What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a written description of your small business's future. It shows what you intend to do and the way you intend to do it. Business plans are inherently strategic. Your plan reveals how you're going to start and grow your business.

Executive Summary

This defines the marketing strategy. The executive summary ought to inform the reader of what you plan to accomplish overall in your business. Clearly state what you are expecting. Typically, it's advisable that you simply write the executive summary after you have completed the rest of the document. Ideally, this section can act as a stand-alone page that covers the highlights of your detailed plan.

It’s quite common for investors to ask for only the executive summary when they're evaluating your small business. If buyers like what they see within the abstract, they’ll usually request the whole business plan, a pitch presentation, or additional information about your small business. Ideally, your abstract will be one to two pages at the most. It should be designed to give quick information that sparks curiosity and makes your investors interested in hearing more.

The Critical Components of a Winning Executive Summary

Create a one-sentence overview of your small business that sums up the essence of what you might be doing. Doing so is usually more practical if the sentence describes what your organization truly does. This is often known as your value proposition. Describe the issue you might be fixing for your intended customer.

Present a short overview of your staff or proposed staff, and include a brief clarification of why you and your staff are the best individuals to take your idea to market. If your small business method (i.e., “the way you generate income”) needs further clarification, then say you will describe it in more detail in later sections of the business plan. In case you are generating cash to start out or to further develop your small business, you could include a small statement of what you want within the main summary. Don’t include comments on possible additional funding, however, since that can all be negotiated later.

Company Overview

The corporate overview will most certainly be the shortest part of your marketing strategy. The corporate overview should show your mission statement, an assessment of your organization’s structure and possessions, a short history of the business, if it’s an established one, and a mention of the business location. Your organization mission statement needs to be brief—one or two sentences at most—and it ought to embody what you are attempting to provide.

Business Structure

Your company overview also needs to embody a summary of your organization’s present business structure. Are you an LLC? A C-corp? An S-corp? A sole proprietor? A partnership? Potential investors will want to know the structure of the enterprise before they'll consider funding.

Business History

In case you are writing a plan or marketing strategy for an existing firm, it’s acceptable to incorporate a short history of the business and spotlight the main achievements. Keep the business history part brief, though. The business history section is very helpful in providing context for the remainder of your plan.

Business Description

The business description often begins with a brief description of the trade. When describing the trade, talk about the current outlook in addition to future prospects. You also need to give info on all the competitors and the market along with any new merchandise or developments that can bring profits or that can have a negative effect on your small business.

Products and Services

The products and services section is where the bulk of your plan should be. The services section is where you'll describe the issue that you are fixing, your resolution, and how your services or products match the present market. You’ll also use the services section to reveal what sets your business above others and how you intend to broaden your services or products later.

Using Your Plan

Your business plan is one thing you will use to pitch for funding, and you must keep it updated as your company develops.

If you need help with creating a business plan, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.