Last year I posted an article about the importance of creating a viable business plan. As an author (and small business owner!), you may have been called upon to describe your company – meaning your genre(s), your title list, your goals, your marketing plan, etc. – dozens of times. You may have already carefully crafted your elevator pitch, and you may be able to deliver it perfectly without a moment’s hesitation.
However, if you are a new writer (and business owner) who is just starting out, or have been in the industry for a while but are re-evaluating your goals, it may be time to either create a new plan or re-write your existing but out-dated business plan.
An vital part of your work will be writing the company overview, which is essentially an extended version of your elevator pitch, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. If you are seeking funding, it will show investors what your company does and help them understand the goals you have for your business, as well as the proposition contained within the rest of the business plan.
When it comes to writing your company overview, you have the freedom to elaborate on the details of your business. Unlike the executive summary, you include detailed descriptions about your company’s vision for the future, and the goals that it wishes to accomplish. Take the opportunity to explain how your management team came to be and how your idea evolved into a business.
Components of the Company Overview
Every company overview must contain the same key components. Each one builds upon the one before it, leaving the reader with a sense of the business’s background, purpose, goals, and direction. When an investor is looking to provide funding for your business, he or she wants to be able to see where your business has been and where it’s going. To that end, each company overview needs to contain the following information:
- Company description: Describe, in detail, what your business is about. This description should be one to two paragraphs and should contain the company’s core message, along with a detailed description of the company’s history. It needs to get across to the reader exactly what you are trying to do.
- Mission statement: Include the vision that is guiding your decisions.
- Goals and objectives: Include the major milestones you project for your company, such as the revenue you expect to be earning within a certain amount of time, the number of customers you hope to attract by a certain date, and other important metrics.
- Structure: You need to include the business structure you will be operating under. Are running your business as a partnership, limited liability corporation, S-corporation? You also need to include the city and state where your business was established as a legal entity.
- Core competencies: In this section, show investors that you have the resources and the knowledge to build the business.
- Company history: If you are just starting out, you will want to include information about your start-up expenses, assets, and liabilities.
- Company locations and facilities: If you are running a small or home-based business, this information will include where you do most of your business.
- Company highlights: This can include anything that you feel makes you stand out from your competitors. A lot of companies approach investors for funding. Make sure they remember you.
The key to writing any of these sections is to think about what will set you apart from other businesses in your market. According to Steven Fisher of The Bottom Line, it is very important to state your business objective clearly in the company section of your plan, as you don’t want to leave the reader with any questions. Your company overview can range from a few paragraphs to several pages and, if well written, should entice the reader to want to learn more about your company and your business ideas.
For your business plan to be successful and to land the funding you need, your company overview has to show investors exactly what you are and what you are not. This takes careful consideration on your part and is crucial to your success. As the contributors as Inc.com warn, when writing out your company overview, make sure you consider as many details of your operations as you can to avoid any missteps along the way.
A business plan is an ever-changing document. As you draft it, taking the time to consider everything involved in the process will help you better understand where you are in terms of your business future, and it will also help obtain the funding that will allow your business grow.
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