Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elements of a Business Plan

A documented business plan for starting and running your business is critical for success. A plan that is detailed and organized will encourage investment, promote growth, and provide a map for you to follow.

There is no single method to preparing a business plan. Each plan should be tailored to the size and needs of the individual company. However, there are some basic elements that are common to all business plans.

All business plans should incorporate the following elements.

Executive Summary

The executive summary should include a narrative on your business objectives. Include your mission statement in this section.

Company Summary

The company summary should include information about company ownership and structure. A brief explanation of the company's history or start-up plan should also be included in this section.

Products and Services

Describe the products and services you offer. Include a competitive comparison with others in the market. Explain the sourcing and fulfillment channels you have established.

Market Analysis Summary

The market analysis summary should include market needs, trends and growth potential. Provide information about the industry including industry participants, buying patterns and primary competitors.

Strategic Summary

Use the strategic summary to showcase your competitive advantage. Explain your marketing, pricing, distribution and sales strategies in this section. Be sure to include information about any strategic alliances you have developed.

Management Summary

Use the management summary to introduce your management team and explain your organizational structure. Include a description of your personnel plan.

Financial Plan

Potential investors or lenders will want to know the details of your financial plan. Include your sales forecast, break-even Analysis, pro-forma profit and loss Statement, pro-forma balance sheet, pro-forma cash flow statement, your key financial indicators and the basis for your assumptions.