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The ABCs of Business Plan Development – Plan Length, Development Time and Packaging

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Business Plan Length

A Comprehensive Business Plan will typically be over 50 pages and can be upwards of 100+ pages. This is highly dependent on the size, scope and sophistication of the business, venture or project. From the Comprehensive document it is a simple task to form your Ancillary documents (such as a Funding Plan). Ancillary documents typically are no more than 30 pages with 20-25 pages being the goal. Brevity forces you to decide what is most important and necessary for the type of plan and the intended audience.

Business Plan Writing and Development Time

300 Hours would be the maximum in most circumstances with 75-100 hours being a typical range. Again this depends on the scope and complexity of the Project.

Packaging

1) Clear Front Cover, Dark back cover, bound

2) Cover clearly denotes the Type of document (i.e. Funding Plan), Your Company Name and name of the Venture or Project.

3) First page should contain any Disclaimers, Non-Disclosure Requirements and Proprietary Protections.

4) Table of Contents

5) Organized by Sections

6) Cover Letter accompanies the document with Hot Button highlights for the specific reader.

7) Use a Long Version Executive Summary, Fact Sheet, Venture Overview, Investment Overview and / or Loan Summary (as applicable for your type of deal and targeted reader) to solicit interest. Follow up with the Business Plan if serious interest is obtained, after having your Non-Disclosure Agreement signed (if applicable and really necessary-unnecessary NDs turn off potential investors).

8) Neat. No sloppiness or errors. Good Grammar and Punctuation.

9) Use concise language. This is a business document, not prose. Don’t be too technical for external plans.

10) Have paper copies, email version and online versions. When sending a Paper Copy to someone, also include a DVD so different parts can be printed off as needed for department or committee review.

11) Keep your Loan Package and the Business Plan as separate documents. The Loan Summary should accompany the Loan Package and the one sheeters (Venture Overview, Fact Sheet and Investment Overview) should accompany the Plan (these summaries can be used as standalone documents as well).

12) Package is specific to the audience. Include Sections specific to that audience’s requirements and interests. Each document is packaged and edited for the Type of Plan and customized for the audience. Select the particular sections from your Comprehensive document and adjust as necessary to target the audience and use.

13) Some examples of specialty / ancillary documents, to service specific purposes

a) Funding: i.e. for Lenders, Venture Capitalists, Investors, Finance, etc.

b) Strategic: i.e. For the Strategic Planning Team, Sales Manager, Strategic Partners, Suppliers, Customers, etc.

c) Marketing: Internal Company Version and External Version (i.e. for Customers).

d) Sales: Combine the applicable parts of the Strategic & Marketing Plans for your Sales Division.

e) Suppliers: i.e. to obtain more favorable finance terms or attract a supplier as an investor in your company

f) Customers

g) Distributors

h) Government Relations

i) Public Relations

j) Technical

k) Engineering

l) Joint Venture

m) Strategic Alliance

n) Product Development

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