It’s not unusual to need a map to know where you’re going. A business plan is a useful guide for anyone starting a new company or looking to reach the next stage of growth for an established business.
A business plan is a way to create interest in your new business. If you’re looking for investors to help you begin or grow, it can be the all-important document that convinces them to support your company.
The first section of a business plan should be an executive summary. It’s important because it will also be the first thing a potential investor reads about your business. It briefly explains what your company is, where you envision it going, and why it will succeed.
It may be the first section in the plan, but make it the last section you write. As you research and write the other sections, you will be better able to identify your company’s strengths. A typical business plan runs about 15 to 20 pages, but some can be much longer. Other sections typically include a company description, market analysis, marketing and sales plans, and financial projections.
For established business, here’s what an executive summary should have:
–A Mission Statement: It only needs to be a few sentences or a paragraph, but it should describe what your business is about.
–Company Information: This short statement covers such items as when your business was started, the names of the founders, location and number of employees.
–Highlights of Growth: This section will present a few details about how your company has grown or highlights of its success including such items as increased profit margins or year over year growth since it was started. This section is a good place for any graphs or charts that visually represent your
–Products/Services: Describe in brief the products or services your company offers.
–Financial Information: If your company is seeking investors make note of your bank or any existing investors.
–Future Plans: Describe where you’d like to take the company.
New or start-up businesses may not have as much information to include in the executive summary as an established company. In that case, it can be beneficial in the potion of your business plan to focus on your background and experience and explain how they led you to start your venture.
Use the executive summary to help your readers understand that you’ve done your market analysis, you’ve identified your customer and the niche in the market that your product or service will fill. Describe your plans for the future of your company.
As useful as a business plan can be, it can be tricky to write. Be concise and keep the executive summary, with the exception of the mission statement, to one page.
Make sure you have others in your industry or knowledgeable about business read it to be sure you have no typos or other, even bigger mistakes that might make a potential investor doubt your ability.
For more tips on writing a business plan see the article on Entrepreneur.com.