A well structured business plan can provide in-depth understanding of your existing or proposed business. A wide vision will be provided, showing your own goals, objectives and information regarding your available finances and additional funds you will require. When drafting your own business plan, there are four key areas that require specific attention:
- The nature of your business /niche market
- Management of the business and entrepreneurs involved
- Market conditions in which the business operates
- Financial management, planning; risks and rewards associated with the total investment in the business
A professional business plan should incorporate a cover page which will include an executive summary and a business overview which identifies the business’ profile and the product or service associated with the company. This is then followed with a management section which presents any entrepreneurs involved and the management structure, after which comes the Market section made up as follows:-
- Industrial and marketing analysis
- Sales and marketing strategy
- Financial Statements and Projections
- The Legal and Regulatory environment
- “SWOT” analysis and risk/reward assessment
- Appendices with documentation in support thereof
An Executive Summary is arguably the vital part of any business plan. It is the media by which your strategy will be sold to the investor and is an overview of the entire business plan which should highlight the main objectives and provide summaries of each section associated with it. Therefore, even though it is set at the beginning of the document, it is presented at the end to rehash the essentials of the plan.
The business overview will require a business profile with thorough information on the background and history of your business, i.e: how was it formed and whether it is a new business or not. A mission statement must be also presented, as well as the long and short term objectives relating to the business’ growth. Development and possible exit strategies, such as going public or buying out investors are listed among these options. The second part of the overview will describe in detail, the product or service marketed by the business and any innovative features offered that give an advantage over the competition. Include the key technologies being employed, together with any current and future research and developments. The location and premises particulars are important factors and if applicable, any production facilities. These should be fully presented, with any relative and associated information.
All aspects related or associated directly or indirectly, are to be listed and an organizational chart should be included. Payment, incentives, share options, and conditions of employment relating to key management and directors, together with any management deficiencies, should form part of the presentation. A further highlighted aspect for inclusion, relates to the situation concerning current levels of employment, labor relations and union membership. All other pertinent facts involved with the operation of the business should be revealed and explained comprehensively.
The Market presentation should summarize the industry in which your company operates. Most of the facts you will present, may be researched from government statistics and trade organizations. Your summary should describe current trends and developments within the industry, including the major influencers and any industrial problems. You should also review influencing events, nationally and globally, together with the effects of legislation on the industry generally. The Market analysis and Sales Strategy will be given a full and in-depth presentation. Show future growth potential, with a complete analysis as to the overall trends and expectations. Your existing customer base must be listed and any orders or letters of intent must be shown in support. A comparison should be presented with your competitors, as to pricing structures, product quality, their service delivery and expectations regarding their reaction to your business activity in the marketplace. Adding to this is your strategy to increase and develop the present customer base, advertising and targets.
Your financial statements and projections should be summarized within the body of the business plan. A detailed analysis as an appendix should also be attached. This should show a historical finance performance with at least three sets of audited annual statements in support. It would be advisable in this respect, to consult your accountant or auditor. Legal and Regulatory Environment should display all legal documents, including licenses, copyrights and certificates associated with your business. “SWOT” Analysis and Risk/Reward Assessment, will provide definite information on possible strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Review the strategies carried out in respect of the risk factors and end your Business Plan document with Appendices and Support.
In order to get your business off the ground and see it reach its full potential, a professionally drafted and presented business plan is a must. In a society where competition within business is fierce, it is important that we do all we can in order to get our business off the ground and thriving as soon as possible.