Success is the sum of details.
– Harvey S. Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
Don’t overlook the final, important details when assembling your plan—they can make a big difference in the overall presentation of yourself and your company.
While readers evaluate the business concept you present to them in the final document, they will also be evaluating you based on how well your plan is put together. They will want to be able to quickly and easily find the information they’re looking for and understand your goals and objectives.
When you are finished writing your plan, make sure to include the following:
The cover page is the front cover of the plan containing the name of the business, your name, and your contact information. The cover page is an opportunity to make a good first impression.
What to include on your cover page:
- Name. Include the name of the company, your name, and your title. If your company name does not describe your business, consider adding a descriptive tag line below the company name.
- Contact details. Include the company’s address, phone and fax numbers (if relevant), email addresses, and website or social media links. If the actual address of the business is undecided, use your home address. Providing this key information makes it easy for investors and other readers to contact you.
- Logo. The company logo should be displayed on the cover page along with the company name.
- Date. Add the date the plan was prepared. In addition to letting readers know when the plan was written, it will help you know whether you have the most recent version.
- Tracking number. If the business plan is going to be distributed to several different investors or lenders, each plan should be numbered separately with the number displayed on the cover page. This will allow tracking of business plans that are out for review. It also may discourage recipients from copying or widely distributing the plan to others. It is advisable to include a statement, such as, “The contents of this plan are proprietary and confidential. It is not to be copied or duplicated in any way.”
Tip: If a business plan lacks adequate contact information on the cover page, readers will not know how to locate the company or who to contact. Chances are they won’t try to follow up with you.
Tip: Consider having the recipient sign a non-disclosure agreement in which the reader agrees to refrain from revealing the contents or ideas of the plan to anyone else. By disclosing information without a signed non-disclosure agreement, you may lose your ability to protect the information through trade secrets, patents, or other types of protection.
Table of Contents
A table of contents is an index by section and page number making it easy for the reader to find exactly what is sought. It is a good idea to include a table of contents to help readers locate information. If using the Business Plan tool as your basis, download the plan and include a table of contents using Word processing software.
Tip: It works best to create the table of contents after the rest of the plan is complete. At this point, the heading and subheading titles are finalized and the page numbers should go unchanged.
Business Plan Appendix
The resources, authorities, resumes, and specifications referenced in the body of the plan are located in the appendix. The appendix allows you to include all supporting documentation without cluttering the actual Business Plan. While most readers will not look at every page in the appendix, they will recognize the planning and thoroughness that went into creating the appendix.
See the Business Plan Checklist for a list of documents that belong in the appendix of your business plan. Determine which of these items are relevant to your plan. The appendix will vary in length according to the amount of detailed information needed to support the claims made in your plan. If the appendix becomes too large, it can be made into a separate document.
All documents can be included in the appendix just as they are. You should prepare a table of contents at the beginning of the appendix to identify the location and type of documents included.
Tip: Your credibility can be established or lost by the contents of the appendix. If references are accurate and complete, the reader will soon stop checking the assertions found in the body of the plan and accept them. If inaccuracies or missing data are discovered, however, the reader will question the accuracy of everything else written in the plan.