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Business Plan Organization

A Business Plan is a business document; you are not writing prose. It should contain a precise and concise format and be organized into numbered Sections and Sub-Sections, which contain specific information in short, paragraph form. Plans should be produced in paper form, computer format and online format. Computer Format means the Plan is integrated into the Company’s Computer Network. It also means the Table of Content’s Sections are hyperlinked so you can easily navigate and access information on the Plan just by clicking on the links.

You should have your Business Plan uploaded securely, online (via login and password access) on your website so that Key Managers, Employees, Sales People, etc can access the information remotely no matter their location. You can have different versions available online for particular purposes, segregated by different logins and passwords. For Example, you can have your Sales Plan accessible remotely so your Salespeople can use it as a sales tool or update it with up to the minute feedback for the Sales Manager and the Marketing Department. Another example would be having your Funding Business Plan accessible online with versions for different audiences: bankers, venture capitalists, angel investors, etc.

Business Plan Sections

The Table of Contents is one of the most important parts of the Plan. The TOC should be very detailed and well organized so that the reader and user can find and access the information easily and quickly. You can write a great Plan with all the necessary information in it, but if the reader can’t easily find or access the information, then the Plan ceases to be a useful tool.

The TOC should be organized by each Section and Sub-Sections of the Plan with the corresponding page numbers. It is strongly recommended that your Plan be developed as an outline document, with all the Sections and Sub-Sections in the Table of Contents hyperlinked to the page where the information resides. This way the reader and user can access the information quickly and easily.

The Executive Summary should be written last. Why? Because it organizes and summarizes the entire Business Plan. You cannot achieve this effectively until all the other sections (2 through 8) of the Plan are completed. We suggest developing two renditions of the Executive Summary – a short version of 2 – 3 pages in length and a longer version of 5 – 7 pages. The short version should be written after the long version is completed, keying on the most significant information from the long version.

The Executive Summary gives the reader a quick overview of the important facts contained in your Business Plan. The long version of the Executive Summary can act as a standalone document to be used to succinctly explain your Business and generate interest in your opportunity, or products and services. For instance, the long version of the Summary can be sent to a Venture Capital Firm to generate and gauge initial interest, to be accompanied by your one-sheeters: Fact Sheet / Venture Overview / Investment Overview. If interest is indicated, you can send the VC Firm a custom tailored Funding Business Plan (customized to their particular investment requirements) which will contain the short version Executive Summary.

Brevity, yet completeness and inclusiveness, is key when writing your Executive Summary. It should be concise yet have adequate detail about your Business Plan. It may take several attempts to achieve this balance.

This section encapsulates who you are as a Company: the History, Structure, Ownership, Locations, Products and Services Summary, Strengths and Weaknesses, Performance, Customers, Trends, Company Assets and so forth. This section comes first in the Business Plan (following the Executive Summary) since it serves as an introduction to the necessary details and background of your company.

This section builds on the Company Section explaining in more detail who will run the company and how it will be run. You can have the greatest business idea but lack the right people to execute your Plan. Therefore, the Management and Operations Section is one of the most important elements of the Plan.