The company overview is one of the most important sections of your business plan.
It's the place where your readers (i.e. investors and lenders) get to learn about the nuts and bolts of your company – why it exists and how it achieves its mission in the marketplace.
The company overview is also one of the most difficult sections to write well. Readers expect the company overview to contain a greater level of detail than other parts of the business plan. But if you bog them down with too many details you risk losing them altogether.
As a rule, it's always a good idea to go back and reassess the quality of your company overview after you have finished writing it. Specifically, you'll want to make sure your company overview contains these critical elements:
- Objectivity. It's impossible for you to be completely objective about your company because you are fully invested in its success. Nonetheless, your company overview has to be written objectively to have any chance with investors who are adept at weeding out business plans that have been written by overly optimistic business owners.
- Credibility. In addition to objectivity, investors are looking for company overviews that can be supported by solid numbers. For example, a 20% increase in revenues may be a realistic goal, but only if it can be supported by a trend of positive growth or other extenuating facts.
- Pragmatism. Company overviews frequently go off track because they fail to communicate a pragmatic approach for achieving their stated goals and objectives. Investors and lenders aren't impressed by lofty objectives – unless they can be supported by a pragmatic strategy that is based in everyday business realities rather than the owner's unbridled enthusiasm.
- Vision. An objective, credible, and pragmatic overview will capture your readers' minds. But to capture their imaginations, you'll also need to make sure your overview contains vision. When you read your company overview, you should get the impression that both you and your company are forward-looking, with goals and strategies to carry you through the next five years.
No mater how much effort you've put into writing a business plan company overview, have someone else review it and make suggestions about how it can be improved to more accurately represent your business to investors and lenders.