A business plan is a documented set of business goals, objectives, target market information and financial forecasts that you are aiming to achieve over a certain period of time. It is important to prepare a business plan when starting or growing your business and review it regularly to keep it up to date.
Prospective business owners sometimes wonder if they really need to write a business plan, particularly if they’re not seeking a bank loan. However, if you want to clarify your thinking, set a tone and direction for your business, and a deeper understanding of your market, the answer is certainly ‘yes you do’.
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.
A complete, thoughtful business plan is one of the most valuable tools in helping you reach your long-term goals. It gives your business direction, defines your objectives, maps out strategies to achieve your goals and helps you to manage possible bumps in the road.
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