What is the most important part of your business plan

The executive summary shines as the pivotal element of a business plan, serving as a decisive factor for readers to delve deeper. A comprehensive guide on crafting an impactful business plan, focusing on unique strategies and essential components.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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How do you write a good business plan?

Most business plans follow unwritten norms and are therefore very formulaic—that is, they just replicate previous successful strategies. Following the formula is simply another way to show that you are a shrewd businessperson, unless there is a compelling cause to go against the norm.

Arguably, the most crucial part of the business plan is the executive summary. It needs to be well-written, precise, and succinct. Many readers of your business plan will decide whether to read on or not based only on the executive summary. An effective executive summary presents a concise overview of the plan, emphasizing key sales, expenses, and profit data. The elements that will contribute to the business’s success are highlighted in the summary. It must include reliable data on market size, trends, firm objectives, spending, ROI, capital costs, and funding requirements.

The executive summary should have energy and believability, especially for startups or companies looking for investment. Only a small percentage of the hundreds of proposals that venture capitalists get each month are actually read through to the end. A short 20-second scan of the executive summary helps you decide which proposals to examine and which businesses should be interviewed for investment. The executive summary should explain to an interested party why this is a wise investment when the plan is the means of obtaining funding or investment.

Business history

Your business plan’s business background section usually comprises two to four parts that provide details unique to your company. While thinking through your company strategies, you might have learned a lot about your rivals and the industry as a whole. That kind of stuff is not appropriate here. Instead, focus exclusively on traits unique to your specific industry.

The company

Information unique to your company is provided in the section of the plan dedicated to business entities. This paper outlines the organization and management structure, the present state of operations, and the names of key persons. If the business plan is being developed for an already-running company, past data should also be incorporated. From the business background, the reader can learn about:

  • The nature of the business (e.g., manufacturing, services, retail, wholesale, etc.).
  • The nature of the legal entity (e.g., sole proprietorship, corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.).
  • When the company was founded.
  • Where the company is situated.
  • The kind of facilities required, if any (e.g., manufacturing plant, retail establishment, etc.). If your facilities are crucial to your operation, you might need to dedicate a separate section to this topic.
  • The number and type of workers.
  • The organizational chart (a table that illustrates the roles and responsibilities inside an organization).
  • The operating details, such as a timetable of the business’s opening and closing hours.
  • The names of the principal personnel and an account of their qualifications that render them indispensable to the company’s success. If you believe that your staff is essential to your success, you may choose to dedicate a special section to them.

More information than just a list of facts should be included. For instance, what circumstances led you to decide against operating as a single proprietor and instead incorporate? To help the reader comprehend your decision-making process, explaining the reasoning behind a specific conclusion is helpful.

Advice:

When considering key staff members, remember to include yourself, especially if you’re just starting out in the business world. Your educational history and previous work experience should be presented in a way that demonstrates your potential for success. Much of your CV’s material will be included in the plan, even if you most likely won’t send a copy of it. Don’t be scared to show yourself in the best possible light – one that is based on honesty and objectivity.

By providing a brief description of the type of business you are in or would like to be in, the business background may also be used to determine the aims and objectives of the enterprise. What makes it special, and why will people be drawn to your products or services? This means considering rivals who appeal to the same clientele. Why will clients pick your company over theirs?

Remember that creating a business plan’s backdrop presents unique difficulties for newly established companies. When evaluating a background in the absence of an established company, the focus will be on the future goals of the enterprise rather than its past performance. This emphasizes how crucial it is to have a clear vision of how your company will seem and function after it is operational. Using your past performance as evidence of your ability to succeed when you have experience is simpler. You will need to put in more effort to ensure that you have established and given a realistic notion of what it will take to make your firm successful if you have no past.

Description of the good or service

You have undoubtedly been thinking about your product or service for some time if you have come to the point where you are attempting to write an overview of what your company truly performs or offers. It’s time to stand back and think things through. You are familiar with the concept. Therefore, you must consciously try to include it in your plan. Don’t go into unnecessary detail, but remember that the individuals who might read your plan haven’t been thinking about your product or service proposal. Ensuring that the reader comprehends the specific characteristics of your product or service is crucial.

The first step is to describe clearly and simply what product or service your company will offer. Resist the urge to contrast your offering with comparable goods or services other companies provide. Save that analysis for the section on rivals and potential competitors in the marketing plan.

Instead, concentrate on the features that set your business apart from the competition and win over clients. Describe its functions, how it operates, how long it lasts, available options, etc. Whether you are selling a stand-alone product (like lunch) or one that needs to be utilized in conjunction with other products (like computer programs or peripheral equipment) is very important. Ensure that the specifications for any related goods are included (particularly critical for software). Any unique conditions that must be met for use or sale to be successful must be mentioned.

Another thing to think about is if you want to sell things often or only once or if you want to make recurrent purchases. You can expect to see the same clients return time and time again if you operate a restaurant or bakery. It’s unlikely that a consultant assisting with implementing a new order processing system or a heating technician installing an updated furnace will work on the same client’s property soon. A related question is how long the product or service will survive and if you plan to replace it with an upgraded version in the future.

Feature/benefit analyses can be a helpful tool for presenting information about a product or service. A feature is a particular quality or feature of a product. A benefit is the advantage a user or customer will experience due to a product feature.

Timing is another problem. Regarding the amount of time needed to build the product or service, be realistic. For instance, if the plan is being written as the first prototype is being constructed, include a schedule for when development will be finished and an estimate of the amount of time needed for testing before commercial production can start. Both the market plan and the financial estimates you produce consider timing. Nevertheless, the availability of the good or service on time is a prerequisite for both of those analyses.

Evaluation of business facilities

Your business plan should cover various topics related to the selection of a building. It should come as no surprise that location is typically the most crucial factor. The first thing to consider is the necessity of a company facility. At one extreme, a consultant might work in a client’s area to complete most tasks. The consultant might keep a modest home office to house business records and reference materials instead of requiring a facility at all. On the other hand, a manufacturing company might need parking for a large number of workers, space for manufacturing and storage, and access to rail transportation.

After determining the needs of your facility, you should consider the price. Your planning will consider various elements, some of which are unrelated to your business. For instance, you could have to decide between buying or leasing real estate. The local real estate market’s trends may significantly influence your choice. Purchasing may offer some protection against the danger of increased rent if real estate values are rising quickly, as well as a means of reducing losses in the event that the business is a failure.

The fundamental layout of your facility—its age, size, and general location— along with any equipment you would require for operation, should be covered in your business plan.

Making arrangements for individuals

The duties and responsibilities of every individual connected to your organization can be arranged using a business plan. A list of all the jobs completed by individuals (or teams of individuals, if you have numerous staff) may be helpful, even if it’s just for your personal benefit.

Demonstrate in your proposal that you have thought of alternatives to hiring full-time staff. A startup or a corporation venturing into a new service, product, or market may frequently require a great deal of assistance in the short term. Your expectations for the direction and performance of the firm will have a major impact on how you respond to that immediate need for assistance. If you decide to use temporary help, the knowledge you gain about different temporary providers and any connections you make may come in handy should the need for temporary assistance arise again.

You can go so far as to explicitly state in your company strategy that you will never hire anyone. You’ll shrink down to what little you’re incapable of. Near this end of the curve, many businesses centered around providing services are usually found. On the other hand, your plan can indicate that you need to hire a sales force that grows exponentially until you have representatives in each of the US’s major cities. Your decision on short-term demands would be significantly different and crucial for developing a sales force.

Estimating the number of employees your company will require can be challenging, especially if it is a new venture. The process of crafting a company strategy can be helpful. As you think through each important area, a picture of all the tasks involved in managing your firm will emerge.

Think about the idea of a “key person” as well. Apart from you, is there anyone else whose existence in the company is essential? If so, you should consider what your company would do if one of its important players were to leave.

Exploring why businesses fail can offer critical insights into avoiding common pitfalls in your business plan.

Have a quick question? We answered nearly 2000 FAQs.

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