Business plan: how to draft a successful one

A business plan can make or break a new small business. Banks, investors and venture capitalists are going to want to read your business plan and it is the first, and most important step, to convincing an investor that your business will succeed. Therefore a business plan needs to be well written, well prepared and convey accurately how your business will succeed. Here are some pointers on the function that a business plan serves and some tips on how to make sure it is successful:

A business plan serves three main functions:

  • A planning tool for the growth of the business
  • It conveys information to prospective investors
  • It serves as a basis to monitor a company’s performance over time

Here is a list of some key tips to remember when drafting your business plan:

  • You business plan should be concise and to the point. Nobody wants to read a long-winded business plan. Limit your business plan document to 30-40 pages at the most
  • Your business plan should be easy to read and understand
  • Eliminate any and all grammatical and typographic errors
  • Convey the market opportunities for your business
  • Spell out in detail how your business is going to be profitable
  • The business plan should convey the strength and depth of your marketing team

The following is a list of the key sections of your business plan:

  • Cover page: contains contact information, a title, and a description for the plan
  • Table of contents: allows your reader to scan to the pages that they wish to view
  • Executive summary: Explains your business prospects, needs and the general situation
  • Company description: Contains a historical account of the company as well as its future prospects
  • The product or service: this is where you describe how your product or service is unique and marketable
  • The market: creates a general picture of the market in which your product or service will compete
  • Marketing: informs your reader of how you plan to capture a segment of the market
  • Management and ownership: describes the people holding leadership positions in the company and what their strengths are
  • Competition: shows your competitors strengths and weaknesses
  • Financial statements and projections: balance sheets, income statement, cash flow statement. A summary of your accounting.
  • Appendices: resumes of key personnel, an organizational chart with positions and responsibilities, extended market information and any other data that will back up your business plan



(Harrock, Richard D., Small Business Kit for Dummies (Wiley Publishing Inc. 2004))