Writing a Business Plan

Tell the story of your company's background

a businesswoman working on a laptop
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A crucial part of any business plan is spelling out your company history and telling your origin story to show potential teammates and investors how you landed on your business idea and why you are uniquely qualified to pursue it.

Sharing your business background goes far beyond simply telling a clever story of how you triumphed over adversity to launch your new business. What investors will care about is how your personal history, work experience, skills, strengths, and education will help you succeed in the business. As well, they want to see what you've already done to start executing and bringing your idea to life. Potential investors want to know you'll be able to return their investment with dividends in the years to come.

What to Include

Your company background could be very brief at the beginning stages of starting up, and that's OK. Focus instead on your personal history and the journey that led you to start your business in the first place.

In a traditional business plan, your company background follows the executive summary.

Sharing the origin of the idea is valuable because it shows how you think and how you were able to take an idea, craft it into something more detailed, and ultimately build a business out of it. Detailing your progress to date, including any relevant key milestones, is an important part of this, as are listing the problems you’ve faced so far and how you've overcome them.

Describe the market opportunity you're pursuing and why. A business plan to open a pizza parlor is not particularly creative or original, but if your idea is built around a specific market that is not being tapped, you need to emphasize this and discuss your short-term plans for growth and for reaching that market.

If you already have experience working with customers or you've used the basis for your business idea to generate results for yourself, highlight those figures in your business background section to showcase how what you're doing does indeed work.

When Your Business Is Brand New

For a brand new business, it is more important and relevant to investors to focus on your personal history that'll help establish why you're the right person to be running your business. Key topics to include are:

  • Your educational background
  • Other companies you’ve worked for and the roles you've held in those businesses
  • Previous businesses you’ve started and their outcomes/current status
  • Your technical skills
  • Your areas of expertise in your industry segment
  • Your areas of weakness or inexperience and how you plan to compensate for them
  • Any relevant professional clubs or associations you belong to

Even if you are still in the early stages of building your business, your professional background and the details of your business idea can give potential investors an image of what you are trying to accomplish.

Be Creative

Tell your story in a way that's more engaging than just another page that leans on industry jargon, buzzwords, and trite platitudes.

To illustrate your company's history, use images that show how you started, or charts and graphs to draw attention to key milestones, or incorporate customer testimonials or excerpts from news stories that featured you or your business. Take it a step further toward building connections with the people reading your company history by showing vulnerability and sharing some of your past failures (and the lessons you learned from them).

Remember to be concise and stick to just one or two creative approaches that best highlight your particular approach to business and your specific history.