September 27, 2012
Class 7: Business Plan
Writing your Business Plan
Overview of the key points contained in your business plan, considered the most important section.
First section that a potential investor or lender will read. It should:
• Include highlights from each of the other sections to explain the basics of your business
• Be sufficiently interesting to motivate the reader to continue reading
• Be short and concise - no more than two pages long
Describe your business concept, competitive advantage, legal structure (e.g. sole proprietorship,
corporation), the market, and your own experience.
Although the executive summary is the first section of the plan, you should write it last.
2. Business strategy
Very brief overview of your business – where you've been, where you are now, and
where you're going in the future. Include:
• A short history of your business – is it a new business venture, are you purchasing an
existing business, or are you expanding an existing business?
• The purpose of your business –your vision, main objectives of your business
• A description of your products and services – what will you offer?
• Your business' legal structure – are you a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a
corporation, or a cooperative?
• Your current position – what stage of the business lifecycle is your organization in?
• Your industry – is it growing, stable, or contracting?
• Your achievements – what have you achieved so far?
Competitive Advantage • Your competitive advantage – what is your advantage over the competition (e.g.
innovative products, strong business model, appeal to niche markets)?
• Your competitors – who are they and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
• Your business model – why is it effective?
• Growth timeline – where do you see your business 1 year from now? 3-5 years down
• Milestones – what objectives have you set, when do you expect to achieve them?
• Goals – what are your short-term (the upcoming year) and long-term (the next 3-5
• You should also include the date the business was registered/incorporated, the
name of the business, its address, and all contact information.
• Corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship?
How does your business measure up to others that are similar? Benchmarking allows
you to evaluate your performance and ensure that your business is operating at an
• Planning for business growth
• Ways to grow your business
3. Marketing strategy
Describe the activities you will use to promote and sell your product or service.
• Product – how does your product or service meet the needs of your target market?
• Price – how much will you charge for your product or service and why?
• Place – how are you going to get your product to your customers?
• Promotion – how will you connect with your target market?
Include budget – how much money have you budgeted for marketing and sales costs?
Profile of your "ideal customers", based on customer type – consumers, retailers, or wholesalers – or demographic
information such as age, location, and income level.
Solid market research – back up your statements with facts – explain how you reached your conclusions and include
statistics from reliable sources. • Marketing basics
develop a marketing plan, and assess strategic marketing options for your company.
• Guide to market research and analysis
Market research can help your business succeed, conduct a variety of market research
4. Operational plan
Your business plan should outline your current operational requirements as well as your projected
requirements for the next three to five years. Your inventory management and accounting systems should have the ability to
produce uptodate reports.
• Day-to-day operations – general description of the day-to-day operations, such as
hours of operation, seasonality of business, suppliers and their credit terms, and so on.
• Facility requirements – in terms of size and location. Include any related documents in
the appendix of your business plan, such as lease agreements or supplier quotations.
Detail any special requirements associated with the facility and include any licensing
documentation in your appendix.
• Management information systems – indicate how you plan to control stock, manage
accounts, control quality and track your customers.
• Information technology (IT) requirements – identify IT systems you will be using. Key
factor for most businesses, indicate if you are using a consultant or IT support service
and outline any planned IT developments.
• You may also want to include your operations manual as an appendix to your business
• Managing your business
structure your business, manage production processes and avoid risks.
5. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis
A properly prepared SWOT analysis shows investors that you have realistically and objectively
considered these elements.
Banks and other lenders understand that businesses will encounter difficulties at some point,
and want to know how you will deal with these challenges. Remember that overestimating
strengths and opportunities or ignoring potential problems will undermine your credibility.
Putting time and effort into conducting a comprehensive SWOT analysis can help you:
• Make sound decisions and future plans
• Anticipate problems and make the necessary changes • Set aside resources to take advantage of potential opportunities
• Assessing your business' health
• Identify opportunities arising from your current business
6. Human resources plan
plan to manage your employees and human resources processes.
discuss shortterm, longterm plans for employee recruitment, training, retention.
If appropriate, discuss any advisors, mentors, consultants that offer you support.
You may want to include:
• A brief organizational layout or chart of the business
• Who does what, with a brief job description of each position
• The essential skills required for each position
• Information on your employee training program
• Any other relevant information related to personnel (e.g. gaps in your team, training