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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