Everyday conversations: Developing a business plan [audio]

Students discuss how to develop a business plan. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

In this conversation, two students (Lucía and Jana) discuss writing a business plan.

Lucía: Why are you writing a business plan, Jana?

Jana: Well, Akinyi and I were talking about startups. And one day I hope to engineer a product to sell. So I’ll need a business plan.

Lucía: How do you know what to write in your business plan?

Jana: Akinyi gave me a business plan template.

Lucía: And what goes into a business plan?

Jana: If you read the executive summary, you will know!

Lucía: What exactly is an executive summary?

Jana: It’s like a detailed table of contents. It emphasizes the key issues in the business plan.

Lucía: And what are the key issues?

Jana: There’s a lot to consider! You need to think about the target market — who you want to buy your product.

Lucía: That makes sense.

Jana: Of course, the plan discusses the product or service your company will offer. It should also include your marketing and sales plans – how you plan to advertise and sell the product.

Lucía: This seems like a lot of work.

Jana: It is. There’s more to include, but most time-consuming for me is the financial data. I’m an engineer, not an accountant. A business plan needs to include information about funding and even some future financial data.

Lucía: Well, let me know when you’re finished. I’d love to read it!

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

A business plan is a document that describes in detail the future plans of a business and how the business will achieve its goals.

A startup is a company working to solve a problem that doesn’t have a clear solution; it is a new business.

The word engineer used as a verb means to plan, design or build something. As a noun, engineer means a person who designs and builds machines, engines, bridges and other things.

A product is something that is made or grown to be sold, usually in large quantities.

A template is something that is used as an example or model in order to create a similar thing.

An executive summary is a short document that summarizes a longer one. The executive summary of a business plan summarizes the contents of the plan.

A table of contents is an organized list of the parts of a book or document.

A target market is a particular group of people who will most likely buy a certain product or service.

Marketing and sales plans are written documents that describe the ways a company plans to advertise and sell a product or service.

To advertise means to tell people about a product or service and encourage them to buy it.

Financial data is information related to a company’s financial (relating to money) status.

Funding is money to be used for a specific purpose, such as starting a business.

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.