Drafting a business plan is a lot easier and faster when you have all the necessary data about your business or prospective business before hand. Data collection is a significant preliminary business plan writing stage and can be beneficial as once you have all the necessary data, the writing does not have to be disturbed at critical points as you would be in possession of all the essential data. You can collect all the data and information you need before you begin writing or collect it as you approach each section, which ever is easier for you. The following is a list of data to include in your data and information collection activity:
- The name of your business
- Business registration number
- The legal form of your business
- Physical address of your business and contact details
- The owners of the business
- Interest or percentage of ownership the owners possess
- Key financial highlights in the case of existing businesses
The management and organization
- The organizational structure
- The key management of the business as well as information on their roles and responsibilities
- Information on other employees – any agreements, contracts and other factors
- Professional support – for example, consultants and advisers
- Board of directors (for private and public entities)
Market and competitors
- Statistics about your particular market and the industry your business falls under
- Data pertaining to both direct and indirect competitors
- Data and information resulting from market and customer surveys
The products or service offerings
- Information on the products or services
- Any contracts
- Purchase orders
- Intellectual property information – patents, trademarks, license
- Operational plan
- Research and development plans
- Regulatory related approval
- Industry standards
Marketing and Sales
- Marketing plan
- Marketing brochures, business cards, website and other material
- Past financial information – Income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, management accounts (ideally three to five years)
- Assumptions for financial projections
- Funding requirements for the future – gather information on the amount and timing for the funding required
Prior to writing your business plan, it would be a great idea to look at the concise business plan template and some sample business plans so as to get a general overview of business plans. Remember to use the top right navigation pane ‘business plan writing’ of this website to learn more on the contents of a business plan.
The next step is to define objectives for writing and identify the potential audience or readers of the business plan.
It is also important to draw a reasonable time line to guide your progress and set a target for the date you intend to complete and review your business plan.
Additionally, check the resources section to help facilitate your business planning preliminary stage.
Prepare a draft business plan (while taking into account the audience), use excellent vocabulary, focus on quality as opposed to quantity and know what you are writing about. At the end of the day, be in a position to present the business plan to your reader or audience.