3 Business Plans Every Entrepreneuer Must Have

I am mentoring small businesses and I am amazed at the ideas I read from the entrepreneurs I have the pleasure of meeting.

Unfortunately, not many have well laid out business plans and most use the Internet for planning.

A big percentage of the documents they use from the Internet are impressive, but what they do not understand is that one cannot use a business plan tailored for another region of the world to fully execute his specific business.

Business concepts are similar universally, but execution and sustainability differ depending on one’s environment and market.

The business plans I have read display glorified projections and their market analysis clearly depicts great profit.

In short, one look at a business plan will tell you that some issues have yet to be thought out clearly. For example, competition, risk, challenges and so forth.

Before embarking on your venture, draft at least three business plans.


This plan is the truest of them all. I refer to it as the naked business plan. It covers almost everything including risk and possibility of failure. No business life lesson can be complete without a discussion on risks and risk management and no business can be started without embracing risk.

Risks are inherent in everything we do – business risk management is the key to ensuring risks are identified and a plan-B or C thought out. Some risks we can control while others we cannot.

This plan should cover who you are as an individual, what your honest strengths and weaknesses are and how you will handle stumbling blocks or closure.

It should address questions like; Can you persevere through tough times? Do you have a strong desire to be your own boss? Do the judgments you make in life regularly turn out well? Do you have an ability to conceptualise the whole of a business? Do you possess the high level of energy, sustainable over long hours, to make a business successful? Do you have specialised business experience?

Financial projections in the plan should cover, at the very least, five different modules. You should work on the plan yourself and get prepared for any outcome.


I like to call this the headlines business plan. You only have one shot at getting investors – make the best out of it.

This is a plan that shows what team you will be working with and how you plan to invest to make money for investors. Show a well laid out plan that includes short and long term financial gains.

The confidence, coupled with experience, shown in this document will determine whether you get the initial investment you seek.

Financial projections in this case can be three to five years. They are there to show sustained profit. You should not glorify the plan nor try to get a lot of money for the start-up.

You must mention what your competition is and how you plan to create your own niche market – having a business plan that does not have a thorough SWOT analysis could raise the red flag. You might end up not getting financial support.

Pick the right team, get professional advice, try to separate your product from the rest in order to achieve your own niche.

Do not spend too much money. Most people think that having a lot of money is fundamental in starting a business. That is a fallacy – you can make a lot out of very little.


This is the plan that you started out with – the ”sitting research” through which you came out with pros and cons of the venture. The plan that has been developed from different Internet searches to better understand what you will be dealing with.

This is the longest business plan. This plan has a lot of data, but you should sieve out information that is irrelevant for your business. Without this plan, it is difficulty to cover everything that needs to be covered in your proposed venture.

Starting a business is not for everyone, but great planning initiated through a solid business plan will always bring in the results.

Writing A Business Plan For Success

Business plans are good for entrepreneurs starting a business who want to attract funding and established firms looking to expand into a new venture or grow their business. A business plan is a road map to the success of a business, many businesses fail every year because of improper planning. A good business plan eliminates this dilemma.

Purpose: The purpose of a business plan is to help determine the course of the business; where it should be in the future and where to place the resources in order to achieve that goal. It is a document that provides future lenders and investors with proof of the entrepreneurs’ credibility. Thus, making them better candidates for funding.

Length: A Business plan wording and formatting should be straight forward and simple. The business plan should not be more than 40 pages. Summary tables and business charts should be used to make the numbers easy to read and grasp. No more than two fonts should be used. Font size should be at least 11 or 12 point size. Page breaks should be used to separate pages and charts.

Objectives: The main objective of a business plan is to establish revenue projections for the business and provide details on how the business will acquire the revenue.


A) Executive Summary

This is the first section of a business plan. This section is a brief overall summary of the business. It will define the nature of the business. The executive summary should be the last thing written. Once the rest of the components of a business plan have be written, entrepreneurs will have a clearer sense of what to write as their executive summary. The executive summary contains the following:

Mission Statement- This is where the business plan states how the customer will benefit from what the business has to offer. The business plan needs to state what products and services the company will be providing.

Objective – This is what entrepreneurs expect the business to accomplish, basically setting goals for the company.

B) Company Description

In this section, the business plan will go over a detail description of the business. The company description section contains the following:

Ownership – What type of ownership will the company be: sole proprietary, partnership, or corporation.

Location – This states where the business will be located. Office’s, retail shop and any other type of facility that is associated with the business should be mentioned. A website address should be listed if the business has one.

Product & Services – What will the business be providing, will it be a service or a product?

Funding – This is where it is stated how the small business will get funded. Funding is broken down into two parts, start-up expenses and start-up assets. Start-up expenses is legal bills, renovation and leased equipment. Start-up Assets are items that the business owners will be using for the business operation. For example, cash, purchased equipment and inventory.

C) Management & Operation Plan

This section of the business plan details how the business will function on a day to day basis. It contains the following:

Management – This will be a list of the personnel that will have a managerial position and the definition of their role in the business.

Operation – This describe the process that it takes for the business to deliver the products or services to the consumer.

D) Marketing Plan

It details the small business effort’s to sell the products or services to the customer base. A marketing plan will contain a list of the following items:

Industry – This lists all the players in the market; the competition, the type of products and service that they have, the strengths that they have and how they attract customers.

Potential customers – This section provides information about the individuals who will be purchasing from the business. The customer demographics will be based on the industry of the company.

Advertising- It involves promoting the products or services to the customer base. It lists the different ways in which the business will do this. For example, newspaper, radio, television, magazines, direct mail, Internet or telemarketing.

E) Finance Plan

Cash is the lifeline of a business. Without it, the business will be in jeopardy. This section will contain the following items:

Profit and Loss statement – A statement that lists the business’ estimated revenue and expenses over a specific period of time.

Balance sheet – Measures the business resources (assets) and obligation (liabilities) and projected balance sheets for the first three years. The first year projections will be on a monthly basis and the second and third year projections are on a quarterly basis.

Cash-flow projections – The amount of cash that passes through the business. It lists income and expenses. Cash flow pays the bills.

9 Key Sections of a Business Plan

You probably know that there is more to starting a business than you initially thought. There are so many pieces to put together, coordinate and do before starting a business. Many entrepreneurs are either overloaded with information or confused as to where to start from!

A business plan is a formal document that put these ideas together in a logical sequence. Just like a blue print is necessary for building a house, a business is the THE first step in starting a business. It is a realistic and a workable plan that outlines various aspects of business including industry performance, market statistics, and financial summary and so on.

Alan Lakein once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Many entrepreneurs write business plans only when they seek financing or start-up capital for their business. I have always felt that a business plan is an essential document to any business whether or not it is seeking capital. Yes, investors and bankers need a business plan to understand your plan, but more important than that is you being sure as to what you need and where you want to go!

However, in order to write down your business ideas there are several aspects that you need to research upon. Most of this information would be available on the internet or with industry and trade associations. Once the plan is written, it will give you a complete picture of the business including its potential weaknesses, opportunities, strengths, threats, legal and financial considerations and so on. This will help in completely understanding your business and defining its framework before you go ahead and jump into it.

Here, we’ve summarized the key sections that you’ll find in a business plan.

The Nine Key Sections of a Business Plan

1. Executive summary

This is one of the most critical aspects of your business plan. I have seen many clients whose plans were rejected by investors just because the executive summary was not well written. An executive summary is a one (or two) page summary of your entire business idea, the industry, market, competition, management team, risks, financial projections and the implementation plan. Ideally, the executive summary should be written last after the entire business plan (including its financials are ready)!

2. Business/Company Overview

This is the first section of your main business plan. This should start with an introduction and a brief business overview. This should include details on the history of the business, type of entity, mission and vision statement, objectives, ownership structure and a brief summary of the financial proposal/funding request.

3. Products and Services

This section explains to the reader, the products and/or services you propose to sell. Here you need to give the detailed product(s) information, features, benefits, value proposition, competitive advantages, how and where your product/services will be produced/rendered.

4. Industry overview

The industry overview section of the business plan demonstrates the viability of your business idea by discussing the size and growth of the industry. We generally recommend our clients to use the ‘funnel approach’ when writing this section of the business plan. Under the funnel approach, the industry overview of the entire country is given first, followed by the region/state and then narrowed down to the performance of the industry in the cities/towns where you propose to have the business. Any industry permissions (such as pollution certificates, permits, licenses etc) should also be discussed here.

5. Marketing Strategy

The marketing section of the business plan is one of the most important sections of the business plan. Even if you have the best product in your entire industry, you need to plan on how it should reach the customers and where they are! Here you should describe the target market segment, competitors, and the key value proposition.

You also should discuss what will be your pricing and promotion packages and how these will appeal to the target customers. You might also have to factor in the latest trends such as social media, networking and the mix of each type of these tactics and how they will affect your sales.

6. Operations Plan

An effective management team is the key to driving any business from where it is now to where it wants to go. In this section, provide a profile of your management team, your manpower plan, your production plan, and an overview of day-to-day operations. It is very critical that this section is written well since people will bet on the jockey than bet on the horse.

7. Financial plan

Many entrepreneurs that I have worked with fear this part of the plan and somehow or the other try to avoid it. This is THE most important part of the business plan since investors or bankers will not invest if the business plan is not financially viable. This section should contain financial projections for at least three to five years and should include income statements, working capital statements, cash flow statements and balance sheets.

Many business plans that I have reviewed do not contain an analysis of these financial statements. Ideally a simple ratio analysis, industry benchmarking, charts and graphical representations go a long way in making this section appealing to the investors.

8. Project Appraisal and Risk Analysis

Nine out of ten plans do not have this section. From a readers’ perspective I can’t stress how important this section of the plan is. This section will discuss the key risks that the business is exposed to and how these risks are proposed to be mitigated. For example, if you are planning a restaurant and assumed that 100 customers will come in everyday, this plan will analyze the sensitivity of your assumption of 100 customers on various factors such as profitability, cash flows etc – What if only 80 customers come? Will I make sufficient profits to repay my loan?

9. Implementation

Again, this is one of the most commonly ignored sections in a business plan. Having read your complete plan, the reader would like to know the next steps in making this business idea a reality. In this section of the business plan, you should discuss the key milestones in the near future, how you are going to achieve them, who (among your management team) are responsible for each of these milestones and so on. This would give the business plan a complete finish from being just a concept to making it a reality!