Biz plan was just selected as a semifinalist - need to compress plan to 30 pages from 37


How do you attack compressing your plan? My new startup was recently selected as a semifinalist in a local business plan competition, the money from which would do wonders in terms of getting the company moving forward on the right track.

I've got to have this plan in by next Tuesday and one of the things they require is a 30 page limit. Right now my plan clocks in at 36 pages. This includes the cover page, table of contents, and right now three financial statements I have included each on their own page (income statement, cash flows, balance sheet).

So far it is broken down like this:

  • Cover sheet - 1 pg
  • TOC - 1 pg
  • Exec Summary - 4 pg
  • Comp. Description - 2 pg
  • Industry Analysis - 5 pg
  • Target Market - 2 pg
  • Competitive Analysis - 3 pg
  • Strategic Position - 1 pg
  • Marketing Plan - 2 pg
  • Operations - 2 pg
  • Management - 1 pg
  • Development, Milestones, Exit Plan - 2pg
  • Financials - 5 pg
  • Appendix - (SWOT) 1 pg

I'd also like to add in one more detailed growth report in the Financials but that would add another page. I can probably cut at least one page from the Competitive Analysis but I have no idea where to take the rest from. What are the most important areas to focus on?

I read in Guy Kawasaki's book to limit the exec summary to 2 pages but I can't seem to get it there, I feel like I've pared out everything that is uneccessary. And it's not even a complicated idea, really ;)

EDIT just wanted to point out as well that the plan requires 1" margins on all sides, Times New Roman font, and 12 pt font size. Otherwise I would have just tweaked all that!

Business Plan

asked Apr 15 '11 at 03:54
1,171 points
Get up to $750K in working capital to finance your business: Clarify Capital Business Loans
  • I noticed the question says you are at 37 and then in the content of your question you are already down to 36. . . I hope that means things are quickly headed in the right direction? – Joseph Barisonzi 13 years ago

3 Answers


Without actually seeing it, it's hard to say what is wheat and what is chaff. But, 4 pages of exec summary does seem to be a bit weighty. The Appendix is probably droppable as well, SWOT should come through in all the other material. A 5 page industry analysis would also seem to be a touch bloated.

You might be better off having a disinterested 3rd party read it and comment on where it seems there is redundant or non-essential info.

answered Apr 15 '11 at 04:04
Brian Karas
3,407 points


Four pages of exec summary is way too much. Cut this. Think about your "elevator pitch" and stick with that for this summary. What's your unique value prop, how do you make $'s, how do your investors make $'s. Done.

Seven pages pages of competitive position and industry is way too much. Focus on what makes you special versus others. Cut this to three.

two pages for operations? Really? too much.

One key point - do NOT say "we don't have any competition yet". When I hear that, it's pretty much always a "oh, OK, thanks for coming by" moment.

Do you have your advisors listed on your management page? I always want to know about the people when I'm investing - this part actually seems a bit light.

answered Apr 15 '11 at 05:08
Warren E. Hart
2,181 points
  • Thanks Warren. I'm probably too vocal. I actually re-wrote my entire exec summary, using my pitch deck as a template instead of what I had before, which was boring and not exciting at all. ... the competitive position and industry is tricky, I definitely do have a few competitors (some direct and some indirect). One of the problems in my Industry Analysis is that I think this business is in the convergence of abour 3 or 4 major technological trends, so I spent time talking about each one and then how we take advantage of that – Nick 13 years ago
  • I have a full 2 pages on about six key competitors. only one is a real direct competitor, I was tempted to just knock some of the others out, I know I need to keep an eye on them but maybe not within the biz plan itself. And unfortunately no advisors just yet... just myself and my partner. But that leads me to another question; is it expected to include a resume in the back? I don't have resumes in there right now, just overviews of some of our past experiences and how it applies to the company we are creating. Thanks! – Nick 13 years ago


Congratulations Nick!!! What wonderful news.

I don't want to repeat what everyone else says in the time that it takes for me to write my answer but these would be my thoughts:

The Executive Summary is too long. Think of the executive summary as a bikini. Big enough to cover the subject and small enough to be interesting. Save 2 here. There is a total of 12 pages -- more than 30% -- in the following:
Comp. Description, Industry Analysis, Target Market, Competitive Analysis, Strategic Position. This is awesome -- but I can't believe that those 12 pages can't be reduced to 7. Allude to, reference -- but simplify. Save 5 here Integrate the SWOT into the above material on the overall market, industry, competitive and strateic positioning. Save 1 here. In fact, the above two sections could be organized around a SWOT model.

Add a Page I think a summary of assumptions within the financial section might be a good add.

Enroll an Advisor Have someone you trust who hasn't been involved in this project edit it. Not proofread it. But edit it. You are too deep in it-- you see all of the connections and intricacies at this point. A good editor will come through and cut, cut, polish, tighten and turn it into a 30 page docuement.

answered Apr 15 '11 at 05:27
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points
  • + 1 for bikini! :) – Brad 12 years ago

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