How Long Should Your Business Plan Be?
Posted by Ellen Arndt on September 28, 2009 in Business Start Up Advice [ 3 Comments ]
Having written hundreds of business plans, I’ve found that some of our clients insist upon receiving business plan documents of more than thirty pages, not including financial charts. The end-result is a document with too many pages of additional market research, a lengthy product and/or service description, and other elements such as company history and client background.
To create a solid, streamlined business plan that speaks of the core components needed in a professional document, I have been taught, by experienced mentors and business planning blog writers (such as Guy Kawasaki) that a business plan should rarely exceed 25 pages.
We aim to earn the satisfaction of every client we work with, but emphasize that less is often more. From my experience, 20-25 pages is frequently the perfect length; if a concept and its market cannot be explained and demonstrated fairly briefly, then either the writer does not properly understand the product or market, or not enough effort is being spent in the pursuit of brevity.
Major sections of a business plan, excluding financial charts and tables, should include a tailored, non-template executive summary (one page in length, no more), products and services description, a vision or mission statement, market analysis and industry overview, a branding and advertising strategy, ownership and operations, and competition in the marketplace.
Remember: pages and pages of market research only hide what the actual product or service is; thus, if it is needed in the marketplace, a 10-page market analysis is only making the business plan more jumbled and confusing to the reader. If the product or service is needed, 10 pages of research should not be necessary.