Business Report: Definition, Format and Example

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Pratibha Devasenapathy | May-04-2020

Any business, irrespective of the size needs to be organised to achieve its goal, whatever it maybe. A well-structured firm has more chances to achieve success and sustain for a prolonged period in the market as compared to a disorganised business. Each department needs to be tracked and analysed on a timely basis so that various business decisions can be taken appropriately.

Since most businesses are a part of an ever-changing environment, it is crucial to roll and embrace the changes. And if you want to be a part of such rapidly changing scenario, it is imperative to manage all business activities rigorously. As a part of staying afloat in a competitive space, the need of managing business reports arises. Businesses may gather financial, marketing and sales-related information, or more technical data; but a business report sample will be your all-time assistance to adjust purchasing plans, staffing schedules, and more generally, communicating your ideas in the business environment. These business reports would vary from business to business and there is no stringent rule to be followed while creating them as every business model is different and unique.

What are business reports?

A business report is a set of data which can provide historical information related to a company’s operations, production, specific department’s insights, and create a base for future decision-making processes or factual insights needed to organize business functions. According to Lesikar and Pettit, “A business report is an orderly, objective communication of factual information that serves some business purpose”. Like we said before that each business report would be different depending on the business model, but they all have one common trait: gathering crucial data and tracking the business activities related to something specific, which help analyse your business operations in detail.

General business report format

A good general format for a formal business report includes the following:

  • A cover sheet that lists the name of the report, your company name and address and the date
  • A table of contents, if the report is longer than 10 pages
  • An executive summary; an introduction section explaining the background of the report and any special methodology used
  • The main body of the report, with appropriate subheadings
  • A section with conclusions and recommendations
  • An appendix for non-essential attachments such as charts and graphs that don’t need to be in the body of the report.

Most businesses who do not need such a structured format, they rely on the balance sheet. A balance sheet is a type of business report which has a common structure that’s easy to replicate, and typically, every spreadsheet and accounting program has a template available that generates the report from basic inputs. Likewise, a marketing plan has a general format that includes a cover sheet, an executive summary, a budget and sections that detail market research, target market, positioning, competitive analysis and market strategy.

Example

There are 12 types of business reports that virtually every business and consultant needs:

  • Weekly activity reports
  • Project status reports
  • Sales reports
  • Digital marketing reports
  • Competitor analysis reports
  • Case studies
  • Growth strategy reports
  • Market research reports
  • Budget reports
  • Annual reports
  • White papers
  • Project plans
  • Business proposals

Each of these business reports serve different purposes and cater to different audiences. While creating business reports, it’s crucial to segregate your audience, so that you do not present an irrelevant report to your target group. One of the best ways to strike the right chord with your audience is to make your report visually appealing with data presented in the form of pie charts, diagrams, graphs, et al. No one likes to read documents which are text-heavy, so make your report interesting and pleasing to the eye.

Doing the right reporting and information delivery can have a significant impact on your organization and orientate its strategy better.

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