Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network
The discussion of your company should begin with your mission statement - a one or two sentence description of the purpose of your business and to whom your product or service is targeted. Not being clear in your mission statement indicates that you are not clear about the purpose of your company. If you need assistance or want to see some examples, check out the toolbox.Describe Your Company
Once you have your mission statement, you can then discuss the more "technical" aspects of your company. Remember that you're telling your company's story, so even though there are specific areas you will need to cover, you will want to keep it lively and interesting. Some areas you should include are:
- What type of business is it? Wholesale? Retail?
- When was the company founded? Is it a start-up, or an
established enterprise? What is the story behind the founding of
- What is your business' legal structure? Sole
proprietorship? Corporation? Partnership?
- Who are the company's principals and what pertinent
experience do they bring?
- What market needs will you meet? Who will you sell to? How
will your product(s) or service(s) be sold?
- What support systems will be utilized? Customer service?
- Your company's focus often depends on your market. A
small town general store can sell groceries, hardware,
newspapers, and gasoline because they may be the only store that
sells those items in the area. A larger market would require
greater specialization to set yourself apart from the
- Small business owners often get stuck using existing labels
which don't accurately describe their companies. Ask yourself
what business are you really in? What true benefits do you
provide? For example, if you create corporate newsletters, are
you just a "newsletter publisher" or do you "help
large companies communicate important information to their
clients and prospects."
- If you're an established company, give a brief history
and cite prior sales and profit figures. If you've had losses
or other setbacks, explain why, and discuss what is being done to
correct them. Has company ownership changed hands? Be sure to
talk about why it was sold.
- When discussing the company's principals, you don't need to run a complete resume - save that level of background for later in the plan. But don't be too brief, either. Don't just say "Ajax Financial Services is being founded by Jean Smith." Instead, it's stronger to write something like, "Founder and President Jean Smith, former Chief Financial Officer of Acme Industries, brings 25 years of experience in financial services to Ajax Financial Services."
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