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The Business Overview is the second Section of a Formal Business Plan.

Below you can read, in detail, what the Business Overview Section should include, depending on the purpose of your Business Plan and the target audience.

After reading about the Business Overview Section, you can learn more about the next Formal Business Plan Section, the Market Analysis Section.

Contact us for support in assessing your Business Planning needs, and for the Preparation and Implementation of the appropriate Business Plan for your enterprise.

The Business Overview Section should include the following information:
This Section is essential for any Business Plan. It should include a review of the most important milestones in relation to the development of your business and information should be presented in the form of chronological retrospection. Milestones review should include the management team, the location of your facilities, and your mission and legal structure. This Section is usually presented after the Executive Summary.

This Section is usually the shorter Section of a Formal Business Plan, but this does not mean that it is of less importance. This section allows you to "introduce" your business to the audiences you are addressing, who do not know anything about you, creating positive impressions.

Answers, from the perspective of the targeted audience, to the questions "How should they perceive your business?", "What should they remember about you and your business? " should be taken into account for the preparation of this Section.

The Section refers to the "who, what, when, where and why" of your business, and needs to focus on key points, such as:

  • Who are you, as the founder and owner,
  • Other prominent team members,
  • Your product or service. Why your product or service is unique/ differentiation points

Who is the target audience?
Preparing a Business Plan that meets your needs requires that the content is tailored to your target audience. Sometimes this may mean eliminating a Section that is not needed for the particular project.

For example, if the Section is addressed to an internal audience, a relatively brief review of the business, illustrating how you got to where you are today and who is currently responsible for the specific project, could be prepared. However, if the persons to work on the project are new to the business or to the nature of the work involved, it would be useful to include more detailed information.

In case the Business Plan addresses external audiences, it is imperative that the perspective of your readers is taken into account. Remember that in this case readers will not know anything about your team, facilities or legal structure, thus you will need to provide them with the appropriate information in order for them to understand that your business is well prepared to utilise efficiently their financial support in order to achieve the specified goals.

The Business Overview Section of your Business Plan needs to include the following subsections:

  • Business Summary: This is a summary of the content of the entire Business Overview Section.

The "Business Summary" subsection introduces your business to the target audience. This is the point where the goals of the Business Plan can be pitched to the readers to whom the Business Plan is addressed. The subsection should be short, since the content of the Section will be further developed in the subsections that follow.

  • Business History: Presents a chronological review, including the date of foundation, and who participated.

This subsection covers, in chronological sequence, a review of the most important milestones illustrating the development/ growth of your business, starting with its foundation and those involved in it.

This subsection will vary, depending on the target audience of your Business Plan and the growth stage of your business is. If you need to address an internal audience who know your business very well, since its launch, chronological information may not be necessary. In case you need to be appealing to external audiences, such as bankers for securing a business loan, readers will want to review your track record, thus this subsection should include some framework for your business plan, including how your business started, how it expanded and changes that took place along the way leading you to your current status.

In the case of an existing business seeking funding for expansion or for the implementation of a new project, the Business History subsection is quite important. In such a case, you will need to provide convincing information for a number of important points, such as documenting a strong track record of successful projects, taking good business decisions in difficult times, developing significant partnerships, developing new, profitable products/ services and/ or improving existing ones, and improving your facilities and operations over time.

In the case of a Business Plan concerning a Start-up, business history cannot be long. Still, you should briefly describe how the founders decided to launch the business. The subsection should explain the parameters evaluated as part of the launch decision making process, also explaining who participated in the process, how they participated and why.

  • Management Team & Organisational Structure: Provides details in relation to significant members of the Management team and other key persons. Also, the Organisational Structure is explained.

This subsection gives you the opportunity to describe your management team and illustrate the best qualities of each team member. Similar to the previous subsection, if the Business Plan is to be used solely internally and only concerns users who already know the business very well, the subsection may be omitted. Still, even in such a case, you could include the subsection if new employees, or existing employees taking on new roles, will be involved in the scope of your Business Plan.

If your Business Plan is addressed to a bank or to other potential investors, the information to be included in this subsection is critical. It is vital to explain who the leaders are in your organisation, what makes them fit for their positions, and what inspires confidence in them. There must be, for each significant person included in your team, sufficient evidence of their work experience, their past successes, and their academic and other relevant education and training. Remember that investors primarily invest in people and then in ideas.

In the case of a Start-up or a business that is still at an early growth stage, there may be roles/ positions that have not yet been filled. In such a case, you need to refer to these roles and your staffing plans. You may also specify individuals who can take on multiple responsibilities and/ or share specific tasks.

  • Legal Status and Ownership Structure: Explains the ownership structure of your business, including shareholders and number/ percentage of shares per owner. It also covers legal status.

This separate subsection describes the legal status and the ownership structure of your business.

The legal status of your business is important for any funding provider.

The ownership structure of your business needs to include important information, such as who are the shareholders and what percentage each of them owns.

Banks and investors will expect to see clear explanations for the above information.

  • Location, facilities and infrastructure: Provides details of your existing workspaces, equipment, and production capabilities. In the case of a Start-up, it may include plans to acquire buildings, equipment etc.

At this point you should describe your existing workspaces and equipment, indicating what is owned by the business and what is being rented (mentioning significant relevant terms), as well as your production capacity.

It is important to explain why you have selected the specific location in relation to your business activities. Additionally, it is important to document that you have obtained all required permits as provided by relevant legislation.

In the same perspective you should explain the choice of your production equipment.

It is important to illustrate the level technology use, throughout the range of your business activities.

You should also refer to facts, concerning your own business activities, which support savings in energy, production resources and environmental wastes, as well as evidence of compliance with relevant legislation.

  • Mission Statement: A brief statement of your key business guidelines

Your Mission Statement should be as short as possible, in order to transmit the main long-term vision (the common long-term vision) of your business, in one or two sentences.

  • Information for your products and/ or services

This subsection presents what your business offers.

An integrated business plan describes what you are selling: either products or services, or both.

You can also detail the technologies you use, copyrights and other intellectual protection rights you may own as well as other key factors in relation to your products and/ or services.

This section of the Business Plan mainly includes descriptions. Sometimes, it can include a few tables that provide additional information, such as a detailed pricelist; however, it usually includes principally text. The Section usually follows the Executive Summary and precedes the Market Analysis Section.

Detailed description of what you are selling
It involves recording and describing the products and/ or services you sell.

For every product or service your business has on the market, it is necessary to cover key points such as:

  • What is the product or service? Include description, features.
  • How much does it cost?
  • What is the profile of the customers/ clients that buy it, and why do they buy it?
  • Which customer need does each product line cover?

It is important to provide a description of the products and/ or services you offer based on the profile and needs of your customers, as this approach creates the conditions for identifying new/ additional needs and/ or new "categories" of customers.

Note that it may not be necessary to include each product or service you have on the market. Nevertheless, you should cover, at least, the main product lines, based on their contribution to your turnover.

After reading about Business Overview, you can study the next Formal Business Plan Section, the Market Analysis Section.

Also, by clicking on the relevant link, below, you can read in detail about each of the remaining Sections of a Formal Business Plan:

Contact us for support in assessing your Business Planning needs, and for the Preparation and Implementation of the appropriate Business Plan for your enterprise.

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