Structure of a business plan - what should a good business plan contain?
The structure of a business plan depends on many factors, such as, for example, the size of the enterprise it relates to, or even the purpose for which it is created. However, you can indicate a few basic elements that should be included in a business plan, among them the most frequently mentioned are:
- Table of Contents
- Company history / company profile
- Characteristics of the products and services offered
- Analysis of the enterprise environment
- Marketing and sales
- Plans and schedule of activities
- Financial analysis
Table of Contents
Each business plan structure has a table of contents to help keep it organized. Both it and the entire business plan should be legible for its recipient.
The structure of the business plan and its summary
As a rule, a summary is written after the rest of the business plan is completed. It indicates the purpose of its creation (obtaining a loan, acquiring an investor, obtaining a subsidy, etc.). Additionally, the summary should contain information about the basic assumptions and expected results. The main task is to interest the reader. If the summary of the business plan is poor, it will certainly not encourage the recipient to analyze it in detail.
Company history / company profile
It should contain all the basic information about the company, such as:
company name with address,
Date of commencement of activities,
form of ownership (individual business, civil law partnership, joint-stock company, etc.),
scope of activity (trade, services, production),
list of company branches,
the most important achievements of the company so far.
Characteristics of the products and services offered
The basic data that should be included in this section include:
- features that distinguish a given product / service on the market,
- prices of the offered products / services,
- advantages and disadvantages of each product / service,
- profitability of products / services offered by the company,
- product compliance with applicable standards and norms.
If the company plans to introduce a new product or service to the market, it should also be subject to detailed analysis.
Analysis of the company's environment
The structure of the business plan should include an analysis of the environment and competition. It is about both the internal and external environment of the company. Generally speaking, when creating a business plan, in the case of the external environment, the following should be specified:
- the company's position on the market,
- group of potential buyers (potential buyer profile)
- competition on the market (how many companies sell such products / services, their market share, etc.),
- the possibility of new competitors entering the market,
- comparing the prices of products / services with the prices of competing companies,
- strengths that distinguish the company from the competition.
However, in the case of the internal environment, it is recommended that this part describes the sphere of company management. This part should describe:
- organizational structure of the company,
- communication system,
- payroll, employment and training policy,
- control system,
- division of duties between employees,
- qualifications of management staff and other employees, etc.
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Marketing and sales
It is another very important issue. The person writing the business plan should include here information on:
- forms of advertising (radio, television, leaflets, business cards, etc.),
- financial resources allocated to advertising and marketing,
- customer expectations for price, quality and service.
It is not a closed catalog, you can include here other equally important information on sales and marketing.
Plans and schedule of activities
The schedule should contain information about the expected dates of the business plan implementation, such as, for example, the purchase of equipment, supplies, organization of the staff, etc. necessary to start the project.
However, when it comes to plans, one should prepare, respectively: a marketing, organizational and financial plan, about which you will be able to read more in the next parts of the cycle.
This analysis presents the financial aspect of the entire undertaking and should include, inter alia, such data as:
- expenditures necessary to start the project implementation,
- planned revenues and costs (detailed),
- financial indicators showing the profitability of the company and the project,
- cash flow analysis,
- profit and loss account analysis,
- information on possible indebtedness (value, source of indebtedness, etc.).
This part of the business plan should contain all kinds of tabular statements and calculations as well as other documents (financial statements, research results, etc.).
Business plan structure - implementation and control
The manager of the entity should strive to properly achieve the goals set out in the business plan. Therefore, control is necessary here, which will allow to compare the actually achieved results with the planned ones. All these data will make it possible to identify deviations and possibly introduce corrective or preventive actions.
Controlling the implementation of a business plan is extremely important from the point of view of investors and company managers, who, by having up-to-date financial information, can supervise the company's day-to-day operations.
The business plan is the basis for checking the correctness and deadlines as well as the adopted assumptions in each of the areas - marketing, organizational and financial.