Business plan: 10 sections to include

Every business should have a business plan – one which isn’t just written then left in a drawer, but one which is a working document, which you return to, refer to, revise and update as the business grows, changes, develops and expands.

Here are the key elements I think you need to include in your business plan:

1. Title page and contents

These are important as they mark you out as a professional, serious business – and make the document easy to use.

2. Summary of what the business does

This should be the About Us of your business answering in brief the all important who, what, where, when and how questions:

  • What you do?
  • Who does it – and who for?
  • Where you do it?
  • When you do it?
  • How you do it?

If you are planning a new venture or new product, this is the place to include this.

3. Your mission, vision and values

This is the heart of your business, broken down and analysed. It’s the answer to the final question in the Who, What, Where, When and Why series – why you do what you do.

4. Target markets

This should include more detail about your target market:

  • Who buys your products and services?
  • How big is your target market?
  • What is their industry?
  • Where are they located?
  • What sector are they in?
  • What share of your target market can you win as clients or customers?

Are you aiming to attract a new target market? If so, answer the above questions for that too.

5. Your USP

What is your unique selling point – how does your business solve the problem facing your clients and customers in a way that no-one else can? Why should they buy from you, rather than your competitors?

6. A SWOT analysis

Include an honest appraisal of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

7. Processes and procedures for each of your products

This should cover how you provide the different products and services you offer.

8. Biographies

Include short biographies of all the key personnel in your business or organisation

9. Your client list

Break this down into former clients, current clients, those on retainer and those who are one-offs.

10. The numbers

Include excel spreadsheets of:

  • Growth figures for the past five years
  • Turnover and profit from last five years
  • Net profitability month by month for the last year
  • Projected figures for the next year
  • A detailed breakdown of running costs, income and expenditure

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2 thoughts on “Business plan: 10 sections to include

  1. Alan Harwoo says:

    This is how IBM taught us to write them in the 1980s. My view: having presented more than 20 to VCs and Angels – keep it snappy and only 1 page of numbers

    • I agree that your business plan should be succinct, but it also needs to contain enough information that the recipient can base decisions on.