Five items to include in your Louisiana business plan

Writing a business plan for your Louisiana company sets up your business for success.

In 2010, Palo Alto Software conducted a survey to determine how effective business plans are. Approximately 3,000 people participated. The results are significant for every company owner and entrepreneur in Louisiana: Those who put a business plan in place were approximately twice as likely to do the following:

  • Secure an investment
  • Obtain a loan
  • Grow the business

Simply having a plan, however, is not enough. There are several key items every plan should have, including the following:

1. Comprehensive description

A thorough description of the business is essential for banks and potential investors to see. This outlines what service or product the company offers and gives a snapshot of leadership. It essentially sets the foundation for the rest of the plan.

2. Market information

This section is key to providing information about current market trends and what is happening in the industry. It is also an opportunity to describe how the business is different from competitors. Branding, logos and marketing materials are also appropriate here.

3. Finances

Perhaps one of the most important sections for anyone interested in investing in a company is the financial information. In this summary, there should be a record of any existing investments and expenditures as well as a history of how the company is in the position it is in today.

If the business already has a ledger, a monthly or annual summary of that should also be included. Investors are interested in how money moves through the company and where the balance stands at the end of each month. This gives them an idea of the company's financial health.

4. Development

Where does the owner see the business going? What are short- and long-term goals for the company? This can include fact-based information, such as financial projections, as well as reflect some of the big-picture thinking that business owners do. The right kind of business development keeps the organization competitive, which is important for potential investors to see. As the U.S. Small Business Administration points out, this plan should look at least three to five years into the future.

5. Executive summary

The executive summary should go at the front of the plan, but it may be easiest to write this piece last because it sums up everything that will follow. On this one- to two-page document should be where an investor first feels intrigued about the business, what it does and where it can go. The summary typically includes the mission statement, brief information about the company and any significant points, such as recent growth or sales. A company seeking funding should also touch on its financial status here.

This is merely a suggestion for how to piece together an effective plan. Much more thought and effort should go into the final document. People who have questions about this topic should speak with a business organization attorney in Louisiana.