Business plans may be internally or externally focused. Externally focused plans target goals that are important to external stakeholders, particularly financial stakeholders. They typically have detailed information about the organization or team attempting to reach the goals. With for-profit entities, external stakeholders include investors and customers. External stake-holders of non-profits include donors and the clients of the non-profits services. For government agencies, external stakeholders include tax-payers, higher-level government agencies, and international lending bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, various economic agencies of the United Nations, and development banks.
You may want to consider the following key questions to help determine if you are ready to start writing your business plan.
~ Have you thoroughly refined your business idea so you have a good understanding of how your business will operate?
~ Have you researched your business concept to determine if there is a need for it in the marketplace?
~ Have you completed a feasibility study to determine expected level of success?
~ Do you have the money required to start and grow the business?
~ Are you prepared to invest significant time into the business to get it up and running?
To write an effective business plan you will need discipline, time and focus. Although the process can seem challenging, it is very rewarding and gives you a sense of control over your business. Investing time and focus in creating a business plan is one of the most valuable activities you can undertake. Creating a well-structured business plan will give you direction and help your business become a success. A business plan provides a roadmap for your business future and is essential to attracting funding.
Internally focused business plans target intermediate goals required to reach the external goals. They may cover the development of a new product, a new service, a new IT system, a restructuring of finance, the refurbishing of a factory or a restructuring of the organization. An internal business plan is often developed in conjunction with a balanced scorecard or a list of critical success factors. This allows success of the plan to be measured using non-financial measures. Business plans that identify and target internal goals, but provide only general guidance on how they will be met are called strategic plans.