Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

What should you include in your business plan?

A business plan serves numerous purposes when you are forming and growing your business. It serves as a formal document that you can present to investors and partners, but it also provides you with the chance to really delve into your own plans. By writing a formal plan, you work out some of the internal questions you might have for the business and force yourself to consider serious issues such as the right organizational choices and whether the market will support your product.

But what should you include in a business plan? Most basic business plans follow a template of sorts that includes an executive summary, assessment of the market, overview of business operations, a summary of finances and some information about products.

The executive summary is simply an outline of the entire plan. It functions as the abstract or elevator pitch -- if someone has only a minute, they should be able to read the summary and get a good idea of what your business idea is about.

The marketing assessment summarizes research and assumptions about the market. Who is the customer? How is the product expected to be received? What is the competition? The product information might also touch on some of these concerns, but will include details about the services and products to be provided. Who will do the work? What will the costs be, and how much will you charge?

Financial summaries usually include income and expense reports. In some cases, those reports are predicted over the course of the next few years based on what you've gleaned in researching the market and product.

Finally, the organizational overview details how the company will be structured. What type of business model are you opting for, who are the employees and how will the company manage those people? Here is where the help of an experienced business lawyer, who understands how these choices might impact the business years later, can be handy.

Source: Dummies.com, "The Basic Business Plan," Kenneth Boyd, et. al., accessed March 18, 2016

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