A company profile is a professionally written summary of a business and its activities. The document can be considered to be a resume or CV of a company. It is useful in cases such as when you need to raise additional capital (but only for established businesses as a business plan is more appropriate for newer enterprises). Company profiles also often have to be attached to tender submissions.
A profile can also be used to educate and inform both existing and potential stakeholders about the company. The media, potential employees, customers and investors are just a few of the other parties who can find a professionally and concisely written profile of your company to be useful. Getting a company website developed by a third party also happens to be more straightforward when you already have a pre-written profile of your business. Here are just a few tips for what you can include. Note that these are just tips and should not be interpreted as any specific document structure or order—for that you can download any of the numerous templates already available online.
Start with basic information about the business
The most basic details about your business should appear at the beginning of your company profile. At the barest minimum, this should be the information that would appear on a typical business card such as the company name, its products or services, its physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and website URL. In practice, this section of the profile usually tends to include what is more or less a summary of the whole company profile document.
Other basic details that can be included are the number of employees, the number of locations—including contact details for each with the head office indicated, the year in which the company was established and a brief list of some of the awards and certifications which the company has received in the past. The vision and mission statements, together with the company’s “core values” are also usually added as close as possible to the start of the document.
Share information about your company
The main body of the company profile is where more expansive details about the business are shared. The actual contents may vary depending on the nature of the company but the following information can be included:
All businesses exist to provide products or services of one kind or another. A company profile should therefore keep referring back to exactly what the company does. Commonsensical as this advice may sound, it is not uncommon to encounter verbose company profiles (and the accompanying “About Us” pages on websites) which fail to inform the reader on what the companies do. Yes, a company profile shouldn’t read like it was written by a 7th grader but describing your company as “a provider of innovative solutions in the ICT space” and then calling it a day will only cause frustration in anyone who has a genuine interest in what it does.
History, expansion and growth
A business’ history is part of its identity. Who founded it? How and when did it start? This is all information that can convey a great deal of information about a company. To begin with, people have an easier time remembering stories than bare facts, so an outline of a company’s past right through to the present can be a great opportunity for the writer to connect with the reader. In this section include how the company has expanded, grown and evolved since its founding. Many African entrepreneurs already know the advantages of a great story and some milk it for all it is worth, even in their capacities—it is not rare to be introduced to an entrepreneur’s story of personal struggle long before the narrative gets around to mentioning what line of business they are actually in.
Companies don’t operate in a vacuum; they have competitors, suppliers, clients etc. This means that providing information about the industry in which the company operates can be as useful as providing information about the company itself. For instance, as part of your argument on why people should invest in your company, you can share the size of the market for the products it produces or the services it provides.
Safety, health and environmental policies
As mentioned earlier, a company profile is usually written for the consumption of a wide cross-section of stakeholders. Nowadays company policies concerning safety, health and environmental issues have become very important to many of those stakeholders. In some cases, if a company’s policies are deemed to be favourable enough they can go a long way towards contributing to the building of a more positive brand image for the company. It is therefore advisable that you add this section, particularly when you are operating in an industry such as mining, energy, manufacturing or any of the other ones which usually get caught up in debates around these issues.
Core team details
Share details about your core team—not just for informational purposes but also as a way of further promoting the company. A company can only be as good as the people behind it; you must therefore demonstrate just how good your company is by parading the qualifications, talents and experience of the key members of your team.
People (and companies) don’t like taking needless risks with their time and money. They are more likely to seek the services or use the products of a company if they know that (many) others have already used it. Some names on your previous clients’ list will carry more weight than others; that is how the quality of your past clients can end up affecting that of your future ones. You must therefore use the client portfolio section of your company profile to convey both the quantity and quality of your previous clientele.
State the company’s achievements and accomplishments
You must also flaunt any awards or certifications which the company has received in the past. If the company is also involved in any noteworthy projects, don’t hesitate to share this information. Also, reference any news or media recognition which your company has managed to garner.
Optional items you can add
Here are examples of other pieces of information you can include in your profile if you consider them to be noteworthy enough:
- Annual sales
- Financial targets
- Partnerships with other organisations
- Product photographs
- The company share value
Testimonials from people and organisations whom the company has done business with before can lend it a lot of credibilities. While it is expected that you will cherry pick your former clients’ testimonials, outrightly bogus testimonials tend to be obvious and will hurt your business’ reputation. You must therefore always provide real testimonials from real clients or not at all. Nowadays it is very easy to verify if a person or company exists.