If you are writing a business plan remember it must grab the reader’s attention quickly.
Here’s a useful checklist of the things you should consider when writing a business plan, especially the executive summary.
The executive summary outlines your business proposal and although it should be the last section to be written it goes on the first page of your business plan.
The executive summary should sum up the following six areas:
- Your product or service and its advantages
- Your opportunity in the market
- Your management team
- Your track record to date
- Financial projections
- Funding requirements and expected returns
Bank managers and investors often make provisional judgements based on the executive summary.
- Do you have a strategic vision of where the business is going?
- Does the business plan describe how you are going to achieve your vision?
- What’s unique about this business?
- Does the business plan include an exit route?
Sales and marketing is crucial to the success of your business and often gives a good indication of the business’s chances of success.
Two key things to consider are: How will your product or service meet your customers’ specific needs? How will you position your product?
You should consider how your price, quality, response time and after-sales service compares to competitors.
Key things to consider are:
- Is this business attractive to us?
- Have they done market research and is it corroborated?
- Do they know their market position and where they want to be in that market?
- Is there a SWOT analysis with corrective actions? A SWOT analysis is a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project or business venture.
How will you promote your product? For example, will you use PR such as direct mail, social media, press coverage and a website? How much profit do you expect each part of your business to make?
Management – other key points to consider are -
- Has the management/business got a track record?
- Does your business have a “proper” management structure in place?
- Do we have enough confidence in the management to deliver the strategic vision?
- Is the business model structured and achievable?
People reading the business plan need to be given reasons as to why they should have faith in the management of your start-up.
- Does the finance they require look realistic?
- What is the internal rate of return for any investor?
- What’s the breakeven point?
- Are assumptions made in the plan realistic?
- Does the business plan specify how the money will be used and the benefits?
- Don’t forget – Your cashflow forecast shows how much money you expect to be flowing into and out of your bank account and when. You must show that your business will have access to enough money to survive. Your profit and loss forecast gives a clear indication of how the business will move forward.
- Consider a range of ‘what if’ scenarios in case sales drop lower than forecast.
Remember to keep your business plan short, make it professional and test it by re-reading it to yourself.