What should my business plan contain?

In the previous GJC blog posts I have often talked about the need for all businesses to have a business plan and looked at why previous plans might have failed. Now I’m going to discuss another common question that business owners bring to me; What needs to go in my business plan?

Before exploring this, it is first worth asking some additional questions; who are you writing your business plan for? What do you want to achieve through it?

If your product/service is complicated or ground-breaking and you are seeking significant financial investment to help it ‘get off the ground’, then you need to spend time writing a detailed plan which covers every section in depth and, in terms of length, your plan should be at the higher end of the scale.

In contrast, if your business concept is simple and you have the funding needed, you can summarise the key ideas, market conditions and financials in fewer pages. For some, a 10-page mini-plan or a 15 slide PowerPoint presentation will be enough to get your ideas across. Although I would always recommend having a full business plan to refer to.

In order to establish a business plan’s structure there are plenty of resources, both online and in bookshops, that can give detailed guidance on this, so I will simply outline six areas that should be covered, in all business plans whether a mini-plan or full in-depth document.

This first section should detail your Business Concept and explain the problem your product or service solves. You should detail the industry in which you operate and why your business will be a success.

Secondly a statement on Strategy is needed and should focus on outlining your goals and specific business objectives.

In the next section, details should be given on your products/services, providing full information on what your product or service does and why your customers will choose it over similar offerings and other companies.

Following on from this, a focus on your chosen market is needed, and should consider your customer profile and marketing plan, explaining how you will attract and retain your customers?

The next section will need to detail the key people within your executive team and focus on their skills and how these are relevant to this specific business opportunity.

Finally, as with all parts of your plan, your document and information should be rooted in realistic explanations and goals, not dreams and ‘pie in the sky’ hopes.

If you need face-to-face help in writing a business plan for your business, this is covered in depth in the GJC Business Accelerator Course. Please contact us for more details.