1. What Are the Parts of a Business Plan?
2. How Long Should Your Business Plan Be?
3. Why Do Startups Need a Business Plan?
4. Why Do Established Firms Need a Business Plan?

What Are the Parts of a Business Plan?

Even if you just write on an envelope a few ideas about your business strategy, you've started a business plan. Business plans can be helpful, as they list all the tasks necessary to run a company. Entrepreneurs use them to explain their vision to possible investors. These plans can be used by firms that want to attract important employees, find potential business prospects, handle suppliers, and understand how to better manage their companies.

Items to include are the industry, the business concept, the business structure, what the service or product is, and what your marketing plan is in order for the company to be successful.

The marketplace section will talk about defining and analyzing possible customers. This includes where and who they are, what drives them to buy, and so on. The financial section includes your cash flow and income statement, a balance sheet, and additional financial ratios, including break-even analyses. You may want to invest in an accountant and a spreadsheet software program for this. There are seven main components in a business plan, including:

  • Market strategies
  • Business description
  • Executive summary
  • Development and design plan
  • Competitive analysis
  • Financial factors
  • Management and operations plan

How Long Should Your Business Plan Be?

A helpful business plan can be short or long, depending on the reason you're creating it. It can be anything from a scrawl on a piece of paper to a detailed plan that's over 100 pages long. The average business plan runs between 15 and 20 pages, but there's room for variation. If your concept is simple, you might be able to define it with only a few words. If you're talking about a new business or industry, you'll need a much lengthier explanation to describe what your idea is.

What your purpose is will also define how long your business plan is. If you want to get millions of dollars to start a venture that's risky, you'll need to do plenty of convincing and explaining. On the other hand, if you use your plan internally to govern ongoing business, you can easily have a more abbreviated version of the plan.

Why Do Startups Need a Business Plan?

A traditional business plan writer is someone who considers themselves an entrepreneur and is looking for funds to start a new venture. Many successful companies originally started their plan on paper to convince investors they should put up capital to help them get started. There are many books on business planning that are aimed at the owners of startup businesses. This is because they're the least experienced and are likely the most appreciative of any help. However, small startups aren't the only companies that need a business plan.

Why Do Established Firms Need a Business Plan?

Not every business plan is written by an excited entrepreneur who is just starting their company. Many are written for and by companies that are well past the startup phase. For example, WalkerGroup/Designs was considered a well-established designer for large retailers. The founder thought of the idea of licensing and trademarking to apparel makers with the symbols 01-01-00. This was aimed at targeting the approaching millennium. Before the costly and difficult task of trademarking this around the world, the founder had a business plan that included sales forecasts. This was to convince larger retailers that it'd be smart to carry their 01-01-00 products.

Enterprises that are middle-stage might draft plans that help them get funding to grow their company similar to startups. However, they may be after larger amounts and looking for investors who will spend more. These enterprises feel it's necessary to have a written plan to manage their business that's already growing. This plan can be a helpful tool to get across their mission to potential suppliers, customers, and more.

If you need help with the nature of 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.