Contents of a business plan explained
There are many sample business plans free available on the internet. It is quite common for the contents a business plan to vary in these samples. Regardless of the type of business you are in, the same key information needs to be included in the contents of a business plan. Especially if the purpose of your business plan is to obtain funding.
While business plans come in many different formats, the main contents of a business plan must cover off:
- Company information
- Marketing plan
- Operational plan
- Financial plan
- Action plan
The key thing to remember is that the plan needs to contain the right information needed to achieve your objectives. It’s the actual contents of a business plan that must contain the key information.
This will help your audience make a decision that achieves your goals.
Bearing this in mind, here is a recommended list of headings to include in the contents of a business plan. Using these as a guide will take make sure you cover off all you need to, to achieve your goals.
READ MORE: How to write a one page business plan
Table of contents of a business plan:
- Executive summary
- Company overview
- Industry/market analysis
- Customer analysis
- Competition analysis
- Sales and marketing strategy
- Operational strategy
- Financial plan
The executive summary should be written last. It summarises the key contents of a business plan that are important for your audience’s decision making process.
Often, this is the only section of the plan that is read. So it must capture all the important information to compel your audience to read the whole plan.
The company overview is a description of your company, covering history and achievements to date.
The industry and market analysis section identifies the industry you operate in, and what your target market segment is within that industry. It should provide an assessment of the landscape of the market: how many players there are, how competitive is it, and how mature. You should also assess what your market share is and what it will be in the future.
The customer analysis contents of a business plan identifies and describes your target customer, what are their demographics and their wants and needs.
In the competition analysis section, assess your top three competitors and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Then compare this to the strengths and weaknesses in your own business, and what opportunities and threats are created by your competition.
The operational contents of a business plan detail your process to sell your product or service. It should detail your manufacturing process, staffing etc. An action plan is critical in conveying how you intend to de-risk your business and enhance returns for you investors. While this might not necessarily have its own section in the table of contents of a business plan, it can typically be covered off in the operational section.
Sales and marketing strategy should outline your pricing strategy. It should also include how you position your product in the market,and how you promote it.
Management content of a business plan will contain details around company ownership and structure, key management and their experience and details of the board of management if applicable.
Finally, the financial plan will analyse how your business has traded historically. This section will include sales projections.
The previous contents of a business plan are used to form the basis for your realistic assumptions on sales projections.
You should also cover how you are currently funded and whether you have any existing debt.
Some of the contents of a business plan may be modified to suit your type of business. There is no fixed content of a business plan and no right or wrong way to format your plan.
However, we recommend a proven format which will ensure that you won’t miss any critical components required to achieve your goals.