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How to Write a Company Overview for a Business Plan
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When you start a company, you ideally want it to grow. If you’re seeking business funding to scale your business or an initial investment to get your business off the ground, you’re going to need a business plan . Putting together a business plan can be an intimidating process that involves a lot of steps and writing — but breaking it down piece by piece can help you accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task.
One small piece of your business plan is the company overview, so let’s take a look at what that is, exactly, check out some company overview examples and go over how to make a company overview of your very own.
What is a company overview?
A company overview provides the reader of your business plan with basic background information about your company so they have an understanding of what you do, who the management team is and what customers your business serves.
The company description is the second piece of a business plan, falling right after the executive summary. Similar to the executive summary, your company overview will be short and succinct. Your reader needs to have a grasp on what your business does and who your customers are, even if they have limited time.
Why do I need a company overview?
The company overview is the part of your business plan that gives the basics and background of your business. It’s the foundation on which you will build the rest of your business plan.
If you’re looking to appeal to investors or potential clients, you need a reader to make an informed decision about your company. Before they can do that, they must know what your company does and who your customer is. Lenders in particular need a reason to keep reading, since they see tons of business plans regularly. The company overview provides those answers, and it will help you get a better sense of your business so you can firm up things like your marketing plan.
What should i include in a company overview.
The exact elements that you need in your company overview will depend upon what details of your business are important, but there are some foundational elements that will be included in every company overview.
Once you’ve covered the basics, you can include any other minor details that will benefit a reader who will need to make an informed decision about your business.
Basic company information
Consider the company overview like an introduction for your business. In the opening paragraph of your company overview, you’ll want to include basic company information. That includes:
Your company name: This should be the official name of your business, exactly as it is written when you registered your business with the state.
Business structure: Your reader will want to know what business entity your company comes in: sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership or corporation.
Location(s): Share where your business is headquartered and other locations the business owns.
Ownership and management team
Break down who owns your business and how each owner is involved with the business. What shares of the company belong to whom? If you have a highly involved management team, share their names and key roles with the company as well.
Part of what makes your company unique is its history. And, even startups have some history. Don’t put too much focus on this section, but do add some personality and interesting details if possible, especially if they relate to your company culture.
Your company’s mission statement should be included in the company overview. If you don’t yet have a company mission statement, that’s okay. Think of a mission statement as the purpose of your company.
If you don’t have one, you can create one with your team. Or you can simply replace the mission statement with a problem statement. Your business idea should exist to solve a problem or pain point faced by your customers. Share what that problem is and what your business does to solve it. That’s essentially your mission statement.
Product/service and customer
This section of the company overview is where you can share the nitty-gritty details of your business. Talk about what product or service you provide and to whom you provide it. You can share some numbers here, but in general, save the numbers for later in your business plan.
The company overview should give the reader a general understanding of your business, your product or service, and your customer. If they’re interested to know more, they’ll reach out to you for a meeting or take the time to read the rest of your business plan. Keep it simple and straightforward here.
While concrete details and facts about your business are important to whoever is reading your company overview, it’s also important to share your dreams and your vision. If you’re writing a business plan for a business that’s already in place, it’s very likely you’re looking for business financing to scale or solve a business problem. If you’re just starting out, though, then it’s likely you’re hoping to find startup funding.
The section on your future business goals should include a brief description of your growth goals for your business. Where you are now tells the reader a lot, but they also want to know where you plan to go.
A company overview is comprised of many small parts. Each part shares just a little bit more about your company with your reader.
Tips for writing a company overview
While a company overview is simply the details of your company written out, it might not be easy to write. Break it down into small steps and use these tips to make putting together your company overview just a little bit easier.
Start with the elevator pitch
If your business is already in operation, then you likely have an elevator pitch. Your company overview can start off with your elevator pitch.
The first paragraph of your company overview should include just a few sentences that explain your business and what you do. The shorter and clearer this is, the more likely your reader will understand and keep reading.
Stick to the basics
It’s tempting to pile on all the details when you’re writing a company overview. Remember, many of the details of your company, including the numbers, will be included in later sections of your business plan.
Your company overview should include only the most basic details about your company that the reader needs to know.
When you share the history, mission statement, and vision for the future of your company, it’s okay to show your passion. You wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t love what you do.
Your excitement for your business could spark interest for the reader and keep them engaged with your company overview and business plan.
Keep it succinct
When you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to get carried away. Remember that you’ve got plenty of space for details in your business plan. The company overview should be just the most basic information someone needs to understand your business.
It’s OK if your first draft of your company overview is long. Simply go through and edit it to be shorter, removing unnecessary details and words each time you read through it. Clear, concise descriptions are more likely to be read and to keep the reader reading to other sections of your business plan.
Your company overview is just one piece of a multi-tiered business plan. Creating a clear structure for your business plan makes it easier to read. The same is true for your company overview.
Your business plan should have chapters, one of which is the company overview. Then, you can further break down the content for easy skimming and reading by adding sub-chapters. You can denote these breaks in content with bold headers.
While you can break down each section of the company overview with bold headers based on the above suggestions, you can also interweave some information together, such as the company structure and leadership structure. Each section should be only a few sentences long.
Write it later
If you’re struggling to write your company overview, come back to it. Write the rest of your business plan first and then write your company overview.
While this might seem like the opposite way of doing things, knowing what will be contained in the rest of your business plan can help you to focus in on the very most essential details in the company overview and to leave everything else out.
Get a test reader
If you’re struggling to edit down your company overview, get a test reader. Ideally, you’ll want to ask someone who doesn’t know a lot about your business. They’ll help you understand whether or not you’ve clearly communicated your message.
Proofreading is the final step in editing something you’ve written. This type of editing looks for typos, misspellings and grammatical errors that have been missed. Many of these small errors can be difficult to spot in our own writing, so be sure to ask someone who hasn’t seen multiple drafts of your company overview.
Company overview examples
If you don’t want to shell out for business planning software, but would still like some company overview examples to get you started, there are many places online you can look to for help getting started, like the Small Business Administration and SCORE.
Many successful companies also have some version of their company overview made public as their company profile page online. There are some variations from the company overview steps we’ve listed above, of course, but you can use the language and style of these company overview examples for inspiration:
Starbucks company profile .
Puma company page .
TaskRabbit About page .
Peloton company page .
Nestlé About page .
If you’re still feeling stuck, or want more company overview examples, try searching the websites of your favorite companies for more information. You might be surprised what you find — the Nestlé page, for example, has more information about their strategy and business principles.
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How To Write the Company Summary in a Business Plan
Company Overviews Show How the Pieces of a Business Work
What To Include in Your Company Summary
Getting started on your company summary, examples of a company summary, tips for writing a company summary, frequently asked questions (faqs).
Image by Theresa Chiechi ÃÂ© The Balance 2019
The company summary in a business plan —also known as the company description or overview—is a high-level look at what you are as a company and how all the elements of the business fit together.
An effective company summary should give readers, such as potential investors, a quick and easy way to understand your business, its products and services, its mission and goals, how it meets the needs of its target market, and how it stands out from competitors.
Before you begin writing your company summary, remember to stick to the big picture. Other sections of your business plan will provide the specific details of your business. The summary synthesizes all of that information into one page.
- The company summary in a business plan provides an overview containing a description of your company at a high level.
- A company summary might include your mission statement, goals, target market, products, and services, as well as how it stands out from competitors.
- The company summary can also be customized for a specific objective or audience, such as to secure financing from investors or banks.
The company summary section of a business plan should include:
- Business name
- Legal structure (i.e., sole proprietorship , LLC , S Corporation , or partnership )
- Management team
- Mission statement
- Company history (when it started and important milestones)
- Description of products and services and how they meet the needs of the marketplace
- Target market (who will buy your product or services)
- Competitive advantage (what sets you apart in the marketplace to allow you to succeed)
- Objectives and goals (plans for growth)
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website has a lot of information available if you've never written a business plan before. The SBA provides examples of business plans for different types of companies.
Before you begin, you should decide whether you want to go with a traditional business plan format or a lean startup format. The traditional format is appropriate if you want to have a comprehensive, detail-oriented plan or if you are requesting financing. The lean startup format is best for those who have a relatively simple business and want to start it quickly or as a starting point for those who plan to refine and change the plan regularly.
No matter which type of business plan you choose, you'll need to include a company summary.
Although there are many blueprints for writing a company summary, below are a couple of examples to get you started.
You can opt for a concise opening paragraph such as this one:
XYZ Consulting is a new company that provides expertise in search marketing solutions for businesses worldwide, including website promotion, online advertising, and search engine optimization techniques to improve its clients' positioning in search engines. We cater to the higher education market, including colleges, universities, and professional educational institutions.
Several elements of the company summary are covered here, including the name (XYZ Consulting), history (new company), description of services (web promotion, SEO, advertising) and why it's needed (improve positioning in search engines), and the target market (higher education).
Starbucks Coffee Company Overview
Starbucks breaks down the company overview on their website into the following sections:
Here the company describes how long the company has been in business, citing its roots, the founder, Howard Schultz, and how he was inspired to open the first Starbucks in Seattle after visiting Italy. It briefly mentions the growth of millions of customers and how the company's heritage remains important to its long-term success.
"Coffee & Craft"
The overview describes the high-quality products and services being offered and why they stand out from the competition by describing the detailed process of choosing and growing coffee beans. You'll notice they don't suggest their product is a low-cost product but instead provide a high level of "experiences to savor."
Starbucks describes its employees as partners that work together in an inclusive manner to achieve success. It highlights how they are at the center of the experience.
"Pursuit of Doing Good"
The company describes its values and how it gives back to the community.
Tesla Inc. Business Overview
Below are excerpts of the business overview pages from the annual 10-K filing on Dec. 31, 2021, for Tesla Inc.
"We design, develop, manufacture, sell and lease high-performance fully electric vehicles and energy generation and storage systems, and offer services related to our products. We generally sell our products directly to customers, including through our website and retail locations.
We also continue to grow our customer-facing infrastructure through a global network of vehicle service centers, mobile service technicians, body shops, supercharger stations and destination chargers to accelerate the widespread adoption of our products.
We emphasize performance, attractive styling and the safety of our users and workforce in the design and manufacture of our products and are continuing to develop full self-driving technology for improved safety.
Our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, engineering expertise, vertically integrated business model and focus on user experience differentiate us from other companies."
Tesla highlights the competitive automotive market and how the company differentiates itself from the larger, more established competitors.
"The worldwide automotive market is highly competitive and we expect it will become even more competitive in the future as we introduce additional vehicles in a broader cross-section of the passenger and commercial vehicle market and expand our vehicles’ capabilities. We believe that our vehicles compete in the market both based on their traditional segment classification as well as based on their propulsion technology.
Competing products typically include internal combustion vehicles from more established automobile manufacturers; however, many established and new automobile manufacturers have entered or have announced plans to enter the market for electric and other alternative fuel vehicles."
The company highlights its intellectual property, including trademarks and patents.
"We place a strong emphasis on our innovative approach and proprietary designs which bring intrinsic value and uniqueness to our product portfolio. As part of our business, we seek to protect the underlying intellectual property rights of these innovations and designs such as with respect to patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and other measures, including through employee and third-party nondisclosure agreements and other contractual arrangements."
The company highlights its mission statement and its sustainability goals using environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and human capital resources.
"The very purpose of Tesla's existence is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. We believe the world cannot reduce carbon emissions without addressing both energy generation and consumption, and we are designing and manufacturing a complete energy and transportation ecosystem to achieve this goal. As we expand, we are building each new factory to be more efficient and sustainably designed than the previous one, including with respect to waste reduction and water usage, and we are focused on reducing the carbon footprint of our supply chain."
There are other items you can include in your company summary to expand on the areas that you'd like people to focus on, depending on your objective.
You might provide more information about the company's location, legal structure, and management team. You can also include more information about the:
- Company's history, such as a family business that's been in operation for multiple generations
- Business objectives, including short-term and long-term goals
- Business strengths, highlighting anything that might give your company a competitive advantage in the field
You can also customize the summary if you have a specific objective or a targeted audience. For example, if the goal of your business plan is to secure funding, you might focus on areas that appeal to investors and lending institutions, including:
- Why you're the best person to manage the business
- Your experience in your field, as well as the total years of experience of your management team
- Expertise or special talents of your team, including training, licenses, certifications
- How you plan to make the business a success
- Financial information, such as a high-level discussion of your track record of revenue growth and the financial opportunities that can be realized as a result of securing financing
You may also want to address any areas of perceived weakness by explaining how you'll overcome them or compensate.
How do you write a company overview?
You might provide a description of the company, its location, legal structure, and management team. You can also highlight the company's business objectives, goals, and strengths. You can also customize the summary to a specific audience, such as a bank or lender, focusing on your competitive advantages and highlights of recent financial success.
What should an organizational overview include?
Some of the discussion points to include in a company overview might be:
- Company name and location
- Legal structure such as a sole proprietorship, LLC, or partnership
- Mission statement and management team
- Description of your products and services and how they are needed
- Target market or who are your customers
- Competitive advantage or what makes your company different
The Clute Institute. " Using Business Plans for Teaching Entrepreneurship ," Page 734.
U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."
Starbucks Coffee Company. " Our Company ."
United States Securities and Exchange Commission. " Form 10-K, Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(D) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2021, Tesla, Inc., " Pages 3-12.
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Business Location Analysis Example – Site Selection in Business Plan
Proper site selection for your business influences whether you succeed or fail in making money. Your business location analysis should take into account demographics, psychographics, census and other data. Whether you’re trying to decide where to open a new store or where to locate a second office, follow this business plan location analysis example to maximize your chances of success in site selection.
Table of Contents
Location Analysis Definition
Location analysis definition : using data to figure out where to locate your business.
Determining where to put your store, office or even online presence requires careful thought. If you get this wrong, you could be trapped with a commercial lease that costs you a lot of money but doesn’t result in getting new customers.
Business Plan Location Analysis
There is a saying that the three most important considerations in business are location, location, location. If you’re starting a new business that operates primarily offline, location is critical. You want to be near your customers.
But is it critical for online businesses, too? Yes, in a different way. Online location is akin to having the right domain name, online advertising, and search engine optimization so that prospects can find your business.
In two slightly different ways, location is still an important part of doing business. A business plan has two purposes and will serve one or both: 1) raise additional capital and 2) outline in detail how you can succeed in your business (like a user’s manual).
Essentially, you want to answer two questions:
- How can I succeed here?
You will need to answer both of these questions for your site selection analysis.
Answering “why here,” for a brick and mortar location, will address the physical address (or addresses) where your business will take place.
For an online business, “why here” will address your website’s domain, web hosting service, and presence in search results.
Some of this material may overlap with your marketing plan (download a free sample marketing plan ).
Provide data for each of these elements in your business location analysis:
- The elements that attracted you to this location.
- The process you went through to identify this location as the location of choice; in other words, how you narrowed it down from the entire city to the specific location, or from the vast range of URLs to the specific URL you will use.
- Demographic analysis of the people in the area. Be sure to focus in on the make-up of your target market. If you market to women ages 18- 35, talk about what the overall demographic makeup is in your area and (in greater detail) the demographics of the areas women ages 18 – 35.
- Traffic patterns (for example: Time of day – are there rush hours when you’ll be busier?)
- Refer to your marketing plan section where you might talk about how your signage will receive greater exposure at certain times or how your advertising appropriately targets your market.
- Access to future employees: are there enough people qualified to work for your business in the area?
- Competition in the area.
Location Analysis Example
Food chain Whole Foods , now owned by Amazon, picks their locations based on many factors, not just population density in a neighborhood. They found that one of the key drivers that determines whether patrons will shop at their grocery stores is their level of education. As a result, their site selection process looks at locations with a higher per capita level of college degrees.
Costco takes into account population trends to ensure that the neighborhoods in which they locate their stores can sustain sales of their bulk-packaged products.
Walmart uses advertisements to see how far people will go to buy products at their stores. They track usage of mobile advertisements and create a geofence boundary to identify who goes where to buy what. This analysis helps them with their site selection for new stores.
Business Location Analysis
Next, analyze the data you gathered above. This is an important step because it shows the considerations and thought process you put into your business location analysis. Many location analysis examples overlook this part.
Including only the data reduces your chances of success. Add these elements to put perspective on your reasoning:
- Challenges you will overcome. For example, is it difficult to make a left turn across traffic to get to your store? Do people have to “feed the meter”? Those could substantially reduce your target market.
- What your competitors are doing and what you will do differently. You probably already did quite a bit of this in the marketing plan section of your business plan, but this has a slightly different focus and you may want to reference some of those ideas.
- Outline best case scenario and contingency plans, referencing your marketing plan against your demographics.
- Highlight the strategies you can use to access the area’s workforce as your business grows. A good indicator is the presence of companies like yours, which provides an opportunity for you to recruit qualified employees.
- Find competitors in the same area, or in an area of similar demographics, and identify what they’re doing to be successful.
Avoid picking a new location just because it has cheap rent. Signing such a business lease could spell disaster for your business because you may not have access to the clientele and workforce you need to succeed. Paying a little more for for the right address can boost your profits in a big way.
Do the research and think through the implications of your data to dramatically improve your chances of success at your new location.
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