Every business plan has seven critical sections. They may include additional sections, depending on the type of business, but there are seven sections that are basic to business planning.
Briefly, they are as follows:
1. Executive Summary – The Executive Summary is a concise overview of what is contained in the rest of the plan. It tells the reader what the business will sell, presents the mission statement, and describes what the business owner wants such as funding.
2. Company Description – This section gives a high-level description of the company and includes important pieces of information like the legal form, nature of the business, overview of the products and services, overview of targeted customers, overview of suppliers, market and financial highlights, and a summary of business goals.
3. marketing plan – The marketing analysis and strategies should be supported by in-depth market research. The section includes an overview of the target market segments, customer demographics, industry status and projections, and marketing data for the company’s products and services. The marketing plan presents a business case for chosen marketing strategies and tactics based on statistical research.
4. Competitive Analysis – Who are the competitors and what are their strengths and weaknesses? What gap will the new business fill that the competition has left unfilled? The presentation in this section describes how the business will gain a distinct competitive advantage, the strategies for keeping new competition at bay, and competitive weaknesses that present opportunities.
5. Products and Services – What exactly is the business selling? The description of the products and services should be in-depth so readers understand the benefits they are bringing to the market. What customer problem is solved? There can be information about the life cycle, copyrights or patents, and a description of the research and development that went into the product and services design.
6. Operating Plan – The operating plan can include the management plan or the management plan can be added as a separate section. Either way, the business plan must describe how the new business or expanding business will succeed on a continuing basis. There needs to be a description of the qualifications, experience, and responsibilities of the critical positions like the business owners and managers; a description of the business units, divisions, functions, or departments; names of professionals like accountants and attorneys; explanation of the acquisition of materials and supplies; sources and number of employees; hours of operation; and much more. Anything that is critical to ongoing sustainability is in this section of the business plan.
7. Financial Plan – The financial plan represents everything in the preceding sections but presented as financial data. The pro-forma or projection statements include a five-year or ten-year profit-and-loss statement, balance sheet, cash flow, capital budget, and ratio and trend analysis. If this is an existing business that is expanding, the financial data includes historical and projected information.
The business plan presents a picture of the business in words, statistics, and financial information. Unless the business owner is familiar with the development process, it is advisable to get assistance with business plan writing. This is particularly true if the business plan will be presented to investors in the hopes of raising funding.
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