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What Is a Business Plan?
Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.
Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.
- A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
- Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
- For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
- There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.
Investopedia / Ryan Oakley
Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.
Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."
Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.
There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.
Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.
While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.
While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.
Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.
The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.
These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:
- Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
- Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
- Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
- Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
- Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.
The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.
2 Types of Business Plans
Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.
- Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
- Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.
Why Do Business Plans Fail?
A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.
How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.
What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?
The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.
Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.
A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.
Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."
U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."
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10 Common Business Plan Mistakes
There are many elements that make a good business plan, avoid these business plan mistakes and give your business idea the pitch it deserves. It often takes time, patience and many revisions before you get it right. Unfortunately when rushing to get your funding in place and launch your business, your plan can get neglected. Below we have highlighted a few of the very common business plan mistakes:
Get Started on your business plan by downloading Small Business BC’s Business Plan Template and Cashflow Forecasting Tool.
1. Unrealistic Financial Projections
Most Canadians are familiar with the businesses on CBC’s Dragons’ Den who grossly overestimate the value of their company and are chastised and shot down by the dragons. It’s one of the most common business plan mistakes. Lenders and investors expect to be shown a realistic picture of where your business is now and where it hopes to be, therefore if the plan is overly optimistic with no explanation of the projections, it will ring warning bells and cause the plan to be rejected.
2. Not Defining the Target Audience
No business will appeal to everyone. You must define your specific target market, present how you have made these assumptions and outline how you will specifically target this market.
Need help defining your target market and learning about primary and secondary market research? Small Business BC offers seminars on market research and one-on-one consultations with an in-house market research expert. Looking in Vancouver? Use Bizmap , an amazing market research tool, to help find the best location for your audience.
You may believe your business idea is the next big thing but you need to be able to back-up your claim. Over-hyping your business idea and littering your plan with superlatives like hottest and greatest does not substantiate your product or service. Wow them with you business idea, research and financial plan, not with the words you think they want to hear.
4. Bad Research
All research must be double checked and substantiated. By using incorrect or out of date information you will discredit your business idea and the remainder of the plan.
5. No Focus on your Competition
Even if you think you have a ‘unique’ business idea and are sure that no other business like yours exists, check and double check. There is no such thing as no competition. Even if your business is one of kind, it comes down to the dollar; if your business didn’t exist, but the customers’ need still existed, where would they spend their money?
Equally if you highlight your competition too much the investor will worry that the business will not survive. Focus on your niche, what differentiates you from the competition, how you plan to compete in the marketplace and paint accurate picture of what the industry is like now and where you see it going in the future.
6. Hiding Your Weaknesses
Do not hide your weaknesses but do not highlight them too much. Every business has its weaknesses but by hiding them or highlighting them too much you will put off the investor. The only way to address these weaknesses is to include a detailed strategy of how you plan address these problems.
7. Not Knowing your Distribution Channels
Have a secure plan how to provide your service or distribute your product. Including all possible channels in your plan without substantiating why these are the correct channels and how they will reach your target market will make the investor assume that you have just thought of the list off the top of your head. The ability to articulate your strategy about how your product or service will reach your client is vital.
8. Including Too Much Information
If you were an investor, would you want to read a 200 page business plan? Most investors have a mental checklist of 10 to 12 points that they are looking for in the plan, everything else just gets in the way. The purpose of your plan is not to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge but to focus on the key elements of your business. Clear and concise writing is always appreciated and if you have additional information which you would like to include in the document, create an appendix.
9. Being Inconsistent
Highlighting different target markets, quoting conflicting statistics or having competing strategies within a plan will make an investor challenge whether you know your business and its market well enough. Sections of plans are often written on different days or by different people and then pasted together into one document resulting in inconsistency. Take time to review each section of your business plan.
10. One Writer, One Reader
Make sure you ask several people to review your plan before submitting it. It is easy for you to glaze over spelling mistakes and grammatical errors because you know the information inside and out. Another set of eyes will help your plan to look more professional and ensure that it reads correctly.
Need Help Reviewing Your Business Plan?
Small Business BC’s business advisors can objectively review you business plan and provide feedback with resources of how to improve the plan through our Business Plan Review Advisory Service .
No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of webinars , our on-demand E-Learning education , and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.
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17 Key Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid in 2023
Posted january 25, 2022 by noah parsons.
If you’re like most people and you’re writing a business plan for the first time, you want to make sure you get it right. Even if you follow the instructions in one of the popular business plan templates out there, you can still make mistakes.
After having spent countless hours reading thousands of business plans and having judged hundreds of business plan competitions, I’ve assembled a list of the biggest business plan mistakes that I’ve seen.
What is the biggest mistake when preparing a business plan?
The absolute biggest business plan mistake you can make is to not plan at all. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to write a detailed business plan, though. While you should do some planning to figure out what direction you want to take your business, your plan could be as simple as a one-page business plan, or even a pitch presentation that highlights your current strategy. Your strategy and ideas will certainly evolve as you go, but taking a little time to figure out how your business works will pay dividends over time.
17 common business plan mistakes to avoid
Assuming you’ve at least decided that you should do some business planning, here are the top business plan mistakes to avoid:
1. Not taking the planning process seriously
Writing a business plan just to “tick the box” and have a pile of paper to hand to a loan officer at the bank is the wrong way to approach business planning. If you don’t take the business planning process seriously, it’s going to show that you don’t really care about your business and haven’t really thought through how your business is going to be successful.
Instead, take the time and use the planning process to strengthen your understanding of how your business will be successful. It will improve your chances with lenders and investors and help you run a better business in the long run.
2. Not having a defined purpose for your business plan
Why are you writing a business plan? Is it to raise money? Are you just trying to get your team on the same page as you so they understand your strategy? Or are you planning a new period of growth? Knowing why you are writing a business plan will help you stay focused on what matters to help you achieve your goals, while not wasting time on areas of the plan that don’t matter for what you’re doing. For example, if you’re writing an internal business plan, you can probably skip the sections that describe your team.
3. Not writing for the right audience
When you’re putting together your business plan, make sure to consider who your readers are. This is especially important for businesses that are in the technology and medical industries . If your audience isn’t going to understand the specialized vocabulary that you use to describe your business and what you do, they aren’t going to be able to understand your business. On the other hand, if your audience is going to be all industry insiders, make sure to write in the language that they understand.
4. Writing a business plan that’s too long
Don’t write a book when you’re putting together your plan. Your audience doesn’t have time to spend reading countless pages about your business. Instead, focus on getting straight to the point and make your business plan as short as possible. Start with a one-page plan to keep things concise. You can always include additional details in an appendix or in follow-up documents if your reader needs more information.
5. Not doing enough research
You don’t need to spend endless time researching, but your business plan should demonstrate that you truly understand your industry, your target market, and your competitors. If you don’t have this core knowledge, it’s going to show that you’re not prepared to launch your business. To keep things simple, start with this four-step process to make sure you cover your bases with an initial market analysis.
6. Not defining your target market
Don’t assume your products are for “everyone.” Even a company like Facebook that now truly does target “everyone” started out with a focus on college students. Make sure you take some time to understand your target market and who your customers really are. Investors will want to see that you understand who you are marketing to and that you’re building your product or service for a specific market.
7. Failing to establish a sound business model
Every business needs to eventually have a way to make money. Your business plan needs to clearly explain who your customers are, what they pay you, and have financial projections that show your path to profitability. Without a real business model , where income covers your expenses, it will be difficult to show that you have a viable path to success.
8. Failing to showcase current traction and milestones
Great business plans are more than just a collection of ideas. They also demonstrate that you have early traction — a fancy way of saying that you have some initial success. This could come in the form of pre-orders from a Kickstarter campaign or initial contracts that you’ve signed with your first customers. Traction can be as little as expressed interest from potential customers, but the more commitment you have, the better. The companion to traction is milestones. Milestones are simply your roadmap for the future — your next steps with details of what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. Make sure to include your best guess at your future timeline as part of your business plan.
9. Having unrealistic financial projections
Everyone dreams of sales that start from zero and then just skyrocket off the charts. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. So, if you have financial projections that look too good to be true, it’s worth a second look. Investors don’t want you to be overly conservative either. You just need to have a financial forecast that’s based in reality and that you can easily explain.
Keep in mind that when first starting out, you may not have exact numbers to work with. That’s perfectly fine. You can work with general assumptions and compare against competitive benchmarks to set a baseline for your business. The key here is to develop reasonable projections that you and any external parties can reference and see as viable.
10. Ignoring your competitors
Not knowing who your competitors are , or pretending that you have no competition, is a common mistake. It’s easy to say that you have “no competition,” but that’s just taking the easy way out. Every business has competition, even if it’s a completely different way of solving the same problem. For example, Henry Ford’s early competition to the automobile wasn’t other cars — it was horses.
11. Missing organizational or team information
When you’re starting a business, it’s likely that you haven’t hired everyone that you’re going to need. That’s OK. The mistake people make in their business plan is not acknowledging that there are key positions yet to be filled. A successful plan will highlight the key roles that you plan to hire for in the future and the types of people you’ll be looking for. This is especially vital when pitching to investors to showcase that you’re already thinking ahead.
12. Inconsistent information and mistakes
This almost goes without saying, but make sure to proofread your plan before you send it out. Beyond ensuring that you use proper grammar and spelling, make sure that any numbers that you mention in your plan are the same ones that you have in your financial projections. You don’t want to write that you’re aiming for $2 million in sales, while your sales forecast shows $3 million.
13. Including incomplete financial information
You may have a great idea, but a business plan isn’t complete without a full financial forecast. Too many business plans neglect this area, probably because it seems like it’s the most challenging. But, if you use a good forecasting tool like LivePlan , the process is easy. Make sure to include forecasts for Profit and Loss, Cash Flow, and Balance Sheet. You may also want to include additional detail related to your sales forecast. For example, if you run a subscription business , you should include information about your churn rate and customer retention.
14. Adding too much information
Don’t fall into the trap of adding everything you know about your business, your industry, and your target market into your business plan. Your business plan should just cover the highlights so that it’s short enough that people will read it. A simple and concise plan will engage your reader and could prompt follow-up requests for additional information.
Focus on writing an engaging executive summary and push non-critical, detailed information into your appendix — or leave it out altogether and leave the details for those that ask. Remember, your business plan is there to serve a purpose. If you’re raising money, you want to get that next meeting with your investors. If you’re sharing your strategy with your team, you want your team to actually read what you wrote. Keep your plan short and simple to help achieve these goals.
What should not be included in a business plan?
Here are a few things to leave out of your plan:
- Full resumes of each team member. Just hit the highlights.
- Detailed technical explanations or schematics of how your product works. Put these in the appendix or just leave them out completely.
- A long history of your industry. A few sentences should be enough.
- Detailed market research. Yes, you want market research but just include the summary of your findings, not all the data.
Make sure to include:
- Executive summary.
- Financial projections.
- Market research (just a summary)
- Competition overview
- Funding needs (if you’re raising money)
15. Having no one review your plan
As with any work that you do, it’s always helpful to have a few other people take a look at your work as you go. You don’t have to please everyone and you don’t have to implement every comment, but you should listen for themes in your feedback and make adjustments as you go.
A fresh pair of eyes will always help spot pesky typos as well as highlight areas of your plan that may not make sense. You can even explore having a plan writing expert review your plan for a more in-depth analysis.
16. Never revisiting your business plan
Business plans are never 100% accurate and things never go exactly as planned. Just like when you set out on a road trip, you have a plan to reach your final destination and an idea of how you’re going to get there. But, things can change as you go and you may want to adjust your route.
Planning for your business is often the same as that road trip and your plans will change as you grow your business. Keeping your plan updated will help you set new goals for you and your team and, most importantly, set financial goals and budgets that will help your business thrive. Incorporate your plan into regular review meetings to be sure you’re consistently revisiting it and integrating the time spent reviewing into your current workflow.
17. Not using your business plan to manage your business
Revisiting and revising your business plan is how you use your plan to manage your business. If you aren’t updating your goals and following a budget, you’re flying blind. Your plan is your ultimate tool to help you manage your business to success. You can use it to set sales goals and figure out when and how you should expand.
You’ll use your plan to ensure that you have healthy cash flow and enough money in the bank to handle your growth. Without managing your plan, you’re left to guess and live with a level of uncertainty about where your business is headed.
How a business planning and management tool helps you avoid mistakes
Writing a business plan can seem like a daunting task. Sure, you can do it yourself with free templates and advice like you find on this website . But, doing it on your own can just slow the process down, lead to mistakes, and keep you from actually working on building your business. Instead, consider using a planning tool, like LivePlan, which features step-by-step guidance and financial forecasting tools that propel you through the process.
LivePlan will help you include only what you need in your plan and reduce the time you spend on formatting and presenting. You’ll also get help building solid financial models that you can trust, without having to worry about getting everything right in a spreadsheet. Finally, it will transform your plan into a management tool that will help you easily compare your forecasts to your actual results. This makes it easy to track your progress and make adjustments as you go.
So, whether you’re writing a plan to explore a new business idea, looking to raise money from investors, seeking a loan, or just trying to run your business better—a solid business plan built with LivePlan will help get you there.
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How to Write a Company Overview for a Business Plan
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When you start a company, you ideally want it to grow. If you’re seeking business funding to scale your business or an initial investment to get your business off the ground, you’re going to need a business plan . Putting together a business plan can be an intimidating process that involves a lot of steps and writing — but breaking it down piece by piece can help you accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task.
One small piece of your business plan is the company overview, so let’s take a look at what that is, exactly, check out some company overview examples and go over how to make a company overview of your very own.
What is a company overview?
A company overview provides the reader of your business plan with basic background information about your company so they have an understanding of what you do, who the management team is and what customers your business serves.
The company description is the second piece of a business plan, falling right after the executive summary. Similar to the executive summary, your company overview will be short and succinct. Your reader needs to have a grasp on what your business does and who your customers are, even if they have limited time.
Why do I need a company overview?
The company overview is the part of your business plan that gives the basics and background of your business. It’s the foundation on which you will build the rest of your business plan.
If you’re looking to appeal to investors or potential clients, you need a reader to make an informed decision about your company. Before they can do that, they must know what your company does and who your customer is. Lenders in particular need a reason to keep reading, since they see tons of business plans regularly. The company overview provides those answers, and it will help you get a better sense of your business so you can firm up things like your marketing plan.
What should i include in a company overview.
The exact elements that you need in your company overview will depend upon what details of your business are important, but there are some foundational elements that will be included in every company overview.
Once you’ve covered the basics, you can include any other minor details that will benefit a reader who will need to make an informed decision about your business.
Basic company information
Consider the company overview like an introduction for your business. In the opening paragraph of your company overview, you’ll want to include basic company information. That includes:
Your company name: This should be the official name of your business, exactly as it is written when you registered your business with the state.
Business structure: Your reader will want to know what business entity your company comes in: sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership or corporation.
Location(s): Share where your business is headquartered and other locations the business owns.
Ownership and management team
Break down who owns your business and how each owner is involved with the business. What shares of the company belong to whom? If you have a highly involved management team, share their names and key roles with the company as well.
Part of what makes your company unique is its history. And, even startups have some history. Don’t put too much focus on this section, but do add some personality and interesting details if possible, especially if they relate to your company culture.
Your company’s mission statement should be included in the company overview. If you don’t yet have a company mission statement, that’s okay. Think of a mission statement as the purpose of your company.
If you don’t have one, you can create one with your team. Or you can simply replace the mission statement with a problem statement. Your business idea should exist to solve a problem or pain point faced by your customers. Share what that problem is and what your business does to solve it. That’s essentially your mission statement.
Product/service and customer
This section of the company overview is where you can share the nitty-gritty details of your business. Talk about what product or service you provide and to whom you provide it. You can share some numbers here, but in general, save the numbers for later in your business plan.
The company overview should give the reader a general understanding of your business, your product or service, and your customer. If they’re interested to know more, they’ll reach out to you for a meeting or take the time to read the rest of your business plan. Keep it simple and straightforward here.
While concrete details and facts about your business are important to whoever is reading your company overview, it’s also important to share your dreams and your vision. If you’re writing a business plan for a business that’s already in place, it’s very likely you’re looking for business financing to scale or solve a business problem. If you’re just starting out, though, then it’s likely you’re hoping to find startup funding.
The section on your future business goals should include a brief description of your growth goals for your business. Where you are now tells the reader a lot, but they also want to know where you plan to go.
A company overview is comprised of many small parts. Each part shares just a little bit more about your company with your reader.
Tips for writing a company overview
While a company overview is simply the details of your company written out, it might not be easy to write. Break it down into small steps and use these tips to make putting together your company overview just a little bit easier.
Start with the elevator pitch
If your business is already in operation, then you likely have an elevator pitch. Your company overview can start off with your elevator pitch.
The first paragraph of your company overview should include just a few sentences that explain your business and what you do. The shorter and clearer this is, the more likely your reader will understand and keep reading.
Stick to the basics
It’s tempting to pile on all the details when you’re writing a company overview. Remember, many of the details of your company, including the numbers, will be included in later sections of your business plan.
Your company overview should include only the most basic details about your company that the reader needs to know.
When you share the history, mission statement, and vision for the future of your company, it’s okay to show your passion. You wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t love what you do.
Your excitement for your business could spark interest for the reader and keep them engaged with your company overview and business plan.
Keep it succinct
When you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to get carried away. Remember that you’ve got plenty of space for details in your business plan. The company overview should be just the most basic information someone needs to understand your business.
It’s OK if your first draft of your company overview is long. Simply go through and edit it to be shorter, removing unnecessary details and words each time you read through it. Clear, concise descriptions are more likely to be read and to keep the reader reading to other sections of your business plan.
Your company overview is just one piece of a multi-tiered business plan. Creating a clear structure for your business plan makes it easier to read. The same is true for your company overview.
Your business plan should have chapters, one of which is the company overview. Then, you can further break down the content for easy skimming and reading by adding sub-chapters. You can denote these breaks in content with bold headers.
While you can break down each section of the company overview with bold headers based on the above suggestions, you can also interweave some information together, such as the company structure and leadership structure. Each section should be only a few sentences long.
Write it later
If you’re struggling to write your company overview, come back to it. Write the rest of your business plan first and then write your company overview.
While this might seem like the opposite way of doing things, knowing what will be contained in the rest of your business plan can help you to focus in on the very most essential details in the company overview and to leave everything else out.
Get a test reader
If you’re struggling to edit down your company overview, get a test reader. Ideally, you’ll want to ask someone who doesn’t know a lot about your business. They’ll help you understand whether or not you’ve clearly communicated your message.
Proofreading is the final step in editing something you’ve written. This type of editing looks for typos, misspellings and grammatical errors that have been missed. Many of these small errors can be difficult to spot in our own writing, so be sure to ask someone who hasn’t seen multiple drafts of your company overview.
Company overview examples
If you don’t want to shell out for business planning software, but would still like some company overview examples to get you started, there are many places online you can look to for help getting started, like the Small Business Administration and SCORE.
Many successful companies also have some version of their company overview made public as their company profile page online. There are some variations from the company overview steps we’ve listed above, of course, but you can use the language and style of these company overview examples for inspiration:
Starbucks company profile .
Puma company page .
TaskRabbit About page .
Peloton company page .
Nestlé About page .
If you’re still feeling stuck, or want more company overview examples, try searching the websites of your favorite companies for more information. You might be surprised what you find — the Nestlé page, for example, has more information about their strategy and business principles.
On a similar note...
Business Plan Information: Everything You Need to Know
Business plan information must always tell an interesting story as the purpose of a business plan is to secure financing for a new company. 3 min read
Business plan information must always tell an interesting story. This is because the purpose of a business plan is to secure financing for a new company. The audience consists of potential investors that must be convinced to invest in your business. The goal of a business plan is to show that your company has the potential to make a lot of money. A well-written business plan relays information in numerous ways and can be comprised of a variety of different orders. However, it must convey a clear understanding of the proposed market opportunity, explain your individual business model, and describe how money can be made from investing in your company.
Gathering Information for Your Business Plan
When writing a business plan, it is important to gather data to try to accurately project employee costs, business needs, and company sales. Understanding how to research and compile all the necessary information will assist you in this task. Although the internet has made gathering information much easier, most of the data you will encounter will relate to competitors within your business industry. Some of the most beneficial information needed to develop a successful business plan will be found close to home, with business owners in your community who have a comparable business model.
There are several steps to take when gathering information from competitors for a business plan:
- The number of patrons that go inside the business.
- The number of purchases that were made.
- Store prices .
- How long each customer stays inside the business.
- Look for a similar company in another location. Find a similar store in a destination outside your community. Contact the owner, truthfully explain your intentions, and ask thoughtful questions about their business.
- Even if you do not want to purchase this particular store, the information you may gain could be very valuable.
- Why is the owner selling the company?
- Are there currently any problems within the company?
- Shop at your competitors' stores. If you are considering starting a pizzeria, visit any potential competitors to assess how their business is running.
What Should Be Included in a Business Plan?
It helps to know the basic components of a business plan. It may include the following items:
- Cover page and a table of contents : It helps to organize your business plan with a proper table of contents and page numbering. Also include the business name, associated logo, and the owner's contact information.
- Executive summary : Provide a brief description of your business in order to get people interested. It is often recommended to wait to write this portion of the business plan after the other sections are completed.
- Market analysis : In this section you should include any competitors, target market, and describe your industry.
- Management and organization structure : Information regarding the appointed board of directors, employee job descriptions, past work experience, management profiles, and documenting the owner of the company should be clearly stated in this portion of the business plan.
- Sales and marketing plans : Describe how you will market the business and how you plan to generate sales.
- Service or product descriptions : Thoroughly describe your products or services and note any trademarks, patents , or copyrights that you have acquired.
- Funding requests : Supply a budget that specifies how you intend to use invested capital and note your long-term financial strategies. This is where you will also outline your expectations of any funding needs required now and over the next five years.
- Financial projections : Any relevant financial information should be included, including cash flow statements, balance sheets, past income statements, and projected income.
- Appendix : In this section, any supplementary documentation should be provided such as tax returns, letters of recommendation, your resume, completed research, and any contracts or pertinent lease information.
Remember that preparing a business plan can be a difficult process, but the end result will be very worthwhile.
If you need help with business plan information, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.
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What to Include in Your Business Plan Here's what your business plan should contain, how long it should be and what it should look like.
By The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. • Dec 9, 2014
In their book Write Your Business Plan , the staff of Entrepreneur Media offer an in-depth understanding of what's essential to any business plan, what's appropriate for your venture, and what it takes to ensure success. In this edited excerpt, the authors briefly describe just what your business plan should contain, how long it should be and how to know if it's time to write it.
A business plan is a written description of the future of your business. It's a document that tells the story of what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you've written a plan, or at least the germ of a plan.
But there are some generally accepted conventions about what a full-blown business plan should include and how it should be presented. A plan should cover all the important matters that will contribute to making your business a success. These include the following:
1. Your basic business concept. This is where you discuss the industry, your business structure, your particular product or service, and how you plan to make your business a success.
2. Your strategy and the specific actions you plan to take to implement it. What goals do you have for your business? When and how will you reach your goals?
3. Your products and services and their competitive advantages. Here's your chance to dazzle the readers with good, solid information about your products or services and why customers will want to purchase your products and services and not those of your competitors.
4. The markets you'll pursue. Now you have to lay out your marketing plan. Who will your customers be? What is your demographic audience? How will you attract and retain enough customers to make a profit? What methods will you use to capture your audience? What sets your business apart from the competition?
5. The background of your management team and key employees. Having information about key personnel is an important but often misrepresented portion of a business plan. It's not a long and detailed biography of each person involved but an accurate account of what they've done and what they bring to the table for this specific business opportunity.
6. Your financing needs. These will be based on your projected financial statements. These statements provide a model of how your ideas about the company, its markets and its strategies will play out.
As you write your business plan, stick to facts instead of feelings, projections instead of hopes, and realistic expectations of profit instead of unrealistic dreams of wealth. Facts—checkable, demonstrable facts—will invest your plan with the most important component of all: credibility.
How long should your plan be?
A useful business plan can be any length, from that scrawl on the back of an envelope to more than 100 pages for an especially detailed plan describing a complex enterprise. A typical business plan runs 15 to 25 pages.
Miniplans of five to 10 pages are the popular concise models that may stand on their own for smaller businesses. Larger businesses seeking major funding will often have miniplans as well, but the full business plan will be waiting in the wings. It's to your advantage to run long when creating your plan, then narrow it down for presentation purposes.
The size of the plan will also depend on the nature of your business and your reason for writing it. If you have a simple concept, you may be able to express it in very few words. On the other hand, if you're proposing a new kind of business or even a new industry, it may require quite a bit of explanation to get the message across.
The purpose of your plan also determines its length. If you're looking for millions of dollars in seed capital to start a risky venture, you'll usually (although not always) have to do a lot of explaining and convincing. If you already have relationships with potential investors, they may simply want a miniplan. If you're just going to use your plan for internal purposes to manage an ongoing business, a much more abbreviated version may suffice.
Many business plan presentations are made with PowerPoint decks, using 10 to 12 slides to tell your story. That's a great starting point, but you should have at least a miniplan available, especially if you're seeking millions of dollars.
When should you write it?
Still not sure if it's time to write a business plan? Here are a few clues that it's time to start writing:
- A business plan is a good way to explore the feasibility of a new business without actually having to start it and run it. A good plan can help you see serious flaws in your business concept. You may uncover tough competition when researching the market section, or you may find that your financial projections simply aren't realistic.
- Any venture that faces major changes (and that means almost all businesses) needs a business plan. If the demographics of your market are rapidly changing, strong new competitive products challenge your profitability, you expect your business to grow or shrink dramatically, or the economic climate is improving or slipping rapidly, you'll need a business plan. This will allow you to make changes accordingly.
- If you're contemplating buying or selling a business, your business plan can provide you with a handy tool to establish a value—and to support that value if challenged.
- You'll need a business plan if you're seeking financing. Your business plan is the backbone of your financing proposal. Bankers, venture capitalists and other financiers rarely provide money without seeing a plan. Less sophisticated investors or friends and family may not require a business plan, but they deserve one. Even if you're funding the business with your own savings, you owe it to yourself to plan how you'll expend the resources you're committing.
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What Should a Business Plan Include?
A business plan serves as a roadmap to successfully launch a business. It helps you overcome the challenges you might experience in your industry. Learn how to create and use a business plan for your startup.
One of the most fatal mistakes that aspiring entrepreneurs make in launching a startup is forgetting a business plan . You wouldn’t launch a ship at sea without establishing its routes and the direction you’ll steer it to. Without proper planning, your ship will end up adrift or worst, dramatically sink when the tides hit. And in a volatile commercial industry, the tides are constantly changing.
Avoid common startup mistakes by creating a business plan. A business plan not only strengthens your foundation but also helps you navigate the ever-changing field of business. Chances are your customers’ preferences will change over time and you have to keep up with them. Hence, a business plan also changes accordingly.
But how exactly do you create a business plan? Is there a template to follow? Should you enlist the help of other experts to write it? Today, we’ll look into what should be included in your business plan and how it should be written. The first step is by understanding what it is and what it is for.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is an official company document that breaks down all the goals of a business and how to achieve them. It basically lays out the groundwork for your idea to come alive. It’s often referred to as the “blueprint of the business”, summarizing your goals.
Although there are many ways to write it, its key point usually discusses the financial, marketing, and operational strategies of the business.
What is it for?
A business plan serves as a guide for a growing company. It’s a consistent reference for business owners and stakeholders to base critical decisions on. It’s especially useful for early-stage startups to attract investors. When a company doesn’t have a proven track record, it can lay out its full potential instead.
Not only is the business plan useful for the initial launching of a business, but it also helps with pivotal changes. Since the market is perpetually changing, it’s crucial that your plan also evolves with it. Hence, the goals and methods of achieving will be updated. In some cases, a whole new plan is created if the company wants to drastically move in a new direction.
What’s included in a Business Plan
Although there’s no fixed formula for writing a business plan, there are some identifiable key points. These are generally the items factored in its creation:
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary outlines the whole plan. You start with a clear introduction of who you are, what you sell, and what your ambitions are as a business. This section includes your mission statement, product description, and the basic overview of your company’s structure. It should also include your financial plans .
2. Business Description
The business description provides detailed information about your industry. It must describe its current outlook as well as its profit potential. You will go into detail about your target market and other organizations or businesses you cater to. Also, this section briefly discusses what problem the business is trying to solve.
3. Market Analysis
A business must have a firm understanding of its target market and should be able to prove its sustainability. The market analysis provides trends and studies about the target consumers—their size, demographics, buying power, and frequent activities. This section also touches briefly on the competitors.
4. Product Development
Investors need a clear idea of how you would create and maintain your product. The development plan section contains the details of the product’s design; its production methods, lifecycle, marketing, and development budget. This includes the overall strategy of how it will be sold in the market.
5. Marketing Strategies
The product is only as good as how much it will sell. Therefore, this section describes how you will present your products and services to the market. This will discuss your marketing campaigns, distribution channels, and types of media you’ll tap into. You will summarize how you intend to reach your customers and pitch your products to them.
6. Operations and Management
Your investors need an overview of how the business functions. The operations plan highlights the logistics of the company such as team responsibilities, division tasks, and operational expenses. This helps track down who is responsible for certain areas of the business.
7. Financial Plans
Money mobilizes the idea. Hence, it’s important to keep an accurate record of where it’s going. This section shows the company’s monetary plans and its future projections. This includes financial statements, balance sheets, and third-party business transactions. For startups, it will mostly contain the target profit and estimates of expenses.
Tips on Writing a Business Plan
Now that we have an idea of the business plan template , it’s time to learn how to write it effectively.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re writing one for your business.
- Keep it concise. It serve as a guide for the company and the investors. It needs to be easy to understand and direct to the point. You can’t afford to waste a reader’s time by creating a 100-page business plan. Instead, aim for a summarized version of your plan, only highlighting the important points and outlining the rest.
- Avoid jargon. Ensure that everyone, especially investors, can understand your business plan. Do not include complex jargon in your content. Save the technicalities for the experts and simplify the terms in explaining your ideas.
- Keep it up-to-date. As previously mentioned, business plans are not static. Over time, a lot of things in the industry will change and might make your original plans obsolete. Frequently update your business plan according to what’s new in the field and with new methods you’re employing. Remember, a business plan is only useful if it’s still relevant.
Build your Business
Business plans are important when you’re starting your business from scratch. However, the success of your business still heavily relies on their execution. A lot of startups fail because they can’t push through with what was proposed in the business plans.
More than just articulating your ideas, you need to do a lot more to make them come to life. For one, you’ll need the capital to kick things off and make everything operational. Second, you’ll need to hire the best people to run your operations. Lastly, you have to find investors to sustain your business.
One way to ensure that your business plan is properly executed is by enlisting the help of business experts. Full Scale is an offshore software development company that specializes in helping startups.
We can provide the talent and resources needed to begin your operations. Whether you need project managers, marketing specialists, or technical experts; we’ve got them all. We’ll take care of all the processes of recruitment and management so you can focus on your core competencies.
Ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey? Get your FREE consultation today!
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What should a business plan include?
Table of Contents
Keep your financial information organised with a simple app
Every business needs a plan to succeed. A business plan is a crucial document that gives you and interested parties (like investors or lenders) a description and overview of your company’s future. At its most basic, your business plan should explain who you are, where you want to go, and how you plan to get there.
So, what details should a business plan include to convey this information? This guide will explain why your business plan needs the following elements:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Competitor and market analysis
- Details of organisation and management
- Breakdown of products and services
- Marketing and sales
- Funding requests and financial projections
Use a combination of these nine elements to create your business plan.
The executive summary appears first in your business plan and highlights what you’ll discuss in your business plan to give the reader an idea of what to expect. Since it’s a summary of what’s to come, it’s best to write it last to make sure you include all the important parts.
A good executive summary is engaging from the first sentence, revealing your company’s mission and sharing details about your products or services. It might be good to explain why you’re starting your business and share details about your experience in the industry.
After your executive summary, you include a company description that includes key information about your business, goals and target market. Use this section to provide a detailed description of your company, including the problems you solve and who you solve them for.
Explain your competitive advantages that will make your business succeed. Your company description is the best place to boast about your strengths and abilities.
- Competitor analysis
A good business plan will also include a section that describes how your business will compete against your competitors. Use this section to prove your knowledge of the industry, breaking down other companies’ strengths and weaknesses.
This section aims to demonstrate how your business will measure up and explain if anything will prevent you from jumping into the market. Examples of such obstacles could be high upfront costs or complicated supply processes. Whatever it is, you need to be honest about it. The competitor analysis is part of your market analysis, which we’ll cover in the next section.
- Market analysis
This section is to show readers that you understand the industry and specific market you want to enter. You’ll explain how your unique strengths will fit into the market and back it up with data and statistics about industry trends and themes.
Include information about how other businesses are succeeding and failing, and use the analysis to visualise your target customers. Above all, your analysis should demonstrate how your business will provide value in your target market .
- Organisation and management
Here you’ll explain how your business will be structured and managed. Describe the legal structure of your business: will you be a sole trader or run a limited company?
Use an organisational chart to lay out how you’ll manage your business, including if you plan to eventually hire staff or if you’ll go it alone the entire way. The more details you can provide, the better an overview the reader will get.
While you’ll include a description of your products or services in your company description, this section will give the reader all the details they need. This section should include a complete description of what your business creates and sells. Explain how long they could last and how they’ll meet the existing demand in the market.
You should also mention your suppliers (if you have any) and other key information like how much it’ll cost to make your products and how much you hope to make from them. If you have any patents or copyrights, this is where you list them.
This section is where you explain how you’ll attract and retain customers, including how a sale will actually happen. You’ll need to refer to this section when you make financial projections (we’ll cover this later), so be thorough when describing your marketing and sales strategies.
Break down the steps you’ll take to promote your business and the budget you’ll need to implement your strategies.
- Funding request
If you need funding , this section is where you outline your funding requirements. Clearly explain how much funding you need over the next few years and what you’ll use the money for.
You’ll need to specify the type of funding you want, such as the terms you want to apply and the length of time your request will cover. Explain if you need funding to buy equipment or materials, cover specific bills until business picks up, or if you need it for something else. Always include a description of how you plan to pay off your debt as well.
- Financial projections
In this final section, you’ll break down the financial goals and expectations that you’ve set based on your market analysis.
Report how much you anticipate to make in the first 12 months and your projected earnings for the second, third, fourth and fifth years of business. If you’re applying for a personal loan or small business loan, it’s a good idea to include an appendix or added section that provides additional financial or background information.
Now that you know what to include, you should have all the tools you need to create a solid business plan.
Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier.
Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are.
You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward!
Find out more here .
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How to Write Your Business Plan Cover Page + Template
6 min. read
Updated November 20, 2023
The cover page is likely the last thing you’ll consider when writing a business plan .
While it’s not the most vital part of your business plan, a well-formatted cover page can be a nice touch when pitching to investors , banks , or business partners.
In this article, we’ll cover what to include and how to format your cover page so you can assemble an impressive page in just a few minutes.
- What is a business plan cover page?
The business plan cover page – or title page – is the introduction to your business plan document. It should be simple and straightforward—only providing logistical information about your business for stakeholders to reference.
Unlike your executive summary , a summarized version of your business plan, the cover page is strictly meant to provide contact information and set the tone for what they are about to read. The quality, formatting, and readability can all impact a stakeholder’s expectations for your plan and business.
- Why do you need a cover page for a business plan?
To be clear, the cover page is not a required section of your business plan.
It’s a largely decorative addition meant to grab the attention of a stakeholder. It should introduce you, your business, and the planning document and make it easy for the reader to find your contact information.
If you’re writing a business plan purely for internal purposes , you probably don’t need to spend time on a cover page.
But if you pitch to investors , apply for a loan , or approach a potential partner—a cover page can be a nice touch that makes you (and your business) look more professional.
- What to include in your business plan cover page
It’s best to keep your cover page simple. The page should only include:
- Company logo
- Business name
- Value proposition (optional)
- Business plan title
- Completion and/or update date
- Address and contact information
- Confidentiality statement
- How to create your business plan cover page
Creating a cover page shouldn’t take too long. Gather all the information listed above, and then fine-tune the formatting. Here’s how we recommend you organize the information:
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1. Start with your logo
Including your logo should help your business be more memorable. Just be sure it’s memorable for the right reasons.
That means adding a reasonably sized, high-resolution image at the top of your cover page. Just don’t make it so large that it takes attention away from other information on the page.
2. Add your business name
You want readers to connect your business name to your logo. So, add some space (2-3 lines) and drop your name front and center. Consider using a large and bold font option to ensure it’s easy to read and immediately noticeable.
3. Include your value proposition (optional)
While optional, including your value proposition can be useful if it effectively describes your business purpose.
4. Craft a title
Now you need to describe the document’s purpose. Don’t overthink it – start by adding “Business Plan” to the center of the page. Keep the bold font, but apply a slightly smaller font size than with your business name.
From there, you can apply a title that frames the type of business plan you’re creating: “ One-page ,” “ 5-year ,” “Merger,” “ Growth plan ,” etc.
Expanding the title is optional and should only be done if you believe it will benefit the reader.
5. Add the completion date
Including the completion date shows how fresh and up-to-date your plan is. Ideally, you’re revisiting your plan regularly (especially the financial projections in your plan). So the date should be relatively recent.
This information alone can show how focused and dedicated you are to running a successful business.
As far as formatting is concerned, keep it simple. Include the month, day, and year – either numerically (9/15/2023) or spelled out (September 15, 2023).
6. List your contact information
This is the true purpose of your cover page. The last thing you want is for an investor or lender to love your pitch only to have to scrounge around for your email or phone number.
Add a header that states “Contact Information” centered near the bottom of the page. Then, on separate lines, add your name (or other points of contact for your business), email address, phone number, business website, and physical address.
Tip: If you’re sending your plan digitally, add links to your email address and website so they can reach you quickly.
7. Include a confidentiality statement
The confidentiality statement is meant to help legally protect your information and ensure that no one shares or copies portions of your business plan.
You can include a simple “Confidential” watermark near the top of the page or write a more thorough statement to sit at the bottom.
Here’s an example:
“This document contains confidential and proprietary information created by [your business]. It is exclusively designed for informational purposes and should not be disclosed, shared, or copied without the consent of [your business].”
Don’t worry too much about emphasizing this information. It can sit as smaller text in the footer of your cover page.
- Tips to make your cover page memorable
Adding the information should be quick. Now, spend some time on these best practices to get your business plan title page ready to share.
Apply consistent formatting
Inconsistent formatting looks unprofessional and can make a document more difficult to read. So check that your character and line spacing, font choices, and text alignment are consistent to ensure they are identical.
You should also print out the document (as a Word Document and PDF) to check if the format changes.
Use your brand color scheme
Adding your brand colors to text, borders, and other design elements can strengthen the presence of your brand identity in your business plan. It also better connects non-visual elements to your logo.
Just don’t force adding color to your plan. If it takes away from the text or takes too much time to get right, it’s best to avoid it.
Check your cover page from top to bottom for spelling errors and mistakes (you should do this for your entire business plan). If possible, have someone else proofread it to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
- Business plan cover page examples
To help you visualize your cover page design, here is an example from our free business plan template :
We recommend you avoid creating an overly designed business plan. However, if you believe a more visual cover page will grab your reader’s attention—check out these other examples.
- Spend more time on the rest of your business plan
We’ve already emphasized that you shouldn’t spend too much time creating a business plan cover page. While it can be a nice addition, it’s often quickly skipped over and only referenced again if the reader needs your contact information.
And it’s unnecessary altogether if you’re not planning to share your plan with anyone. If that’s the case, focus your time and effort on writing the rest of your business plan.
Check out our full plan writing guide for step-by-step walkthroughs for every section.
You can also download a free business plan template (that includes a cover page) to ensure you cover everything about your business.
See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan
Kody Wirth is a content writer and SEO specialist for Palo Alto Software—the creator's of Bplans and LivePlan. He has 3+ years experience covering small business topics and runs a part-time content writing service in his spare time.
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How to Write The Industry Section of a Business Plan
Writing a Business Plan: Section 2
Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.
Geber86 / Getty Images
When writing a business plan, the Industry section is best organized as two parts: an overview of the industry and a summary of your business's position within the overall industry.
Before writing this section of the business plan, use these questions to focus your research:
- What is the size of your industry?
- What sectors does this industry include?
- Who are the major players in this industry?
- What are the markets and customers for this industry?
- What are the industry's estimated sales this year? Last year? The year before?
- What national and economic trends have affected this industry and how?
- What national and economic trends might affect it in the future and how?
- What is the long-term outlook for this industry?
- What products or services will your business be selling?
- What is your Unique Selling Proposition? (What is it about your business that makes it unique and sets it apart from competitors?)
- What are the barriers to entry in your industry?
- How will you overcome these barriers?
- Who are your competitors?
- What is the market share of your competitors?
- What is your business's competitive advantage (i.e., your market niche or estimated market share)?
- What is your target market?
- How are you protecting your product or process (i.e., patents, copyrights, trademarks, franchise rights that you either hold or plan to acquire)?
Once you have all this information, you'll write this section of the business plan in the form of several short paragraphs. (Remember, each of these paragraphs is a summary, not a detailed point-by-point explanation.) Use appropriate headings for each paragraph.
Finding Information on Your Industry
But where do you find the information that you need for writing the Industry Overview section of your business plan?
United States Research
In the United States, you may want to start your research by reviewing information from the U.S. Census Bureau, Industry Statistics Portal. This site provides data for selected industries separated into categories using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The Bureau of Labor Statistics also offers a large selection of information grouped by NAICS industry.
There are also other sources of information—some free and some paid sources—including IBIS World, Select USA, and the U.S. the Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.
When you're writing a business plan and looking for information on Canadian industries, Industry Canada is your logical first stop. Their Find Statistics by Industry page lets you see key economic indicators for different sectors of the Canadian economy, access industry profiles, and analysis and research small businesses in Canada generally.
Another primary source for industry and economic information that you can easily access online when you're writing a business plan is Statistics Canada. From this homepage you can find a wealth of free statistical information; use this page, to search for Statistics Canada publications back to 1980.
There are also provincial statistics websites where you'll be able to find more economic, social, and demographic statistics relating to your industry and the business environment.
The Canada Business Service Centres located in each province also offer excellent collections of resources online, and telephone and email information services. You'll find a list of links to the Canada Business Service Centre in each province in my Provincial Programs and Services Resources.
The business sections of national newspapers and business magazines will also be helpful; these often carry features on the past and future business trends.
And don't forget your local sources of business information when you're researching your business plans, such as your Economic Development Centre, Chamber of Commerce, or Women's Enterprise Centre, or the business section of the local library.
Doing Business Plan Research
If your business is related to manufacturing when you're writing a business plan begin by determining the NAICS of your particular industry, and the sector and sub-sector if applicable. It will make it easier for you to find statistical information relating to your industry. If your business is a service, begin with Industry Canada's service industry profiles.
Refer to the list of questions earlier in this article on how to write a business plan as a research guide. Whenever you find a piece of information that you want:
- Check its date and determine whether or not the information is current enough to be valid;
- Write down the date and source of the information, as you'll need to cite your information sources in the business plan.
When you're writing a business plan, you want your research information to be as up-to-date as possible. After all, there's no point in starting a business if you don't want it to succeed.
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9 Essential Sections You Can Include in a Business Plan
As an entrepreneur, your business plan is one of your most important documents. Your plan is the best way to share your goals and secure financing. A well-written plan shares your story, drive, passion, and tells the world that you are serious and committed to making your dream real. So what should you include in your business plan to highlight this?
In your plan, you share your business concept, what you plan to do with your business, and how you intend to execute your idea and achieve your goals. Your business plan is a written document and management tool that outlines the details of your company.
What to include in a business plan
A business plan is the story of your company split up into key sections. These include but are not limited to:
- Cover Page – Include your company name, a logo, title of the document, contact information and a confidentiality disclaimer.
- Executive Summary – Just as it sounds, you’ll write a summary that covers everything in your business plan. I suggest waiting until you write every part of your business plan before you write this one. It will be easier to do later. Although you will want your executive summary to be the first thing people read in your business plan. Often readers won’t get past this part, so it’s important your key details are here to snag their attention and keep them reading further.
- Business Overview – Introduce the key parts of your business, including a description of your company, your place in the market, your product and your strategic objectives.
- The Market – Who are you selling to? Break down your market and ideal customers here.
- Marketing & Sales Plan – Create a plan that covers your product, price, place and promotion strategy so you can effectively reach and sell to your chosen market.
- Operations Plan – Outline how your business will operate on a daily basis, from location, to inventory, to customer service. Include key operating systems .
- Management Plan – Who is part of your team? Describe your existing and projected team members. Include an org chart if you have one, if you don’t I suggest making one.
- Financial Plan – Prove your business will be profitable by projecting your company finances for the next 3-5 years. Find out where you can get funding and list those options here.
- Action Plan – How do you plan to meet your objectives? How will you put your business plan into action? You’ll explain that in this section.
Taking your great business idea and putting it onto paper is no easy task. It’s one thing to document your idea, and another to do the research, analysis, writing and presentation to create a comprehensive, neat package you can use to easily sell your idea to investors, funders, employees or potential customers.
Take your time really giving each section the detail and attention it deserves. If you need any assistance with your business plan, we are here to help. Reach out any time .
Until next time, enjoy your Entrepreneurial Journey
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What should you include in your business plan appendices?
So you're crafting a comprehensive business plan for your business but you are not sure about what should go in the main body of the document and what should go in the appendices? You're in the right place.
Our guide helps you decide what should go in appendices so that you can complete your business plan. Ready? Let’s get started!
In this guide:
What is the objective of the appendices section of your business plan?
What information should i include in the appendices section of my business plan.
- How long should the appendices section of your business plan be?
- Best tips for business plan appendices
- Example of appendices in a business plan
The primary objective of the appendices section is to offer proof or supporting documentation for key claims of your business plan.
This section gives readers the ability to learn more about particular facets of your company or to check the data used to make claims. It also enables you to keep the body of your business plan to the point and clutter free.
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The appendices section is strategically placed at the end of the business plan to increase the validity and substance of your proposal.
You could include any of the following in this section of your business plan:
Additional financial records
While your business plan already contains substantial financial data, including additional material can offer further insight to potential investors and financial institutions:
- Asset valuations
- Credit profile synopsis
- Historical tax filings
- Exisiting loan contracts
Monthly financial statements
It’s likely that only the yearly figures will be shown in the financial plan section of your business plan which means that if the reader wants to look deeper into the monthly figures, this has to be included in the appendices.
You can also include historical monthly management accounts if you have them.
Organizational overview and team details
You could also include further information about your management team and the business structure by covering:
- A visual representation of your business’ organizational structure
- Details about your corporate structure (list of subsidiaries and percentage owned, share certificate, certificate of incorporations, etc.)
- Curriculum vitae (CV) of the members of your management team
- Floor plans of your premises
Legal documents are frequently included in business plan appendices. These help demonstrate your business’ reliability to your readers and may include:
- Incorporation papers
- Permits, trademarks, licenses, and patents
- Shareholder agreements
- Rental agreements and leases
- Vendor contracts
- Equipment specifications
Market data & competitive analysis
Businesses that face intense industry competition may need to provide additional information. You could provide in-depth information about your competitors, including their strengths, weaknesses, market share, and positioning.
You could also include market research data or industry reports that back up your analysis.
Images of products and services
Including images of your products and services in the appendices section provides a visual representation that helps stakeholders better understand what your business offers.
Words alone sometimes fall short in conveying your products or services unique features, design, and value
Visuals can also bridge communication gaps and make it easier for your audience to grasp complex concepts (for example, if you were a technological business producing goods).
Potential investors, partners, and other stakeholders can quickly comprehend the nature of your products or services by viewing images, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of your business proposition.
Other supplementary resources
There are many additional resources that you can add. These help the reader in understanding the specifics of your business:
- Expanded marketing collateral
- Complementary financial analysis
- Architectural renditions for properties
How long should the appendices section of your business plan be?
The length of the appendices section in your business plan is flexible and should be guided by the principle of providing only pertinent and meaningful information. While there is no set limit, this section typically spans from a few pages to around 20 pages.
Remember to only include items that really help the reader understand your business plan and concept. Appendices should not be confused with a dataroom which comes later in the investment process and has strong confidentiality protections in place which business plans often lack.
Think about who will read your plan. Some stakeholders, like investors or lenders, might prioritise financials. Others, like partners or staff involved in your business, might care more about contracts or market research.
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Tips for your business plan appendices
By adhering to a few simple yet effective practices, you can ensure that your appendices section adds value and clarity to your business plan. Let's discuss these best practices in more detail:
Create a table of contents
If your appendices section is lengthy and involves a range of documents, consider including a well-structured table of contents. This helps readers locate specific information swiftly, resulting in a smoother reading experience.
Include a confidentiality statement
Protecting sensitive information included in your business plan appendices, such as credit history records or legal documents, is essential.
Include a confidentiality statement to remind readers of the private nature of certain documents. This acts as a gentle yet firm directive, underlining the need for discretion and permission before sharing or discussing confidential data.
Remember that, unless you signed a non-disclosure agreement with the recipient (which is extremely rare), there is no garantee that your business plan won't end-up in the hands of a competitor. Avoid sharing sensitive proprietary files, and if needed ask advice from a qualified lawyer.
Example of appendices in a business plan
Below is an example of how the appendices section of your business plan might look like. As you can see, it includes a maturity profile and a monthly breakdown of the cash flow forecast.
This example was taken from one of our business plan templates .
Crafting a concise and compelling business plan is vital in obtaining funding from banks or investors. Utilising your business plan appendices helps provide depth without overwhelming the document body.
It also underlines your commitment to business and should, therefore, be included in any business plan.
Also on The Business Plan Shop
- Business Model vs. Business Plan
- 7 tips for writing an effective business plan
Know someone who needs help writing up the appendices section of their business plan? Share this article with them and help them out!
Founder & CEO at The Business Plan Shop Ltd
Guillaume Le Brouster is a seasoned entrepreneur and financier.
Guillaume has been an entrepreneur for more than a decade and has first-hand experience of starting, running, and growing a successful business.
Prior to being a business owner, Guillaume worked in investment banking and private equity, where he spent most of his time creating complex financial forecasts, writing business plans, and analysing financial statements to make financing and investment decisions.
Guillaume holds a Master's Degree in Finance from ESCP Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Business & Management from Paris Dauphine University.
Published on 14 Feb 2023 , last update on 23 Aug 2023 , as per our editorial standards .
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Starbucks Workers Walk Out on Red Cup Giveaway Day
Unionized employees say promotional events like the one on Thursday exacerbate staffing and scheduling problems at the chain’s stores.
Starbucks Workers Strike During ‘Red Cup Day’ Promotional Event
Unionized starbucks workers walked off the job to demand higher wages and better working conditions..
Workers: “No contract, no coffee. No contract, no coffee.” “We’ve been trying to negotiate with Starbucks, but they will do anything to, like, not meet with us. So they’ll stall or they’ll appoint another day. [workers chanting] We just want them to hear our side of the story because we’ve been dealing with a lot of issues, ongoing in the store, whether that’s staffing issues, improper hours are given to the employees, not many people given proper breaks or it’s just a lot of things that just doesn’t benefit our workplace environment.” Workers: “Shut it down.”
By Santul Nerkar
Unionized Starbucks workers walked off the job on Thursday to press their demands for contract negotiations and spotlight their complaints over staffing and scheduling issues.
The union representing the striking workers, Starbucks Workers United, said the walkout involved thousands of workers at more than 200 stores. Starbucks said workers were protesting at fewer than 100 stores, with most of those stores remaining open. The company has roughly 9,300 corporate-owned stores in the United States.
The stoppage coincides with an annual Starbucks promotion, Red Cup Day, in which customers receive bright-red reusable cups if they order a holiday-themed beverage, like a Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte.
Starbucks Workers United has said events like Red Cup Day force employees to handle more orders than usual but without sufficient staffing.
Unionized workers say the company has refused to bargain over staffing and scheduling issues that are particularly acute on such days, and the union filed an unfair labor practice claim with the National Labor Relations Board over the issue this year.
The union represents more than 9,000 Starbucks workers at more than 300 stores across the country. Employees at some unionized stores started the walkout on Wednesday with the aim of surprising the company, which was aware of Thursday’s action.
Starbucks says the union is the side that has prevented bargaining sessions by insisting on conducting the meetings online, with rank-and-file members observing, rather than having negotiating teams sit down in person.
“We hope that Workers United’s priorities will shift to include the shared success of our partners and negotiating contracts for those they represent,” Andrew Trull, a company spokesman, said in a statement.
The union is calling on the company to shut down mobile orders on promotional days, which it says have become more frequent.
Daisy Federspiel-Baier, a shift supervisor at a Starbucks in Seattle, said her store received more than 200 orders in a half-hour during an October promotion in which customers could get 50 percent off any drink. The store was so overwhelmed that some drinks and food went to waste and orders were halted, Ms. Federspiel-Baier said.
“I watched as baristas verged on a state of mental breakdown, being verbally berated by customers and feeling pressure from bosses to keep performing when it was unreasonable to do so,” she said.
In a statement, Starbucks acknowledged that promotions “may change store patterns and traffic,” but added: “Our stores are often provided additional labor hours to augment staffing in support of planned promotional days.”
Rachel Simandl, a shift supervisor at a unionized Starbucks in Chicago where employees walked out on Wednesday and Thursday, said staffing problems were more chronic, leaving workers exhausted and hurting business by increasing wait times for customers and lowering service quality.
“Straight up, what we need is to have more coverage on the floor,” Ms. Simandl said. “Instead of only three people, to have four or five people. It makes such a big difference in the way the day flows.”
The walkout is the latest development in a battle between the company and organized labor. After two initial election victories in the Buffalo area in December 2021 , the union campaign quickly spread. About 70 stores filed for union elections in March 2022, but the momentum dissipated . Nearly 20 stores filed for union elections last month.
Of the stores that have had their election results certified by the National Labor Relations Board, 363 voted to unionize, while 71 voted against unionization.
In September, a judge for the labor board ruled that Starbucks had violated federal law by limiting raises and benefit improvements to nonunionized workers. Another administrative judge ruled in March that Starbucks had repeatedly violated federal labor laws by illegally tampering with union organizing and firing employees who sought to unionize.
In June, unionized workers declared a weeklong strike at more than 150 stores, protesting what they said was the company’s ban on Pride Month apparel and treatment of L.G.B.T.Q. workers — an assertion that management denied. Starbucks said the protest had temporarily closed 21 stores.
Starbucks Workers United said the Red Cup Day protests on Thursday had extended to around a dozen nonunionized stores.
One was near Flatwoods, W.Va., where Justin Copenhaver, a shift supervisor, filed a petition to unionize with his co-workers this year. The effort was voted down in March, but the union has accused the company of tampering in the election.
On Thursday, Mr. Copenhaver picketed outside the store with three other employees.
“I want to show the company that we’re the ones bringing in the money, and we can stop the money from coming in,” he said.
Noam Scheiber contributed reporting.
Santul Nerkar is a reporter covering business and sports. More about Santul Nerkar