The Executive Summary should not be a mere listing of topics contained in the body of your business plan but should emphasize the key issues presented. A critical point that must be communicated in the Executive Summary is your company’s distinctive competence—the factors that will make your business successful in a competitive market.
The Market Analysis section should reflect your knowledge of your industry and target market, and present highlights and analysis of your market research. Detailed market research studies, however, should be presented as appendices to your plan.
The Company Description section must provide an overview of how all of the elements of your company fit together without going into detail, since most of the subjects will be covered in depth elsewhere in the plan.
Both general and specific information must be included in this part of your plan. Your objective here is to describe the activities that will allow you to meet the sales and margin levels indicated in your prospective financial statements.
Special attention should be paid to the users of your business plan as you develop this section. Too much detail will have a negative impact on most external users of the plan. Avoid turning this section of your business plan into a policies and procedures manual for your employees. This section should include information on any patents, trademarks and copyrights that you might have.
Here again, too much detail can detract from the rest of your plan. Be certain that the level of detail included fits the specific needs of the plan’s users.
Your management team’s talents and skills are some of the few truly unique aspects of your company. If you are going to use your plan to attract investors, this section must emphasize your management’s talents and skills, and indicate why they are a part of your company’s distinctive competence that cannot easily be replicated by your competition. Include Title, SSN, email and phone number for each manager and board member, if applicable. This section should also include current ownership. Do not use this section of the plan to negotiate future ownership of the company with potential investors.
Any new or additional funding reflected in your prospective financial statements should be discussed here. Alternative funding scenarios can be presented if appropriate, as well as a breakdown of the intended use of funds.
The Financial Data section contains the financial representation of all the information presented in the other sections. Pro Forma Income Statements and various prospective scenarios can be included here, if appropriate.
Any additional detailed or confidential information that could be useful to the readers of the business plan but is not appropriate for distribution to everyone receiving the body of the plan can be presented here. Accordingly, appendices and exhibits should be bound separately from the other sections of the plan and provided on an as-needed basis to readers.