The Basics of a Business Plan

They say a dream without a plan is just a wish, so get serious about your business venture and bring it out of the clouds and into reality. Whether you’re just starting out and looking to get financing or you’re already years in, a business plan helps to define four core elements of your operation.

With the help of Bob Minhas, founder of eHouse School for Entrepreneurs, we’re going to focus on what a financer will be looking for from your business plan, but the core elements are applicable no matter when you decide to do it.

Executive Summary

Although this comes first in the presentation, Minas recommends you write it last. It is truly a summary of the other parts of the plan. Generally, it should be no longer than a page and a half, and it helps your financier decide whether the rest of the plan is worth reading or not.

There are three main components to the summary. First, problem and solution. This explains the problem you have defined and how our business offers up the solution. Second, who is involved. This identifies the key players and what the company structure is going to look like. Third is a financial snapshot of the next three years, and it should be profitable.

But, as Minhas says, wait until the end to write it. Instead, begin with the four pillars of the plan.


This element of the plan is designed to show how you’re going to earn revenue, so you need to figure out who is going to buy the solution you’re selling. Those people are called your target market and you want to really get to know them. In fact, you want to build your own profile of them, like a fictional person. The three main points of who they are:

1. Demographics: This what they look like— how old they are, gender, education, etc.

2. Psychographics: This is what makes up their personality — how do they think and what motivates them.

3. Valuegraphics: This is what their values are — culture, religion, political affiliation and region.

Once you know your target market, you want to look at what the actual market for your business looks like. Is it a new market, an emerging market, or a long-established market. And then, figure out how money is moving through that market.

Next, look at your competition. There is always someone who has come up with something at least similar, so don’t discount that because your financier wants to know who you might be competing against. Look at your direct competitors, as well as your indirect competitors to figure out who you’re going face to face with when you launch.

Also, part of the Marketing portion of the business plan is your Marketing Plan. This is how you’re going to get your message out. Are you going to use more traditional means like television and billboards, or are you going to go digital and optimize things like social advertising, SEO and organic growth? Think about how you’re going to communicate with your target market, and what the best way to reach them is. You may even consider a multi-tiered approach, which means that maybe you want to do billboards and social, or television and SEO so if one avenue isn’t working, your other option is already in play.

Finally, include your sales strategy. How are you going to sell? Think about things like what’s the price point? Are there discounts? Is the pricing tiered? What is your return policy? Consider the entire transaction and how you’re going to earn capital.


For a financier, one of the key considerations is how you’re going to execute your ideas. In this part of your plan you want to talk about the structure of the business — Is it a sole proprietorship or a corporation? Do you have a physical space/office? Do you need to manufacture and if so, where are you going to do that?

You also want to define who is on the team, whether you’re getting mentorship and if there are other investors. Finance folks will want to know how many people will be responsible for making or losing, them money.

The third part of this section is defining your human assets. Develop an organizational structure, and even create team role and job descriptions so you have a sense of who in the business will be responsible for executing which part of the plan.


This is the actual process and system that the business works within. This section gets as granular as what is your IT structure, what software do you need, and what iOS you’ll be using on your phone. Are there aspects of certification or education you need to get? Your financier needs to understand the entire process from when you’re creating the solution to when you’re putting it into the hands of your customer.


These are the numbers. You want to develop statements that show how you’re earning money, and where you’re spending money. You want a three-year projection that will show a profit and a balance sheet that will help clarify what assets or expenses will be affecting the business so you can see that even if you hit a bump, you can keep moving. They may also want to see what your personal financial situation is in order to evaluate their risk.

And now you’re back where you started, at the Executive Summary. Pull the key elements in the four pillars into the summary and good luck!

For more information, visit Bob Minhas at

By Staples Canada

April 23, 2020