How Long Should My Business Plan Be?
“Oh my gosh! You want me to do what? Write a 40 page business plan for this new project of mine. I don’t have time to do that.”
Many a business plan consultant has come across this type of statement. In fact, these are probably the first words a client has to say, but most experienced business plan writers are quick to offer calming advice. They offer quick reassurances by quickly assuring entrepreneurs that a business plan doesn’t have to be 40 pages long – and for new startups it probably isn’t a good idea that it be this extensive. So just how long should a good business plan be? Unfortunately, there is no right answer to this question. It really depends on who your audience is, what industry you are in, and on what stage your company is in. The following are a few basic guidelines to determine the length of your business plan.
If your intentions are in using your business plan as a guide for your operations and your personnel, you can skip several sections including company background and company’s current condition. This type of business guides often focuses on financial projections and specific goals for the next quarter or year. This business plan makes you and your team accountable for these objectives, and gives you a specific metric against which you can measure your progress. This helps you determine the customers you acquire, the traffic to your website and more. If using this plan, you can create a relatively short business plan of just a few pages.
When creating a business plan to raise funds for your business, even if it is just a bank loan, then you also need a shorter business plan. Angel investors, venture capital investors and private investors don’t want to read an extensive business plan. But they do want to get the information they need in the first few pages of your plan. In these cases, it is your executive summary that captures their attention and gets them to continue reading through to your financial data. That’s why you want to focus on this area first and make sure your executive summary covers the following:
• The problem your company addresses.
• The solution you offer.
• Your market size
• Your business model
• Your funding needs
Aside from a great executive summary, you’ll need to add the data, research studies and statistics that validate the statements you make in the summary. You need to include clear and detailed financial forecasts as well as specific details about your product and how you plan to market it.
When writing a business plan you need to write until you clearly cover all areas pertaining to your specific business. You neither want a guide that is too short, one that doesn’t offer support for your ideas and objectives, nor a guide that is too long and wordy; one that will bore investors and give them that tedious feeling of “oh no, not another long-winded business plan with no set objective.” How do you attain this happy medium? The solution is pretty simple. You get the expert advice from a business plan expert, one who is experienced with this type of writing, and one who even knows what type of investor your business should look for.