Business Plan Update

Following on from my post on “Business Plan – An important lesson” I have had comments about the minimum requirements for a business plan and where they can get an expanded contents list that they can use rather than just the main sections.

Now, I have to admit that I do understand the frustrations that people may have in filling in the gaps. So, below is my summary of minimum requirements, plus to assist you in expanding this requirement I have given a list that you could use as the contents for each section for you to use as your Business Plan Contents to give you a head start. This can of course be added to or reduced to suit your particular business circumstance.

So in summary you need:

  • Executive Summary: This is a one-page overview written after your business plan is finalized. This is the most important document in your business plan, so focus on it. It must be a fantastic eye catching document that is concise and to the point and people want to read.
  • About your business: This is typically called the management plan or operations plan. It includes your mission statement, details about your business including structure, registrations, location and premises, staff, and products/services.
  • About your market: This is the marketing plan. It should outline your marketing analysis of the retail business niche you are entering, your customers and your competitors. This section should also cover your key marketing targets and your strategies for delivering on these targets.
  • About your future: This section covers your plans for the future and can include a vision statement, business goals and key business milestones.
  • About your finances: The financial plan includes how you’ll finance your business, costing and financial projections.
  • Supporting Documents: These are the documents you have gathered during your research on your product,  market demographics, location, marketing strategies etc.

Now in detail your Contents could be as follows:

  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  1. The Business
  2. The Market
  3. The Future
  4. The Finances
  • THE BUSINESS
  1. Business Details
  2. Registration Details
  3. Business Premises
  4. Organisation Chart
  5. Management and Ownership
  6. Key Personnel
  7. Mission Statement
  8. Products and Services
  9. Innovation
  10. Insurance
  11. Risk Management
  12. Legal Considerations
  13. Operations
  14. Sustainability Plan
  • THE MARKET
  1. Market Research
  2. Market Targets
  3. Environment/Industry Analysis
  4. Your Customers
  5. S.W.O.T. Analysis
  6. Your Competitors
  7. Advertising and Sales
  • THE FUTURE
  1. Vision Statement
  2. Goals and Objectives
  3. Action Plan
  • THE FINANCES
  1. Key Objectives and Financial Review
  2. Assumptions
  3. Stat-up Costs for first year
  4. Balance Sheet Forecast
  5. Profit and Loss Forecast
  6. Expected Cash Flow
  7. Break-even Analysis
  • SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION
  1. All your relevant research
  2. Questionnaires etc.

A lot of people have asked how many pages my business plan needs to be and although there are exceptions I believe that you should try to keep it to between 20 – 30 pages in length. Interested parties in the main do not want to be reading a novel so be as concise as you can, hence the value of your Executive Summary..

So, remember you’re business plan is the foundation stone of your business, its a fluid document and will change as your business goals move direction. Remember keep your plan up to date. Don’t put it on the top shelf where you cant see it.

If you have been keeping up to date with whats happening in Retail you will have seen that failure is not the exclusive domain of the new startups, there have been many experienced retailers who have ventured into a new field without the development of a business plan because they had that “been there done that” attitude, that have also fallen on tough times and in some cases failed.

Don’t let that be you, again put the ego in your pocket and do the hard yards, start working on your plan.