HOW TO BUILD A BUSINESS PLAN
by Cynthia W. Massarsky
There is no real magic in writing a business plan. In fact, it is rather straightforward.
The magic is in the due diligenceensuring that your business venture will succeed
because it is supported by solid research and planning.
The business plan, then, is the document that provides the reader with a complete picture
of the financial and operational opportunities and challenges of your businessall the
evidence to demonstrate that your business will succeed.
This guide below outlines the main components of a business plan.1
The Executive Summary
The executive summary is found on the first page following the table of contents. It is a
one-page summary of the key business points. Because its quality usually determines
whether the reader will continue, the executive summary must be compelling, interesting,
The executive summary contains a description of the business (its product or service,
method of operations, location, management structure), financial information (sales and
revenues figures, number of employees, break-even point), and a closing statement on the
purpose of the business plan.
The executive summary of the nonprofit’s business plan should include a statement
explaining the purpose of the new business. In most cases, it should convince the reader
that funding the venture furthers the exempt mission of the nonprofit.
1 Some of this material appeared earlier in different form in“Business Planning for Nonprofit Enterprise,”
The Nonprofit Entrepreneur – Creating Ventures to Earn Income, edited by Edward Skloot, Foundation
Center, New York, 1988.
The executive summary answers questions such as:
• What is the product or service?
• Whom will you sell it to?
• How will you sell it (retail, wholesale, mail order, distributors)?
• Who is the management team?
• How many employees will the business have?
• Where is the bu