The key to drafting a business plan

Structure is all important

24 September 2010

Introduction

A well presented business plan is the key to success for your venture, whether or not it's a new business. It's a document that describes what you intend to do and how you plan to do it. There is no need to produce an extremely lengthy and detailed document - a short and to-the-point document is more likely to be read. It is also important to tailor your business plan according to the needs of the reader e.g. bankers, accountants, investors, etc.

Here’s what you should do;
1. Start off with a good executive summary.
2. Be realistic - do not be over optimistic in your projections – it is far better to exceed modest or realistic targets than to fail to achieve over-ambitious goals.
3. Undertake some market research and include the results in your plan
4. Describe organisation structure.
5. Tailor the plan to your own specific business needs

Structure is all important to enable the users of the plan to get a firm grasp of what you are trying to achieve. Always start with an Executive Summary that clearly states what you are planning to achieve and what you are looking for from the report user. It should catch the attention of the reader. The executive summary should be the last section of the plan to be written. Pay special attention to this section as many readers go to this section first and don't read anything else!

It contains the key elements of the business plan and should include:

1 Business Description

Give a short description of the business, industry, your vision, mission, values, business goals and objectives and corporate strategies. Show why your business will be profitable and how you will give your business a competitive edge.

2. Organisational Structure and Management Team

Management team can be the difference between a business that fails and a successful one. This section should detail how the company will be organised and managed. This section of your plan should include:

● Business concept, including industry sector, market, and product/service.

● Industry analysis and trends.

● Marketing plan.

● Organisation structure

● Ownership information

● Advisors/Professional Services

● Human Resource Requirements

● Management team profiles, including name, position, responsibilities, education, skills, etc.

● Financial features, sales highlights, profits, cash flow, return on investment.

● Financial requirements, capital needed for start up or expansion and how capital will be used.

● Strategic position.


Other key elements of a business plan

Operational Plan – to provide guidance on the day-to-day running of the business.

Industry Analysis – to give the reader a clear understanding of your industry

Product Portfolio – to describe your business's products or services in detail, focusing on why you have a distinct advantage.

Marketing Plan – to give details of target markets and the potential demand for your product or service. It should include details of any market research undertaken to support your business idea

Financial Plan – to set out clearly how the finances of the venture will be managed. This section should include cash flow forecasts and projected Profit and Loss Accounts etc. You must state your assumptions clearly and do not put down figures that you can’t substantiate.

Conclusion - This is your last opportunity to get your message across to the reader. You can include here the size of the investment or loan needed or if you have invested any of your own cash.

We offer a full business planning service and will assist at every stage of the process. We don’t charge for an initial consultation so, if you would like to have a chat about compiling your own business plan, please call Tom on 087 12 16 345 or by email at tcaccounts@eircom.net.

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