year.
For business managers who are just
launching their organisations and actively seeking investors or bank financing, business plans are critical to success. Competent
sales people know that they must be fully informed about their company’s products in order to motivate buyers. The same
is true for businesses that wish to motivate investors or lenders to provide crucial financial support that the organisation
needs to grow and prosper. (SBA.gov, 2007).
Business plans can be highly detailed
Most business plans contain seven primary
sections where information is presented in a logical fashion. Each section can be simple or extremely complex, depending upon
the type and size of the organisation that it describes. These include and contain:
This executive summary informs the
reader about what the business wants. This is a very-important section and should appear immediately following the title page.
In most cases, the executive summary is broken down to business concept, financial data, financial needs, current business
position and major achievements.
The market analysis describes what
the organization’s business is; it’s competition and any things that give the company a competitive edge in the
This section contains information about
the company’s management, employees and mission. Plans for personnel growth are also presented.
Organization & Management
The people who manage the company and
its key departments and divisions are described in this section of business plans.
Marketing & Sales
The marketing and sales section describes
how the organisation markets and sells its products or services to customers and provides details about advertising, public
relations and publicity activities. If the sales force is sizeable, it is normally described in terms of locations and number
of employees in different offices. This is a very-important part of all business plans.
The section on product lines can be
simple or complex depending upon how extensive the organisation’s product offerings are. Products are described in terms
of technology and features and benefits provided to users.
Here is where the company presents
details about its current financial state. In larger firms, his section may contain numerous graphs and charts to support
the text. Company auditors (CPAs) and banks are generally listed here too for credibility.
If the organisation is actively seeking
funding for growth and expansion, this is where the need is described along with details of how any loan or investor proceeds
will be utilised.
Just as at the end of a book, the appendix
breaks down each and every section into its sub-parts for easy reader location.
The above represents a rough guide
to preparing business plans. Complete details and even templates are readily available for download from Internet websites.
SBA.gov (2007) “Small Business
Available from: http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/ plan/writeabusinessplan
Entrepreneur.com (2007) “Elements
of a Business Plan”
Available from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/startingbusiness/ businessplans/article/38308.html