A business plan is an overview of your company’s vision, strategy, projections and other organizational plans. It can help you define objectives and answer key questions about your business, while mapping a strategic outlook for your new or existing venture.

In the case of fundraising, the document can share insights with banks and investors and help them assess the feasibility of investing in your company.

There are many ways to write a business plan and the web is brimming with templates for different types of organizations. Some UAE free zones, such as Dubai Internet City, also offer set templates for entrepreneurs seeking to incorporate through them. You can choose to use one of these templates or start from scratch and put your own flavor into it.

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How long should it be?

The length of a business plan has always been under debate. While some plans can stretch up to 100 pages, the widely accepted page count is often between 20 and 50. Some advocates of simplicity even go to the extent of proposing one-page business plans. A popular form of such a plan is the Business Model Canvas, which encompasses nine main components:

  • Key partners
  • Key activities
  • Key resources
  • Value propositions
  • Customer relationships
  • Channels
  • Customer segments
  • Cost structure
  • Revenue structure

Longer business plans delve a bit deeper into the details. While the format and structure may vary depending on your company, following are some important elements every business plan should ideally contain:

Executive summary

This is a snapshot of what your business plan entails. The summary is typically between one and two pages and highlights the nature of the business, it’s products and services, what it aims to achieve, how it plans to do that, it’s unique selling proposition, financial potential, funding requirements and other factors validating that it is a successful model.

Business/company description

This is where you describe different aspects of your business in more detail, such as your mission statement, objectives, ownership, advisors, product/service, potential clients or target market, value proposition, revenue model, internal and external influences, risks, etc.  Some plans include a SWOT analysis – a review of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities for your business – in this section.

[Related: The daily challenges of an SME ownerCommon business structures in the UAE | Seven steps to setting up an SME business]

Market analysis                                           

This is where you elaborate on your market, consumers, the gap you identified and any market research you have conducted in the due diligence process. Show that you have taken the time to understand your target audience, verified that a demand does exist for your product/service and are actually addressing a market need or problem. At the same time, you must demonstrate an understanding of the industry you are planning to operate in. What are the key factors affecting the industry? Is it growing? What future developments can you anticipate for the industry? This includes a competitor analysis outlining who your competitors are, what advantages they have over you and what sets you apart from them.

Marketing and sales strategy

Once you have defined your product and market, you should explain how you will price, position, promote and sell your product. This includes outlining what communication and distribution channels you will use to attract and reach your customers.

[Related: SMEs must think and go digital]

Operational plan

You should also outline an execution strategy and the daily operational requirements of your business, such as equipment needs, production processes, supply chain and location facilities.

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Organization and management

Your business plan should also include an overview of the organizational structure, your management team as well as staffing requirements to fulfill your business objectives.

[Related: How to be a great boss: Hiring and firing in the SME world | How an intern can help you grow your business?]

Financial projections

Numbers are an important part of a business plan, especially for banks. Your plan should contain capital information, cost structures and financial forecasts for at least three years (if not five). This includes projected income and cash flow statements, balance sheets, etc.