Starting: How Long Should Your Business Plan Be?

Recently, I did a post entitled Avoid These 8 Mistakes in Your Business Plan. The first mistake was that plan drafts are typically too long. So how long should a business plan be? I surveyed SCORE counselors and experts around the country on this question. Then I did a quick Google book search. Below are the numbers and caveats. Advice On Length From The Experts Greg Nelson, SCORE Naples

At the end of the day, the business plan needs to be long enough to address all the key areas so that the reader is not left with serious questions, concerns and red flags...Most businesses should be able to present an adequate business plan in less than 20 pages. Simple businesses can probably do a decent job in 8-10 pages. In cases where there is complicated market research involved in a product, much of the supporting information can be placed in appendices, making the core business plan shorter, more concise and to the point and therefore, more effective.

Jeff Lippincott, SCORE Princeton

I suggest 25 to 35 pages typed. Less than that and the plan is too superficial. And longer than that and some of what is in the plan no doubt should be in an appendix instead.

Raman Chadha Executive Director Coleman Entrepreneurship Center DePaul University

We typically tell entrepreneurs that a business plan should be about 25-30 pages max, without title page, table of contents, financials, and appendices. Any shorter, they've likely short-changed one of the sections. Any longer, they've probably gone overboard on something (usually product, industry and/or market). Once they have that, they can then edit down for special requests...anything from a 1-2 page executive summary to a 3-5 page venture summary.

Bob Paul, SCORE Chicago

One thing missing on the length issue is the purpose of the plan. Looking for $5 million venture capital will require more detail and length than a $75k bank loan. I don’t worry about number of pages. For internal use, eliminate all the “fluff” and “sales points.” I’d think 10 pages plus appendices seems plenty. Some can even be less.

Esh Noojibal, SCORE Chicago

I generally recommend that entrepreneurs aim for about 30 pages, including appendices.

Stephen Konkle, SBA Economic Development Specialist

The major deficiencies that we at the SBA notice when reviewing business plans are qualitative in nature, and not quantitative. In other words, I have seen good plans that were only 15 pages long, and bad plans that were 30 pages long.

And From The Books:

Portable MBA in Finance and Accounting, p. 261-2 For a business plan to raise debt or equity, 25-40 pages, and "less is more." For a "dehydrated business plan, the purpose of which is to provide an initial conception of the business," no more than 10 pages.

How to Write a Business Plan, p. 159 15-20 pages or more, especially if you provide several appendices

Anatomy of a Business Plan, p. 6 Average length 30-40 pages

Small Business for Dummies p. 62 Simple short-term plan, or one for home-based business "10 pages or so" Larger business or longer-term plan, 20-50 pages

The Successful Business Plan p. 37 15-30 pages, excluding financials and appendices "20 pages are enough for nearly any business"

Abbreviated Planware.org table, where page numbers exclude appendices.

Purpose of Plan

Plan Type

Approx Pages *

Internal/ personal use

Basic

10

Raise bank loans

Comprehensive

15

Seek venture capital/ equity

Comprehensive

20+

Assess viability of business

Basic

10

Secure approval from shareholders/ directors

Comprehensive

15

Link to Planware.org table with recommended page length by plan section.

Any comments or questions on plan length, entrepreneurs? Comments on length from your end, bankers, angels or VCs?

A One Page Business Plan?

Check the controversy over a One Page Business Plan at this link. Consider the pros and cons and then come back and take our poll.

[polldaddy poll=1105836] -Peg Corwin, SCORE Chicago View more posts by Peg
Peg Corwin

Comments

Nice post. Thanks for the

Nice post. Thanks for the info, it could come in handy.

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This is very informative and

This is very informative and helpful as well. Thank you very much for sharing this. I really appreciate it.

My advice would be that a

My advice would be that a business plan should be appropriate for the target use, for example you may wish to share with employees, this would be a far shorter version than for say venture capitalists and don't forget an HR section, so many do, yet people are the critical part of any business plan human resources HR Jobs, vacancies and positions in the UK, Part of the One Job Group

I recently came across your

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Lucy

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