ABC’s of Hiring #39 How to Write a Business Plan

Every business needs a well thought out plan in order to be successful. A business plan should be used to determine the overall direction of the business and drive decision making, budgets and resources allocation. This outline can be used in any business and the rigor in which it is pursued and in the information developed, will provide a roadmap for success. Great planning drives clear and focused thinking.

Business Plan Outline


  • Historical Summary – provide an overview of the previous 3 years addressing key initiatives and the results achieved or shortfalls identified.
  • Financial Progress – provide the previous 3 years of financial data reflecting product line P&L’s and profitability.

Market Definition

  • Niches – identify market segments served, and their size, reflecting your market share and position.
  • Trends – what are the drivers of change that are creating opportunity in the markets you serve or have targeted?
  • Competitive Assessment – who are your competitors in each market segment? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you differentiate yourself from the competition?


  • Sales revenue – based on the trends and competition, where are the growth opportunities?
  • Margins – are their opportunities to improve your manufacturing performance, or raise prices?
  • Market Share – where are their gaps in the market for new products and services?

Mission Statement

  • Why are you in business and how do you define the business relative to the competition and desired customers?
  • Is the business “product driven” and needs to focus on new markets?
  • Is the business “market focused” and needs to develop additional products and services?

Business Objectives

  • Address and quantify exactly are you are trying to achieve in each segment?
  • How realistic is your objective in light of the market trends and competitive environment?


  • What are the issues that need to be addressed in order for to meet your objectives?
  • How can you capitalize on the opportunities?
  • Can you leverage a competitive advantage?
  • What are the financial constraints to achieve your objectives?
  • What organizational changes must take place to make this happen?
  • What are the risks associated with your objectives?


  • What are the critical success factors that must be addressed and resourced?
  • What hurdles must be overcome?

Action Plans

  • What needs to happen, in order to implement the strategies that address the issues, in order to meet your objectives?
  • What resources will be required?



  • Provide a 3 year projection of income statements, balance sheets and a cash flow analysis, reflecting the timing of implementing your plan and the expected outcomes.


A rigorous analysis of your markets and competition will uncover opportunities for you to build your plan. Determining your mission is crucial to understanding the expanse or limits to your objectives. Understanding the issues will help define the strategies with leads to the action plans required. All of which can be analyzed and quantified and risk assessed. A good plan is a building process where each step relies on the quality of the preceding step. Having a structured approach to your planning process will pay dividends in improved performance in the long run. It also provides a roadmap for the entire organization. If market conditions change, course corrections can be identified and implemented quickly. The business plan is a fluid document that drives business activities in real time.


Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business since 1994 and can help you find the best people for your organization.


Best Regards,


Bob Harrington CPC
Bob Harrington Associates


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