Don’t make common mistakes. I’ve seen thousands of business plans, good and bad, and I can tell you that avoiding these common business planning errors will put you far ahead of the curve.
Business planning is an ongoing business activity. As your business changes many of the strategies in your plan will need to evolve to ensure you business is still heading in the right direction. Having your plan up to date can keep you focussed on where you are heading and ensure you are ready when you need it again.
Business plans are decision-making tools. The content and format of the business plan is determined by the goals and audience. For example, a business plan for a non-profit might discuss the fit between the business plan and the organization’s mission. Banks are quite concerned about defaults, so a business plan for a bank loan will build a convincing case for the organization’s ability to repay the loan. Venture capitalists are primarily concerned about initial investment, feasibility, and exit valuation. A business plan for a project requiring equity financing will need to explain why current resources, upcoming growth opportunities, and sustainable competitive advantage will lead to a high exit valuation.
That doesn’t mean you have to bust out Word and start the plan from scratch. A template is great--you probably aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before, so it provides a proven structure for your plan. Pretty much everything on it can be customized.