STRUCTURE AND KEY ELEMENTS OF A
Despite their many differences, all business plans have certain elements in common that all potential
investors expect to find (Exhibit 1). Additionally, an appendix is often included that contains detailed
information, often presented in the form of tables or graphs. Within this more or less required structure,
the business plan is free to growin its own direction. In Phase I, competitors only worked on a few key
elements and individual topics. In Phase II, new elements are added while the topics from the previous
phases are expanded, and, gradually, the plan fills with content.
ELEMENTS OF A BUSINESS PLAN
Bu sin ess
Part of this phase
Bu sin ess
1 Executive summary
2 Product orservice
3 Management team
4 Market and competition
5 Marketing and sales
6 Business system and organization
7 Implementation schedule
8 Opportunities and risks
9 Financial planning and financing
1. Executive summary
"A good executive summary gives me a sense of
why this is an interesting venture. I look for a very
clear statement of the long-term mission, an overview
ofthe people, the technology, and the fit to market."
Ann Winblad, Venture Capitalist
The executive summary is designed to pique the interest of decision makers. It should contain a brief
overview of the most important aspects of the business plan. In particular, it should highlight the product
or service, the value to the customer, the relevant markets, management expertise, financingrequirements,
and possible return on investment.
Venture capitalists look at the executive summary first, though they usually just skim it. The quality of
the summary itself is not likely to make them invest in your project, yet it can convince them not to. A
clear, objective, and concise description of your intended start-up, which must be easy to comprehend,
especially by the technicallayperson, will show them that you know your business. Therefore, prepare
your summary with the utmost care; it may well decide whether the rest of your business plan is read.
The executive summary is an independent element of the business plan: Do not confuse it with the
introduction of your business concept on the title page. Look at your executive summary with a critical
eye – repeatedly –especially after all other aspects of your business plan have been completed. Ask
yourself if you have described your business idea as clearly, compellingly, and concisely as you can.
Your readers should be able to read and comprehend the summary in five to 10 minutes. Test it. Give
your executive summary to someone who has no previous knowledge of your business concept or its
technical or scientificbasis.
KEY QUESTIONS: Executive summary
What is your business idea? In what way does it fulfill the criterion of
Who are your target customers?
What is the value for those customers?
What market volume and growth rates do you forecast?
What competitive environment do you face?
What additional stages of development are needed?
How much investment is necessary (estimated)?What long-term goals have you set?
How high do you estimate your financing needs?
What are the sales, cost, and profit situations?
What are the most important milestones along the way to your goal?
What test customers have you approached/could you approach?
What distribution channels will you use?
What partnerships would you like to enter into?
What opportunities and risks do you face?
Whatis the picture on patents?
Summarize the results of your detailed business planning and state your exact
How will you delegate management tasks?
How much production capacity is necessary?
How will the implementation of your business idea be organized?
List your next, concrete steps!
2. Product or service
"If you don't know what the customer value is,
the whole thing's...
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