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What information should a Business Plan contain?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 25828 Views // 0 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Leadership & Management, General


The purpose of a business plan is to clearly lay out the vision and strategic direction of a business. This will include articulating the demand for your product or service and accurately defining the market in which the business will be operate.  A business plan benefits its business leaders by imposing organization and focus to an early startup, and it benefits potential financial investors by communicating the factors that will influence their investment decision.

Sometimes the hardest part of creating a business plan isn’t knowing what to include but figuring out how to best organize the information since much of it is interconnected.
The Vision
Many plans will have a vision section that outlines at a high level:
  • The product or service being provided
  • The basic customer need that exists
The Product or Service 
The product section further describes in detail the specific features of the product or service being offered.   Some products need to have tailor matched features for specific demographic segments of its target market.  The details of these tailored features should be described and mapped to the particular demographic segment that they serve. 
The Customer
A business plan must define the customer that the product or service is intended to serve.  The target customer base should be broken down into specific demographic segments based on characteristics such as gender, age, income, location, race, disabilities, educational attainment, employment status, and religion.  The main reason for this is to identify the different motivating factors that drive each demographic segment.
The Market Environment
A thorough analysis of the market environment is essential. This allows the business to identify key competitors and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.  It also identifies key environmental factors that may influence the success of the business. Consider using SWOT analysis or Porters Five Forces analysis.
Organization & Management
External investors require an understanding of your organization’s structure. This includes the legal structure of your business, any special licensing or permits that are required or that have already been obtained, and a brief bio of the key members or managers of the business.  This gives them some understanding of the internal flow of operations and the capabilities of each manager or member.
Marketing and Sales Strategy
Even the best products or services need to get the word out.  Your business plan should include where and how each demographic segment can be reached with your marketing message.  Will you use social media, sell door to door, or partner with existing companies and organizations?
Financial Management
Understanding your business startup costs, as well as your projected return on investment, is essential.  Simple cost and profit projection spreadsheets with the financial data organized in whatever way is easiest is suitable.  However if you are seriously considering external investors or bank loans you may want to organize the data into a projected balance sheet, income statement, and cashflow statement.  1 and 3-year forward projections are helpful.
Executive Summary
The executive summary comes first in the business plan, but you write it last.  This is your overview of the business plan in a paragraph or two.  But, its more than that, it’s your sales pitch.  Write an executive summary that hooks the potential banker or investor.
In summary, a business plan should at a minimum contain.
  • Executive Summary
  • Business Vision
  • Product/Service
  • Customer Analysis
  • Market/Environment Analysis
  • Organization and Management
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Financial Management



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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.



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