The structure of a business plan is the second most important element after determining the audience for whom you are writing the business plan. The structure of the business plan should be established before you start doing your research and writing your business plan.
Every business plan will have a particular structure, yet not all business plans are identical. Why? Because it depends on the type of business and on the target audience.
Generally, the structure of a business plan is as follows:
- Executive summary: a short presentation of the most important aspects of the business. Despite the fact that this chapter should be the first one presented, this section should be the last one you write. The executive summary offers an overview of the business and presents the key elements of the business idea.
- Company description: vision, mission statement, values, short description of the industry you activate in, company history, legal aspects.
- Products & Services: description, characteristics, benefits, research and development aspects, prices, production, delivery, patents, etc.
- Marketing & Sales: defining the market, consumer profile, market segmentation, SWOT and Competitiveness analysis, aspects related to sales and promotion strategies, positioning.
- Strategy and implementation: human resources policy, suppliers, strategic partnerships, legal aspects, risk management, location, facilities, necessary insurance, deadlines, responsibilities for each and any activity. This part should be as accurate as possible and it should include concrete data, responsibilities and budgets.
- Management: key-employee position description, responsibility overview, managing team description, organizational chart, recruitment and training plan, external consultants (if necessary).
- Financial: start-up costs, necessary funding, potential funding sources, profit & loss, cash flow, balance, performance indicators, debts and the plan of paying them off, cost-benefit analysis, turn-over point analysis, sales forecasts.
In addition to the aspects presented above, the business plan should also contain a series of annexes. And they are as follows:
- Financial forecasts: 3-5 years
- Cash-flow forecasts
- Sales forecasts
- Contracts and pre contracts drawn up with clients
- Other legal documents
- Market studies
- The managing team’s CVs.
- Client testimonials
- Photographs and maps with the location of your business
- Supplier and distributor lists
- Press articles
- Promotional materials and brochures
- Equipment list
Any other relevant material that can provide you with useful information for the people that will read and evaluate your business plan.
Once you’ve established the structure of the business plan that is in accordance with the needs of your company, you can start gathering the necessary information that will enable you to start writing it.
Also, take into account that you don’t need to create a jam-packed document, just make sure you have enough valuable information about your business so that you are able to convince the people reading it that it’s in their best interest to invest without boring them with useless information or details.