When should you write a Business Plan?

All along this section, we have referred several times to the Business Plan Excel sheet, simply as the “Business Plan” since, according to our experience, 95% of the time, when you talk about “how the business plan looks like” everybody is thinking about the numbers reflected on the Business Projections.

However, although the real core of the overall Business Plan are these numbers and how supported they are (if your projections are not well supported, no matter how well written is the overall document: nobody would give you a single euro/dollar) you surely will have to write down a complete document with your conclusions, market research, team description… at some point: the “formal” Business Plan.

On this Page, we’ll talk about how writing the overall document you’d need for attracting a potential investor a partnerAccording to our experience in Venture Capital Investments.

Here, we’ll share with you the structure we actually follow and what should you not forget when writing each section.

Business Plan index structure and Length

The overall index-structure we propose is as follow:

* Cover page.

* Index.

  1. Your company.
    • Presentation of your Company.
    • Business Historic evolution.
  1. Business Model.
    • Economic Sector Context.
    • Product.
    • Market.
    • Client.
    • Organization model.
    • Facilities.
  1. Historic Evolution and current situation.
    • Income Statement and Balance Sheet.
    • Last year’s Balance Sheet.
    • Current Debt.
  1. Action Plan: What needs to be done.
    • Investments needed.
    • Operative Actions to be taken.
    • Financing Actions to be taken.
  1. Business Projections.
    • Assumptions (data support).
    • Business Projections and Finance statement.
  1. Conclusions. 

* Annex.

  •  Detailed Excel sheets

Business Plan Length

The overall length, depend on the project you are developing, of course.

We would suggest a Business Plan not longer than 40 pages (one sided) full of pictures, easy charts… otherwise, be sure that some parts wouldn’t even be read.

We have seen and developed very good and detailed Business Plans with less than 30 pages, so don’ bore your potential investors.

Be:

  • Concise: don’t say 3 words if you can use 2 for saying the same.
  • Effective: transmit the key important points.
  • Visual: at a simple glance, everything must be clear.

You can always add an extent Annex with additional support data.

  • A nice outcome would be that whoever reads your Business Plan gets interested and asks for more data.

What you should write in each Business Plan section

Now, we’ll give you some advises about what should you write and what should you avoid in each section of your Business Plan, and how long should it be (on average).

 

Lets begin:

1. Your Company

Length: Normally, 1 page is enough.

 

What you should write in this section:

Which is the purpose of your company.

Your Mission and Vision.

  • Check our “Strategy Basics” page, if you are not sure about their difference.

Team members.

  • Very important.
  • The more experienced the team is, the better.

Objective of this section:

  • Transmit why this Project and /or Company exists.
  • Clarify what motivates the Team.
  • Highlight the experience of the team members.

2. Business Model

Length: Not more than 10 pages, although 5 good pages is usually enough.

This a very important section, since it should support all the numbers you’ll explain later, as well as the investments needed and why are they necessary.

* For example: if the Market you’re targeting is growing a 5% annually and in your Business Projections, you estimated an annual growth of a 10%, you should justify in this section how will get this growth rate.

 

What you should write in this section:

How the Market is and how you operate (or will operate) within it.

  • Its growth.
  • Main Players.
  • Clients’ description.
  • Your product and strategies.
  • What are you doing that nobody does.

* A “Porter 5 Forces” and a “Strengths and Opportunities” description would be a good option (check our Pages).

  • Weaknesses and Threats are only necessary if the Business Plan is a pure internal analysis.
  • If you are introducing your company to an investor, you can avoid them or just “not be very pessimistic” in them since they’ll look for drawbacks for themselves.
  • Check “Porter 5 Forces” and “SWOT analysis” pages.

How your company is organized.

  • Are there enough members?
  • Is your organization chart strong enough?

Your Facilities or the facilities you need (if you are asking for “money”).

  • Have you got something your competitors don’t?
  • Why would you need additional facilities?
  • Summarizing: Justify the investments you need or already have.

* Sometimes, a brief description of your Assets (without an explicit money valuation) may reassure whomever you are asking money for.

  • They’ll see that you have something for endorsing a hypothetical Loan.

Objective of this section:

  • Support all your future Business Projections.
  • Introducing your Product, Market, Strategy and Strengths to your potential Investors.
  • Show that the Market you are targeting is attractive.

3. Historic Evolution and current situation

Length: Not more than 4 pages.  2 should be enough.

 

All you explained in the previous section may sound very interesting, attractive and promising… but:

Here, you must describe what have you done so far and the results you have obtained.

Here you must show some “proof”.

What you should write in this section:

Income Statement:

  • How profitable is your current business.
  • How much “money” you are actually making.

Charts and Excel sheets:

  • Easy but detailed data describing your past and current performance.

Assets and Liabilities:

  • Current Assets and Liabilities.
  • Non-current Assets and Liabilities.
  • Accounts payable and receivable.

Show your Cash Flow:

  • If you calculate your Cash Flow, you won’t regret about it.
  • Lots of investors ask for this as the main requirement.

Objective of this section:

  • Link your Market interpretation with your current results.
  • Show the good results your strategies have given so far.
  • Summarizing: demonstrate that they can trust you.

4. Action Plan: What needs to be done

Length: Not more than 10 pages. 4 good pages would be enough.

 

This is the “most important” section of all.

Here, you must convince the Investors (if you’re looking for money) about what does your company need in order to:

  • Improve its performance.
  • Expand the Business.
  • Launch a new product.
  • etc.

In the previous sections, you have explained why the market you are targeting is attractive, what have you done so far, and how accurate your predictions have been.

Now you have to talk about what your company needs in order to improve its results.

  • Machinery Investments.
  • Stock purchase.
  • Additional Facilities, etc.

What you should write in this section:

The Investments Needed:

  • Supported by the Market analysis previously explained in section 2.
  • That investments would complement what you’re actually doing; explained in section 3.

An Action Plan.

  • Operative changes with dates and deadlines.
  • You can attach a “Gant” diagram. It is highly recommended.

Financing actions to be taken.

  • Once you get the investment you need, how it will affect your current finance statements.
  • Show what will happen with your current liabilities, your long term debts, etc.
    • Nobody wants to lend money that will be employed just for paying old debts.
    • You must show that it will be applied in the operational investments previously explained.

Objective of this section:

  • Explain how much money you need and how will it be employed.
  • Show that you have everything contemplated and controlled.

5. Business Projections

Length: not more than 5 pages. 2 would be enough.

 

What you should write in this section:

Your Business Projections’ assumptions:

  • The average growth expected.
  • The taxes.
  • Investment stages assumed.
  • Employee evolution.
  • Average collection period.
  • Average payment period, etc.

Business Projections:

  • Monthly detailed for the first year.
  • Yearly results (4 should be enough).
  • Cash Flow generation.

Debt Payment.

  • Highlight always how will you pay your debts.
  • Ensure that you’ll generate enough cash to pay your debts and cover your operative necessities.

Different Scenarios:

  • At least an Optimistic one and a Pessimistic one.
  • Ideally; 3 Business Projections.
  • Showing that even in worst-case scenario, you’ll be able to return all the money you are asking for.

Objective of this section:

  • Show how good results you’ll have in case you get the investments you need.
  • Reflect all you have explained in the previous sections with numbers.
  • Convince your investors that even in worst-case scenario you will generate enough Cash to return them their money and sustain the Business.

6. Conclusions

Length: 1 page.

In this section you must make your conclusions.

Your audience must be convinced that you have a profitable Business that just needs some additional investments in order to improve its results even more.

In the conclusions, you must briefly highlight the potential of your Business and the good opportunity your investors have in front of them.

What you should write in this section:

  • A Summary about how attractive the Market is.
  • A Brief summary about your main strategies and products within this Market.
  • A Brief summary about what you’ve done so far and how accurate were your initial assumptions.
  • A Brief summary about what you need in order to improve your results.
  • A Brief summary about what results you are expecting in case you get the investments you need.

Objective of this section:

  • Resume all you have done so far, all you are currently doing, all you need and your potential results in case you get the investments you need, in one single page.

* Annex

Attach:

  • The important data that may be helpful for understanding the overall project.
  • Information about your team’s experience and past projects developed.
  • Excel Sheets explaining how you calculated the costs.
  • Numbers about your assumptions.
  • Different scenarios assumptions.
  • External reports that support your assumptions.
  • Any audit your business has had.
    • Supporting Assets’ values.
    • Showing your overall debt situation.

Summarizing

The Business Plan is a very important document that should reflect:

  • What you are currently doing.
  • Why.
  • What you are planning to do in the future.
  • What you need in order to achieve your goals.

Contemplate different scenarios: Optimistic, Neutral and Pessimistic scenarios,

So you can show that:

  • Your results could be even better than expected.
  • Even in a bad scenario, you’d be able to sustain the Business.

Highlight always, how will you return all the money you are asking for.

Don’t forget to write your Business Plan:

  • Concise.
  • Effective.
  • Visual.

Never bore your audience.

  • You can always attach a hundred pages if you want, but the main document should be attractive for the investors or partners you are looking for.

If you are writing your Business Plan and you are not sure about its attractiveness, check your numbers: maybe, your Business needs more time before you can think about expanding its activity.

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