OUTLINE FOR A BUSINESS PLAN
Your business plan should be concise, free from jargon and use language that focuses the mind of the reader on the objective. Ideally, a business plan should be no longer than 10 pages and each section should be contained on one page if possible. Sometimes it may be necessary to use 2 pages to describe the product, the market or the business model.
The business plan should be broken into a number of sections which I have outlined below and I have given a brief description for each section. However, this template is for guidance purposes only and any innovation in how you present your information should be utilised. In many ways a business plan is like a curriculum vitae; you wouldn’t dream of turning up to an interview without a curriculum vitae and while it can damage your ability to get a job it has little relevance in securing the job. In short, you must demonstrate that you have a plan but after that its relevance diminishes. The key sections are:
Background – You need to explain how you got to this point and most importantly who the promoters are and WHY they’re doing it. Promoters can be a separate section if the individuals require detailed explanation, however a short pen picture usually suffices.
Product – you need to use one page to describe your business product, service or concept. This section needs to incorporate the vision of the value you are bringing to the market; world, society or industry.
Market – In simple terms this section needs to describe the opportunity that you are exploiting. It needs to give the reader comfort that there will be significant potential for the product or service in the market. E.g. The market is €500M and we hope to secure 1% initially growing to 5%. There are potential users of the service worldwide ….. we have already secured business of €xxx,xxx. We have researched the market and ….. This section needs to WOW the reader with the potential.
Business Model – This is the most important section. Here you describe how you capture the potential (sales strategy) and deliver the product or service to the market, generating a profit overtime. Here you may need to describe how your operations are going to be unique, how your technology is going to revolutionize the experience. Are you doing it differently than everyone else and is this the value creation? If a significant investment is required in the business, you use this section to describe how the investment will be deployed.
Financial Plan – This is ideally a description of the financial potential for the business, the investment required to unlock it and a summary five year (or more) projection to demonstrate the return. Detailed projections can be attached as an appendix if required.
THE ASK/Proposal – the last piece is often just a paragraph that outlines to the reader what you are looking for; grant, investment, bank finance, partner etc.
We have seen this type of plan summarised well on one page but usually it takes six or seven pages and images and colour should be used where possible.