Business Planning Guide

Why MANCALA Business Planning Services?

•    As a privately held company and investment-placement firm with access to over 8,000 clients (investors), we have a very clear understanding of what investors are looking for in a business plan.  

•    You will be working with a seasoned staff of highly trained professionals including marketing and financial consultants, investment bankers, graphic artist, expert business writers and successful entrepreneurs.  

•    And most importantly, we can help you secure needed funding by: --    

    Posting your plan on international websites 

    Providing direct access to our database of angel and venture

    capital investors

    Distributing your Executive Summary to over 8,000 investors

    Providing direct access to funding sources through our 

    investment banking operation


Business Planning Guide

MANCALA has assembled an exceptional staff of business planning experts who are dedicated to helping you navigate the myriad of issues that many first time plan writers face.   Our services range form virtual phone consulting to helping you access vital funding sources.  We can post your business plan on international websites and we can help guide you along the way with suggested improvements in style, format and content. 


Business Planning Services 

MANCALA has assembled an exceptional staff of business planning experts who are dedicated to helping you navigate the myriad of issues that many first time plan writers face.   Our services range form virtual phone consulting to helping you access vital funding sources.  We can post your business plan on international websites and we can help guide you along the way with suggested improvements in style, format and content.

Business Planning Guide PAGE 2

Table of Contents


The Executive Summary should clearly and concisely address each of the following subjects:

•    Overview of the company

•    Recap of the opportunity

•    Brief summary of the market

•    Differentiation (what makes you different)

•    Description of products / services

•    Management bios

•    Nature and use of proceeds (table)

•    Key financials (table)














 Sample Opening Paragraph

Your name (the “Company”) has designed, created and installed custom entertainment systems for the world's finest homes, yachts and aircraft for over a decade.  The Company has developed an international reputation for being on the leading edge of systems design and integration. This technology focus and expertise has enabled the Company to take full advantage of the new generation of home entertainment and automation systems that combine large high resolution screens with professional quality audio, Internet access, security, lighting and environmental systems – all controlled from a simple and easy to use touch screen using the Company’s proprietary software.  

The Company is at the forefront of this new generation of technology and has established a strong market position in (your location) and a rapidly growing presence in the international market.  Equity funding of $000 is being sought to more fully develop domestic opportunities and to expand the Company’s reach in Europe and South America through planned joint venture agreements.

The Opportunity

Describe and quantify the opportunity and where you fit.  Explain why you’re in business along with the reasons why you’ll be able to take advantage of this opportunity.  

The Market

How large is the market and stage of development (early growth versus mature).  What are the key drivers, trends and influences in the market?

According to a recent Frost and Sullivan report (World Contract Research Organizations Market, August 1999), spending on pharmaceutical research and development presently exceeds $17 billion annually, and it is expected to exceed $35 billion by the year 2004. With pressures to develop new drugs intensifying, R&D costs steadily increasing and development times lengthening, Big Pharma desperately needs a better way to handle the most expensive…

Differentiation (what makes you different)

What is it that separates you from the rest of the pack?  Is your product proprietary, patented, copyrighted?  Is your service better, faster, cheaper and if so why.  Is your advantage a temporary “window” and are there steps you can take to protect your position.  Are there barriers to entry that will support your financial projections?

The MANCALA Business Planning staff specializes in writing, editing and reviewing highly effective Executive Summaries.  We know how to present and position your business model in the most favorable light.  

The opening paragraphs should introduce what you do and where.  There you should briefly describe your market, the amount of funding that you hope to secure and how it will be used.  

While there is no firm rule for the length of Executive Summaries, three to four pages is considered idea.

Reference credible sources and include the name of your source(s) of information along with the date.

This section is very often overlooked and yet it is one of the most important points you need to bring out in your business plan.

Description of products / services

This should include a very brief overview and description of your products and services.


The adage is that investors invest in people not products.  Historically, a company’s management team is one of the best predictors of success and investors will look very closely at the individuals who will be managing the company.  The ideal scenario is that senior managers have previously started and successfully managed companies in the same business.  Short of this, you want to emphasize the previous relevant experience of the management team.  Mention the names of companies and positions held and milestones achieved. 


John Q. Doe, Chief Executive Officer, and Director since February 1988 and President since January 1990.  Mr.  Doe was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the original operating company known as Random Excess, Inc.  He has had experience in the widget field with his own firm, John Doe Co., of Oshkosh (Wisconsin), from 1980 to 1987.  This firm was sold to FatCat Widgets, Inc. in 1987.  Mr. Doe has held a sales position with U S West Inc. since then.  Mr. Doe graduated from the University of Colorado in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.  

Nature and use of proceeds (table)

How much and what type of funding are you looking for (equity capital, loans).  Keep in mind that one of the most common causes of new business failures is under-capitalization.  You should have a very clear idea of how much money you will need to operate your business for the first full year.  An investor or loan officer will also want to know how the funds will be used.

Key financials 

This table should include a recap of your income statement.

This section should be brief and concise. This is also a good opportunity to use bullet points.

Investors are typically very wary of using their funds to pay large salaries or previous obligations (debts, loans or personal investments).This section is normally presented in a table.

While investors are interested primarily in the first three years of operation, you should also have projections for years 4 & 5.




Sales & Marketing

Capital Expenditures

G & A Expenses



Key financials

This table should include a recap of your income statement.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


Cost of Sales

The Company

The section of your plan should include a brief history of how you got to where you are. What is the genesis of your business?

How did the management team evolve? How have you been funded up to this point? Have you invested your own money in the business and how much. How is the company structured legally? Who are the current investors and what is their share of the ownership? Current and future facilities? What are the likely exit strategies?


• Clinicom was incorporated in 1997 and a licensing agreement was signed with the University of Florida.

• Recognizing the potential of the Internet to fundamentally change how clinical trials are conducted, the management team began development of a new Web-based system in 1995. Being first to market was not an overriding objective considering the complexity of this undertaking and the adoption profile of Big Pharma.

• Drs. Ronald Geisen and Michael Margulies have been actively involved in the pharmaceutical industry, clinical trials, and new drug development process for over 20 years. In addition, Dr. Margulies has led university efforts to consistently remain at the forefront of internal development and deployment of contemporary electronic data capture solutions.

• As a result of their close contact with the pharmaceutical industry, they were the first to fully appreciate the implications of using the Internet to manage, direct and control the clinical trial process.

• Both individuals are internationally recognized experts in their respective fields and have participated in numerous seminars and symposiums on the subject of clinical trials over the past 15 years. They have also worked very closely with large CROs and pharmaceutical companies to improve clinical trial processes and procedures.

Exit Strategy

This is where you explain to investors how they will get their money back, what you are anticipating they will recover in excess of their investment and in what time frame. Possible exit strategies can include the sale or merger of your company, a management buyout, an IPO or a private placement.

This should be a short one or two page summary of how the business evolved. Your intent here is to create a comfort level for investors allowing them to see and understand the backdrop and underpinnings of your company.

Investors and loan officers are favorably influenced if you - personally have invested in your business - the more the better. If there was no monetary investment on your part, equate it to hours, time, or personal sacrifice.

Investors are generally looking to recover their investment plus a substantial profit within three years.

This should be a short one or two page summary of how the business evolved. Your intent here is to create a comfort level for investors allowing them to see and understand the backdrop and underpinnings of your company.

Investors and loan officers are favorably influenced if you - personally have invested in your business - the more the better. If there was no monetary investment on your part, equate it to hours, time, or personal sacrifice.

Investors are generally looking to recover their investment plus a substantial profit within three years.

Products & Services

Describe your products, services and technology. Discuss pricing, service, support, warranty, production, etc. What are the advantages of your products or services and how do they compare to the competition. What is the timetable for introducing these products and what steps need to be taken to assure that this timeline is met? Are there other vendors involved and if so who and where do they fit. Have your product been tested / evaluated and if so, where, when and what were the results. Are there plans for future or next generation products and is so what and when. Are these new products included in your revenue and cost projections?


The Company’s co-location services will include rack space in an environmentally controlled, locked facility with a very secure and highly reliable network connections and flexible hardware options. A trained staff will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to make sure that assets are safe and secure, and to provide a timely response in case of problems. The server can be connected directly to the Company’s high-speed backbone without the cost and headache of running a fast

connection to their own location.

The Company will be the first and only carrier neutral co-location facility in the region. This is a strong advantage because co-location customers are long-term tenants (5+ years) due to the switching cost associated with moving to another facility. The typical co-location customer pays an average monthly fee of $1200 and as much as 10x or 20x that amount in installation fees charged by the carriers. Therefore, paying new installation fees in the near future to move to another facility with less expensive rack rates is not a reasonable solution...

• Carrier neutral so customers may choose among competitive offerings rather than being restricted to any one carrier. An appealing alternative to co-locating directly with restrictive access policies or exclusive usage arrangements.

• Telco-grade infrastructure provides customers the highest level of operative reliability and security.

• Shared infrastructure spreads the high costs associated with the equipment required to operate a Telco space among all co- location customers, reducing capital expenditures while outsourcing functions that are not mission critical.

• Flexible space arrangement allows customers to rent only the space needed. No longer are single rack users forced to rent thousands of square feet for their equipment, yet later expansion remains simple and economical.

• Nationwide footprint for customers to quickly enter new regional markets under one agreement. Since facilities are pre-built, the time from lease to operations are reduced to weeks rather than months.

• Other Features- 24x7x365 network and web site availability monitoring - 24x7x365 video monitoring of facility

- 24x7x365 secure card and key access

- 24x7x365 on-site security guards

- Connectivity to 2 Data Center Switches for redundancy

- AC and/or DC power included AC power up to 2.4 KVA/rack

Details are important but be careful not to overwhelm the reader with technical jargon that they may not know or understand.

This is your opportunity to draw a clear contrast between you and your competition.

Assume the reader is not familiar with your market ort your products.

Explain why a customer would use these products or services versus alternatives.


Summarize features using bullet points in short and succinct statements.

The Market

This section of your plan should include the market size, growth rate, and relative stage of development. It is important to describe the overall market as well as the segment that are you targeting. In the sample below, for example, the overall market is corporate training but the focus of the business is eLearning, a new and rapidly growing segment of a relatively mature market. You should discuss any significant changes that are occurring in the market, short term and long terms trends, impact of technology, government regulation and the economy.

U.S. organizations spent more than $62 billion last year on formal training, a figure that was almost 25% higher than just six years earlier. IDC estimates that approximately $19.3 billion was spent on outsourced services, content and technology for training, a figure which is predicted to grow to over $33 billion by 2004. Today, the vast majority of these expenditures are made on traditional training products and services such as printed materials, simulation and instructor-led classes, while spending on eLearning totaled less than $500 million. By 2003, however, IDC has forecasted that eLearning expenditures will reach more than $11 billion. Clearly, a shift is taking place in the way companies are delivering learning opportunities to their employees, partners, and customers.

• The average U.S. company is training more of its employees than ever before. More dollars are going to technical skills training than any other type of training, and eLearning gains momentum among large companies.

• While the average company is training record levels of employees (78.6 percent) the top 10 percent of companies surveyed train 98.4 percent of employees in their organizations."

• The top 10 percent of companies spent an average of $1,665 on training per eligible employee, compared to $677 for the average survey respondent. Training Investment Leaders have made learning a central focus of organization-wide efforts to stay competitive and deliver results in the New Economy.

• The largest share of spending on training went to training in technical processes and procedures (13 percent), with professional skills following close behind (11 percent). Interpersonal communication, new employee orientation, and IT skills followed at 9 percent each

• Outsourcing expenditures are down as firms bring more of the training function "in house" with the aim of reducing costs while providing more individualized and specialized learning. The report’s findings provide strong evidence of this trend, as firms spent a decreasing percentage on payments to outside companies (19.9 percent in 1999 versus 24.4 percent in 1998).

Source / The 2001 ASTD State of the Industry Report.

This section doesn’t need to be a 20-page market research report but it should demonstrate that you know and understand the market.

An ideal scenario is one where you are developing a product or service for a new and growing segment within an existing market.

A less desirable scenario is where you’re developing a new product or service for a new market. – High Risk.

Don’t ignore the negatives. A better approach to address each one and discuss how you will work with each issue.

Be sure to identify or footnote your sources.

Marketing Plan

Describe the planned users of your products and services. Who are they, where are they and how many of them are there? Is this number growing or declining and why. Are there geographic concentrations? Is your target audience only the domestic market or could it include international opportunities? How will you reach your market? How will customers become aware of your company, brand, image, and products? Who will be handling the sales and marketing responsibilities and what is their background.

The marketing section of your should cover the following topics:

• Sales / distribution strategy

• Pricing strategy

• Product positioning

• Brand image awareness

• Collateral materials

• Product / market exposure strategy

- Advertising and promotional efforts

- Public relations

- Media advertising

- Direct marketing

- Trade shows

• Website strategies / plans

• Strategic alliances / partnerships

• Marketing budget (table)


The Company's initial sales and marketing efforts will focus on the promotion of the Clinicom System among key business executives within the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and CRO industry with the initial and primary emphasis on large pharmaceutical organizations. Many of these contacts have already been established and will set the stage for the full and anticipated release of the Clinicom System in the third quarter 2002.

Clinicom’s target market is highly concentrated among a relatively small number of potential users. The top 20 pharmaceutical companies represent the greatest potential and Drs. Geisen and Margulies are very well known within this targeted segment. Considering the risk averse nature of this industry and the implications of clinical trials on the future of these targeted companies, the credibility of technology providers is of paramount importance. Clinicom has the advantage of actual trial experience as well as the exposure and credibility that Drs. Margulies and Geisen bring to this market. The objective of the Company's marketing efforts is to capitalize on these two key differentiating points.

Strategic Alliances / Partnerships

Investors are evaluating risk when they read your business plan. When you’ve developed strategic alliances and other partnerships, the implication is that you’ve been able to convince others that your business model is viable to the point where they are will to participate. This helps to mitigate perceived investor risk. List possible alliance / partnership candidates and any initial discussions.

Avoid ambiguity. Rather than saying your target audience is schools, say your target customers include (among others) the K-8 School System for the State of Kentucky. Discuss meetings that have already taken place (e. g., a high level meeting with Mr. Jones, the Superintendent of Kentucky Schools on February 21st), tests that have been conducted and commitments that have been made.

Marketing expenses are typically a large percentage of the operating expenses and will be looked at very closely. You need to be able to explain and defend your choices of promotional efforts, distribution channels, etc.

Will you have a website and do you plan to promote your product over the Internet.

Include a table showing your marketing budget by expense category.

Distribution Channels –

• Direct field sales

• Manufacturer’s reps

• Distributors

• Wholesalers

• Agents

• Catalogs

• Direct marketing

• eCommerce

Know the difference and have a defendable strategy


Where the Executive Summary includes very shot one paragraph on key management personnel, this section should go into some detail about the individuals who will be entrusted with the investor’s money. Stress relevant experience and previous success.

This section of the plan should include:

• Biographic summary of key management

• Organizational charts (current & future)

• Manpower table

• Board of advisors

• Board of directors


Michael B. Laughlin, President and CEO, has over 20 years’ experience as a telecommunications professional focused primarily on fiber optic and optical networking technologies, products, markets, and applications. During his career, he served with several top companies in the telecommunications industry. Before starting Photonics, he was the Vice President and General Manager of the Optical Networks Division for Siemens, where he led a US-based team responsible for the creation and execution of market penetration and development strategy for their TransXpress Infinity products. Mike also served as Director of Marketing of the Broadband Networks Division for Nortel Networks where he was responsible for the market introduction and market development of a number of Nortel's broadband products. He also led several research and development programs for Hitachi's optical division. During his career, he has held senior-level research and development positions with Primedia, Inc., OSA, Inc. and EDS. He received his Masters of Science and Doctorate Degrees at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. While he was at the university, he published more than 30 research papers and book chapters on applied mathematics in leading scientific journals and conferences such as IEEE Transactions and SIAM Journals.

Organizational Chart

A very simple organizational chart will help to explain how the company is organized, the reporting structure and the positions that you plan to fill. The chart should reflect both current and open positions or you can have two charts – pre- and post-funding. Two charts would be more applicable if you foresee significant changes in the organizational structure after funding.

Board of Advisors

A good board of advisors can be a very valuable asset in helping to guide the company through minefields that are sure to develop. Look for individuals who are experts in their respective fields (accounting, legal, technology, academia, consultants, etc.).

Manpower Table

What positions do you plan to fill and when. This should tie into your use of proceeds and financial projections.

Competitive Analysis

The operative word is “analysis.” Your competitors have preceded you into the market. They have established position, distribution, market exposure and a customer base. The viability of your business


 MANCALA GROUP INTERNATIONAL- Business Plan Guide depends on your company’s ability to take market share away from

these competitors - or to address a segment of the market that is not

currently being addressed. If you are anticipating taking market share,

you need to explain how you’re going to do it. What advantages do

you have over competition? Why will customers turn to you rather

than existing and established companies? Where are your

competitors vulnerable and how will you be able to take advantages

of these weaknesses. Who is the market leader and why are they in

that position?

These are all issues that you should consider in completing your competitive analysis. The reader should have the sense that you have insights into your competition that you can’t get from just reading their website or looking at their 10-Ks.

This section should include the following:

• Overview

• Recent events / funding

• Merger / acquisition activity

• List and description of key competitors

• Succinct analysis of each competitor’s business

• Strengths / weakness

• Company differentiation

Positioning Chart

A positioning chart can help explain where you are in the market relative to your competition. The X & Y axis can address pricing, capabilities or any variable that separates you from competition.

A certain amount of repetition isn’t necessarily bad. If you have key management personnel who are widely recognized as experts, this can be a critical strength that you want to emphasize.

Do the individual members of the management team have to be full time employees? ----

No, but this can be tricky. Investors understand that someone may not be willing to leave a responsible position until they know that the new company will be funded. You should, however, have a firm commitment that will assure the investor that your team will be there when they are needed. These individuals should also be active in the new company even if they aren’t yet employees.

Stress accomplishments and recognition.

Do I need a CFO?

No but you should have someone who is familiar with your financial statements and is in a position to answer questions.

Financial Assumptions

Everything you’ve included in the plan up to this point should support your financial assumptions and projections. In other words, the reader shouldn’t be surprised when they see your five year revenue forecast because you’ve given them detailed information on the market, opportunity, and your strategies. You’ve described the advantages that you have over competition; you’ve outlined how you plan to reachthe market and the management team that you have to help you achieve your objectives. Your projections should represent a logical conclusion to everything that you’ve included in the plan.

The Financial Assumptions should provide the reader with the rationale of how you developed your key financial projections and should address the following:

• Gross sales

• Unit forecasts

• Cost of goods sold

• Gross margin

• Personnel costs / fees

• Marketing expenses

• Market penetration

• Rent

• Utilities

• T elephone

• Salaries

• Inventory

• Professionals fees

• Commissions

• Travel & Entertainment

• Research

• State T axes

• Federal T axes

Sample - Personnel Costs / Fees

• The Business Plan calls for expansion of operations in three Phases over 3 to 5 years.

- People Costs increasing from $1,200,000 in Year #1 by 50% in Year #3 and another 50% in Year #5

- Occupancy Costs increasing from $100,000 in Year #1 by 100% in Year #3 and another 100% in Year#5

• Increased activity in association with the Advisory Board of Directors will require additional sales and marketing support activities.

• Sales and Marketing Costs increasing from $250,000 in Year#1 by 100% in Year #3 and another 100% in Year #5

• As Coral seeks to raise capital through private placements, professional fees will increase.

• Other Expenses (Legal and Professional Fees) increasing from $300,000 in Year #1 by 80% in Year #3 and by another 50% in Year #5

Financial Assumptions are designed to help bridge the gap between your plan and the financials. 

This portion of the plan is also designed to preempt the more obvious questions that will come up regarding your financials such as the basis for your margin estimates, unit forecasts, cost of facilities, salaries, etc. 

These are issues that you want to think through very carefully and completing this portion of the plan forces you verbalize the rationale and justification.

Financial Statements

Sound financial management is one of the best ways for your business to remain profitable and solvent. How well you manage the finances of your business is the cornerstone of every successful business venture. Each year thousands of potentially successful businesses fail because of poor financial management. As a business owner, you will need to identify and implement fiscal policies that will lead to and ensure that you will meet your financial obligations.

To effectively manage your finances, plan a sound, realistic budget by determining the actual amount of money needed to open your business (start-up costs) and the amount needed to keep it open (operating costs). The first step to building a sound financial plan is to complete an income statement, cash flow analysis and a balance sheet – if your company has revenue.

Income Statement

The primary tool for good financial reporting is the Statement of Income. This is a measure of a company's sales and expenses over a specific period of time. It is prepared at regular intervals (monthly for the first year and annually through five years) to show the results of operating during those accounting periods. It should follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and contains specific revenue and expense categories regardless of the nature of the business.

Cash Flow Analysis

The cash flow analysis is designed to show where you are using money and at what rate (burn rate). This analysis is of particular interest to investors because they will want to see when you anticipate being in a positive cash flow position – more money coming in than going out.

Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet provides a picture of the financial health of a business at a given moment, usually at the close of an accounting period. It lists in detail those material and intangible items the business owns (known as its assets) and what money the business owes, either to its creditors (liabilities) or to its owners (shareholders' equity or net worth of the business).

Sample Statements

Profit & Loss (P&L)

The first year pro forma statements should be by month and then annually for the next four years.

 Cash Flow Analysis

 Balance Sheet

Suggestions For A Better Business Plan

Writing good Business Plan means a good deal more than simply getting basic information on paper.

Making a favorable first impression is very important. What do the improve the look, feel and readability of a business plan?

• Use a simple conversational writing style

• Avoid long and complex sentences

• Use technical terms sparingly and explain them clearly

• Keep your paragraphs short, simple and succinct

• Use bullet points whenever possible

• Use graphics (a picture is worth...)

• Pay attention to how each section flows into the next

• Use tables and charts when possible

• Quote reputable sources to reinforce your position

• Check sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and syntax

• Understand the motivation of the reader

• Have someone read your plan with a critical eye

Check List

• Have you clearly and concisely described the opportunity?

• Have you quantified the market size, stage and key market


• Does your plan clearly articulate what makes you business model

different, better, unique?

• Are your business strategies consistent with your business


• Are your financial projections a logical extension of your


• Are your funding requirements adequate and realistic?

• Have you acknowledged or footnoted your sources of


• Will your marketing plan create adequate exposure and demand

for your product?

• Will your distribution channels adequately and cost effectively

reach your target demographic?

• Do you have research data to backup your market analysis?

• Do you really understand the strengths of your competitors?

• Are the financial statements reasonable, verifiable and well


• Are your financial statements consistent with the rest of your plan?

• Have your established a level of confidence that you can meet

your objectives?

• Have you chosen a management team that is up to the task?

• Does your plan flow and is there a natural progression from one

section to the next?

• Is your business plan compelling?

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